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Frommer's Portland day by day

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Packed with color photos, this newly updated guide offers dozens of itineraries that show you how to see the best of "Stumptown" in a short time—with bulleted maps that lead the way from sight to sight. Featuring a full range of thematic and neighborhood tours, plus dining, lodging, shopping, nightlife, and practical visitor information, Frommer's Portland day by day is the only guide that helps travelers organize their time to get the most out of a trip. Author Donald Olson is a long-time resident of Portland, and a widely published author, both on travel and gardening.

Inside this book you'll find:
Full color throughout with scores of photos and dozens of maps
Sample one- to three-day itineraries that include Portland with Kids, Rainy Day Portland, Offbeat Portland, and more
A thorough discussion of side trips to the Willamette Valley (Portland wine country), the Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Hood, the Hood River, and the Oregon Coast
Star ratings for all hotels, restaurants, and attractions--all to clue readers in on great finds and values
Exact pricing so there’s never any guessing
A tear-resistant foldout map in a handy, reclosable plastic wallet, as well as bulleted maps throughout.

About Frommer’s: There’s a reason that Frommer’s has been the most trusted name in travel for more than sixty years. Arthur Frommer created the best-selling guide series in 1957 to help American servicemen fulfill their dreams of travel in Europe, and since then, we have published thousands of titles became a household name helping millions upon millions of people realize their own dreams of seeing our planet. Travel is easy with Frommer’s.

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16 Favorite Moments

ePub

Strolling through the Portland Japanese Garden.

16 Favorite Moments

Sometimes Portland seems almost too good to be true. Just try to get locals to stop rhapsodizing about the cuisine, the liveability and bike-ability, the great neighborhoods, the nearby mountains and ocean, the beer and wine and coffee and—see what I mean? Once the “undiscovered city” between San Francisco and Seattle, the City of Roses has now been discovered in a very big way, becoming a magnet for creative, outdoorsy folks young, old, and in-between—in short, for anyone who wants a vibrant, forward-thinking city that’s also manageable. Popularity brings its own set of problems, of course, but let’s accentuate the positive and have a look at just a few of the highlights.

Cycling across the Hawthorne Bridge.

❶ Browsing Powell’s City of Books. The world’s top independent bookstore fills an entire city block (and that’s just this branch) with over 1.5 million new and used books. It’s pure bibliophile nirvana. See p 78.

 

1 The Best Full-Day Tours

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Giant tree samples at World Forestry Center Discovery Museum.

The Best in One Day

This full-day ramble starts in downtown Portland and ventures up into the West Hills, giving a great overview—literally—of the city’s top offerings. After rambling along the riverfront, you’ll probably want to trade your walking shoes for a streetcar or bus to reach the final few stops. START: MAX to Pioneer Courthouse/SW 6th Ave. or Pioneer Square South. Bus: 1, 12, 19, or 94 to Pioneer Courthouse Square.

❶ ★★★ Pioneer Courthouse Square. “Portland’s living room” anchors downtown and embodies the Rose City in all its eclectic, endearing scruffiness, sophistication and charm. It’s a place to people-watch and mingle, filled with shoppers, locals on lunch break, commuters arriving and departing on buses, streetcars, and the MAX light-rail, and everyone in between. You’ll often find some kind of outdoor event going on, be it a farmer’s market (Mon, June–Oct), Italian food festival, rock concert, or sand castle–building competition. An information center and a TriMet ticket office are available to visitors. The graceful cupola of the Pioneer Courthouse at the east end of the square has been a Portland landmark since 1875. N 15 min. Btw. SW 6th Ave., Broadway, Yamhill & Morrison sts. ☎ 503/223-1613. www.thesquarepdx.org. Visitor center Mon–Fri 8:30am–5:30pm, Sat 10am–4pm. MAX: Pioneer Courthouse. Bus: 1, 12, 19, or 94.

 

2 The Best Special-Interest Tours

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The Portland Aerial Tram.

