Portland is the second largest city in the Pacific Northwest and is known for its eccentric vibe, lush natural surroundings and rock star chefs. Dazzling parks, cutting-edge coffee shops, independent retail stores, breweries, boutiques, museums, theaters and world-class restaurants make the winter months of overcast weather and dreary drizzle an afterthought as visitors from around the globe make their way to the Rose City in droves. It’s pretty easy to love Portland and all of its quirks and oddities – they are, after all, what makes this place so special (and worthy of Portlandia’s benevolent mockery). It’s a place that welcomes everyone and sits at the doorstep of mountains, rain forests and vineyards.
In Portland, adults 21 and older are allowed to pick from the incredible array (over 300) of medical and recreational marijuana dispensaries spread across town and legally purchase marijuana. Portland’s organic, farm-to-table food culture has seamlessly translated into cannabis cultivation and local growers are cultivating some of the purist product in the world.
This popular area used to be a jumble of industry, railroad yards and empty warehouses. It’s now a stylish district packed with everything you need to enjoy a day out in Portland. Restaurants, galleries, breweries and boutiques share space with strip clubs, dive bars, indie shops and retro saloons making the retail experience here diverse and fun. Powell’s Books (see below) anchors the southern end of the neighborhood and national retailers such as REI, Sur La Table, The North Face and Patagonia make their homes here. The first modern streetcar system in the nation runs through the neighborhood and seamlessly connects the Pearl with other parts of the city. There is a five-mile walking-loop that is particularly great for accessing other attractive neighborhoods.
SE Division Street might be what you envision when you think of Portland. It’s a leafy corridor lined with some of the top restaurants in the city, along with independent wine shops, stationary stores, down-to-earth B&Bs and food carts. This is where Portland’s foodie culture took root thanks to innovators like Pok Pok, Ava Gene’s, Bollywood Theater and Salt & Straw. Clinton Street runs parallel to Division and complements its neighbor with unique record stores, independent movie theaters, stellar sushi and high-end vintage clothiers.
Charming and quieter than some of the other neighborhoods in town, the Alphabet District inhabits a higher-end portion of Portland that includes Nob Hill and the Northwest District. The area, a lovely place to enjoy your dispensary purchases and wander aimlessly staring at the incredible architecture, is known for its alphabetically ordered east-west streets. There are stunning historic buildings with Victorian architecture restored to their original grandeur and art deco apartment buildings that will make you want to immediately move in. The neighborhood was designed in the mid-1800s and is a designated historic area. NW 23rd Street is where you’ll find Portland’s greatest concentration of boutiques and NW 21st Street feels like its own small town with bakeries, clubs, cafes and bars filled with regulars catching up on local gossip.
This hub of Latin American culture located in Southeast Portland features a plaza lined with food carts and a cantina with wine, beer and sangria. It’s mainly a culinary diversion but it’s worth a visit to sample tasty street food from all over Central and South America. There is also a juice bar, meat counter, Latino market and Nicaraguan coffee shop in the indoor food court. The Mercado also sponsors makers fairs and seasonal events based around Latin American holidays and celebrations.
There is a reason that Portland is known as Rose City. Find out why when you pay a visit to this home with over 10,000 roses spread across 4.5 acres thriving in the ideal Pacific Northwest climate. Located in Washington Park, the International Rose Test Garden is the oldest official continuously operating public rose test garden in the United States. It was originally conceived as a safe haven for hybrid roses grown in Europe during World War I and its first roses were planted in 1918. If you can visit on a clear day you will be rewarded with great views of downtown Portland and Mt. Hood.
Take a toke, eat a gummy or do a dab and head to Forest Park for an incredible escape into nature in this oasis located in the middle of a bustling city. There is a reason that it is touted as "America’s Best Urban Forest." This is 80 square miles of wilderness and over 70 miles of trails in flora and fauna bliss. There are lush sections of the park with massive trees and moss-covered ground that are downright magical and you will quickly forget that you are still in the center of Portland. The park is an important habitat for dozens of mammals and over 100 bird species and there are trout and salmon in two of the creeks in the park. Want to ride a horse? You can do it here…if you have your own horse. Open from 5:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. daily.
