Portland, Oregon, the Willamette River
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Portland, Oregon on the Willamette River iStock / jose1983

Portland, Oregon

Eco-minded, zany, idealistic, and constantly caffeinated, Oregon’s largest city defies easy explanation. What you love or hate about Portland depends on your age, social views, and tolerance for tattoos, indie bands, and microbrews. But almost everyone can agree that this quirky town on the Columbia and Willamette rivers is a fun place to get to know.

What We Love

The Gardens: Nicknamed the City of Roses, Portland has the ideal climate for cultivating the queen of flowers that blossom all over the city, including 10,000 in the Portland Rose Garden in Washington Park. The adjacent Portland Japanese Garden is an oasis of calm, while the Lan Su Chinese Garden sits in the middle of Old Town Chinatown.

The Markets: From the seasonal produce at eight Portland Farmers Market locations to arts and crafts at the Portland Saturday Market, this city loves all things fresh and artisanal.

Bike Tours: Eco-conscious Portlanders love their bikes. Pedal along the waterfront and through the lively Pearl District and colorful Chinatown. Rent your cruisers at Waterfront Bikes or hop on one of their guided rides.

Best Known For

The Willamette Valley: Just 30 minutes from downtown you’ll encounter the farms, vineyards, and tasting rooms of this wine region where pinot noir is king.

Powell’s City of Books: This mazelike institution, opened in 1971, contains more than 1.5 million titles. In case you are wondering — yes, it is the largest bookstore on the planet.

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Who It's Best For

Beer, Wine, Coffee, and Doughnut Lovers: Portlanders celebrate this fab four. The city pioneered the microbrew revolution with its local ales and lagers. Terrific wines from the Willamette Valley are on most restaurant menus. There’s a coffee shop (or two or three) on every block. And the pioneering doughnut shop Voodoo Doughnuts tops their confections with such ingredients as bacon, Tang, and Cap'n Crunch.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

A Bridge Too Far: The Willamette River dissects the city and it’s spanned by a dozen bridges; getting from downtown to eastern neighborhoods requires a crossing.

Donna Heiderstadt

Donna Heiderstadt is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Coastal Living and Islands.

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