Portland with Kids

Portland repeatedly gets voted one of the best cities in the country to raise kids. It has a multitude of family-friendly and family-oriented places to experience, but kids are pretty much welcomed everywhere without much fuss or attitude. Portland is an active city, too, with a sense of outdoor adventure. Kids love the bridges, the river, the hiking trails, biking, skating, riding the light-rail and streetcars, and visiting Washington Park. For bigger adventures that the entire family can enjoy, don’t forget the spectacular beaches, headlands, and lighthouses along the Oregon coast, just a couple of hours away (see p 154). START: MAX to Washington Park. Bus 63 on weekdays.

A canopy lift ride at the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum.

❶ ★ World Forestry Center Discovery Museum. At this paean to all things arboreal, kids especially love the virtual smokejumper and river-rafting exhibits—and after a visit here they’ll be ready to dive into the real forests of Washington Park right outside. See p 22, ❸.

 

3 The Best Neighborhood Walks

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Tanner Springs Park in the Pearl District.

Downtown Portland

Downtown Portland is surprisingly compact and manageable. Busy as it may be, it’s still possible to walk from one end of the central downtown core to the other in 30 minutes or less. Along with office and government buildings, downtown is home to Oregon’s largest university (Portland State) as well as plenty of shops, cafes, restaurants, and cultural venues. Alternatives to walking or biking are the MAX light rail, buses, or the streetcar. START: Streetcar at SW 11th & Clay, bus: 6, 43, 45, 55, 58, or 68.

❶ ★★ The Old Church. Built of wood in an ornate style known as Carpenter Gothic, this Victorian beauty started as a Presbyterian church in 1883, making it one of the oldest buildings in the Pacific Northwest. Today it’s owned by a nonprofit organization and hosts concerts, lectures, and other public events. Many of the original architectural features have been preserved, including hand-carved fir pews and built-in umbrella racks. N 15 min. 1422 SW 11th Ave. ☎ 503/222-2031. www.oldchurch.org. Mon–Fri 11am–3pm. Self-guided tours are free; admission varies by scheduled event.

 

4 The Best Shopping

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Furniture, Asian antiques, and more at Cargo.

Downtown & Pearl District Shopping

East Side Shopping

Shopping Best Bets

Best for Books

★★★ Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W. Burnside St. (p 78)

Best for Shoes

★★ Imelda’s Shoes and Louie’s Shoes for Men, 3426 SE Hawthorne Blvd. (p 80)

Best for Unexpected Discoveries

★★ Cargo, 81 SE Yamhill St. (p 81)

Best for Toys

★★★ Finnegan’s Toys, 820 SW Washington St. (p 78)

Best for Arty Surprises

★★ Ampersand Vintage, 2916 NE Alberta St. Ste. B (p 77)

Best for Handcrafted Gifts

★★ Crafty Wonderland, 802 SW 10th Ave. (p 78)

Best for Oregon Souvenirs

★★ Made in Oregon, Pioneer Place Mall (p 81)

Best for Hats

★★ John Helmer Haberdasher, 969 SW Broadway Ave. (p 80)

Best for Kids’ Clothes

★★★ Hanna Andersson, 327 NW 10th Ave. (p 78)

Best for Jewelry

★★ Gilt, 720 NW 23rd Ave. (p 82)

Best for Sheer Selection

 

5 The Best of the Great Outdoors

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The lovely International Rose Test Garden.

Forest Park

Extending west for 8 miles from the heart of Portland’s West Hills, Forest Park points like a lush green finger toward the mouth of the Columbia River. At 5,100 acres, it’s the largest urban forest in the nation, with 8 square miles of fern-filled ravines, rushing streams, and towering firs, cedars, maples, and alders. The city’s green playground is spiderwebbed with more than 80 miles of trails and fire lanes for hiking, biking, and running, and it is home to over 112 bird and 62 mammal species. There’s no visitor center or main entrance; instead, at least 17 access points circle the park edge. (One main gateway is the start of Leif Erikson Drive, a 12-mile gravel road, at the end of NW Thurman St.) The west end of the park, away from downtown, is much wilder than the more heavily visited eastern end. Note: Dogs must be kept on leashes throughout Forest Park. START: Drive to 5151 NW Cornell Rd.

