Portland, Oregon’s largest city, sits on the Columbia and Willamette rivers, in the shadow of snow-capped Mount Hood. It’s known for its parks, bridges and bicycle paths, as well as for its eco-friendliness and its microbreweries and coffeehouses. Iconic Washington Park encompasses sites from the formal Japanese Garden to Oregon Zoo and its railway. The city hosts thriving art, theater and music scenes.
Named after Portland, Maine, the Oregon settlement began to be populated in the 1830s near the end of the Oregon Trail. Its water access provided convenient transportation of goods, and the timber industry was a major force in the city’s early economy.
Portland is home to famous bands such as the Kingsmen and Paul Revere & the Raiders, both famous for their association with the song “Louie Louie” (1963). Other widely known musical groups include the Dandy Warhols, Quarterflash, Everclear, Pink Martini, The Hugs, Sleater-Kinney, the Shins, Blitzen Trapper, the Decemberists, and the late Elliott Smith. In the 1980s, the city was home to a burgeoning punk scene, which included bands such as the Wipers and Dead Moon. The city’s now-demolished Satyricon nightclub was a punk venue that is notorious for being the place where Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain first encountered future wife and Hole frontwoman Courtney Love in 1990.
Portland museums offer a variety of educational programs. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) includes many hands-on activities for adults and children. It consists of five main halls, most of which consist of smaller laboratories: Earth Science Hall, Life Science Hall, Turbine Hall, Science Playground, and Featured Exhibit Hall. The Featured Exhibit Hall has a new exhibit every few months. The laboratories are Chemistry, Physics, Technology, Life, Paleontology, and Watershed. OMSI has many other unique attractions, such as the USS Blueback submarine used in the film The Hunt for Red October, the OMNIMAX Dome Theater, and OMSI’s Kendall Planetarium.
FOOD & DRINK
Portland has been named the best city in the world for street food by several publications, including the U.S. News & World Report and CNN. Food carts are extremely popular within the city, with over 600 licensed carts, making Portland one of the most robust street food scenes in North America.
Portland has the most breweries and independent microbreweries of any city in the world, with 58 active breweries within city limits and 70+ within the surrounding metro area. The city receives frequent acclaim as the best beer city in the United States and is consistently ranked as one of the top-five beer destinations in the world. Portland has played a prominent role in the microbrewery revolution in the U.S. and is nicknamed “Beertown” and “Beervana” as a result. Portland’s modern microbrewery boom dates to the 1980s when Oregon state law was changed to allow the consumption of beer on brewery premises. Brewery innovation is further supported by the abundance of beer ingredients produced locally, including two-row barley, over a dozen varieties of local Cascade hops, and pure mountain water from the Bull Run Watershed.
The beer culture is partially responsible for CNBC naming Portland the best city for happy hour in the U.S. The McMenamin brothers alone have over thirty brewpubs, distilleries, and wineries scattered throughout the metropolitan area, several in renovated cinemas and other historically significant buildings otherwise destined for demolition. Other notable Portland brewers include Widmer Brothers, BridgePort, Portland Brewing, Hair of the Dog, and Hopworks Urban Brewery. In 1999, author Michael “Beerhunter” Jackson called Portland a candidate for the beer capital of the world because the city boasted more breweries than Cologne, Germany.
Portland is also known as a leader in specialty coffee. The city is home to Stumptown Coffee Roasters as well as dozens of other micro-roasteries and cafes.
Portland has an emerging restaurant scene nationally and among three nominees, was recognized by the Food Network Awards as their “Delicious Destination of the Year: A rising city with a fast-growing food scene” for 2007. In 2014, the Washington Post called Portland the fourth best city for food in the United States. Travel + Leisure ranked Portland’s food and bar scene #5 in the nation in 2012. The city is also known for being among the most vegan-friendly cities in America.