TUG 2014 annual conference, Portland, OR, sightseeing notes
February 28 update
The 2014 TUG annual conference will be July 28 to 30 at the Mark Spencer hotel located in the wonderful city of Portland, OR.
These notes are to tell you a little about Portland — to help you while you are at the TUG conference, or to show you that Portland is a great place to visit to help you to decide to attend the conference.
Note: I do not live in Portland, but I have visited it briefly many times since I was a child growing up in California (I had a
grandmother in Portland and another in Seattle, and my mother lived on the Oregon coast for 30 years), and over the past 5 years (since my grandchildren and their parents moved to Portland)
I have spent over a year visiting Portland on short and multi-month visits.
Feel free to ask me questions: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also tell me about errors, typos, etc., you see in the following.
Table of contents
Getting to the hotel (+ public transportation)
Powell's Books (and guidebooks)
Eating and drinking
Events, sightseeing, etc., in Portland
Walking and hiking, biking, parks, and Parks and Recreation
Sights not in Portland but relatively close
Places to visit away from Portland
The Columbia River runs east to west across the top of Portland, dividing Oregon from Washington and Portland from its suburb of
Vancouver Washington. The Willamette River runs south to north through Portland dividing East Portland from West Portland.
The Willamette runs into the Columbia which then runs north 50 miles to Longview, WA, where the river turns
west to go to the Pacific Ocean. The western edge of Portland goes up and a little ways over Portland's western hills.
Burnside Street runs from the western hills east across the Willamette River and to the way east of Portland, dividing
NW Portland from SW Portland and NE Portland from SE Portland. North of the Willamette
River and west of NE Portland is North Portland. The central part of the city basically touches on NW, SW, NE, and SE Portland.
An aside: the Columbia River mentioned above comes downriver via the Columbia River Gorge from southeastern Washington and northeastern Oregon (from before that from north into British Columbia). Anyone interested in the geology of the Portland area might want to google for the "Missoula floods."
Portland is sometimes known as Bridgetown. The following bridges cross the Willamette River:
- St. Johns Bridge (at the northern tip of North Portland)
- A railroad bridge between the St. John Bridge and Fremont Bridge
Bridge (an interstate highway bridge connecting I-5 to the north end of Rt. 405)
- Broadway Bridge (connecting the
west end of Broadway in NE Portland to the north end of Broadway in NW Portland, used by bikes and pedestrians,
cars, buses, and streetcars)
- Steel Bridge (a vertical-lift bridge with two decks: the bottom used by trains, bikes and pedestrians and the
top deck by cars, MAX, buses, and pedestrians; uniquely, the lower deck can rise while the upper deck stays in place, or both decks can rise)
- Burnside bridge (for cars, buses, bikes, and pedestrians)
- Morrison Bridge (for cars, buses, bikes, and pedestrians)
- Hawthorne Bridge (for cars, buses, bikes, and pedestrians)
- Marquam Bridge (used by I-5 to cross the river)
- Ross Island Bridge (for cars, buses, and I can't remember what else)
- a new bridge being built just north of the cable car base at the waterfront (this will
be for pedestrians, bikes, and street cars)
- there are additional bridges as the river continues south
The Mark Spencer hotel is at the corner of SW Stark St. and 11th Ave. This is a short block from the boundary between
NW and SW; in other words, it is particularly well located in downtown Portland.
The blocks in NW and SW Portland are close to square
(not as much difference in length and width as in some
big American cities).
The north-south avenues are numbered counting up as they go west from the Willamette River (the NW and SW avenues). The north-south avenues
also are numbered counting up as they go east from the Willamette River (the NE and SE avenues).
To find a street address on the streets going east or west and crossing the numbered avenues, discard the last two
digits and the remaining number, N (of however many digits), will tell you that the address is
between Avenue N and Avenue N+1, e.g., SW 1030 Jefferson St. is on Jefferson between 10th and 11th Avenues.
I think the street addresses also go up in groups of 100 as you move north or south away from Burnside (I'll check this
and do an update if necessary). Even numbers are on the east or north side of the street, and odd numbers are
on the west or south side of the street.
The east-west streets in NW are named alphabetically: Burnside, Couch (pronounced Cooch), Davis, ...
A perhaps more
clear explanation of all this is available on the web.
In addition to the NW, SW, NE, SE, and N regions of Portland, the city also has an explicit neighborhood system, many dozens
of them as shown in an on-line map.
Take a look at the map, and zoom in to the kind of vertical oval'ish area (bounded by highways and slightly spanning the river) at the middle of the map.
Within the oval-ish area, you will see where the Pearl District, Downtown, Goose Hollow, and Northwest District
come together. The conference hotel is very near this "four corners" area just inside the Downtown neighborhood.
In other words, those four neighborhoods are the closest places to walk from the conference hotel (plus Old Chinatown,
which is not the place any longer to go for Chinese food in Portland). The Northwest District also likes to be
known as the Alphabet Disrtrict (because of the order of street names) and the western part of it is also known as Nob Hill.
