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The Portland Region
Road tripping through the Portland Region in Oregon
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A Maker’s Culture

How would you like to meet the farmer who grew your lunch, the brewer who labored over that ale and the artist behind the gift you just purchased? The Portland region’s staunch support for small businesses means you can often shop directly from the creators.

Pluck your own fresh produce at u-pick farms, browse one of the many farmers’ markets – year-round – and order off menus featuring locally sourced ingredients. Watch brewers at work in more than 100 breweries, talk to vintners at estate and urban wineries, and check out local craft distilleries on Portland’s Distillery Row, in Tualatin Valley’s Hillsboro and Tigard, and Oregon City.

From March to December, the largest arts-and-crafts fair in the U.S., Portland Saturday Market is an epicenter of handmade goods. Go artisan-hopping on the east side of the Willamette River, where you can stroll from shop to shop featuring locally crafted culinary goods such as teas, charcuterie, chocolates and even salt harvested by hand from the Oregon coast. For more tax-free shopping, browse the quaint main-street shops in Gresham, Forest Grove and Oregon City, or visit the premier shopping destinations in Tualatin Valley, Washington Square and Bridgeport Village.

 

Love the Outdoors

It doesn’t matter what the weather is like – people here love the outdoors. The region is green all over and top attractions include Washington Park, with its International Rose Test Garden, arboretum and Japanese Garden. Escape to an urban woodland at Forest Park, latticed with 129 kilometers of wildlife-rich hiking trails. Just outside of the city are Tualatin Valley’s nature parks, which provide a quiet oasis. 

The region is all about kayaking, tubing, swimming and fishing on the Willamette and Columbia rivers and its tributary the Tualatin River. Located in the historic town of Oregon City (the first city in the Pacific Northwest and the terminus of the 3,200 kilometer Oregon Trail), Willamette Falls is the second largest by volume in the USA. Kayakers and stand-up paddleboarders can paddle directly into the horseshoe-shaped cascade. Join cyclists and sightsee on two wheels; take a guided bike tour of Portland or immerse yourself in the colors of the season on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail through the Tualatin Valley.

 

Arts and Culture, Portland Style

No tour of the Portland region’s cultural scene would be complete without a stop at Powell’s Books, the largest independent book store in the world. The circa-1892 Portland Art Museum holds 42,000 objects and is renowned for its collection of ancient and contemporary Native American works. Live performances, professional theater productions and music festivals – from classic to indie to folk and jazz – can be found and enjoyed every single night of the year throughout the region. Wine culture also takes center stage in the region. Wine festivals, wine-pairing dinners and other events can be savored year-round. Oregon’s cultural heritage is interpreted in the End of the Oregon Trail Center, and meet modern Oregon Trail pioneers, the makers.

The Portland Region
Road tripping through the Portland Region in Oregon
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Fun Fact

Browsing the shelves at Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon
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Covering an entire city block and housing more than 2 million volumes, Powell’s Books is the largest independent bookstore in the world.

View of downtown Portland and its artistic neon signage
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Portland’s city name was chosen in 1845 via a coin toss held in Oregon City, which was the first city in the Pacific Northwest and end of the famed Oregon Trail route.

Pho from Nak Won Korean restaurant in Beaverton, Oregon
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More than 15 percent of the Tulatin’s Valley residents were born outside the USA, making it the most diverse area in Oregon and an epicenter for authentic cuisine from around the world.

Must see places

A tasting at Portland’s Southeast Wine Collective

Southeast Wine Collective

The acclaimed wineries of the Willamette Valley are just 30 minutes away, and Portland’s creativity and love of all things “craft” has brought Wine Country to the city. Since Hip Chicks Do Wine opened in 1999, more than a dozen urban wineries have set up facilities here. Check out the Southeast Wine Collective, a chic wine bar and restaurant that houses 10 small-scale wineries in one location. Order a flight (small samples) of local and regional wine with a charcuterie board that pairs perfectly.

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The aerial tram portion of Portland’s 4T Trail

The 4T Trail

Trail, tram, trolley, train – those are the four T’s of this self-guided trail that’s a veritable highlight reel of all that the Portland area has to offer. Hop on the trolley to see downtown’s landmarks; transfer to the train past Washington Park; hike the trail over Council Crest for fabulous views; and finish with a ride in an aerial tram over the Willamette River to complete the 12.8-kilometer loop. Check operating schedules, wear comfortable shoes and bring a few dollars for transportation and food along the way.

