Few American cities can match the youthful spirit of Portland, "The City of Roses". The largest city in the state of Oregon, Portland's residents are proud of their city, which draws people for its scenic beauty, great outdoors environment, excellent microbreweries, and eco-friendly urban planning policies, as well as a reputation for colorful characters and a proudly liberal outlook with an attitude to match.
Lying about 70 mi (124 km) from the Pacific Coast on Oregon's northern border, the city straddles the Willamette River (pronounced will-LAM-ett; just remember the rhyme "It's Willamette, dammit.") south of its confluence with the Columbia River. To the east, majestic Mount Hood forms an inspiring backdrop for Portland's skyline. The mild, wet climate makes this a very green city, and Portland has taken full advantage of this with a wealth of parks and gardens that make the city one of the most beautiful in the country.
|Northwest Portland |
Northwest Portland has the more chic districts of town: NW 23rd Ave. and the Pearl District. Spend a day here for some interesting shopping and check out Portland's Chinatown with the beautiful Lan Su Garden.
|Southwest Portland |
Downtown is here, with skyscrapers and many of its "splurge" hotels and restaurants. To the west is the large Washington Park with memorials, gardens and a zoo.
|Eastside Portland |
The Eastside is made up of several neighborhoods sprinkled across this half of the city. Each one offers a unique character and charm of its own. Many of the city's best eating and drinking establishments are on this side of the Willamette River.
|“||The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland!||”|
—Tagline of Portlandia
Portland is the largest city lying between San Francisco and Seattle, but when compared to those cities, Portland's environment is not as fast-paced. It hasn't yet developed to the point of being overwhelming. Instead, it has a more laid-back, small-city feel.
Over 650,000 people live in the city of Portland (2020); including the suburbs the metro area has 2.5 million people, so Portland has its fair share of amenities, including an impressive music and arts scene, and one of the largest collections of zine and independent publishers of any city in the nation. Its relatively large population also means it has some of the worst traffic congestion in the U.S., a fairly high cost of living relative to wages, and chronic underemployment.
The city has a lovely blend of historic and modern architecture and many lush parks to poke your toes into. Forest Park and Washington Park in the hills west of Downtown offer a variety of trees, plants, trails, and wildlife near the city. Vistas of Mount Hood and the Willamette River, stately Douglas-fir trees (Oregon's official state tree), and roses and trees at every turn give the city stunning seasonal color.
Environmentally friendly practices, such as recycling and an extensive public transportation system, are part of the culture and fuel many progressive city planning practices. Portland metro, like all Oregon urban centers, is surrounded by an urban growth boundary. This limits sprawl and helps make Portland a relatively compact city. Unlike most similarly sized metropolitan areas in the country, you can drive about 15 mi (24 km) from Downtown in just about any direction and be out in the countryside, where u-pick farms welcome the public.
Portland is a very fun and welcoming city for LGBT travelers. It has one of the largest and most integrated gay and lesbian communities in the United States, supported by two major LGBT publications and other queer-friendly media.
The first European contact in the area came from none other than Lewis and Clark, who sailed along the Columbia River just north of where Portland lies today in 1805; after a year of exploration they finally reached the Pacific Ocean just to the west. The reports from their expedition fueled interest in the area, and settlers came to stake their claim. Two of those settlers were William Overton and his friend Asa Lovejoy, a lawyer from Boston, who came across the spot where Portland now sits and jointly began to build a settlement. Later, Overton sold his share to F.W. Pettygrove, a man from Portland, Maine. As of this point, the area was being transformed from a small stopping point between Oregon City and Vancouver, Washington to a formal settlement, and the owners now needed to give it a name. Both Lovejoy and Pettygrove wanted to name the new town after their respective hometowns; so in 1845 they decided to leave it up to a coin toss and Pettygrove won two times out of three.
In 1851, Portland was incorporated and was growing rapidly; its proximity to the rivers, which funneled a trade with San Francisco to the south, combined by the local fishing, lumber, and agriculture industries fueled Portland's early growth. The railroad arrived in the 1880s, and for a time Portland was the largest city on the west coast north of San Francisco; however the Klondike Gold Rush and the arrival of the railroad to Washington state meant Seattle quickly eclipsed Portland's growth.
Portland persisted as a booming railroad, lumber and steel town for several decades. During the 1970s, however, Oregon started to gain a reputation for progressive urban planning practices, adopting policies such as an urban growth boundary and constructing new parks in a push to maintain the central neighborhoods as active places in light of suburban development. Through the 1970s and into the 2000s, Portland became a center for counterculture, growing into a hub for punk and indie rock music, zine publishing, and activist movements. The dot-com boom of the 1990s brought an influx of modern tech companies joining the established electronic and computer industry along with the so-called "creative class", who remained even after the economic bubble burst. By this point, the city's progressive policies and politics had won the city a special status among urban designers, environmentalists, and political activists as a very forward-thinking city, which has only fueled further growth and development of the metropolitan area.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
It's said that there are only two seasons in the Portland area: rain and summer. When the summer comes, the clouds suddenly clear and it's hot and sunny, and often quite pleasant. Any given day in July through mid-October has only a 10% chance of rain, and temperatures uncommonly exceed 85°F (29°C) degrees or so, although it does occasionally exceed 100°F (38°C) in mid-summer. With global warming, Portland has had heat waves (temperatures of up to 115 °F (46 °C) in 2021) and fires severe enough to restrict people to the indoors.
Despite the nice summers, Portland is really known for its rain, which comes between late September and late June. It is more often a menacing drizzle or mist than a downpour, though. There's a myth that most Portlanders don't use, or even believe in, umbrellas, and instead prefer hoods and raincoats. This has a grain of truth to it, but any stroll through Portland on a rainy day will prove to you that people are not shy about using umbrellas. You shouldn't be shy, either — if it's not summer and you don't want to get wet, pack your umbrella.
Although Portland is roughly at the same latitude as Minneapolis, Minnesota (and is in fact slightly further north), snow is uncommon because of Portland's fairly low elevation and the relative proximity of the Pacific Ocean. It does happen around once or twice a year, but rarely persists more than a few days. As a result, many area drivers do not deal with snow very well, especially when attempting to navigate the hilly terrain along many commuter corridors and neighborhoods. Even a light dusting will increase the risk of accidents, and any substantial snowfall or freezing rain can paralyze the city. The lowest temperature ever recorded was -3 °F (-19 °C), though overnight lows are usually above freezing.
A sunny day in the rainy season is not typical, but the sun does come out occasionally. The moment it does, some Portlanders may wear summer clothing, even if it's still somewhat chilly.
- 1 Portland Visitor Information and Services Center, 877 SW Taylor St (in Director Park), ☏ , toll-free: , [email protected]. M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-4PM, Su (May-Oct only) 10AM-2PM.
- Portlandia (IFC, 2011-2018). Sketch comedy series set and filmed in Portland, which parodies many Portland stereotypes and trends (such as hipsters, outdoors enthusiasts, bikers, farm-to-table food, tattoos, and many more).
