: Kenji Sugahara / dronescape

Portland 101

February 28, 2013 (Updated March 1, 2018)

It’s been called the City of Roses, the City of Bridges, Rip City, Portlandia and Beervana. As this wealth of nicknames suggests, Portland has much to offer. From food carts and farm-to-cone ice cream to breweries and books, Portland has something for everyone. With so much to see and do, it’s hard to know where to begin. Here’s our primer to get you exploring.

Photo by Justin Bailie / Tandem Stock

Forest trails

The famed Wildwood Trail winds through the wooded beauty of Forest Park. Thirty miles in total length, the trail connects various Portland greenscapes, including Washington Park and Hoyt Arboretum.

Bonus: Discover Forest Park’s Lesser-Known Trails

Photo by Susan Seubert

City of Roses

Located in the West Hills, the beautiful formal gardens of the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park range over 4.5 acres. The location makes it easy to visit the adjacent Oregon Zoo, Portland Children’s Museum, Portland Japanese Garden and World Forestry Center Discovery Museum.

Bonus: Portland Japanese Garden Reopens in Full Bloom

Photo by Susan Seubert

Food carts

Portland’s 700+ food carts bring the culinary world to your doorstep. From international cuisines like those of Thailand, Greece, Hawaii, Egypt and Cuba to American takes like vegetarian Mexican, Beijing-meets-U.S. and gourmet grilled cheese, it’s all here. Visit FoodCartsPortland.com for maps and information.

Bonus: A World of Flavor at Portland Mercado

Photo by Patrick Brooks Brandenburg / Aurora Photos


Portland was named America’s Best Bike City by Bicycling Magazine in 2012. Portland has the most cyclists per capita of any town in the U.S. Now the city even has its own interactive digital Portland Bike Map, which shows the designated bicycle roadways and connections.

Bonus: See Portland by Bike

Photos by Leela Cyd Ross

Sweet tooth

Salt & Straw broke the mold as one of the first “farm-to-cone” ice cream shops. Visit scoop shops on Alberta Street, Division Street and Northwest 23rd Avenue. We dare you to try the triple threat of strawberry honey balsamic vinegar with cracked black pepper, double fold vanilla and freckled woodblock chocolate.

Bonus: Craft Chocolate Tour of Portland

Quirky hotels

At McMenamins Kennedy School on Portland’s East Side, you can get a beer, stop for dinner, relax in the soaking pool, spend the night or take in a movie in the former auditorium of this converted 1915 elementary school. It’s one of more than 50 properties owned by the company, which loves rescuing historic buildings and making good beer.

Bonus: McMenamins Keeps the Beat

Photo by Leah Nash


With 75 breweries and counting, Portland is the largest craft-brewing market in the U.S. What’s your pleasure? We’ve got IPAs, sour beers, Belgians, organic ales and everything in between.

Bonus: Portland’s Bike and Brew Tour

Photo by Rich Clement

4T trail

It’s easy to see the city without a car, thanks to the 4T trail, a self-guided tour via train, trail, tram and trolley. The iconic Portland Aerial Tram climbs 500 feet from the South Waterfront to Oregon Health & Science University’s main campus on Marquam Hill. The three-minute ride to the top costs $4.70. (It’s free to ride the tram downhill.)

Bonus: A Night Out, Portland Style

Photos by Susan Seubert

Foodies welcomed

People loved chef Andy Ricker’s Pok Pok so much that he opened the Whiskey Soda Lounge across the street for another taste of Thailand (and a place to relax while you wait for your table at Pok Pok).

Bonus: Get a Plateful of Oregon at Feast Portland

Photo by Robbie McClaran


Powell’s City of Books, the world’s largest independent bookstore, takes up an entire city block. Browse the stacks for new and used literature, children’s, cooking, mystery, science fiction and more. If you can’t find what you are looking for, it hasn’t been written yet.

Bonus: Road Trip: Classic Portland

About The

Eileen Garvin
Eileen Garvin lives and writes in Hood River. When she’s not hunched over her keyboard or digging in the garden, you can find her mountain biking, kiteboarding, hiking, skiing or camping somewhere in Oregon.