10 Reasons I Fell In Love With Portland
I’ve got a confession to make - I’ve been trying to write this post now for about 4 months. I never usually struggle to tell you all about the places we’ve visited, but time and time again I have sat down at my laptop and tried to write about Portland, and time and time again I’ve failed. I think on some subconscious level I’ve wanted to keep this city to myself for a little while, and keep the memories we made there a little secret between myself and Sam. Because it’s been a long time since I fell for anywhere as hard as I fell for Portland. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so at home in a city that was totally brand new to me.
And so, rather than write a simple Portland city guide, with a list of recommendations and not much else, I thought I’d share the reasons why I fell in love with this city. I hope it has you all itching to visit soon - although you have to promise to bring me a donut home with you!
1) The beer
Portland is famous for having more breweries per square mile than anywhere else in the world, so of course the beer had to be top of my list! We had such a great time sampling lots of unique craft beers at independent breweries during our trip, and it was good to know we were never more than a few paces away from a great drink. Although be warned - the licensing laws are super strict in the state of Oregon, so make sure you take proof of ID out with you, or you’ll be turned away.
2) The books
You all know by now that I’m a voracious reader who loves a good book shop, so when I found out that Portland was home to the largest independent bookstore in the world, I couldn’t have been more excited. Powell’s City of Books didn’t disappoint and I even found myself doing a little giddy dance when I realised just how huge it was. If you’re a book lover like me, I’d definitely recommend making sure you have some spending money put aside.
3) The people
From the minute we stepped outside of the airport, we noticed just how friendly the people were in Portland. Everybody we met was really helpful, recommending places to eat and drink or just simply having a nice chat about why we were in town. The warmth we were greeted with felt really similar to visiting a northern UK city, and our friends who live there quickly confirmed that Portland is renowned for its loveliness.
4) The shopping
Anyone who has ever travelled to the US before will understand the annoyance of getting to the checkout and having a big old chunk of sales tax added to your total. However, Oregon (the state in which Portland resides) is one of only two states in the US that doesn’t impose a sales tax, meaning that even with the crappy exchange rate, you can still bag yourself some bargains! We found some really great thrift shops in the city, and North 23rd Street was teeming with independent boutiques.
5) The great outdoors
I’m a sucker for a city that offers the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors too, and Portland definitely ticks that box. From the beautiful gardens and parks to the forests that surround the city, you won’t be stuck for a beauty spot to explore. We took on the Pittock Mansion hike while we were there and could hardly believe that we were only a few minutes drive away from the city centre - it was so still, green and peaceful.
6) The food
I think it’s safe to say that we planned most of our Portland itinerary around mealtimes, and I have no regrets! Portland is a city well known for it’s dining scene, and we definitely look advantage. Some of our highlights included checking out the donuts at Voodoo and Blue Star Donuts (Blue Star were our fave!), eating exceptionally good ice cream at Salt and Straw, and enjoying a taco feast at Cruzroom.
7) The coffee
I think you can tell a lot about a city by it’s coffee scene, and it’s safe to say that Portland takes it’s brewing seriously! High on our hitlist was a visit to the original Stumptown coffee shop - we’d supped their stuff in New York a couple of times and loved it, so having their store at the end of our road was brilliant.
8) The hotels
One thing we noticed when we were booking our trip to Portland was what a great selection of hotels they had for a relatively small city. After a lot of umming and ahhing, we decided to stay at The Society which we LOVED (I was a particular fan of their great wine selection and the gorgeous sunset view from the rooftop), but the Ace hotel looked great too. Plus, The Hoxton will be bringing their super cool brand of hotels to Portland very soon!
9) The independent spirit
One thing which you might have noticed throughout this post is how many times I’ve used the word independent, and that’s because Portland is absolutely teeming with independent bars, restaurants and shops! I’m a huge fan of independent businesses, and having so many of them in one city really does create a super friendly and unique spirit.
10) The whole vibe
I couldn’t finish this post without giving a little nod to the whole vibe of Portland, however ambiguous that might sound. It can be hard to define the vibe or atmosphere of a city, but all I know is that from the minute we left the airport, we felt at home in this city. It didn’t feel scary or overwhelming or challenging in the way other cities can. Instead, we felt welcome, and I think that was my very favourite thing about Portland.
Have you visited Portland before? Or is it on your travel bucket list?