1 Portland International Airport (PDX IATA), 7000 NE Airport Way (9 mi (14 km) northeast of downtown, near the Columbia River), ☏ . It is a dual-use air force base, which may cause confusion on some maps. Most major airlines serve Portland, though Alaska Airlines carries the most traffic through PDX, using Portland as a hub. Non-stop service is available from most major U.S. airport hubs, a lot of smaller cities in the Pacific Northwest (served by Alaska Airlines and United Express), and there are a few international flights from Canada (Air Canada and Alaska Airlines), Frankfurt am Main (Condor); Keflavik International Airport (Icelandair); Mexico (Alaska Airlines, Volaris); London Heathrow (British Airways); Amsterdam Schiphol, Seoul Incheon and Tokyo Narita Airport (Delta). The following airlines serve Portland:.
- Concourse B: Horizon & Skywest for Alaska Airlines, Alaska Airlines
- Concourse C: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Icelandair (departures); JetBlue, Spirit
- Concourse D: Delta (International & domestic); British Airways, Frontier, Hawaiian Air, Icelandair arrivals, Spirit, Sun Country, Condor, Volaris, Alaska Airlines arrivals from Mexico.
- Concourse E: Southwest, United, Air Canada (to Vancouver (E13A)). Air Canada flight to/from Toronto is at Concourse D, WestJet (E13B)
- 2 Boutique Air have its own terminal at 7909 NE Airport Way which is connected to the main terminal by a complimentary shuttle. They only fly from Pendleton.
All international arrivals disembark through Gates D12-D15 where passengers proceed to US Customs & Immigration inspections under Concourse D. After inspection, follow the "Connecting Passengers" signs to the re-check center where you can recheck your luggage. Go up the escalators for security screening and re-enter into concourse D by Gate D9 to access connecting flights. If Portland is the final destination follow signs reading "Portland Passengers Bus to Terminal", passengers will board an airside shuttle bus which takes them around to the international arrivals zone in front of the United Airlines baggage reclaim (at carousel #10), in the main terminal building.
A taxi from the airport to downtown is around $35, but the Portland airport is well connected by public transit, which allows you to save quite a bit of money. The most convenient and least expensive option is the MAX train, TriMet's light-rail system. Just catch the 3 MAX Red Line in the south end of the airport terminal, near the baggage claim area, at lower level. The ride downtown takes about 30 minutes and costs $2.50, which includes a transfer good for 2½ hours with unlimited transfers to any TriMet bus or train, or even to a C-TRAN bus (Route 65 at Parkrose Transit Center & #67 at airport) (except the express buses at the Parkrose Transit Center Stop), which serves Vancouver, Washington. Tickets can be purchased from machines on the train platform, or you can use any contactless payment (Apple Pay, Google Pay, or contactless card) at card readers on the platform. You can also purchase a prepaid HOP card (see below).
PDX opened a new 4 consolidated rental car center on the airport grounds in November 2021. To reach the rental car center, take the pedestrian tunnel on the south side of baggage claim and walk about 500 feet; the escalator to the rental car center is on the right.
To get downtown from the airport by car, follow Airport Way to the junction with Interstate 205 south, then proceed to exit 21B to take Interstate 84 west. Follow I-84 until it ends at the junction with Interstate 5, then follow the signs to City Center.
Two important notes about returning a rental car at the airport:
- As you approach the airport terminal on Airport Way, pay careful attention to the overhead signs for Rental Car Return. After the road splits to the right, there are a number of left exits close together, and it is very easy to take the wrong exit. The rental car return exit is the first left exit after the split.
- There are no gas stations in the commercial area between the airport and I-205 (Cascade Station). If you have to fill up the gas tank before returning the car, and are driving north on I-205, take the Sandy/Killingsworth exit (Exit 23-A) to get to the airport's closest and most accessible gas stations.
- See also: Rail travel in the United States
- 5 Portland Union Station, 800 NW 6th Ave. The station is about a 15-minute walk from most places downtown. Union Station is well connected by public transit. It sits on the northern end of the transit mall, so many Trimet buses as well as the MAX Yellow and Green Lines stop nearby. There has been some investment in passenger rail in the region, so journey times and reliability have improved and will likely continue to improve incrementally as new construction is completed. Train operator:
- Amtrak, ☏ , toll-free: . Operates train service around the United States of America. Routes stopping at Union station:
- Amtrak Cascades operates between Vancouver, BC and Eugene via Bellingham, Mount Vernon, Everett, Edmonds, Seattle, Tukwila, Tacoma, Lacey (Olympia), Centralia, Kelso (Longview), Vancouver, WA, Portland, Oregon City, Salem, and Albany. There are two round trips daily along the portion between Vancouver and Seattle, four round trips daily along the portion between Seattle and Portland, and two round trips daily along the portion between Portland and Eugene. Travel time to Portland from Eugene is 2.5 hours, from Tacoma is 2.75 hours, from Seattle is 3.5 hours, from Bellingham is 6.25 hours, and from Vancouver, BC is 8.25 hours. No train departures travel the whole length of the route. Additional service between Vancouver and Seattle, and between Portland to Eugene are provided on the Amtrak Thruway Motorcoach.The Cascades offers certain amenities not available on the other two routes, such as Wi-Fi, more space for bikes, more power outlets, a bistro car serving Pacific Northwest foods and wine, and the occasional movie.
- Coast Starlight operates daily between Seattle and Los Angeles. Stops include Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Klamath Falls, Dunsmuir, Redding, Chico, Sacramento, Davis, Martinez, San Francisco (Emeryville), Oakland, San Jose, Salinas, Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Oxnard, Simi Valley, Van Nuys, and Burbank. Between Seattle and Eugene, it makes the same stops as the Amtrak Cascades, except it skips Tukwila and Oregon City. Travel time to Portland from Seattle is 4 hours, from Tacoma is 3.25 hours, from Eugene is 3.25 hours, from Sacramento is 15.75 hours, from the Emeryville (San Francisco Bay Area) is 18.25 hours, from Los Angeles is 1 day 5.75 hours.
- Empire Builder, Amtrak's busiest long-distance route. Operating daily between Seattle/Portland and Chicago including stops at Spokane, Glacier National Park, Fargo, Saint Paul, and Milwaukee. The trains split into separate branches between Seattle and Spokane, and between Portland and Spokane, while operating as trains consisting of train cars from both branches between Spokane and Chicago. Travel time to Portland from Chicago is 1 day 22.25 hours, from Milwaukee is 1 day 20.5 hours, from Minneapolis is 1 day 14 hours, from West Glacier (Glacier National Park) is 13.75 hours, and from Spokane is 7.5 hours.
- Amtrak, ☏ , toll-free: . Operates train service around the United States of America. Routes stopping at Union station:
The primary road connection between Portland and the rest of the west coast is Interstate 5, which runs through Washington, Oregon, and California. Driving from the south, you can take exits to the southern part of downtown before I-5 crosses the Willamette River, or you can take the Interstate 405 bypass to access the rest of downtown. From the north, you can take I-405 over the Fremont Bridge to cross the Willamette River and reach downtown, or take exits 302A or 300B and follow the City Center signs. Interstate 205 is a bypass route that splits from I-5 and serves the eastern side of the Portland metro area.
From northeastern Oregon, eastern Washington, Boise, and other points east, take Interstate 84. It follows the Columbia River on the Oregon side and terminates in the center of Portland, where it meets Interstate 5. U.S. Route 26 comes to Portland from the Pacific coast (near Seaside and Cannon Beach) in the west, before continuing out of the city east to Central Oregon.
