Portland, Oregon – your next destination. Here’s why!
Flying into the Portland International Airport during the day, you see Mount Hood standing guard, magnificently in the distance. No matter how many times I arrive, this sight never gets old. Snow capped and regal, once this grand elevation appears outside your airplane window, you can’t help but wonder, “what city would hold such honor – just 62 miles away, side-by-side with Mount Hood?”
That may have been the same thought of city founders, Asa Lovejoy, and Francis Pettygrove when they arrived. Nature and beauty would have appeared impressive with pristine forests on a backdrop of snow covered mountains.
With the toss of a coin, the city was named Portland. Lovejoy from Boston, Mass. and Pettygrove from Portland, Maine, tossed a coin, now known as “Portland Penny.” Pettygrove won two out of three tosses, and we have the “West Coast” Portland instead of a “West Coast” Boston. Today the infamous Portland Penny is displayed at the Oregon Historical Society.
The second largest city in the Northwest, Portland has grown from 800 residents in 1850 to a population of 609,456 or 2.226 million if you include the Portland metro area (U.S. Census 2013 Population estimate.) Known as the City of Roses because of the beautiful roses tested and grown at the International Rose Test Garden, there is beauty all around – both natural and man-made. A walk through town and you will enjoy architecture with beautiful gardens and parks all around you.
Outdoor activities are top of the list when visiting Portland. Just 14 miles outside of Portland is the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic area. With 292,500 acres of scenery and recreational activities, you can spend a full day exploring this area. Drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway and enjoy the gorge with a stop at the Vista House at Crown Point and take in the panoramic views – linger awhile. Built in 1916 as a monument to Oregon’s early pioneers and a respite for travelers, it is now a visitors center and on the National Register of Historic Places.
Not to be missed along the way is Multnomah Falls, Oregon’s highest falls at 620 feet. Pack a lunch and hike along the trail, stopping to take in the view, have lunch and spend a little extra time at the waterfalls.
Depending on the season, visit Hood River, and you’ll find either a ski town during the winter or a beach bum’s paradise during the summer months. Either time is the best time.
Everyone wants to see Mount Hood – visit regardless of the season. It stands an impressive 11,235 feet and is an excellent spot for the outdoor enthusiast to explore an array of activities – Snowboarding, climbing, hiking or just sightseeing, you will not be disappointed. Located in the Cascade Range, Mount Hood is a dormant volcano. There is excellent skiing at the Timberline Lodge and Timberline Ski Area. They have the longest ski season in North America, and both are National Historic Landmarks. For the skier looking for a bit of variety while visiting the area, check out Mt. Hood Meadows, Cooper Spur Mountain Resort and Ski Area, Mount Hood Skibowl and Summit Ski Area, all worth a visit as well.
In the mid-80’s craft beer found its way to Portland and shortly afterward the state’s progressive legislature legalized brewpubs in 1983. Microbreweries are all around the city ranging from large-scale operations producing beers that are shipped all around the world to the small neighborhood brewpubs creating unique and delicious brews. Today there are more than 50 brewpubs with four of the country’s largest microbreweries in Oregon: Widmer/Craft Brewers Alliance, Deschutes, Full Sail and Bridge Port.
Oregon and the Portland area have some of the best ingredients – Hops (the second largest hop-growing state in the country), pure glacial water from the slopes of Mount Hood, and excellent conditions for growing grains like barley. Portland and Oregon have the “right stuff” so it’s not hard to earn a name for being the best in this liquid gold.
If you love a beer crawl – call and make your flight reservations now and head out to Portland for a tremendous brew and great food to compliment. Portland – also known as Beervana – you’ll see why!
Wine is not left behind either, with prime growing conditions, an advantageous climate and favorable growing soil – Oregon is an emerging wine region. The Willamette Valley, just 30 minutes from downtown Portland, has the right ingredients and has become the state’s most famous AVA (American Viticultural Area.) In 1847, the first Grapes were first grown in the area. But not until the late 60”s did Oregon’s modern winemaking begin. Today the Willamette Valley is one of the world’s premier wine-producing regions, and Oregon ranks second nationally in the number of wineries. A visit to Oregon requires a visit to the wineries.
You cannot have such cool liquids without a great culinary scene to compliment it – Portland is the birthplace of gastronomical legend James Beard. An author, teacher and champion for American cuisine, he has been an educational force in the culinary industry. Many chefs and food enthusiasts have furthered their understanding of food, nourishment and culture through the James Beard Foundation, a not-for-profit organization based in New York City.
Portland is in the prime location for growing and farming. Food carts, great restaurants, culinary festivals, farmers markets, food tours and organic farms can be experienced all over the area. Depending on your mood or preference there are many choices:
- Coopers Hall – a wine –focused restaurant in the Central Eastside Industrial District known for wine-on-tap with a collection of over 40 wines.
- Kachka – located in Northeast Portland you can enjoy family recipes from Russian Chef Bonnie Morales. Her menu includes dishes from her childhood all prepared in a classic and refined manner. Her husband, James Bear Award winner, Israel Morales, runs the front –of-the-house and has curated a beverage list to accompany the many delicious recipes offered at the restaurant.
Doc Bill and I had dinner at Pok Pok Noi – A Thai restaurant with the flavors of Thailand prepared “street food” style. Chef Ricker has a menu filled with choices to take you on a culinary trip from Portland to Thailand.
A walk around the city and you quickly see the thriving art scene. Museums, galleries, public art, and events are perfect ways to pass the time and enjoy local artists.
Places to see and enjoy great art:
- The Portland Art Museum
- Elizabeth Leach Gallery – artist from the Northwest, NYC, and San Francisco
- PDX Contemporary Art – renowned abstract landscape painter James Lavadour is featured
- Bullseye Glass Company – glass art exhibits and classes
- Quintana Galleries – Native American Art
- Museum of Contemporary Craft – Handmade art
- Blue Sky – Selection of photography and videos
- Disjecta – Emerging Artist
A bit of Portland trivia:
- Several of the Simpsons characters are named after streets and locations in Portland.
- Simpson’s creator Matt Groening is from Portland
- More Asian elephants (28 to date) have been born in Portland than in any other North American city
- The Hawthorne Bridge is 105 years old
- Home of the World’s smallest park, Mill Ends Park is only 24 inches across.
Ready to plan your trip? It’s your next destination! And, you will have your very own “Just Got Back” story to share too!
Check out the various website before you grab your backpack and head west!
Portland Tourism – www.travelportland.com
Vista House – www.vistahouse.com
Multnomah Falls – www.friendsofmultnomahfalls.org
Oregon Historical Society – www.ohs.org
Hood River – www.hoodriver.org
Mount Hood – www.mthoodterritory.com
Timberline Lodge – www.timberlinelodge.com
Mt. Hood Meadows – www.skihood.com
Cooper Spur Mountain Resort and Ski Area – www.cooperspur.com
Summit Ski Area – www.summitskiarea.com
Mount Hood Skibowl – www.skibowl.com
Oregon Coast – visittheoregoncoast.com
Portland Art Museum – www.portlandartmuseum.org
Elizabeth Leach Gallery – www.elizabethleach.com
PXC Contemporary Art – www.pdxcontemporaryart.com
Bullseye Glass Company – www.bulleseyegallery.com
Quintana Galleries – www.quintanagalleries.com
Museum of Contemporary Craft – www.museumofcontemporarycraft.org
Blue Sky – www.blueskygallery.org
Disjecta – www.disjecta.org
Note- Travel Bags With Annita extends our gratitude to the Portland Travel and Tourism Board. Travel Portland provided research, photos, and information for this article.