Portland, Oregon, is one of our favorite destinations for a weekend getaway. It is not a large city, but big enough for our tastes and is beautiful and vibrant.
Portland has a highly functional Metro, and its easy and cheap (just over $2) to get into the heart of the city directly from PDX airport. The airport is modern and very functional, and highlights Oregon’s fine restaurants and shops; if you have to linger here for a few hours you can easily spend the time windowshopping or enjoying a coffee and pastry.
There are a great assortment of accomodations in the city, including a variety of quaint older hotels. In Portland we generally stay at the downtown Marriott, which we prefer because of its central location, access to the Metro, comfortable and functional rooms and a tasty breakfast buffet. The downtown Marriott is in an older building which has been tastefully renovated.
There’s lots to see and do in Portland, even in the cool, rainy winter weather. Its a pretty and walkable city, and we enjoy its diversity of architecture. One of our favorite areas in which to stroll is the Cultural district, a broad tree-lined walkway framed by many beautiful and historic buildings, including the Portland Art Museum and Oregon Historic Society (OHS) . This trip we visited the exhibits of the OHS, which included an interesting temporary display on memorabilia of America’s world fairs entitled Centuries of Progress. Other exhibits of interest were The West the Railroads Made, which re-emphasized to us the importance of rails in opening the Westen American frontier. Lastly, the permanent exhibit, Oregon my Oregon offered a broad overview of the history of the state, dating from Native times to current trends.
There’s a lot of nice boutique shops in Portland, in addition to the usual downtown Nordstrom’s and Macy’s. We always enjoy browsing local handicrafts, and these are well highlighted in two Portland stores. Our favorite of these is The Real Mother Goose, which offers beautiful and unique works in jewelery, stone, wood, cloth and ceramics. Another interesting place is Made in Oregon which sells assorted souveniours, food and wine.
We are bookies, and Portland has one of the finest bookshops in the country, Powell’s books. The inventory is a combination of new and quality used books. Prices are fair — no deep discounts here — but there may not be a better organized bookshop in the country and certainly few with a larger selection. In the preinternet era we made a point of hunting out bookshops on our travels, and fewer are easier to navigate than this one. Grab a book, enjoy a coffee, and browse to your heart’s content.
Our greatest restaurant discovery this trip was a visit to Jake’s Famous Crawfish, a terrific seafood joint. The place was crowded and bustling — always a good sign — and the food we had was absolutely terrific! We shared orders of Dunginess crab leg sautee (with mushrooms and artichokes) and Fried Fresh Razor Clams (a northwest dish, HUGE clams from the Quinalt Reservation in Washington), washed down by a piece of upside down walnut apple pie. MMMMMMmmmmmm good! I recommend Jake’s to everyone.
We also had dinner at Heathman’s Restaurant, a highly rated restaurant that we thought was very good — but not exceptional.
We hope to be back soon.