In 2023, Oregon began allowing self-serve gas stations statewide. However, no station is required to offer self-serve, and even those that do cannot make more than half of their pumps self-serve. If you don't feel like getting out of your car to fill up, drive up to a non-self-serve pump, stay in your car, and wait as an attendant does the pumping for you.
Intercity buses pick up at the 6 Union Station Bus Station next to the Union Station (800 NW 6th Ave), the airport and/or additional places on the way into or out of Portland (see their websites). They can only pick up passengers on the outbound trip and drop off on the inbound trip but cannot transport passengers between two points within the Tri-Met Service Area (Portland Metropolitan Area). For example, a CoBreeze bus coming from Bend cannot pick up passengers in Gresham and drop them off at the airport. They can only drop off in both places on the inbound trip within the Portland area. See below:
- CoBreeze, (bus stops) Union Station, Portland International Airport & the Cleveland MAX station in Gresham, ☏ . Goes down to Bend via Sandy, Welches, Government Camp, Madras, Prineville P&R and Redmond Airport along US Hwy 26. Buses may not make all the above stops regularly but on request in advance of travel. Check with them.
- Columbia Gorge Express (Operated by Columbia Area Transit), ☏ , [email protected]. 7AM-7PM. Bus connects Gateway Transit Center in NE Portland through the Columbia River Gorge to Cascade Locks and Hood River. Connection to The Dallas can be made from Hood River and to downtown Portland from Gateway Transit Center on all westbound MAX trains. Take the northbound MAX Red Line train to the airport from Gateway Transit Center. $10 each way, all stops (to/from Portland).
- 7 Flixbus (operated by MTR Western & Greyhound), (bus stop) 700 NW Station Way (bus will board on the curbside on NW Station Way. Boarding will take place along the large curb marked for buses only, north of Union Station). European bus service that just expanded to Pacific Northwest in November 2019 with service between Bellingham & Eugene via Everett, Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Portland, Corvallis and to other destinations in Pacific Northwest. Additional stops are at 800 NW 6th where the Oregon Point and Amtrak Thruway buses are at and at the airport. Check tickets and website as to the boarding locations.
- Frontera del Norte, (bus stop) Su Casa Supermercado at 16100 SE Stark St (SE Stark St & 161st Ave), ☏ . Connects Pasco, Sunnyside & Yakima WA in eastern Washington (state) to Los Angeles and the Mexican border in San Ysidro in Southern California via Portland. There's also a travel agent inside the supermarket too.
- 8 Greyhound, Bolt Bus, (Ticket Counter) 427 NW 6th Ave; (Bus stops) 1090 NW Station Way (Buses will board at the curbside on NW Station Way marked for buses only, north of Union Station.), ☏ , toll-free: . The old bus station on 550 NW 6th Ave is closed and has been converted to a homeless shelter. The new ticketing office is at 427 NW 6th, one block south & opposite side of 6th Ave from the old bus station while map marker is at the new curbside stops on NW Station Way, north of Union Station. Greyhound connects Portland to Seattle (via Kelso, Centralia, Olympia, Tacoma); Spokane (Via Stanfield/Hermiston, Tri-Cities); Los Angeles (via Salem, Eugene, Medford, Sacramento); Denver (via Pendleton, Boise, Salt Lake City). Passengers transfer in the final destination city of the route or in an intermediary stop to reach additional cities. Check schedules. Additional transfer points to other parts of Oregon are in Corvallis, Eugene and Medford. Prices vary depending on your destination.
- Groome Transportation, (shuttle stop) Portland International Airport (Exit the lower level baggage claim through Door #8, cross over to the third island, and go all the way to the left for “Scheduled Buses and Vans”), toll-free: . goes down to Eugene via Woodburn, Salem, Albany and Corvallis
- Shuttle Oregon, (Bus stops) Union Station & Portland International Airport, ☏ . Goes to Bend through Salem & Sisters via Hwy 22 and I-5.
- Tillamook Transportation District Rt #5, (stops) Union Station, Sunset Transit Center & NW 185th Ave, ☏ . Twice daily trip from Tillamook along US Hwy 26 and OR-Hwy 6 $15 one-way or $20 round-trip.
- Oregon Point (Operated by MTR Western), (bus stop) Union Station @ 800 NW 6th Ave (stops in both Greyhound & Union Station), ☏ . Tickets can also be purchased at the Amtrak ticket counters or online for two of their routes:
- Northwest Point goes up to Astoria via Beaverton, Elsie along US Hwy 26 and Seaside, Cannon Beach, Gearhart and Warrenton along US Hwy 101. Picks up from the Union Station and Sunset Transit Center (Beaverton).
- Cascade Point goes down to Eugene via Tualatin, Woodburn, Salem & Albany. Picks up from the Union Station and the Tualatin Park & Ride.
By public transit
- TriMet. Operates buses, MAX light rail, WES commuter train (between Beaverton and Wilsonville), and the Portland Streetcar across the greater Portland Metropolitan Area. The same tickets are valid for travel on bus and rail. See "By public transit" under Getting Around for more details. Adult $2.50 for 2.5 hours, or $5 for a day pass; senior, youth, disability $1.25/$2.50.
In addition to the above there are other transit providers providing onward transport from Portland to other cities/municipalities surrounding the greater Portland Metropolitan area and outside the Tri-Met service district. They can only make limited local pick-up and drop off stops in the Tri-Met Service Area and some can only drop off in the Portland Metropolitan Area on the inbound trip and pick-up on the outbound trip. Others can pick up and drop off between two points within the Tri-Met Service Area:
- C-Tran. operates local buses between Vancouver, WA; Camas, Battlegroud and Washougal in Clark County, Washington as well as express buses to downtown Portland &/or Marquam Hill (105, 105x, 164, 190); Parkrose/Sumner MAX station (65), Delta Park/Vanport MAX Station via Hayden Island (60), and the airport (67). $1.85 within Clark County, WA; $2.50 all zones (to Vanport or Parkrose Transit Centers), $3.85 express to downtown Portland. All zone & express tickets are transferable for onward travel on Tri-Met.
- Columbia County Rider (CC Rider) Rt #1, (stops) SW Salmon between 5th & 6th Ave, and NW 113th & US Hwy 30, ☏ . It operates buses within Columbia County between St Helens, Clatskanie, Rainier and Scappoose as well as to downtown Portland (Rt#1) and to Kelso, WA (Rt#5). Route #6 only goes up to Vernonia from Willow Creek Transit Center out in Aloha. $5 base zone + $1 additional zone or $2 on the Flex route.
- Columbia Gorge Express (operated by Columbia Area Transit (CAT)), ☏ . The Columbia Gorge Express has up to 8 daily trips connecting Portland (Gateway Transit Center), Multnomah Falls, Cascade Locks and Hood River. $5 each way between Portland and Multnomah Falls, $10 each way for all other stops. Operated by Columbia Area Transit which operates local public transportation in/around Hood River. Passengers transfer to 'The Dalles Route' in Hood River to continue to The Dalles.
- Ride Connections-Community Connectors. +1 503 226-0700. Ride Connections offer free bus/shuttle connections to rural and suburban Washington County not served by Tri-Met buses and trains. They operate from Hillsboro, Forest Grove, Tualatin and King City. Services are open to the public for their fixed routes but appointments are required for off route drop off and pick up.
