About This Place
Covering 133 square miles, Portland, Oregon, offers access to the Pacific Ocean and the Tualatin Valley farming region, giving it a strategic location that spurred its growth as a port city during the 19th century. Today, the community of approximately 600,000 people continues to tap the abundant surrounding landscape, including the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, nearby farmlands and forests. An established arts community contributes to a well-balanced tapestry of things to do in Portland that spans outdoor activities, cultural attractions, and innovative food and drink.
The foothills and Willamette River Valley divide Portland into five areas (Northwest, North Portland, Northeast, Southeast and Southwest), with a dense downtown at their center. Nob Hill is a cosmopolitan Northwest neighborhood drawing shoppers to the boutiques and antique shops along its streets, many lined with Victorian-era homes. Downtown’s Pearl District is known for fashionably renovated industrial buildings and a polished lineup of clothing shops and galleries. Powell’s City of Books, spanning a city block in the district, is a top destination for bibliophiles.
Leading attractions in Portland typically involve nature and outdoor recreation. Prominent on the northwest side is the expansive, 5,000-plus-acre Forest Park. A network of trails cross the lush natural Douglas fir and cedar preserve that includes creeks and links to other parks in the city.
While at Washington Park, on the hillside west of downtown, visitors can tour the Oregon Zoo or meander along the trails of Hoyt Arboretum, which is filled with trees and plants from around the world. One of most popular Portland attractions in the park is the International Rose Test Garden, which has more than 10,000 rose plants covering its colorful four-and-a-half acres. Portland’s “Rose City” designation comes alive from June to October, when roses typically bloom throughout the city.
Performance and fine art thrive in the Cultural District, a section of downtown Portland where visitors can tour the impressive Portland Art Museum. Founded over a century ago, the museum displays Vincent van Gogh's painting “The Ox-Cart,” and counts Native American, Asian and European art among the 40,000-plus pieces in its permanent collection.
The city continues to thrive as a leading culinary destination in the Pacific Northwest, enhancing any visitor’s list of things to do in Portland. Upscale restaurants, clustered in Nob Hill and the Pearl District, emphasize organic and regionally sourced foods, seasonal ingredients and fresh seafood. Visitors can pair local cuisine with fine Oregon wine or handcrafted beers and ales produced by a growing number of Portland microbreweries.
Those looking for ethnic food can head to Chinatown or the Alberta Arts District, where the diverse ethnic roots of the local population are reflected in area restaurants. Not surprisingly, Portland has a vibrant network of farmers’ markets throughout the city. Portland Farmers Market operates several sites where vendors sell fresh goods ranging from lamb and organic fruits and vegetables to hand-churned butter. Many markets are enhanced by seasonal celebrations, including a Halloween harvest, and cooking demonstrations by growers and chefs alike.