Portland: A Foodie’s Haven and Hiker’s Paradise
Once Seattle’s little sister, Portland is now a stand-alone destination in the Northwest. With an abundance of locally owned shops, hoppy beer and eclectic eateries, the Rose City has plenty of culture and charm to please the out-of-towner for a weekend — or more.
The Portland area has its fair share of malls and department stores, but it’s the local boutiques and charming streets that make a day of shopping so appealing. For a taste of true Portland charm, head to Mississippi Avenue in Northeast Portland, where you’ll find a delightful assortment of local coffee shops, restaurants and boutiques. Pistils Nursery is a necessity for those with a green thumb who adore moss balls and hand-crafted pottery. On the other side of the Willamette River in Northwest Portland, visitors can stroll along Northwest 23rd Avenue, perusing the eclectic shops and grabbing a taste of the city’s famous Salt & Straw ice cream. The Pearl District is every shopper’s paradise, with name-brand stores next to an abundance of quirky, locally owned boutiques. Explore the never-ending collection of bestsellers and noteworthy new titles at Powell’s Books (pictured above), the largest independent bookstore in the world. For handcrafted goods and vintage antiquities, head down the street to Porch Light and dig through a variety of old and new treasures. If you’re a destination shopper in search of the trendiest boutiques, make your way to Schoolhouse Electric in Northwest Portland for an eclectic, upscale collection of period-inspired home goods.
With approximately 10 restaurants per capita (not including the city’s 500 food trucks) and an unparalleled brunch scene, Portland’s under-the-radar culinary talent has grown its reputation as a foodie’s haven. Whether you’re craving classic Italian gnocchi or Russian-French fusion dishes, there’s a little something for everyone.
For flavorful street food, Pok Pok serves up famous fare from northern Thailand while Bollywood Theater is the perfect spot for Indian. Classic Russian dishes and a lively, vibrant atmosphere make Kachka a must-visit while in town. Try Andina’s upscale atmosphere and modern, Peruvian menu for date nights as well as Paley’s Place, known for its inventive take on Russian and French fare.
Every meal is important in Portland, but it’s the weekend brunch that takes the cake. For a classic, American-style brunch, grab reservations downtown at Mother’s Bistro or head to the Screen Door on East Burnside Street for something with a Southern twist. If you’re looking on the Eastside and don’t mind a wait, Tasty n Alder is great for groups that prefer tapas-style dining and Broder Nord (pictured above) is the place for Scandinavian brunch. To skip the lines altogether and enjoy a classic eggs benedict, snag a table at Café Nell in Northwest Portland.
Portland is known for its beer as much as its food. Try to plan your trip around the Oregon Brewers Festival in downtown Portland. This four-day craft beer festival is the most popular beer festival in North America and takes place in late July, a great time of year to visit the Northwest.
Outdoors in the City
Portland boasts natural beauty galore for outdoor recreation. Not only is it home to the International Rose Test Garden, the Portland Japanese Garden (pictured above) and the trail-filled Hoyt Arboretum, it also offers a generous number of hiking routes that are easily accessible from downtown.
In Southwest Portland, Tryon Creek State Natural Area offers 658 acres of forest, eight miles of hiking trails and a 3-mile paved bicycle trail. Take the nearly 6-mile Outer Loop Hike to get a good sense of the lush, wooded outskirts of the city.
At the north end of the city, the trail from Lower Macleay Park to Pittock Mansion is a moderate and easily-accessible trek with a bit of history. For a glimpse of one of the city’s famous bridges, head a little further northwest to the Tolinda-Ridge Trail, a 6-mile loop hike with breathtaking views of St. Johns Bridge, Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier.
Despite the massive Eagle Creek wildfire in 2017, many of the Portland area’s essential Columbia River Gorge trails are still intact and as beautiful as ever. The Latourell Falls loop hike is an easy, 2.4-mile scenic route that’s less than 13 miles from Portland city limits. If you’re willing to battle crowds, the Multnomah Falls trail (pictured above) is an easy hike with awe-inspiring views.
–Written by Maggy Lehmicke, last updated in September 2022.