- South Metro Area Regional Transit (SMART). Operates local buses in Wilsonville (20 mi/30 km south of Portland), Charbonneau & Canby (#3) and express buses to Salem (1x); Tualatin Park & Ride (2x); and Canby (3x). Transfer to Tri-Met #76 to Tigard from Tualatin and transfer to the #12 bus to go downtown from Tigard. Or take the Tri Met WES train to Beaverton from Wilsonville and transfer to the eastbound MAX train to downtown Portland. $3.00 to downtown Portland, Salem & Beaverton; $1.50 to Tualatin, Canby & Barbur Transit Center; free within Wilsonville.
- Sandy Area Metro (SAM), (stop) Gresham Transit Center, ☏ , . Goes to Estacada and Gresham on two routes from Sandy. Both routes make stops locally in Sandy. Continue to downtown Portland from Gresham Transit Center on 'Blue Line' MAX, #2 bus (SE Division) or #9 bus (SE Powell) $1 one way no transfers..
- Mt Hood Express, ☏ . The Mt. Hood Express is a bus service for communities along US Hwy 26 between Sandy east to Timberline Lodge in Mt Hood. $2 one way no transfers or $5 day pass/ticket transferable on SAM buses.
- Tillamook Transportation District, (stops) Union Station, Sunset Transit Center & NW 185th Ave, ☏ . Operates buses in/around Tillamook town and to Manzanita, Cannon Beach and Oceanside in Tillamook County as well inter county service to Lincoln City (Rt #4) and over to Portland (Rt#5). There are no longer Greyhound services to the Oregon Coast from Portland or from anywhere along the I-5 corridor. $1.50 per zone in Tillamook County or within an adjacent county in the north Oregon Coast; $15 OW to Portland or $20 RT.
- Yamhill County Transit, (stops) downtown Hillsboro (Rt #33) & Tigard Transit Center (Rt #44), ☏ . Operates buses in/around McMinnville and to Newberg, Amity, Carlton, Dayton, Dundee, Lafayette, Sheridan & Willamena in Yamhill County and to Tigard Transit Center (nearest point to Portland on Rt #44, 44X); Hillsboro (Rt #33), Salem (Rt #11). Transfer to Tri-Met #12 from Tigard Transit Center to downtown Portland or the 'Blue Line' MAX from Hillsboro to downtown Portland. There are no longer Greyhound bus services to Tigard or to anywhere in Yamhill County along OR Hwy 99W. $1.25 one-way fare or $2.50 day ticket/pass.
There are no useful boat lines, although you can take cruises up and down the Willamette River and multi-day tourist cruises from Portand to Clarkston, Washington.
If you are touring the United States without a car, rejoice! Portland is an easy city to bicycle, walk or use public transport.
Portland Streets roughly fall on a grid, though history and topography cause a lot of mismatches and exceptions. You may notice that a street is offset by several meters as it crosses an arterial, or that Boulevards like Sandy and Foster are diagonal due to their history as streetcar lines. In general, north/south aligned streets are numbered, while east/west aligned streets are named. The most visible exception to this is in North Portland where all streets are named. Numbered streets descend as they approach the Willamette River. This is true from both sides, so SE 7th is not the same as SW 7th.
If you want to navigate like a local, get to know the "six sextants" which are often referred to oxymoronically as the "six quadrants". These sectors are generally divided by Burnside Street between north/south and the Willamette River between east/west, with a fifth sector (North) between the Willamette River and Williams Avenue, and a sixth sector (South) between the Willamette and Naito Parkway.
Portland addresses contain their sector between house number and street name (i.e. 223 SW Yamhill St.). Address numbers increase 100 per block starting from Burnside Street or the Willamette River. This can make it easy to figure out locations from a street address, with practice. On named streets, the address numbers correspond to the nearest numbered cross-street, so 4534 SE Belmont St. is on SE Belmont near 45th Avenue. A handy fact to keep in mind in inner Northwest Portland is that the streets are arranged alphabetically starting with Ankeny, followed by Burnside, Couch, pDavis, and so on through NW Vaughn Street making directions easy to follow here.
Some older Southwest street addresses may have a leading zero in the street number. The creation of the South sector was driven largely to resolve this anomaly, and these former addresses are now located in South Portland without the leading zero (e.g. 0715 SW Bancroft Street is now 715 S Bancroft Street). Street signs in South Portland may still indicate SW during the transition period.
Most of the city (and everything near downtown) is along the northerly flowing Willamette River. However, the airport and Portland's northern neighbor, Vancouver, Washington, are next to the larger west-flowing Columbia. If you confuse the two rivers, you can easily mix up your bearings. Since the Willamette River can be hard to spot on a map of Oregon, many visitors think Portland is along the nearby Columbia by mistake.
Driving around downtown is not recommended. Inconvenient, expensive, and hard to find parking, combined with active parking meter enforcement (8AM-7PM) and non-intuitive street closures, transit malls, and restrictions, make it frustrating even for locals. Cycling is often as fast as driving (or faster) in the city center. In fact, many of the traffic lights, both downtown and in inner Portland, seem to be timed for bike speeds. Uber and Lyft usually provide speedy and inexpensive service, frequently costing for less than a few hours parking.
If you must park downtown, the best parking deal is any of the six SmartPark garages maintained by the City of Portland. As of March 2019, rates are $1.80 per hour on weekdays for the first four hours, and $5 flat rate evenings after 5PM and all day on weekends. Also, some businesses can validate ("pay" for some of) your parking. SmartPark locations are:
- 2 SmartPark Naito and Davis, 33 NW Davis St.
- 3 SmartPark O'Bryant Square, 808 SW Stark St.
- 4 SmartPark 10th and Yamhill, 730 SW 10th Ave.
- 5 SmartPark 3rd and Alder, 620 SW 3rd Ave.
- 6 SmartPark 4th and Yamhill, 818 SW 4th Ave.
- 7 SmartPark 1st and Jefferson, 123 SW Jefferson St.
Portland is a great city for walking. The 200-foot (60-m) block size throughout most of Portland were designed in the 1860s for walking convenience and Portland has a lot of street life. Good mass transit also makes walking more feasible in Portland. The City of Portland Office of Transportation offers free, highly detailed walking maps that may be ordered online. For a scenic walk, the Eastside Esplanade along the Willamette River across from downtown offers lovely views of the skyline. Parts of the esplanade float on the water.
Portland, the self-proclaimed "Bicycle Capital" of the nation, is an excellent city for bicycle travel. The whole metro area has an extensive network of bike lanes and designated bike-friendly streets. Bike streets (also called "neighborhood greenways") are generally signed with green "Bike Route" signs and a bicycle painted on the ground. These are typically quiet residential streets that run parallel to a major arterial. It is highly recommended that cyclists use them where possible, as major thoroughfares can be busy. You can obtain bike maps from the Bike There! section of Metro's website.
Even public transit is bike-friendly here. TriMet provides plenty of information for bicyclers on their website. They offer Bike & Ride facilities and bike lockers at many MAX stations and major transit centers. All buses, MAX trains, and streetcars have space for bikes too. If you're taking the bus, just be prepared to sometimes wait until a bus comes with an open bike rack, especially on popular routes. The MAX, on the other hand, virtually always has enough bike hooks available.