Also notice to the west of the Northwest District and extending way to the northwest along Highway 30 the gigantic Forest Park.
There are also some nice places to walk up into the western hills in the Hillside and Arlington Heights neighborhoods.
More about these later.
Arriving in town and getting to the hotel (and public transportation generally)
Arriving by air
Of course you can take a taxi from PDX airport to the hotel, and it will cost you something like $40. Or you can take
the MAX light rail system from the airport (the airport is one end of the MAX Red Line). The MAX costs a small number of
dollars ($2.50?), and you can buy your ticket with a credit card at a machine at the airport station (no one collects the tickets but
you had better have one in case your train car gets checked for having tickets and you get fined for not having
one). Get off the MAX at the Galleria/SW 10th Ave MAX stop. From the corner of SW Morrison and 10th, walk one block west
to 11th and then three blocks north on 11th (the hotel will be on your left at the corner of SW 11th and Stark).
Arriving by car
The hotel has parking at $18 a day. If you don't want to pay that, you can surely find (after you drop
your luggage off at the hotel) free on-street parking
not too far from the city center, i.e., a walk or bus ride away (I'll scout this out and add more specific
From the west via US Rt. 26: Take Rt. 26 into Portland, keep right at the fork and follow signs for
I-405 S/US-26 E/The Dalles/Salem/Market St/City Center;
keep left at the fork, follow signs for Market Street/City Center and merge onto SW Market St;
go left (shortly) on SW 12th Ave to SW Stark St. The hotel will be around the corner to your right at the
intersection of 11th and Stark, with 11th being one way in the direction that lets you pull up in front of the hotel.
From the north via I-5: Follow the signs for Rt. 405, cross the Fremont Bridge, stay left at the end of
the bridge, move over to the next to right lane, [cross reference A] after passing the Glisan exit, move to the right lane and
take the Burnside/Couch exit, turn left on Burnside (skipping past the left turn onto Couch), turn right on
SW 1t1h, and the hotel is just across the next intersection at the corner of 11th and Stark (you could also have veered right a couple of blocks earlier onto Stark).
From the northwest via US Rt. 30: As you approach the Fremont Bridge, stay to the right and merge
onto Rt. 405; jump to cross reference A in the previous instruction.
From the east via Rt. 84: As you approach downtown Portland, you will see signs for I-5 north and I-5 south;
take the turn
to I-5 north; jump to the instruction for arriving via I-5 from the north (even though you are coming from the
south — you can cross the Fremont Bridge to Rt. 405 from either I-5 south or I-5 north).
From the south via I-5 is sort of tricky. If you have a GPS that gives you warnings as various turns are getting near, use it. From the south via I-5, as you aproach the city take exit 299B (left lane) for Rt 405. You will also see signs for City Center, but keep following the signs for 405. Once on 405, avoid directions to Rt. 26. Instead take the right lane exit for Salmon St. (exit 2A, I think ). You will see signs for 14th Ave. and Salmon, I believe. The off ramp from 405 soon jogs left over 405 and jogs right onto 14th. Stay on 14th going north passing Salmon. Move to the right lane and after again passing over 405 turn right at the Crystal Ballroom onto W Burnside. Then turn right onto 11th, and drive to in front of the hotel, just after Stark. (If your GPS had you turn off of Burnside onto Stark, that's OK too.)
Arriving by bus
I'm not sure where all the inter-city buses stop, but the Greyhound bus station
is between NW 5th and 6th and between NW Glisan and Irving. If you don't have much luggage,
you might walk to the hotel: walk west on Hoyt 6 blocks, and then walk south on 11th 7 blocks to the
corner of SW 11th and Stark. Alternatively, you can take the MAX Green Line from the corner of SW Hoyt and 5th
to the Pioneer Place/SW 5th Ave. MAX stop, get off and walk a block in the reverse direction on 5th, and
catch the MAX Red or Blue line at the Mall/SW 5th MAX stop, and take the Red or Blue line to the
Galleria/SW 10th Ave MAX stop, and jump to the instruction above as if you were arriving on the MAX from the airport.
Arriving by train
I presume out-of-town trains all come into Union Station at the north edge of Old Chinatown. From there you could again walk to the hotel;
it is not so much farther than from the bus station. But you can also take the MAX Green or Yellow line in the direction of
Portland State University (PSU) to where these lines intersect with the Red and Blue lines (the stops are probably a
block apart as described in the by-bus instructions above. Get off at the Galleria/SW 10th Ave MAX stop, and jump to the
instruction above as if you were arriving on the MAX from the airport.
Public transportation: TriMet
TriMet (trimet.org) runs the intra-city
buses (which also go to the cities and towns around Portland), the MAX light rail, the Portland Streetcar, and the
Western Express Service (WES) train.
To a considerable extent you can transfer among these without paying again once you have paid the appropriate fare on the first. Children 6 and under
are free, adults pay full fare ($2.50 as I write this in February), and the senior (called "honored citizen") fare is $1. When you pay, you get a ticket which allows transfers for two hours, including riding back to where you came from as long as it is within 2 hours. An all-day pass costs twice the regular fare.
