feature posts / Lifestyle & Retirement / Simply Smart Travel / Travel & Leisure

Portland Oregon: Worthwhile, Wonderful and (a Little) Weird (in a GOOD way)

Share This Post

Portland Oregon: Worthwhile, Wonderful and (a Little) Weird (in a GOOD way)

Portland, Oregon, officially nicknamed the Rose City, is one of North America’s truly unique urban areas. Located on the Willamette River where it flows into the Columbia river, it is Oregon’s largest city and a center for architecture and culture that is known for its livability. Because it is a friendly and well-run city with a pleasant climate, it is a pleasure to visit.

Portland is a city of many bridges which carry public transportation, pedestrians, bikes and cars across its rivers. Credit: Travel Portland

Portland is a busy inland seaport that is about 80 miles from the Pacific and is justly renowned for being very bicycle and pedestrian friendly. It abounds with public art and boast many museums and parks. There are also many micro-breweries and distilleries in town.

Even though it has an unofficial slogan of “Keep Portland Weird”, there is nothing to fear for visitors such as yours truly who are “unweird.” It boasts very “unweird” upscale shopping, great restaurants, lush gardens, amazing public transportation and a deserved reputation for being progressive, green, well-planned and tolerant. While the city’s tolerant population and government celebrate the eclectic and even the weird, they also celebrate and embrace tourism and civic virtue. The town’s weirdness is mostly a good and entertaining diversion.


Before You Go, Do some pre-trip research at:

Getting There:

One of Portland’s two operating steam locomotives, Southern pacific 4449, frequently pulls passenger trains on local and regional excursions. Here it is seen at its downtown home at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

Portland is well-served by highway, train and air.

  • By air, Portland International Airport (PDX) is 10 miles from downtown. It is served by 17 airlines and the city’s light rail.
  • By train, arrive at Portland’s Union Station on Amtrak’s Cascades from Seattle or Vancouver or Eugene or the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles or Seattle or the Empire Builder from Chicago and points west.
  • By ship, the nearest ocean-going cruise port is Astoria, Oregon, 90 miles away. River cruises depart from Portland’s Embassy Suites Airport Hotel.
  • By highway, the city is on Interstate Highways 5 and 84.




Portland’s popular and historic Union Station is a long distance and local transportation hub which is heavily used by residents and visitors alike. Streetcars and light rail connect incoming Amtrak passengers to the city. Credit: Jeff Orenstein

Must Sees For a Short Trip:

  • Downtown shopping and dining
  • The Pearl and Waterfront Districts
  • Powell’s City of Books
  • Portland Farmers Market
  • Lan Su Chinese Garden
  • Portland Japanese Garden


If You Have Several Days:

  • Explore nearby Vancouver, Washington, just across the river.
  • Visit Mount Hood and/or the Columbia River Gorge.
  • Visit wine country in the Willamette River Valley. Yummy pinot noirs!
  • Visit the Oregon Rail Heritage Center, home of the only municipally-owned operating steam locomotives in the U.S. Across from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.



Ginny O’s  Tips For Dressing The Simply Smart Travel Way For Portland:

Anything goes, especially tees, flannel shirts and jeans. Portland’s reputation for being eclectic is accurate. Business dress to unkempt and everything in between is common around the city. Be comfortable.


This Destination At A Glance

The downtown Embassy Suites hotel is very different from most chain hotels and has a gorgeous lobby that shows its historic character. Credit: Embassy Suites Portland

Mobility Level:. Low. The public transportation system is accessible and the city is very walkable.

When To Go: Year-round. Rainy winters, summer crowds. Best is spring and fall.

Where to Stay. The Embassy Suites Downtown Portland. Not a typical Embassy Suites, this one is a refurbished luxury hotel dating back to 1912. Great location and the only Embassy Suites that is a member of The Historic Hotels of America. Amazing happy hour.

Getting Around:. Portland has fantastic public transportation. Use buses, streetcars, the aerial tram and/or Max light rail and forget the car. Downtown is also walkable.

Special Travel Interests: Gardens, bridges and public transportation that works.



Jeffrey Orenstein, Ph.D. and Virginia Orenstein are husband and wife travel writers from Sarasota, Florida. Their Simply Smart Travel column appears in newspapers and magazines in nine states and online.

Reach them at jorenstein@Simplysmarttravel.com. They publish travel ideas, articles, photos and blog at www.SimplySmartTravel.com and at www.facebook.com/SimplySmartTravel/.

Share This Post

Leave a Reply

Lost Password


Like Our Page!

Receive our updates via Facebook!