In July 2016, the Biketown bike share network was launched. The system has 1,000 bikes at 100 hubs around inner Portland, and it's well suited for brief, one-way trips. Rides cost $1 to unlock the bike and $0.20 per minute of riding.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation maintains an online list of bike rental shops.
By public transit
TriMet operates the Portland metro area's extensive public transit system of buses, MAX light rail trains, and streetcars.
Adult fare is $2.50 for 2 hours and $5.00 for the entire day. It is recommended that you purchase a HOP Fastpass upon arrival, and use that throughout the trip (see below). TriMet uses the proof-of-payment system, so there are no fare gates or turnstiles, however if you can't present proof of valid fare to a transit police officer or fare inspector upon request, you will face a $175 fine for fare evasion.
You can pay fare, or buy passes, at any MAX station ticket machine (but expect the occasional out-of-order machine), on-board any streetcar, or on any bus (with exact change).
TriMet offers trip planning on its mobile website, but no official app. Transit Maps and trip planning are available on both Apple and Google Maps.
In July 2017, TriMet released the Hop FastPass, a contactless (RFID) smart card for electronic fare payment. Hop works on TriMet, the Portland Streetcar, and C-TRAN in Vancouver. Just tap the card on the card reader on board buses and streetcars, or on MAX station platforms.
Cards are sold for $3 at Fred Meyer, Safeway, and other Portland metro area stores. Load fare at these stores, online, by phone, through the Hop app, or at TriMet or C-TRAN customer service centers.
The card readers also accept Google Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and NFC-enabled debit/credit cards. Hop users (including those using mobile wallets) travel free for the rest of the day after paying $5 in fare (two one-way trips), as if they had a day pass.
Similarly—though only for Hop card or virtual Hop card users and not mobile wallet debit/credit card users—after paying $100 in a calendar month (20 days of round-trip rides), Hop allows free travel for the rest of the month, without the steep upfront cost of a monthly pass. This is very useful for visitors—you won't have to decide whether you'll ride often enough to justify buying a pass.
Apple Pay and Google Pay users can buy virtual Hop cards online and load them into Google Pay or Apple Pay. They combine the benefits of Hop with the convenience of mobile payments.
MAX light rail
There are five MAX Light Rail lines, which offer speedy and frequent service across much of Portland:
- The Blue Line runs between Hillsboro and Gresham via Beaverton, Downtown Portland, and the Gateway Transit Center.
- The Red Line runs between the Portland International Airport and Beaverton/Hillsboro via the Gateway Transit Center and Downtown.
- The Green Line runs between Clackamas Town Center and Portland State University via the Gateway Transit Center and Downtown.
- The Yellow Line runs from the Expo Center south to Downtown and Portland State University.
- The Orange Line runs from Milwaukie north to Union Station in Downtown via Portland State University.
All the lines go through the city's downtown (referred to as "City Center" on TriMet), with the Red and Blue lines running east-west and overlapping on Morrison/Yamhill Streets, while the Yellow, Orange and Green lines run north-south and overlap on the Portland Transit Mall along 5th and 6th Avenues, with all lines crossing at Pioneer Square. Each MAX line runs every 15 minutes at most stops for most of the day, with service every 30 minutes in the wee hours of the night.
In addition, TriMet operates the Portland Streetcar service, which consists of modern light rail vehicles running along Downtown streets about every 15-20 minutes. Because the streetcars usually share space with car traffic and stop every few blocks, this is a much slower service than the MAX and is intended primarily for getting around the Downtown area. A 2½-hour Streetcar Only ticket can be purchased for $2 at fare machines at Streetcar stops and on the Streetcar vehicles. There are three lines:
- The NS (North South) Line, which runs between Northwest Portland and South Waterfront through the Downtown area. The route runs along Lovejoy/Northrup through Northwest Portland and the Pearl District before turning south along 10th and 11th Avenues through Downtown to Portland State University, then winds it way past Riverplace to South Waterfront.
- The A Loop and B Loop lines, which run clockwise and counterclockwise respectively, between Downtown and Central Eastside. The route runs from SW Market through Downtown along 10th and 11th to the Pearl District, across the Broadway Bridge and along Broadway/Weidler through the Rose Quarter, then along MLK/Grand south past the Convention Center through the Lloyd District and Central Eastside to OMSI, where it crosses the Tilikum Crossing bridge over to South Waterfront before returning north to Portland State University and SW Market.
Many of TriMet's buses run from Downtown to other parts of the city, though a growing number of crosstown or local routes do not. Nearly all TriMet buses connect with MAX at one or more stations. A number of TriMet buses are designated as providing frequent service, meaning they run at least once every 15 minutes. A full list of bus routes, with the frequent lines clearly marked, can be found here.
The Portland Aerial Tramway connects the South Waterfront to Marquam Hill, where OHSU and other hospitals are located. A round-trip ticket on the Aerial Tramway costs $5.10. (Fare is checked only westbound, uphill.) TriMet monthly and annual passes are accepted on the Tram, but regular tickets, transfers, and Hop cards are not.
- Individual listings can be found in Portland (Oregon)'s district articles
Portland has many unique and interesting neighborhoods to explore. One of the most exciting aspects of visiting Portland is constant possibly of discovery. Rather than containing most places of interest to a few busy streets, Portland has food, shopping, parks, and other activities sprinkled all throughout the city. Here are just a few notable neighborhoods:
Downtown Portland is the heart of the city, centered around Pioneer Square and home to modern commercial towers, new condominiums, and converted lofts, along with several museums and urban parks of interest to tourists, including Tom McCall Waterfront Park along the river. To the immediate south of Downtown is the campus of Portland State University and South Waterfront, an urban revitalization area at the southern end of the streetcar line with newly built glass residential towers.
Just to the north of Downtown is Old Town, which is where Portland was first settled and which has some historic buildings and is a nightlife center, but also contains a fair amount of social services for homeless and mentally ill. The neighborhood also holds the remnants of Chinatown which, despite a lovely archway entry at Burnside and 4th Avenue and some Chinese-inspired street decorations, is rather desolate and may prove a disappointment for visitors expecting the bustle of San Francisco's or New York City's Chinatown.
Just to the northwest of Downtown is the Pearl District, a very hip and trendy neighborhood on the streetcar line which was not long ago derelict warehouses and empty industrial space. The economic success of the Pearl has made it a frequently cited urban planning model, and it is an excellent place to hang out and people watch, eat in fine restaurants, and visit the famous Powell's Bookstore. Perhaps the best spot to people watch is Jamison Square, a city park at the heart of the Pearl that includes a popular fountain which fills a pool during the summer months that's popular with little kids. For a slightly more quiet retreat, Tanner Springs Park is just a couple of blocks north and built to resemble a piece of reclaimed wetland, with tall grasses and a nice pond. On the First Thursday of every month, all art galleries in the Pearl district open their doors for casual viewing, and many serve wine and cheese.
To the north of the Pearl, at the northern end of the streetcar line is the Northwest District, also known as Nob Hill and also on the trendy side and with a variety of retail shops, bars, and restaurants along with plenty of lovely Victorians and tree-lined streets. West of this is the West Hills, where the well-to-do of Portland have traditionally lived. Because of the geography, the streets in the West Hills are a bit of a maze, but they still make for an interesting trek; you'll find lavish mansions, ornate public staircases, and good views of Downtown.
