Majestic Mount Hood is a Fabulous backdrop to the downtown Portland skyline.
Summer in Portland is best served wet. Not the kind that comes during a stereotypical rainy day in the Pacific Northwest, although Portland’s precipitation is what makes the city so green. There are many other kinds of Portland wet, like its bubbling fountains rich in history, original microbrews and endless cups of espresso (sometimes served iced, weather permitting). Then there are the region’s fine wines, and fresh juices made from seasonal fruits at the outdoor markets. The city itself was built at the meeting point of two major rivers—the Willamette and the Columbia. You can take to the river for a sedate dinner cruise or a thrilling turn on a speedboat. Just be prepared: Once you get a taste of this city, you might not want to leave.
Begin your visit by checking in at Hotel deLuxe, a Portland favorite since 1912. A recent renovation blended historic features with modern art in an homage to the golden era of Hollywood. The hotel’s Driftwood Room, one of Portland’s most enduring small bars, features a dim-factor that will make you feel like you’re dodging paparazzi.
When it’s time for lunch, visit one of Portland’s ethnic eateries. A good one is Silk Vietnamese Restaurant. Savor the Phó soup or a Bánh Mì sandwich stuffed with lemongrass pork or chicken on a wonderfully chewy baguette. A cup of chrysanthemum tea is the perfect accompaniment. Once you’ve had your fill, learn more about the city you’re visiting at the Oregon Historical Society. The history lesson even extends to the outside of the building, where an eight-story mural depicts the Lewis and Clark expedition.
On warm afternoons, the Pearl District’s Jamison Square is the neighborhood gathering spot, with a delightful wading fountain and perches perfect for basking in the sun. Across the street is Cool Moon Ice Cream Company, whose handmade ice creams feature local ingredients and nifty names like “Funky Chocolate Goldmine (reverse cookies n’ cream, dark chocolate ice cream with inclusions of all-natural vanilla sandwich cookies).
In a city known for its green spaces and eco-friendly ethos, there are plenty of outdoor attractions to explore. Take a leisure stroll on the Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade, named for the popular mayor who launched the project. The walkway provides glorious vistas of the western hills and downtown skyline from the east bank of the Willamette River. Walk across the Steel Bridge, and you may find yourself alongside freight trains and shipping activity—powerful reminders that Portland remains an important port city.
For a change of scenery, head to north-east Portland’s Alberta Arts District. In the past decade, this 17-block stretch of Alberta Street has become a trendy, arts-filled area, home to boutique shops, dining spots and art galleries. Browse local clothing at shops like Donna & Toots and Tumbleweed. Then take a break for tea at Townshend’s or stop for a drink at Zilla Saké House, offering more than 40 kinds of saké.
For dinner, make your way to Bluehour restaurant. The converted warehouse offers a stylish urban setting for Mediterranean-influenced fine dining. Don’t miss the potato gnocchi with black truffles or the Chinook salmon “Terrance Brennan,” a fresh Pacific Northwest catch with a horseradish crust. After Dinner, treat yourself to a theater show by Portland Center Stage. The company performs at Gerding Theater at the Armory, an attraction in itself. Built in 1891, the building was deserted for decades, but a 2007 makeover created two new theaters—and recognition as the world’s first performing arts center to earn LEED platinum certification for sustainable design.
This article has been adapted from the original, which was originally published by MSP Communications.