❶ ★★ Audubon Nature Sanctuary. Tucked up against Forest Park’s southern side, this wildlife rehabilitation center is home to all kinds of injured critters being nursed back to health (or simply given a place to live), from coyotes to bald eagles. Sometimes they’ll bring the animals out for up-close encounters. There’s a gift shop and 150 acres of forest with a few miles of trails, including a newt-filled pond. It’s also a good starting point for the Wildwood and Upper MacLeay trails in Forest Park proper. See p 22, ❷.

 

6 The Best Dining

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Dessert at Paley’s Place.

Dining Best Bets

Best New Restaurant

★★★ Alto Bajo $$ 310 SW Stark St. (p 100)

Best for Festive Celebrations

★★★ Andina $$$ 1314 NW Glisan St. (p 100)

Best for Romance

★ Chameleon $$$ 2000 NE 40th Ave. (p 103)

Best for Sophisticated Dining

★★★ Blue Hour $$$ 250 NW 13th Ave. (p 102)

Best Dinner Entertainment

★ Marrakesh $$ 1201 NW 21st Ave. (p 105)

Best for Gourmet Carnivores

★★ Beast $$$ 5425 NE 30th Ave. (p 101)

Best for Vegetarians

★ Prasad $ 925 NW Davis St. (p 108)

Best Italian

★★ Caffè Mingo $$ 807 NW 21st Ave. (p 102)

Best Pan Asian

★★ Pok Pok $$ 3226 SE Division St. (p 107)

Best Tapas

★★★ Toro Bravo $$ 120 NE Russell St. (p 111)

Best Burger

★★ Yakuza Lounge $$ 5411 NE 30th Ave. (p 112)

Best Pizza

★ Apizza Scholls $$ 4741 SE Hawthorne Blvd. (p 100); and ★ Ken’s Artisan Pizza $$ 304 SE 28th Ave. (p 104)

 

7 The Best Nightlife

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A flaming cocktail at the Driftwood Room.

Portland Nightlife

Nightlife Best Bets

Best View

★ Departure Lounge, 525 SW Morrison St. (p 117); and ★ Portland City Grill, 111 SW 5th Ave. #3000 (p 118)

Best Live Jazz

★★ Solae’s Lounge, 1801 NE Alberta St. (p 121)

Best Place to Catch the Game

★ Spirit of ’77, 500 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (p 122)

Best Dance Club Experience

★★ The Escape Nightclub, 333 SW Park Ave. (p 120)

Best Sake Selection

★★ Zilla Sake House, 1806 NE Alberta St. (p 118)

Best Martini

★★ Olive or Twist, 925 NW 11th Ave. (p 121)

Best Draft Beer Selection

★★ Bailey’s Taproom, 213 SW Broadway (p 117)

Best Classy Watering Hole

★★ The Palm Court, 309 SW Broadway (p 117)

Best for Romantic Snuggling

★★ Sapphire Hotel, 5008 SE Hawthorne Blvd. (p 118)

Best Drag Show

★★ Darcelle XV Showplace, 208 NW 3rd Ave. (p 120)

Best Gaming Experience

 

8 The Best Arts & Entertainment

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Popular music at the Crystal Ballroom.

The Best Arts & Entertainment

Arts & Entertainment Best Bets

Best for a Beer During a Movie

★★ Laurelhurst Theater, 2735 E. Burnside St. (p 129)

Best Family Entertainment

★★ Do Jump!, 1515 SE 37th Ave. (p 128)

Best for Most Interesting Contemporary Dance

★★★ PDX Contemporary Ballet, 1734 SE 12th Ave. (p 129)

Best Rock Music Venue

★★★ Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E. Burnside St. (p 131)

Best Place to Shake Your Booty

★★ Goodfoot Lounge, 2845 SE Stark St. (p 131)

Best Classical Piano Recitals

★★★ Portland Piano International, 1620 SW Park (p 127)

Best for Avant-Garde Films

★★ Northwest Film Center, 1219 SW Park Ave. (p 130)

Best Orchestra

★★★ Oregon Symphony, 1037 SW Broadway (p 127)

Best for an Unpredictable Performance

★ Imago Theatre, 17 SE 8th Ave. (p 132)

Best Chamber Music Performances

★★★ Chamber Music Northwest, 3203 SE Woodstock Blvd. (p 127)

 

9 The Best Hotels

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The Hi-Lo Hotel.