The Portland Art Museum was built in 1892 and houses 40,000 objects and works of art. It has a strong educational presence in the city and hosts an impressive schedule of rotating exhibits. The museum features a center for Northwestern art and a center for Native American art. Works by Warhol, Renoir, Cézanne and Monet reside in the permanent collection. It also houses the Northwest Film Center that educates on media and film and has more than 500 screenings per year. The museum shop is very good and worth a visit.
Henry Pittock was a successful newspaper publisher who also invested in real estate, railroads, banking and mining. His fortune enabled him to be an avid outdoorsman who was one of the first people to climb the nearby Mount Hood. Pittock built his impressive “mansion on the hill” with views of downtown Portland and the Cascade Mountains in 1914. The house is filled with imported marble, intricate woodwork and ingenious “modern” accents like the shower in the master bath. It is a hydraulics wonder that features perforated horizontal pipes that spray water from all sides of the shower. There is also a shampoo shower that descends from the ceiling and a bidet that rises from the floor. Two showerheads with handles labeled “liver spray” are located where the liver on a person might be and there is a test handle for testing the temperature of the water with your toe located under the lowest faucet. Guided tours are available but you can also wander on your own. The gardens offer great views of the city.
Like many of the top dispensaries in Portland, Farma first came to be as a medical dispensary and then expanded into the recreational realm once the laws changed. These guys operate under a “science first” credo and have developed their own system for distinguishing between strains using scales of red for uplifting effects and blue for relaxing effects. The flower is the main draw at this elegant establishment and the spotless white interior is softened by the bountiful assortment of indoor plants. While some customers might find the edible selection to be on the small side, there are still plenty of options. Address: 916 SE Hawthorne Boulevard, Portland, OR
Get your hippy groove going at this totally chill dispensary. Their oils, edibles and flower are categorized into five designations: active, aware, groovy, cosmic, mellow and easy. The staff is knowledgeable and patient and willing to discuss your needs at length. Product containers can be returned for reuse and there is even a lounge area complete with vintage magazines and a record player. Be sure to pick up an Electric Lettuce t-shirt or hat to take home. Address: 203 NE Weidler St, Portland, OR
You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a serene forest when you cross Jayne’s threshold. There are lovely wood accents throughout the store and woven twine baskets hold packages of concentrates and edibles. The menu is actually a bound book! The owner carefully hires Jayne’s budtenders and all effort is made to ensure a calm and welcoming experience. Jayne also partners with a local yoga studio for cannabis-enhanced yoga classes. Address: 2145 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Portland OR
The owner of Virtue is a gem enthusiast and it shows in the design of this unique dispensary. The large reception room is lined with glass cases stocked with gemstones for sale. If you don’t feel like making that type of purchase, continue into the main room where products are displayed on shelves made out of tree ring cutouts. Virtue is perfect for popping in and grabbing a gram of something nice when you’re on-the-go in downtown. It is conveniently located just a few blocks north of Powell’s in the Pearl District. Address: 510 NW 11th Ave, Portland, OR
The Kings of Canna are renowned not only for their magnificent buds, but also for their sheek and stylish interior. Mahogany floors, soft lighting and red velvet in the wrap around display case create a chic interior that makes you wonder if they also sell cigars and diamonds. Their edible selection is particularly large with mints, marshmallows and chocolates and they also sell THC-infused drinks. As you would find in any classy establishment, there is free coffee and a restroom. Address: 1465 NE Prescott St, Suite C, Portland, OR
This Portland institution has been keeping avid readers supplied with books since Walter Powell opened the location in a former car dealership in 1971. It occupies a complete city block in the Pearl District and houses over one million titles. It is quite simply the largest bookstore in the world. We’re talking 68,000 square feet, nine rooms, three floors and 3,500 sections. Grab a cup of coffee at the café, wander the stacks and get lost. There are free tours of the bookstore every Sunday morning.
This cute independent stationary shop on Southeast Division is the brick and mortar version of the popular online paper goods retailer. You’ll find cards, notebooks, diaries, calendars and paper-based items of all shapes and sizes produced by local artists and by merchants in England, France, Finland and beyond. Little Otsu also stocks a fine selection of pens, pencils, posters and prints.
