A victory for urban planning that hides countless green spaces and easy access to the country amongst a heavy populated center, Oregon’s capital is also known as the ‘City of Roses’, and was – astonishingly – named after developers tossed a coin. Each wanted to name the city after their own hometowns, with the landowner from Portland (Maine) winning a game of luck that prevented Portland form being forever known as Boston instead.
Aiming to be particularly user-friendly, Portland is arguably a better city to live in than it is to visit, especially given artistic draws like ‘First Thursday’ (when the city’s galleries lay on wine and cheese alongside free entry for the public), but there is plenty to see year round, too. You could hardly hear of Portland without learning of the ample microbreweries, with aptly named spots like the Full Sail Brewing Company (from which you can stare across the river while downing your first pint, watching the sails blast past), or the intriguing and European-influenced brews of Widmer Gasthaus - where the scene seems to grow by the day – the perfect spots to sample.
The city’s not without its problems – high unemployment and horrendous traffic not least (take the streetcar to avoid the worst of it) - but the vibe is generally pleasant and welcoming. For the more sedate visitor, the rose gardens, or child-friendly spots like the perfect summer heat-killer the Salmon Street Springs might prove more appealing. The ornate attractions of the Chinese Classical Garden bring a taste of the orient, while the entirely handmade Saturday Market is another tempting local draw.
If you’d prefer to get out of the city, the 200 meter Multnomah Falls make for a scenic picnic spot, while head south-east and you’ll arrive at dozens of vineyards, complete with sample rooms, ideal for exploring on an extensive tour of heading out to under your own steam (don’t forget a designated driver) for a day you’ll be sleeping off all of the following morning.
All in all, Portland – being the only major city for miles – is likely to feature on any major US itinerary, and charms with its pure livability, though it lacks the headline sights you might be looking for in a short trip.
Vancouver is a city on the north bank of the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington and the county seat of Clark County. It is part of the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan area.