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Why Go to Portland, OR

From its manicured green spaces to its deliciously diverse food scene (plus an ever-evolving selection of locally made beer), Portland has become a must-see destination in the Pacific Northwest. The city overflows with cultural offerings – whether it's the stacks at Powell's World of Book or in one of the more than 65 craft breweries. The city of many nicknames (Stumptown, the City of Roses, Bridge City, P-town, PDX) has emerged as an urbanite's dream, with some of the most pedestrian-friendly streets in the country, many of which are lined with food carts that have given Portland some of the best, most affordable and diverse street food anywhere.

It's also full of adrenaline, with plenty of trails for hiking and biking (like the 70 miles worth found in Forest Park), as well as access to water sports along the Willamette and Columbia Rivers that dissect and border the city – not to mention the volcanic Mount Hood. But the most-loved attractions are low-key and intangible: a sip of locally roasted coffee, a late afternoon chat at a brewery, a stroll through open art galleries on the first Thursday evening of the month. Hip, alternative and unrelentingly progressive, Portland is one of the most flourishing cities on the West Coast. 

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Portland, OR Travel Tips

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What You Need to Know

  • Always be prepared Portland is known for chilly weather. Don't get caught off guard by the occasional wintery day in July: Pack some heavier layers.
  • Be cautious This is a relatively safe city, but that doesn't mean you should let your guard down. Be careful walking through unfamiliar areas after dark.
  • Shopper's dream The state lacks a sales tax, so shopaholics might want to pack an extra bag to take their purchases home. 

How to Save Money in Portland, OR

  • Only rent a car if necessary Parking at most downtown hotels can cost anywhere from $15 to $30 a night. If you want to get out of town, consider renting a car specifically for a daytrip.
  • Dodge the lodging tax Be aware that Multnomah County (where Portland is located) charges an 11.5 percent lodging tax for hotels and short-term rentals. Avoid it by staying across the Columbia River in Vancouver, Washington. 
  • Sightsee for free Many of Portland's top attractions – especially the parks and gardens – do not charge an entrance fee. So grab your camera and go!

Culture & Customs

Portland has emerged as a hub for all things artistic, alternative and intellectual. The city is home to a vibrant arts and music scene, and as such it attracts young, progressive citizens looking for a laid-back lifestyle in the Pacific Northwest. Even if that lifestyle isn't your thing, Portland probably has something you'd be interested in. From jazz to classical, there's plenty of music flowing through the city, and the hipster community has also opened up a variety of vinyl record stores for those craving a bit of musical nostalgia.

Art lovers can soak up everything from the contemporary to the Native American-inspired to the quirky during free monthly art walks that take place on the first Thursday of each month. Those who love performance art can take in shows that range from live storytelling to ballet to theater, as well as an international film festival that's gained traction in the last few years.

Portlanders are also known for being very environmentally conscious, so plan to recycle and don't litter. Green spaces of all sizes are scattered throughout the city, and Portland citizens also love the outdoors, rain or shine. Bring a rain jacket and some hiking boots to enjoy all the City of Roses has to offer.

What to Eat

Known as one of the best foodie cities in the country, Portland has a multitude of options – from the high-end to affordable. You won't have to look hard for cheap eats, as the city boasts more than 600 food carts and trucks throughout the city, many concentrated in "pods" throughout the downtown area (check out these maps to see where many are located). More upscale options also abound – like the top-rated Le Pigeon that serves French-inspired food or the quintessential Portland experience found at Veritable Quandry (their patio is the place to be during warm weather).

Other popular options include Peruvian fare at Andina, Argentinian-inspired cuisine at Ox and classic seafood at Roe. If you're looking for a dose of Portland's culinary history, check out ImperialChefs (and citizens) pride themselves on using only fresh, local ingredients, so no matter what price point or type of cuisine you're looking for, you won't go hungry in PDX.

And don't forget the beverages Portland are known for – coffee and beer. Although you can't go wrong with any beans that are locally roasted, Stumptown Coffee Roasters is a popular choice. When it comes to beer, you'll have your choice of 65 craft breweries within the city. Go on a pedal-powered pub crawl (or floating tour) with BrewGroup, while tech lovers will appreciate the technology and sustainability at Culmination Brewing

Getting Around Portland, OR

The best way to get around Portland is public transportation, although you shouldn't rule out your own two feet. This city is known for having one of the easiest and most tourist-friendly public transportation systems in the country, with extensive routes from TriMet buses and light rail trains. You can hop on the light-rail from the Portland International Airport (PDX) and get into the city for a little more than $2, which is much cheaper than cab fare (approximately $35). Rental cars from the airport can come in handy for making day trips outside of the city to places like Mount Hood.

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