If you're looking to find clothes to fit a certain style from every era of American culture, this is the place to go. Wardrobe stylists for TV shows and films rub shoulders with locals and tourists in the 13,000 square foot behemoth that stocks clothing and so much more. Over 50 vendors offer wares from decades past in the form of antiques, jewelry, household goods, luggage and more knickknacks than you can imagine. Hold on to your wallet, though. It can be easy to get carried away and end up spending a bit more than you intended with such a wide array of shopping options.
This sophisticated store sells uniquely designed home goods made in the U.S. and imported from around the world. Japanese cookery, Scandinavian accessories and American brands like Tivoli Audio fill the elegant and bright showroom. There is also clothing and furniture available from noted international purveyors such as Comme de Garcons and Ercol and outdoor goods from local businesses like Beckel Canvas Products. Everything in Canoe is carefully curated and designed and produced to exacting standards.
Not only is She Bop is the center of the female-focused sex toy world, it is a woman-owned boutique that has been a leader in sexual education and sexual awareness since it opened over a decade ago. The groundbreaking retailer’s advocacy for healthy and positive sexual practices for all in a safe and sex-friendly environment is quintessentially Portland. There are no novelty gimmicks here – just thoughtfully presented products and an exceptional staff. She Bop now has two locations: the original at 909 N Beech Street and the newest addition at 3213 SE Division Street.
Two-time James Beard Award winner and best selling cookbook author Andy Richter’s Thai empire started here back in 2005. This is where the award winning chef graduated from food cart owner to restaurant entrepreneur and took his small-plate Southeast Asian street and pub food menu indoors. Diners devour house specialties like Kai Yaang, a charcoal roasted, pasture raised chicken stuffed with lemongrass, garlic, pepper and cilantro or Neua Naam Tok, a spicy Northeastern Thai flank steak salad with fish sauce, lime and chili powder dressing, shallots, lemongrass, mint, cilantro and toasted rice powder. Family style is the way to go here, so corral your pals, order up a bunch of dishes and be prepared to pass everything around. If you’re lucky, that soft burn on your tongue will linger long after you leave.
Voodoo Donuts might get the headlines when it comes to Portland and donuts, but Pip’s has its own devoted legion of fans. These will be the tastiest mini doughnuts you’ve ever had, guaranteed. Couple them with a flight of house-made chai teas and you can consider the day to be a success without even doing anything else. Donuts are fried to order and include seasonally appropriate flavors like Black Cherry, Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, Nutella and Toasted Coconut.
There’s no need to book a flight to San Sebastian thanks to this small Basque-style bar featuring a brilliant array of pintxos. The typical tapas are delicious (bacalao, patatas bravas) but what sets Urdaneta apart are the fun liberties that Javier Canteras and his wife Jael have taken on Basque staples. For example, “The Bikini” is their version of jamon y queso but instead of just a ham and cheese sandwich, you’ll receive jamon serrano, American cheese, sofrito béchamel and truffle honey on toasted sourdough.
Amy and Kang Zhu are the brother and sister team behind this Chinese comfort food mecca located in a repurposed old house. Silky bowls of congee, juicy pork dumplings and crepe-like wraps are but a few of the divine offerings at Master Kong. Their Roujiamo (spiced stewed meat stuffed into a type of flatbread) is particularly satisfying. If you go, don’t be surprised if you have to wait. Master Kong’s is deservedly quite popular.
Take a French café, toss in a dash of Scandinavia, put it in Portland and you’ve got Maurice. Kristen Murray is the creator and chef of this masterpiece of culinary achievement and she writes her menu entrees daily by hand to better incorporate the seasonal ingredients that are in flux as they enter her kitchen. Murray describes Maurice as a modern pastry luncheonette and only serves her creations between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Her Norwegian heritage coupled with her love of French cuisine result in dishes such as Polenta Clafoutis with Poached Farm Egg, Poulet au Pain, Norwegian Meatballs with Quince Dulce and Fruit and Nut Bostock.