Downtown & Northwest Hotels

East Side Hotels

Hotel Best Bets

Best for Families

★ Embassy Suites Downtown $$$ 319 SW Pine St. (p 138)

Best Value

★★ The Society Hotel $ 203 NW 3rd Ave. (p 140)

Best Historic B & B

★★★ Portland Mayor’s Mansion $$ 3360 SE Ankeny St. (p 140)

Best Splurge

★★★ The Nines $$$ 525 SW Morrison St. (p 139)

Best for Romance

★★★ Dossier $$$ 750 SW Alder St. (p 137)

Best Service

★★ Heathman Hotel $$$ 1001 SW Broadway (p 138)

Best Unusual Vibe

★★★ McMenamins Kennedy School $$ 5736 NE 33rd Ave. (p 139)

Best Hotel Bar & Restaurant

★★★ Hotel Vintage $$$ 422 SW Broadway (p 139)

Best Hip Vibe

★★★ Hi-Lo $$$ 320 SW Stark St. (p 138)

Best for Willamette River Views

★★ RiverPlace Hotel $$$ 1510 SW Harbor Way (p 140)

Best for Traditional Elegance

★★★ The Benson $ 309 SW Broadway (p 137)

Best for Live Music

 

10 The Best Side Trips

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Vista House at Crown Point, overlooking the Columbia River Gorge.

Mount Hood

Portland’s snow-capped icon shimmers on the eastern horizon whenever the skies are clear. At 11,240 feet, Mount Hood is Oregon’s highest point, with twelve glaciers above the classic Timberline Lodge. The mountain is an outdoor playground in any season, but especially in winter, when some spots get 500 inches of snow. U.S. 26, a National Scenic Byway, generally follows Barlow Road, the final and most difficult stretch of the Oregon Trail. START: Troutdale, I-84 exit 18, 17 miles east of Portland.

❶ ★★ Mirror Lake. A trailhead on Hwy. 26 between mileposts 51 and 52 accesses an easy 1.6-mile trail to a picture-perfect lake with spectacular views of Mt. Hood. A Northwest Forest Pass ($5/day per car) is required to park at the trailhead.

❷ ★ Government Camp. First settled in 1900, this tiny mountain resort community sits at the foot of Mt. Hood amid fir and cedar forests. It has a handful of restaurants, hotels, and rental condos, making it a good base in summer or winter.

 

The Savvy Traveler

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Biking in Portland.

Before You Go

Tourist Offices

The Travel Portland Visitor Information Center in Pioneer Courthouse Square downtown (701 SW 6th Ave.; ☎ 503/275-8355 or 877/678-5263; www.travelportland.com) is open Monday through Friday 8:30am to 5:30pm, Saturday 10am to 4pm, and Sunday 10am to 2pm from May through October. For destinations outside the city, contact the Oregon Tourism Commission, 670 Hawthorne St. SE, Suite 240, Salem, OR 97301 (☎ 800/547-7842; www.traveloregon.com).

The Best Times to Go

Summer—defined locally as beginning on July 5, when the clouds generally retreat—is gorgeous in Portland. Sunshine replaces drizzle, lawns go from deep green to dry brown, and temperatures are warm, but usually not uncomfortably so. (That said, there have been temperature spikes into the 100s in recent years.) From June through September, it’s highly advisable to book hotel and car reservations ahead of time—as far ahead as possible for weekends, holidays, and events like the Rose Festival. Spring and fall are more of a crapshoot, weather-wise, but you might hit a week or even two of sunshine, and gardens in Portland are at their lushest. Prices fall and reservations open up in these seasons, and even more so in the winter, except for the holidays. Winters are generally mild but gray and wet, and a few days of snow is not uncommon. But the snow, of course, is what skiers want when they head to nearby Mt. Hood.

 

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