24 hours in Portland: Roxii Hoare-Smith visits the largest city in the state of Oregon
Portland is the largest city in the state of Oregon, which is located in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. We sent leading travel writer Roxii Hoare-Smith to discover the very best this super cool city has to offer.
Portland. Known for its coffee, craft beer and wine, often referred to as a hipster’s haven and one of America’s coolest cities (which has even earned its own comedy show, Portlandia) and named one of the best cities in the US for food, rivalling New York and San Francisco.
Portland is Oregon’s version of East London – think street art, food trucks, quirky fashion and niche cafe which are creating new food trends ready to hit the East coast then Europe. Portland is a cool, trendy and very affordable city, making it the perfect place for a chilled out city break.
Stay at one of Portland’s oldest and grandest hotels, The Benson Hotel, located in downtown. This luxurious hotel opened in 1913 and has a classic European style lobby with striking Austrian crystal chandeliers, Italian marble and woodwork imported from Russia. The opulent hotel boasts many accolades including ‘Best Portland Hotel’ and ‘Most Romantic Hotel’ and is a recommended hotel by Conde Nast Johansens.
It was was opened by Portland lumber baron, philanthropist and visionary Simon Benson. He retired at 60 to begin a decade of public service and philanthropy. He donated $10,000 to the city for the 20 bronze drinking fountains dotted around Portland.
The Benson Hotel has a sophisticated ambience, and as a nod to its elegant past, the hotel has an old school glamour design to it. Coast Hotels has thoughtfully restored the hotel to its original grandeur as The Benson Hotel is an iconic Portland landmark and is known throughout the States as one of the country’s grandest hotels. Every U.S. president since William H.Taft has stayed in the hotel.
A Deluxe Double offers a Portland city room plus all the comforts you need, including two Tempur-Pedic luxury beds complete with fluffy faux throws and pillows, a comfortable sitting chair and ottoman as well as cosy Organic bamboo bathrobes and slippers. The hotel is pet friendly and for $25 per stay dogs are guaranteed the same luxury comfort as their owners. They are provided with a Tempur-Pedic style doggie bed, a pet friendly guide and a take home gift.
Portland is very walkable so it’s easy to get from A to B rather quickly and it is a great city to wander around taking in the street art, stopping by the local boutiques, and enjoying the delicious aromas which come from the various food trucks around the city. Alternatively you can also get around the city by hiring a Biketown bike – these are based all around the city. Portland puts bikes firsts and has wide bike lanes and ‘bike boxes’ at intersections. Even the Uber’s are unique in this quirky city. If you are lucky you may just get in Portland’s Karaoke Uber which has a live karaoke YouTube show every Friday and Saturday. The car is complete with microphones, strobe lighting and a basket full of candy. In Portland anything goes, which is why its slogan is ‘Keep Portland Weird’.
Oregon benefits from no sales tax, so it’s the perfect place to go shopping and pick up items much cheaper than other States (and compared to the UK!) So if you are planning a US shopping trip, Oregon is the place to go.
Visit the fashionable Pearl District for shopping and the famous Powell’s City of Books which is known as being one of the world’s best bookshops.
While in town go to see the Portland Trailblazers play at home at the Moda Center, you can grab tickets for just $12 each for a mid-week home game. It may offer very good but overpriced beer and sad looking albeit very tasty hot dogs, but it is worth it for the whole experience and the half time entertainment. Stop by the Made in Oregon store in the Lloyd Center Mall and pick up a team shirt to truly fit in with the locals.
Make sure you arrive in Portland with a huge appetite, as there’s a lot to be eating! There’s a large variety of food trucks and street vendors to choose from all over the city and many cafes, diners, and restaurants offer gourmet grub at affordable prices.
Brunch Box is a Portland staple, a quick and tasty brunch spot with mimosas to go. Visit on home game day for all day happy hour on food and drink.
Portland’s first food hall, Pine Street Market, is a great place for grabbing a bite to eat as there’s something for everyone including American BBQ, Ramen, Hot dogs, Pizza and Spanish Tapas.
New York and London are well known for their single item restaurants, but as many follow the hype these restaurants often offer long queues and a fight to get a taste before it sells out. Portland also offers single item restaurants minus the queues and often the trends start here before reaching other cities. These include The Cookie Dough Cafe and VooDoo doughnuts.
The food truck scene is huge in Portland and there are over 500 across the city alone, CNN even named Portland as home to the world’s best street food! One of Portland’s largest areas for food trucks is Alder and if you are feeling home sick this is where The Frying Scotsman is for British fish and chips, along with a variety of Asian food carts selling chicken and rice and savoury Chinese crepes.
If you’re looking for a late night food stop off, then hang with the locals at The Roxy diner for typical American diner fare.
Surprisingly, there are over 700 wineries in the state of Oregon and the state is most famous for Pinot Noir – it is regarded as one of the premier Pinot-producing regions in the world! If you can’t make it to the vineyards, go to Oregon Wines on Broadway and try to the Pinot Noir or check out their Champagne Friday for a truly luxurious start to your weekend.
Portland is famous for its craft beers (it is also known as the craft beer capital of the world!) so it would be a crime to visit the city without sampling a few. Some of Portland’s best places for beer include nano brewery Back Pedal, Coalition Brewing Co, or Culmination Brewing which was named Best New Brewery at the Oregon Beer Awards a couple of years ago.
If you are looking for happy hour then there’s plenty around for food as well as drink. Visit The Independent Sports Bar & Grill next to The Benson Hotel for good beer, nachos and to watch the sports or to feel like a true local head to dive bar Yam Hill Pub. At Shift Drinks there’s no need for happy hour as their very own Shift beer by Royale Brewing is $3 a pint.