Hawthorne Blvd, which runs east-west across the river from Downtown, has a broad selection of shops including a menagerie of vintage goods at the House of Vintage and the ornate Bagdad Theater Pub, and is a center of the counter-culture/bohemian community which is dissipating to make way for a variety of upscale businesses. The nearby Belmont Street is also worth a visit if you are in the neighborhood, with a similar - if smaller - array of shops and attractions.
Located along Broadway and Sandy Blvd northeast of downtown, Hollywood is a commercial district for the nearby neighborhoods and home to the Hollywood Theater, a historic non-profit theater with an ornate facade showing a variety of independent, second run, and classic films as well as original programming and interactive events. There is also a popular Saturday farmers market in the neighborhood during the warm months.
To the north of the former between MLK Blvd and 30th Avenue, Alberta Street has much the same feel as Hawthorne Blvd; a counter-culture/bohemian community that's becoming popular with yuppies. Alberta is home to Last Thursday, said by many locals to be the alternative to First Thursday in the Pearl District and also featuring wine tasting and gallery openings, along with street vending and performance artists. The neighborhood between Alberta Street and Broadway is known as Irvington, and contains many historic Craftsman homes.
Other neighborhoods to explore include: St. Johns in North Portland featuring the gorgeous St. Johns Bridge, Mississippi Avenue, quaint Sellwood, Inner Southeast a loosely defined neighborhood where bars and music venues have been cropping up amidst the industrial landscape, Foster-Powell, East Burnside and Stark, Division and Clinton Street, and North Williams.
- Individual listings can be found in Portland (Oregon)'s district articles
- Portland World Naked Bike Ride. Portland's annual World Naked Bike Ride, held in early June, has many goals: to increase visibility of cyclists; to promote confidence in the beauty and individuality of the human body; to affirm nudity as a legal form of protest; to emphasize the bicycles’s place as a catalyst for change in the future of sustainability, transport, community and recreation; to celebrate the coming summer, bicycles in the urban grid, and the fun of a multi-thousand person bike ride; and to protest the automobile. World Naked Bike Ride is an annual, worldwide bike ride that highlights the vulnerability of cyclists everywhere and decries society’s dependence on pollution-based transport. Free.
- Portland Rose Festival (Most events located downtown at Waterfront Park). Portland's annual Rose Festival is held every year at the beginning of June. The largest event of the year includes multiple parades, a carnival at waterfront park, and several military ships docked for fleet week. Free.
- Pedalpalooza. Three months of community organized (and free!) biking events during the months of June-August. All events are listed on the Shift Calendar. The type of rides are extremely diverse, ranging from rides where you learn about the history of the city, to ones where you bike from one side of the city to another. Or the dance party rides where you bike around jamming out to a certain artist or genre. Others where you bring along your dog and visit dog parks. Really any type of ride you can think of, it's probably on the calendar.
The biggest event in the city is the Rose Festival, taking place over several weeks in June. The centerpiece is the Grand Floral Parade, though the festival isn't all about flowers; there's also a fleet week, dragon boat races and fireworks.
As a major city, there are many venues where you can watch sports.
- 1 Portland Thorns FC, Providence Park. The Portland Thorns are the local women's' soccer team who play in the NWSL. They are known to draw a consistently sizeable crowd of fans and have performed well in league play since the founding of the club in 2013, winning three championships since.
- 2 Portland Timbers FC, Providence Park. The Portland Timbers are Portland's Major League Soccer team. Their most ardent supporters are known as the Timbers Army who sit at the north end of the stadium singing and chanting through the entire match. Visitors are both encouraged and welcomed to join by buying a general admission ticket and lining up hours before the game to get the best seats (if you so choose). If you'd prefer to watch the game and enjoy the energy of the Army from a distance (perhaps if traveling with young children), seating in assigned areas is also available.
- 3 Portland Trail Blazers, Moda Center. The Portland Trail Blazers play in NBA. The Moda Center is centrally located near downtown next to four MAX lines for those who are interested in catching a game. The Blazers are in the playoffs most seasons. Nearly every game is a full house, and there aren't many NBA venues that have the same energy for the same value as a Blazer game.
Portland has a respectable music scene throughout town, with venues holding everything from huge national acts to small underground music groups. Many local pubs and bars offer great local bands on weekends, and the city is developing a national notoriety as the nation's "indie rock capital", with many high (and low) profile independent rock music acts calling the city home. Given its reputation for all that is hip, Portland maintains a fairly diverse range of live music options. Check out one of the two weekly alternative newspapers for comprehensive music listings; the Portland Mercury and the Willamette Week.
The Multnomah County Library (see "Connect" below) hosts language study groups.
- 8 Reed College. A top small liberal arts college with a beautiful campus. The college frequently hosts educational events and lectures. The campus is worth checking out, notably for the nuclear reactor that is there.
- 9 Lewis & Clark College (Southwest Portland). The other small liberal arts college with a beautiful campus. For information about upcoming events and lectures, check the campus events calendar. The library hosts the Roger D. Wendlick collection of Lewis and Clark Expedition literature.
- 10 Oregon Health & Science University. Arguably the most prestigious research institution and teaching hospital in Oregon. They offer post graduate studies in medicine, nursing, dentistry and pharmacy. The Marquam Hill site is shared with the VA Hospital, Dornebecher Children's Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House looking like a fortress from a distance. Riding the aerial tram from the South Waterfront campus to the Marquam Hill campus at the top is a common weekend activity for families. OHSU is the largest employer in Oregon.
- 11 Portland State University (Downtown Portland). The largest university in Oregon, with nearly 30,000 students. The campus is well integrated in to the southern end of downtown, and is populated a generally older student body (under half of the students are between the ages of 18 and 22). PSU offers degree programs across a wide range of majors.
- 12 University of Portland. A private Catholic school in the 'University neighborhood' in North Portland. They are affiliated with the Congregation of the Holy Cross, which also founded the more prestigious University of Notre Dame.
Former Oregon Governor Tom McCall (to whom a major riverfront park downtown is dedicated) said in a 1971 speech, somewhat famously, "We want you to visit our State of Excitement often. Come again and again. But for heaven's sake, don't move here to live. Or if you do have to move in to live, don't tell any of your neighbors where you are going."
Since then, the Governor's request has been widely repeated by people who ignore it, then quote it. Portland is a tough job market to navigate. Many Portlanders commute to one of the suburbs such as Hillsboro or Beaverton, with some of the state's largest employers, including Nike and Intel, located in that part of the metro area.
As in the rest of Oregon, there is no general sales tax in Portland; the price you see on the tag is the price you pay. This combines with the selection of retail outlets in the city to make Portland an ideal city for a shopping spree!
Craft and farmers markets
A visit to either or both of the Farmers Market and Saturday Market downtown is a favorite past time of locals.
- Portland Farmers Market, SW Park and Montgomery at Portland State University, ☏ . Saturdays 9AM-2PM. At the markets, farmers, ranchers and nursery growers offer various conventionally and organically grown fruits, vegetables and pre-cut, pre-packaged meats (usually fish, pork or eggs) and live ornamental and food plants for gardening. There are other artisan food producers offering prepared products, ranging from fruit jams to farmstead cheeses, breads and pastries, pickles, pasta, chocolate, and more.
- Portland Saturday Market, Naito Parkway under the Burnside Bridge. Saturdays 10AM-5PM. A weekly marketplace for artists and craftspeople to sell their handmade products. Goods you can find include jewelry, clothing, body products, pet treats, and plenty more. Saturday Market is the largest continuously operating market of its type in the United States.
