After our trip to Los Angeles, my friends had to fly home to Vancouver. But seeing as it was Easter weekend, I had zero obligations. So I looked at cheap flights to Portland, locked one in, and spent three nights there before getting the train back to Vancouver.
This was my third time in Portland and I seriously fall more in love with it every time. It’s just effortlessly cool. So this is my love letter to Portland and all the reasons you should visit Portland immediately.
I love being able to walk around cities, which is why I love Melbourne and Vancouver so much. Portland falls into the easy walkability category. I caught public transport twice during my trip — from the airport and to the Hawthorne District. The rest of the time I walked, doing nearly 20,000 steps both days that weekend. From my hostel in the Pearl District, I walked to the downtown area every day with absolute ease. There was also so much to see on the way to downtown Portland that it never felt like a long walk.
Yep, a reason I love Portland is because it’s home to the largest used bookstore in the world. I didn’t buy any books this time, but I browsed the aisles and made a list on my phone of books to read. Powell’s also has a great variety of unique souvenirs too. I had to buy a tote, to carry my books home from the library of course (I’m a nerd, I know).
Portland reminds me a lot of Melbourne (again), in that it seems to be absolutely brimming with locally owned sweet shops, cafes, food trucks and restaurants. Voodoo will always be my favourite donut shop, because Froot Loops and M&Ms on top of dough is heaven to me. But there’s also Blue Star Donuts and Salt & Straw’s legendary ice cream.
On the savoury side, I’ve heard good things about the Waffle Window in Hawthorne, but I was too full from Voodoo’s to try a bite (cruel world). Check out this post and this post for other food recommendations, but definitely visit the food carts around town too. They’re part of Portland’s identity really.
Just the right size
When I was talking to my mum in Portland, I said to her that in my ideal world Portland would be located on Australia’s Sunshine Coast. It’s my perfect city and that’s my perfect weather and location. But alas, that probably won’t happen in my lifetime. Nevertheless, I think Portland is just the right sized city. It’s not too big like London, but not too small like my hometown. It has everything you could need and its neighbour IS California.
The cool vibe
As I mentioned in my intro, it’s hard to explain but I love Portland because it just has a cool vibe. The buildings, the people, the food and the atmosphere all combine to transform Portland into the coolest city. Walking down the streets in Portland makes me happy, because you never know what treasure you will find.
This is the most important reason to love Portland (and Oregon, really). There’s no tax, so when that dress you want to buy is labelled $20, it’s exactly $20. One thing I miss about Australia is the fact tax is automatically added to the price beforehand, while North America adds it afterwards. It just makes life easier, guys.
Anyway, I have certainly taken advantage of this and done some serious retail therapy during this trip and others to Portland. I shopped around Pioneer Place and the downtown area this time, but I have also visited Lloyd Centre before.
The hoods of Portland
This love kind of ties in with my other love of Portland’s cool vibe. The city has so many interesting and eclectic neighbourhoods. During this visit I checked out two areas I hadn’t been to previously: NW 23rd Avenue and the Hawthorne District. Both areas had a lot of independent boutiques, eateries and stores. Hawthorne also has a lot of consignment stores for vintage lovers.
Two favourites I found during my meandering were Powell’s Home and Garden shop front in Hawthorne, which had a lot of unique gifts inside. I also loved Paper Source on NW 23rd Avenue. I’m addicted to stationery, what can I say? I’d definitely recommend visiting these areas, as they will undoubtedly make you fall more in love with the city.
Beer beer beer
Portland is one of the beer capitals of America. So if you love beer, you’ll love Portland. There are so many craft breweries, it’s hard to choose which ones to visit during a trip. Here’s a guide from Eater that might help you decide on a brewery crawl. But on a previous visit we went to Cascade to try its sour beer, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
Portland is in the Pacific Northwest, which is known for its rain but also its incredible scenery. Around the city there are a couple of parks I’m yet to visit but they’re on the list for my next visit: Washington Park, Forest Park and Cathedral Park. An excellent day trip from the city is to see the picturesque Multnomah Falls. There are many hikes and waterfalls not too far from Portland as well, so take advantage of its location and be one with its beautiful surrounding nature.
People from Portland are hands down some of the friendliest in the United States. As someone who has travelled to half of the country’s states, I know this for a fact. On my first visit, I had locals stop me in the street and ask if I needed help as I checked a map to make sure I was heading in the right direction. This time, I had people compliment me on my top and chat to me like we were friends. It’s like they put something in the water, because I’ve never seen so many happy people working in hospitality.
Okay, I’ll stop at 10 reasons why I love Portland SO much. But seriously, if it isn’t on your bucket list you should fix that immediately. It’s the coolest city with the best food, hippest neighbourhoods and friendliest locals. You won’t regret a visit.
• Why you should visit Portland
• My favourite things to do in Portland
• The best Portland desserts
• Other US cities that are great for solo travellers