Arriving as early as possible on Friday evening gives you the chance to check in to your accommodations and scout out your immediate vicinity. Catch a ride on the streetcar system into the Pearl District and enjoy the atmosphere of one of Portland’s hippest neighborhoods, complete with arts and entertainment. People-watch from a best vantage point, or grab a clever cocktail at Teardrop Lounge or a beer and snacks at Deschutes Brewery. As an alternative, try the small plates and Peruvian specialties at the well-regarded Andina Restaurant.
After breakfast at your hotel Saturday morning, it’s time to see Portland’s outstanding sites. Culture is the name of the game, and the important destinations include the popular Portland Art Museum and, across the street, the Oregon Historical Society. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and the Museum of Contemporary Craft are also must-see stops for culture lovers. Have lunch at Pearl Bakery and enjoy the fine sweets with good coffee – or opt for the bustling and pleasant Mother’s Bistro & Bar. After lunch it’s essential to visit Powell’s City of Books, the largest independent bookstore in the world with more than a million books in stock. It’s quintessential Portland. Walk lunch off by exploring Old Town Portland’s historic buildings, and also take in the meager Chinatown while in the area. Saturday night, consider memorable dining at Louisiana-themed Screen Door, Cabezon Restaurant for seafood or Toro Bravo for tapas. After dinner consider heading out to see Portland nightlife at Crystal Ballroom or campy cabaret at Darcelle’s XV.
Sunday is perfect to enjoy green Portland, and fortunately, that’s pretty easy to do in the city. Directly west of downtown, Washington Park sprawls more than 140 acres and includes attractions sure to appeal to everyone, including Hoyt Arboretum, the International Rose Test Gardens, Oregon Zoo, Portland Children’s Museum, Portland Japanese Gardens, World Forestry Center Discovery Museum and others. It’s easy to pass the entire day at the park, but the Lan Su Chinese Garden in Old Town and the 5,000-acre Forest Park northwest of downtown also both merit consideration. In the late afternoon and evening, it’s time for last-minute shopping at either mega-retail Washington Square in Tigard to the south, or Hawthorne District or Clackamas Town Center. You’ll want memories and mementos to help you recall your visit to this Pacific Northwest metropolis.
RiverPlace, a Kimpton Hotel, is distinctly Portland in that it pairs four-star accommodations and services with a decidedly laid-back atmosphere. Located on the banks of the beautiful Willamette River, RiverPlace takes full advantage of its scenic views and is also conveniently close to downtown’s myriad attractions. A full-service athletic club, hosted evening wine hour and numerous amenities make this boutique hotel into a unique and intrinsically Pacific Northwest institution. www.riverplacehotel.com
The Nines, Portland is located in the heart of the city atop the stately Meier & Frank Building, the Nines is distinctly modern in terms of design traits at the LEED silver-certified hotel. But it also reflects the eclectic history of the 1909 hotel (Clark Gable worked in the building prior to finding Hollywood stardom in the 1930s) by remaining an important landmark, accented with thoughtfully chosen local art. The nostalgic and modern come together in each of the 331 guest rooms of various sizes and configurations. A 24-hour fitness center, numerous business and pleasure travel amenities and a concierge service that can help guests arrange for numerous regional experiences accentuate the service level at The Nines. www.thenines.com
The Heathman Hotel is a stately and handsome hotel in downtown Portland, built in 1927 and featuring design flourishes such as Art Deco in the form of gold-leafed antique-style furnishings and a lobby featuring a commissioned mural of an 18th century Japanese Buddhist silk robe. Other aesthetic aspects, a Tea Court, library and fitness center help lure guests from their comfortable guest rooms. http://portland.heathmanhotel.com
Access: Portland International Airport is widely accessible via most air carriers from anywhere in the US.
Population: Approx. 600,000
Climate: Portland effectively has two seasons: rainy and summer. Rain and cooler weather characterize most of the year with a short, relatively dry summer with average temperatures in the mid-80s.
Main Attractions: Portland attracts a wide variety of travelers who are drawn by the beautiful natural environment and outdoor opportunities; or else by the preponderance of arts, music, breweries and laid-back Pacific Northwest vibe.
Rough It: The myth is that Portlanders are passionately opposed to umbrellas despite the steadily wet weather. The truth is that many locals simply sneer at umbrella-bearers. To keep a low profile, stick to slickers and hats.
Watch: Familiarizing oneself with the IFC sketch comedy show, Portlandia – based and filmed in the vicinity of Portland – is a great way to begin appreciating the fun, hipster ways of that segment of the city’s population.
Commute: The most convenient way to get around Portland is the Trimet system of buses, streetcars and MAX light rail throughout the Portland area. www.trimet.org