- Individual listings can be found in Portland (Oregon)'s district articles
Foodies may find their nirvana in Portland. With its location in one of the most fertile agricultural areas in the nation, an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood raised not far from its boundaries, award-winning wines and beers, and a food culture that supports food artisans and emphasizes local, seasonal food served fresh, it's no surprise that the culinary scene in Portland has received national attention. Restaurants and food carts have popped up in large numbers throughout the city, making it quite easy to enjoy a good meal at a reasonable price.
Both the Farmers Market and Saturday Market offer a wide range of cuisines made from healthy, local ingredients, and is great if you prefer to have a variety of choices.
Quality restaurants can be found at several price points across town (see district articles for more suggestions), although sudden exposure of popularity of some can cause long wait times. The good news is that there is probably an establishment that is just as good or simply undiscovered just a short distance away if you don't want to wait!
- Burgerville. The Northwest's own fast food chain with a decidedly NW flavor promoting organic, fresh and seasonal ingredients. Great burgers and traditional fast food fare. Amazing seasonal items including sweet potato fries, asparagus, strawberries, blackberries, onion rings and more.
- Cha! Cha! Cha!. 'Rritos, 'ritas, and more. Good quality Mexican food at a middling price. Focus on local, sustainable, and healthy.
- McMenamins. Opening with its original location in 1983, the Barley Mill Pub on Hawthorne, McMenamins now has more than 50 locations in Oregon and Washington. In Portland their locations include historic buildings such as the Bagdad Theater and Pub, '''Mission Theater and Pub''' at 1624 NW Glisan St, and the '''Kennedy School Theater''' at 5736 NE 33rd Ave. While not all locations have theaters the McMennamins restaurants have been a reliable option for locals who are looking for decent food and in-house brewed beer, in a Relaxed, often-rustic atmosphere. The larger locations, such as the Kennedy School and Bagdad Theater, contain multiple establishments within, and can take the better part of the evening to explore.
- New Seasons Market. Local natural food supermarket chain with fantastic sandwiches and an awesome deli counter. You can choose your bread, meat/tofu pate, veggies, and spreads. Six locations in the city.
- Nicholas Restaurant. Great value Lebanese food, family owned and operated where everything is made from scratch. Two locations.
- ¿Por Qué No?. Popular taqueria providing sophisticated but informal food in an evocative setting. Top-notch tortillas that are often purchased on their own. Excellent array of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, including authentic drinks not often seen north of the border (horchata, mezcal, etc.). Often crowded with lines, especially at mealtimes, but quick service keeps you from waiting too long. Outdoor seating. Kid and bike friendly. Order ahead for take-out and skip the line.
- Sizzle Pie, ☏ . Su-Th 11AM-3AM, F Sa 11AM-4PM. A heavy metal-themed pizza joint with some of the best pies in town. Pizza is available by the slice or whole, to eat there or to go. The salads are great as well utilizing yummy homemade dressings. Great for vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike! Two locations in Portland.
- Taqueria Los Gorditos. Vegan and non-vegan food, cheap but delicious and with a very expansive menu for a taco cart (they also have three brick-and-mortar locations), including quite large burritos. The ingredients are fresh and the staff friendly.
- Voodoo Doughnut, 22 SW 3rd Ave. and 1501 NE Davis St.. Open 24 hours. A distinctly Portland spot, where you can get unusual donuts and a marriage while learning Swahili. While they do have the standard cake doughnuts, the real stars are the doughnuts topped with cereal, candy bars, strawberry Quik powder, and the maple bar with bacon (yes, bacon) on it. It's also the place to get vegan doughnuts. While the vibe is cool and flavour combinations and the naming gimmicks are creative, locals often recommend other local spots like Blue Star Donuts if you are seeking top quality. If it's a sugar rush and possibly a free huge doughnut you're looking for, take the Tex-Ass Challenge; eat one of their oversized glazed doughnuts in under a minute and a half and it's free. (Of course, you have to purchase it in advance!). The Downtown location often has long lines, but this is rarely the case just across the river at the Davis St. location.
- Individual listings can be found in Portland (Oregon)'s district articles
If you're looking for a free drink while walking around downtown, look no further than the iconic Benson Bubblers. These are ornate drinking fountains scattered throughout the downtown area, made of copper and in one-bowl and four-bowl variations. Installed by Simon Benson in the 1910s, the fountains continuously run from 6AM to 11PM daily and offer a cool drink perfect for the summer months. Many cities have asked for Benson Bubblers of their own, but the City of Portland has turned them all down, respecting the wishes of Benson and his family. A single exception has been made, however — Portland has gifted one Benson Bubbler to its sister city of Sapporo, Japan.
Portland is often referred to as "the microbrewery capital of the world", and it's a well-earned title. Take advantage of the Northwest's famous microbrews — small breweries that serve their own (and others') craft beers. They are a world away from the generic beers that are America's mainstay. Portland also has more traditional nightlife drinking establishments, mainly downtown, in Old Town, and in the Pearl. You will find everything from dance clubs, gay bars, and an assortment of karaoke bars. Portland likes its alcohol.
Although a handful of Portland's key gay bars can be found in Downtown and Old Town, they are not restricted to any identifiable gay neighborhood. They are found in diverse locations throughout the city, reflecting the fact that the Portland LGBT community is highly integrated into the city overall.
If your beverage tastes veer more to the caffeinated variety: Like the rest of the Pacific Northwest, Portland also loves coffee. You will, of course, have little trouble finding a Starbucks location in Portland, but the Rose City has also developed its own homegrown coffee culture, and most locals will argue that the best coffee is not in the large chains but in one of the small independently-owned local coffee shops.
- Individual listings can be found in Portland (Oregon)'s district articles
There are places to sleep all over the city, though somewhat less of them in the city's northwest. As in much of elsewhere in the world, downtown (here: southwestern Portland) is the place to find upscale accommodation and Eastside you will find many mid-range options. Budget lodging is somewhat scarce, though you might find a couple more places in this price range in neighboring cities in the Portland Metropolitan Area.
Portland is one of the safest major cities in the United States by most measures. Most people, including single female travelers, generally will not face problems walking alone at night. However, Portland is still a large metropolitan city — beware of pickpockets in crowded areas and don't forget your common sense entirely. Old Town/Chinatown can be a bit dodgy, but generally not dangerous during the day; at night, you're best off avoiding it or sticking to the well-lit transit stations. Public drug use is not uncommon in many parts of town. People in public states of psychosis (whether due to a history of poor mental health or induced via drugs) may be seen yelling in the street or engaging in other abnormal activities. For your own safety, if you see someone like this, do not engage with them and stay a safe distance from them.
Some rougher areas of the city exist in East Portland along NE/SE 82nd Avenue and east of Interstate 205, but they are seldom dangerous and should pose no problem to those who mind their own business while seeing the sights or eating at some of the off-the-beaten-track places that can be found there.
Portland has a large homeless population. You may be approached by people asking for food or money while walking in downtown or stopped at a major intersection. A simple "no" suffices as a response, but you may be threatened or cussed at. However, these responses almost never lead to physical violence – just anticipate that you may receive unsavory responses.
