Weekend Escape | Portland, Oregon

Oregon’s largest city is a hip Pacific Northwest enclave that sits in the shadow of Mount Hood, a constant reminder of the city’s outdoorsy nature. Known for its green parks, tall bridges across the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, bicycle-friendly nature, beer innovation, delicious coffee and art scenes, the Rose City never stops re-inventing itself and surprising visitors with its sheer variety of fascinations.

Day 1: Portland’s greatest hits

Start your day at Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Started in 1999, the roastery expanded to the rest of Portland and eventually Seattle and New York City. Continue to the world’s largest independent new and used bookstore, Powell’s City of Books. This landmark was started in 1971 at a former car dealership and contains more than 1 million books in 3,500 sections. Founder Walter Powell made the decision early to comingle new, used, hardcover and paperback books, meaning a greater selection and better deals. After working up an appetite, hit the Alder Street Food Cart Pod, the largest downtown collection of Portland’s famed food carts. In the afternoon, BridgePort Brewing, one of the city’s oldest microbreweries, beckons with brewery tours. Take a streetcar to Northwest Portland and walk the afternoon on Northwest 23rd Avenue, a tree-lined street with fancy shops and eateries. Pittock Mansion rises 1,000 feet above the city’s skyline, with excellent views of rivers, forests, bridges and mountaintops. Tour the 23 rooms full of surprises in this architectural wonder. Paley’s Place will calm your appetite for dinner with Pacific Northwest fare.

Day 2: Sunny Saturday

Breakfast never looked better than an oyster omelet or tofu scramble at Bijou Café, which has been open for more than 35 years. Three blocks away is the Portland Saturday Market. Stroll the stalls and pick up some local artisan jewelry, pottery, and clothes. (It’s open Sundays too.) Spend the rest of your day in a Zen state of mind at the Lan Su Chinese Garden, where a walled sanctuary takes over the entire block. This Ming Dynasty style garden has covered walkways, pavilions, bridges, and a richly-planted landscape. Cap your day off with more Asian influence at Saucebox, an Asian Fusion and sushi bar with clever cocktails on tap.

Day 3: Get Wild

The Oregon Zoo features more than 2,000 animals from around the world, and is renowned for its Asian elephant breeding program. See animals ranging from agouti (a rainforest rodent) to zebra. Continue the education at Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), bringing science to life with five enormous halls and hundreds of interactive exhibits. Experience an earthquake, take part in live lab demonstrations, explore the universe, and tour a real submarine. For a sugary snack, head over to Voodoo Doughnut, located in Old Town’s nightlife district. Bacon, Captain Crunch and Oreos are just some of the doughnut toppings you’ll find. For dinner, Portland City Grill offers upscale new American fare with a great skyline view.

Getting there:

Portland International Airport immediately lets visitors know it’s a “weird” city. (The carpet at the airport has its own Wikipedia page.) But there’s nothing weird about the efficient airport, located about 20 minutes north of downtown. Serving all major airlines, the airport also features an art program, Hollywood Theater playing short films telling local stories, shops and dining. Get to where you’re going with a range of taxis, public transportation, and limo services.

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About the Author

About the Author: Pat Barcas serves as staff writer and photographer for RTX Traveler Magazine, based in Asheville, NC. His favorite RTX destinations are on the beach: Orange Beach, Alabama, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, and Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. .

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