Award-winning restaurants, gorgeous natural scenery, and a nonstop flight from Charlotte make Oregon’s largest city an ideal summer escape.
Portland may have once garnered attention for its gritty counterculture and Portlandia’s famed “put a bird on it” motto, but these days the vibrant Pacific Northwest city offers much more. From an abundance of James Beard award-winning restaurants to chic hotels dotting its downtown, those with a taste for luxury will find plenty to love. Meanwhile, just outside of town the sweeping scenery of the Columbia River Gorge and majestic Mount Hood beckons travelers to take to the trails. So, pack your hiking boots and your heels. Portland offers an adventure everyone can appreciate.
Stylish boutique hotels have popped up around Portland in recent years, but The Nines (thenines.com) remains the swankiest in town. The hip hotel across the street from Pioneer Courthouse Square is perched on the top nine floors of a historic 1909 building.
Those with an eye for design will love this hotel. Its 2008 renovation included a seven-floor atrium with balconies overlooking its geometric lobby interior decorated in jewel tones. Throughout the hotel guests will find an art collection of more than 400 pieces—almost all from artists with local ties.
Rooms here feature plush velvet armchairs, satin drapes, and damask wallpaper all in blue, white, and silver hues. Crystal chandeliers sparkle on the ceiling and tall windows offer views of city rooftops and the Cascade mountain range.
Plan on spending at least one cocktail hour in the hotel’s library, a cozy space featuring more than 3,000 books and plenty of supple leather seating for curling up and enjoying one of them. On a rainy evening—of which there are many in Portland—it’s the perfect spot to settle in with a glass of pinot noir from the nearby Willamette Valley.
There’s no shortage of fun to be had within Portland’s city limits. You’ll want to spend at least a little time perusing the shelves at the iconic Powell’s City of Books. To experience the city like a local, hop on one of the Pedal Bike Tours such as the historic downtown version that takes you along the waterfront and into Chinatown. If you’re a beer lover, check out Brewvana’s tours—including a coffee, beer, and donuts option on Saturday mornings.
The best way to spend a day in Portland, though, may be to get out of town. Half an hour from downtown you’ll find the Columbia River Gorge. Start your day on the trails at Multnomah Falls with a mile-long hike to the top of the 620-foot waterfall, which offers gorgeous panoramic views of the Columbia River below and Washington State on the opposite bank.
From the falls, wind your way back toward Portland along the Historic Columbia River Highway, making sure to stop at scenic spots like Bridal Veil Falls and the Vista House. Once you reach the town of Edgefield, just outside Portland, plan a stop for sustenance at McMenamins, a historic poor farm turned resort that features a brewery, distillery, restaurants, concert space, winery, hotel, gardens, and more. Its spa’s outdoor heated soaking pool is the perfect spot to relax sore muscles after a day on the trails.
Portland is known for its food trucks—and you should definitely plan for a few bites at those—but the city’s restaurants and bars are consistently ranked among the best in the country. Here are ten top spots (without wheels) to eat, drink, and indulge.
Dig into doughnuts at Pip’s Original Doughnuts & Chai
Fried-to-order mini donuts are drizzled in honey and Nutella, and pair perfectly with creamy and creative chai drinks.
Indulge in the tasting menu at Han Oak
This modern Korean spot feels like you’re eating in the chef’s backyard—because you are. But the upscale food is so good it’s earned well-deserved accolades from around the country.
Toast to your travels at Clyde Common
The handcrafted cocktails at this European-style spot earn annual nods from James Beard. Sip them alongside bites of the addictive honey butter popcorn.
Share your fare family-style at Ned Ludd
Fragrant scents from the wood-fired oven fill the rustic space at this charming restaurant, which offers a $60 per-person family feast option every night.
Enjoy the ultimate Portland cup of coffee at Coava
This spot’s flagship location is half coffee shop, half woodworking studio. Enjoy a housemade honey latte atop a housemade wooden table.
Cave to your carnivorous cravings at Olympia Provisions
Fans of charcuterie flock to this meat company and restaurant, housed in an industrial building, and featuring locally-sourced meat-centric dishes.
Feast on Thai street food at Pok Pok
This Portland staple featuring inventive Thai street food started as a cart. Today, there are outposts in New York and Los Angeles, but the Portland version remains a local favorite.
Dine with a view at Departure
Splurge for the stone-grilled wagyu at this futuristic rooftop restaurant featuring views of the city and beyond.
Taste Middle Eastern flavors at Tusk
The bright and airy vibe here feels like Southern California, while the colorful cuisine is full of creative Middle Eastern flavors. Be sure to order plenty of the housemade hummus to share.
Satisfy your sweet tooth at Salt & Straw
Flavors like honey lavender, rhubarb crumble, and coffee whiskey draw crowds to this Portland-based ice cream shop where a line often curls out the door for those waiting for the sweet scoops.