Portlanders — drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists alike — generally obey traffic lights and signs, and you should, too. Pedestrians and bicyclists are given more respect and deference here than many other locales in the United States, but don't use that as an excuse to not be safe while crossing the road or riding your bicycle. Be aware that the "Idaho Stop" is legal in Oregon. Cyclists are allowed to treat stop signs as "yield" signs, and traffic signals as "stop signs".
Portland has a long tradition of anti-government protests as well as occasional clashes between opposing political camps. These swelled in mid-2020, but have since died down almost entirely with the exception of a few late-night vandals. However, use your common sense and steer clear of any rowdy groups.
Two area codes cover the Portland metropolitan area: 503 and 971. All ten digits must be dialed when dialing local numbers in the Portland area.
- 13 Multnomah County Library, 801 SW 10th Ave, ☏ . M Th-Sa 10AM-6PM, Tu W 10AM-8PM, Su noon-5PM. Issues one-hour guest passes for Internet terminal use. Numerous branch libraries scattered around Portland. Free wi-fi available to public while the libraries are open. Wi-fi shuts off ten minutes before the libraries close and stays off until the library opens again.
- 14 US Postal Service (Post Office), (main post office) 715 NW Hoyt (NW Corner of NW Hoyt & Broadway). (Retail Counter) M-F 8AM-6:30PM, Sa 8AM-5PM; (Passport Acceptance) M-F 11AM-5:30PM by appointment. The main post office distributes mail to and receives from zip codes 970xx through 972xx and 986xx (Vancouver WA). There are numerous post office branches in different neighborhoods and at least one (or more) in each adjacent city/municipality serving specific zip codes.
Portland is the home of two Pulitzer Prize–winning publications and a number of smaller tabloid-format newspapers of note. Due to some heated local politics the town has become a rather thorny place for journalism. Portlanders identify their politics by what paper they read (The Oregonian vs. The Tribune, Willamette Week vs. The Mercury).
- The Oregonian. Nationally recognized, Pulitzer Prize–winning broadsheet newspaper known for cutting-edge design and local-oriented coverage (the paper is distributed throughout the state and into Vancouver, Washington). The paper suffers as a city guide for the out-of-towner as its arts coverage is limited (Friday A&E is comprehensive), but for those interested in longer stays it is a good primer on state politics. Movie times are up to date, however the printed television schedule has been discontinued. $1 daily, $1.50 Sundays.
- Willamette Week. An alternative weekly newspaper that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for its investigative reporting. This boomer-hipster hybrid sometimes struggles from identity freak-out but is likely the quickest and most immediate help to out-of-towners. The paper's free annual city guide "Finder" can be found around town in late August and is specifically tailored for those new to Portland. Willamette Week is sometimes referred to as Willy Week or Willy by old-guard Portland hipsters or those who disagree with its politics. Free every Wednesday.
- Portland Tribune. This broadsheet-sized upstart has struggled since its start to find a spot between Willamette Week and The Oregonian, the city's mainstays and the paper's main competitors. Suburbanites who work in the city tend to favor the Tribune. Free Tuesdays and Fridays.
- The Portland Mercury. Another alt weekly newspaper, the Portland version of Seattle's The Stranger. This tabloid-sized hipster-focused mag has taken a bite out of Willamette Week's advertising, meaning that those looking for movie times or rock show listings can often find them in the Mercury's pages. Readers offended by foul language or grammatical errors may be frustrated by the editorial content. Free every Thursday.
Most other publications would be of only passing interest to travelers, but to read what locals think and feel, the Northwest Examiner, Portland Observer, Skanner, St. Johns Sentinel, and Portland State University's Vanguard are some of the better choices.
Most consulates in Portland are honorary which means they are there for commercial and business purposes and offer limited or no consular services except in emergency situations. The honorary consulates are only available by appointment only. Most of the foreign consulates are typically located in downtown but can be elsewhere too. The nearest cities for additional foreign consulates are in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles:
- Denmark (Honorary), 1600 Pioneer Tower, 888 SW 5th Ave, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Federated States of Micronesia, 7931 NE Halsey St Ste 225, ☏ , fax: , [email protected]. M-F 9AM-5PM.
- Japan, Wells Fargo Center, 1300 SW 5th Ave Suite 2700, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
- Mexico, 1305 SW 12th Ave, ☏ .
- Netherlands (Honorary), ☏ , [email protected].
- Norway (Honorary), 4380 S.W. Macadam Avenue (River Forum, Suite 120), ☏ , [email protected].
- Thailand (Honorary), 1136 NW Hoyt St Ste 210, ☏ , fax: , [email protected].
50 mi (80 km) from the Cascade Range and 90 mi (145 km) from the Pacific Ocean, Portland is the perfect home base for day trips to both mountains and sea. There are several options for day trips or next destinations available:
- Columbia River Gorge (25 mi (40 km) east of Portland on Interstate 84). For a scenic drive, travel east 20 mi (32 km) on Interstate 84 to exit 22, take the Corbett Exit and follow the road 1.5 mi up the hill to the Historic Columbia River Highway. The windy road travels 15 mi (24 km) parallel to the freeway passing viewpoints, waterfalls and forest hikes. After merging with the freeway, stop at the Bonneville Dam and observe the large locks in action and the nearby fish hatchery. Continue another 20 minutes up the freeway to Hood River for lunch and return to Portland on the Washington side (follow WA-14 west to I-205) to get a different view on your way back.
- The scenic Oregon Coast can make a great day or weekend trip away from the city. Seaside and Cannon Beach are common destinations, especially when the weather is nice. Astoria and the surrounding area at the mouth of the Columbia River has a ton of history spanning from Indian Tribes meeting the famous Lewis and Clark expedition to a live fire engagement with a Japanese submarine in World War II! Tillamook is the birthplace of the famed Tillamook Cheese farmer co-op, and Lincoln City is another popular destination.
- Oregon Wine Country. 25 mi (40 km) or so southwest of Portland lies some of the most scenic vineyards on the west coast. There are over 100 wineries in this area, from small mom and pop operations with tiny one-room tasting areas all the way up to tasting rooms that rival some of Napa's finest. Oregon is particularly famous for its Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris varietals; the climate is considered perfect for these grapes and the area has gained worldwide renown as one of the premier wine regions on the planet.Newberg and Dundee are centrally located between many of the top wineries in the region.
- Mount Hood is about an hour's drive away and provides limitless outdoor recreational activities year-round including: camping, hiking, mountain biking, watersports, and snowsports.
- Bend is a 3-hour drive to the southeast in Central Oregon. Bend and the surrounding area is known for incredible scenery and premium outdoor recreation.
- Seattle is often considered the "big brother" city of Portland, and is just a 3-hour drive or 3.5-hour train ride away. Regular flight and direct bus service is also available (see "Get In" for more information)
|Routes through Portland|
|Seattle ← Vancouver ←||N S||→ Oregon City → Eugene|
|END ←||W E||→ Vancouver → Spokane|
|Seattle ← Vancouver ←||N S||→ Tigard → Eugene|
|END ←||W E||→ Gresham → The Dalles|
|Ends at N S ← Beaverton ←||W E||→ Gresham → Prineville|
|Astoria ← St. Helens ←||W E||→ Gresham → The Dalles|
|END ←||N S||→ Milwaukie → Eugene|
|END ←||N S||→ Tigard → Eugene|