Must See, Eat, Do Recommendations for Portland, Oregon

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Portland, a clean, safe, and “walkable” city with a “small town feel”, has quite a similar vibe to Denver and Seattle (which is located not too far away) in terms of an indie music scene, international/organic food selection, and healthy lifestyle.  Covered with numerous trees, mountains, lush greenery, and beautiful nature landscapes, this city has a HUGE “outdoorsy” culture which includes numerous activities such as biking, hiking, camping, white water rafting, etc. It’s not a surprise why Portland was selected as a key location for movies such as Twilight and Where the Wild Things Are.

Walking around Portland during the day (and even at some bars at night), you will notice most people dressed in REI windbreaker or Patagonia fleece jackets, sturdy boots/hiking shoes, jeans, or plaid/flannel clothes.  In other words, unlike other US cities (like LA), Portland culture is less preoccupied with the “superficial” and “fashion” and more concerned with “what’s practical and comfortable”. Matching their “outdoor, casual, laid back gear”, Portland locals are super friendly, laid back, and family/community-centered!

You can walk the entire city and do all the major sights/downtown area in one day!  The city is filled with an amazing selection of cute “mom and pop” shops, stores, and cafes (similar to SF, you won’t find as many chains/corporations). Portland is also famous for its own huge line of breweries and flavorful beers.  Compared to other major modern cities, Portland comes in second (Chicago is 1st) for most unique postmodern architecture.  Strolling through the city, one can note the mix of several old and new architectural styles of the several apartment houses.  (For example, some buildings using spanish style balconies and combining it with steel, brick, bridges, and glass).  In the residential areas there are still numerous beautiful “Savannah” Southern architectural style houses with verandahs as well.

Put Denver, Seattle, and San Diego’s small/clean Gaslamp district together and you get a tiny sense of what it’s like walking around Portland!

Other Useful Portland Travel Resources



Trimet: Bus, Light Rail, Streetcar,_Oregon




1-2 day Sightseeing Itinerary (if you are determined 😉 )

***Pearl District

bars, restaurants, little boutiques, window shops, art galleries

***NW 21st and 23rd: Northwest and Nob Hill Districts

Lots of great food, restaurants, bars, cafes!

Burnside St.Trail

Rose Garden

One of the largest gardens – roses of all different colors with the city in the background amongst the trees

Japanese Garden

Partner/Sister City of Japan. One of the largest authentic Japanese Gardens planted outside of Japan!

Farmer’s Market

Flowers, organic foods, definitely must do!

Pioneer Square

Lots of people, social plaza, concerts/events

Union Square/Union Station

 Lan Su Chinese Garden

City Hall

Portland Neighborhoods

Powells Book Store

Largest used bookstore in the US – several levels

Pittock Mansion





***NW 21st and 23rd: Northwest and Nob Hill Districts

Lots of great food, restaurants, bars, cafes!

McMenamins Blue Moon Tavern & Grill

Crystal Ballroom

Huge, 80’s Dance Club on Friday nights, wooden walls and floors, 2 levels, cheap drinks, everyone dressed in 80’s dresses/clothes, 80’s band/DJ with music videos projected on the wall

EVERYONE dancing and the bass bumping that the ground is SHAKING

Berbati’s Pan

Kel’s Irish Pub

Dirty Bar/Club in Chinatown




Similar to Food Trucks – they are everywhere in portland


Homey, cute, sophisticated, old, vintage, classical, cozy

Great for BRUNCH!

Papa Haydn

Good for brunch, not too cheap

Deschutes Brewery-restaurant

  • great for local brewed beer and really good food (pear and goat cheese pizza is so yummy!)

Stumptown Coffee



Northwest Portland Hostel and GuestHouse – Hostelling International

Cheap price, giant house, not much of a party hostel and not very social, large rooms, large lockers, clean, large wooden bunk beds, kitchen, maps, stairs, you can socialize in the common area, but it seems that most people were there for sporting/outdoor activities, good location – walking distance from other bars/restaurants

Portland Hawthorne Hostel – Hostelling International


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