Portland may just be one of our very favourite cities. Not just in the USA, but anywhere. It’s a great combination of walkable streets, greenery and access to the great outdoors, thriving craft beer and wine scenes and – most importantly for us as British and Irish – a temperate climate.
Like anywhere it has issues. The homelessness in downtown/Chinatown is rampant. Prices are getting steadily higher as people flock from Seattle and California. Not all the local breweries are good (probably, I’m guessing, actually all the ones we went to were great…).
Spending a weekend in Portland allows you to get a great feel for the city, although you won’t have time to venture out into Oregon state and the numerous national parks. We’ve gone off our own experiences to provide a decent itinerary for 48 hours in the Pacific North West.
1. Hike up Mount Tabor.
Less than a 15 minute Uber from downtown is the beautiful park of Mount Tabor, an extinct volcano. We headed up there after brunch and the park was full of joggers, families and dogs. It’s not overly strenuous but we’d suggest bringing some water and wearing comfy sports gear to make the most of it. There are a few routes around the park, passing by the city’s reservoirs and providing an easy way to loop around without seeing the same thing twice.
2. Hire a bike
Everyone says this about Portland and there’s a reason they do! The city is really well equipped to handle cyclists with clearly marked bike lanes (that cars don’t park in), drivers that are aware of cyclists and a hire bike system sponsored by Nike (called Biketown! Ha). There are over 1000 bikes within the city and numerous routes to choose from.
3. Spend an evening in the Pearl District brewpubs
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to picking a good pub in Portland. Every taste is catered to with most bars carrying 20-30 different types of beer and a select few carrying up to 100! If it’s sunny, be sure to check out some rooftop bars but even if it’s not, Portland has a more relaxed pub scene than other US cities we’ve been to with picnic tables dotted outside and fairy lights strung between trees. We particularly liked Rogue Brewery and their $2 pizza and Avid Cider and Kitchen.
4. Urban winery scene.
A number of Oregon’s wineries have swapped the vineyards for Portland city as a place to age their wines and sell it in the same room. Pinot Noir is the most famous fo the Pacific North West’s varietals, but as they continue to expand the selection is getting greater very rapidly. Our favourite was a ‘Chateauneuf du Stark’ served up by the ENSO winery on Stark St… conveniently on the same weekend Game of Thrones returned for Season 8 🐺.
5. Soak up the markets and street food
This is another area where you’re spoiled for choice. There is a huge selection of street food markets in Portland! We loved the Hawthorne Asylum market over in East Burnside – perfect for a post Mount Tabor pick-me-up with it’s central firepit, huge selection of foodstuffs, beer cart and interesting history. If you’re in the city centre, check out The Saturday Market (although it’s also on Sundays) near Skidmore Fountain. There’s a huge selection of food and local art along the river. Find out more here.
We really enjoyed Portland and can’t wait to visit again!