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Willamette Falls near Portland, Oregon, illuminated by the moon

Willamette Falls

Just 30 minutes from downtown Portland, Willamette Falls is the second-largest waterfall by volume in the USA – second only to Niagara Falls. The horseshoe-shaped waterfall is a popular day trip for Portland locals and visitors. Park in Oregon City and take the municipal elevator – one of only four in the world – from street level to the top of the falls. Have your camera handy for photos of rainbows in the mist and great views of Oregon City.

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Tryon Creek State Natural Area

In nearby Lake Oswego, Tryon Creek is a well-trafficked, day-use park ideal for nature lovers. Hiking, biking and equestrian trails are set amid the lush greenery of a second-growth forest. Walk over eight pretty footbridges and keep an eye out for a variety of birds and wildlife. The nature center has interpretive exhibits, maps and brochures to help you identify your surroundings. The park is especially scenic in spring when the trillium burst into bloom.

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Capturing the moment with a selfie at Ponzi Vineyards in Sherwood, Oregon

Ponzi Vineyards

Ponzi Vineyards has been family owned and operated since 1970. Today, it’s regarded as one of the best in Oregon and its wines are sold around the world. Head to the tasting room, where the acclaimed wines are rivaled only by the tremendous vistas of the Willamette Valley. Try the Pinot Noir or the Aurora Chardonnay, winner of the 2014 Year’s Best award from Wine & Spirits Magazine. The winery offers by-appointment tours that give a behind-the-scenes look at the crafting process.

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Cycling along the Banks-Vernonia State Trail

Banks-Vernonia State Trail

Oregon’s first rail-to-trail project is also one of its most popular. The Banks-Vernonia State Trail features 34 paved kilometers perfectly suited for walking, jogging or riding on two wheels. There’s also an equestrian trail alongside the path. Rent a bike in Banks and pedal through farmland and woods, crossing over the 220-meter Buxton Trestle bridge that used to carry trains over Mendenhall Creek. The town of Vernonia at the trail’s end has quaint restaurants, shops and the Vernonia Pioneer Museum to make for a full day’s outing.

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Enjoying sake on SakéOne’s outdoor patio

SakéOne

There aren’t many sake breweries in the USA; beer tends to get most of the attention. But if you want to try something different, drive out to Forest Grove (about 40 minutes from Portland) to sip SakéOne’s marvelous, U.S.-brewed sake. The company adopted its brewing process from a Japanese brewery and retains traditional brewing methods while incorporating the unique flavors and famously pure water of the Willamette Valley. Tour the facility and sample in-house and imported sakes. It’s nearly guaranteed you’ll end up taking a bottle back with you.

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Lining up for delicious eats at the Alder Street Food Cart Pod in Portland, Oregon

Alder Street Food Cart Pod

Food carts are widespread in the USA, but Portland has a special affinity for these mobile eateries. Many of its 500-plus food carts group into “pods,” with one of the largest being the one around Alder and Washington Streets. Covering two city blocks, more than 60 vendors offer a cornucopia of flavors: Mexican, Thai, Mediterranean and even fancy grilled cheese sandwiches. Grab your meal and walk across the street to O’Bryant Square for a truly local lunch experience.

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An eager crew aboard Portland’s BrewCycle brewery tour

BrewCycle

Bicycles and beers: What better way to get acquainted with Portland’s favorite hobbies than to bring them together? Hop on board this funky bicycle-built-for-15 and pedal your way to three different brew pubs (selection depends on which route you choose). Meet up at Back Pedal Brewing, the BrewCycle’s Pearl District brew pub serving up tasty food and local beers. The company also offers a BrewBarge cruise experience; bring your own beer and enjoy on a pedal-powered, 1.5-hour cruise along the Willamette River.

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Interior of Made Here PDX store in Portland, Oregon

Made Here PDX

Jewelry, art, clothing, outdoor gear, beverages, homemade foods – if it’s made here, you’ll find it in the aptly named Made Here PDX stores. There are three retail locations (Pearl District, East Side and Downtown) for convenient access. It’s the ideal place to find that perfect gift or souvenir to take home – with the added bonus of Oregon’s tax-free shopping.

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Explore Portland Region destinations

Bird's-eye view of Portland and beyond
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Portland

A little bit creative, a little bit counter-culture, Portland is packed with so much character you’ll almost forget to explore its great outdoors (a mistake, as the movies “Wild” and “Twilight” demonstrate). Nearby, you’ll find Mount Hood, the Columbia River Gorge and the Oregon Coast, as well as wine country. Within, you’ll find a mindful community dedicated to keeping its city sustainable, innovative and accessible, with an enviable public transit system, tax-free shopping and enormous in-city parks offering dozens of cultural attractions. Portland gives us music (The Decemberists, The Shins), eccentric characters to watch (“Portlandia”) and a craft brew scene like none other (they even have a Distillery Row now).

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