The Red and Blue MAX lines run from the pretty far east side of the city (where the lines split apart) to the west side of the
city over the western hills (where the lines split apart). In downtown the Green and Yellow lines run north-south between
Union Station and PSU. All four lines use the Steel Bridge to cross the Willamette River from the east with the
Green and Yellow turning north to Union Station so they can then run south, and the Red and Blue lines turning south after
the bridge and going downriver until they turn west. You can see all this
on the web.
The buses run all over the place.
The North/South (NS) streetcars run from the waterfront south of downtown (where they connect with the the cable car to the
top of Marquam Hill and the Oregon Health and Sciences University and hospitals) northwest through the PSU campus
and along 10th Ave. (north) and 11th Ave. (south) to
Northrup St. for a left turn deep into the Northwest District (returning on Lovejoy St.). The Central Loop streetcars
run from PSU to Lovejoy St. where they turn right to cross the river via the Broadway Bridge.
You can see
all this on the web.
The TriMet Trip Planner is a very useful tool for figuring how to get from one place
in the city to another by one of the TriMet "rides." This also lets you figure out when you have to be at a bus, MAX, or streetcar
stop in order to catch the next time a ride goes by. If you are at a stop, you can read its stop number, and use that and
the given phone number to find out when the next ride is coming by. If you remember the phone number and stop number,
you can phone to find out when the next ride is coming before you leave "home," thus allowing you to cut the timing as close
as possible. Many of the stops have a TV (or audio button) that will give you a list of upcoming buses and the minutes until
Powell's Books (a good place to visit early, e.g., for Portland guidebooks)
One block from the hotel is the main branch of Powell's Books, which claims to be the "largest independent
used and new bookstore in the world." It's definitely a swell bookstore. It is also a great place to stock up
on guidebooks for Portland specializing in the kind of sightseeing and
other activities in which you are interested.
From the hotel, walk north on 11th Ave. to Burnside St. Look across the intersection to your right. That is the
Powell's building. You traditionally can enter either at the corner of 10th and Burnside (the main entrance) or at the corner of
NW 11th and Couch (one block farther north on 11th). However, the main entrance will
be closed from January to August because of major renovations on the southeast quadrant of the building. Nonetheless, the store will continue to be open every day. Use
the 11th and Couch entrance.
Once inside the entrance and down the little flight of stairs, the information desk is more or less staight ahead of you. At the information desk you can probably pick up free copies of the Portland Visitor's Map (a pretty good map of the parts of town around the hotel with annotations for some sites to see), of course the map of the Powell's bookstore (which books on different topics are within the building), and the Where to Eat Guide (this is a nice advertising brochure for the restaurants which I assume pay to be listed in the guide, but it still may be helpful to you — it tends not to include most of the places where I have eaten). You may also be able to get such free information at the hotel.
To get guidebooks, etc., for Portland, continue from the information desk to the stairway diagonally across that first big room from the entrance, and go up to the second floor. At the top of the stairs, the Purple Room is to your right through wide through an arch. If from the arch you walk straight between the high book shelves to your left and the lower book shelves to your right (the men's and women's rooms are also on your right between those rows of book shelves), you will soon come to the books on the Northwest including Portland in that lower set of shelves. If you return back through the arch to the top of the stairs, on your right is a lower shelf of maps and around the end of that shelf is a shelf of more books on Portland.
[Better maps than the Portland Visitor's Map might be the free Bike/Walk maps produced by the city's Department of Transportation. They exist for the central city, NW, SW, NE, SE, and N. I'm not sure where you can pick them up for free. You might try the Central Library branch or West End Bikes (across the street from the hotel).]
Powell's keeps its technical book section in its own much smaller building
across 10th Ave. from the main Powell's building. The entrance is at the corner of 10th and Couch.
Powell's has several other branches: two or three at the Portland airport (both outside and inside the
security zone); two branches (almost next door to each other, separated by an excellent small grocery
store for deli-like foods (cheeses, pasta, meats, wines, etc.), with one of the Powell's stores focusing
on "home and garden") in
SE Portland on Hawthorne St.; one in Beaverton; and a big warehouse somewhere in the city.
When you are leaving Powell's, you might pick up from the boxes outside Powell's entrance free copies of Willamette Week, the Mercury, or other free tabloid-size newspapers that tell you what's happening in Portland. While you are still in Powell's you might but a copy of Portland magazine (the actual title seems to be Monthly Portland, but the "Monthly" part of the name is much smaller on the cover than the "Portland" part); in different months over a year this features various aspects of fine living in Portland (e.g., best restaurants).
Eating and drinking
Grocery stores in Oregon sell beer and wine as well as everything else you would expect a grocery store to sell.
The closest big grocery store to the hotel is Whole Foods at the corner of NW 12th Ave. and Couch St. (Whole
Foods is well known for having high prices and high quality food, but they don't sell things they think
are not good for you, like Diet Coke.) I can get Diet Coke at the branches of the big Safeway chain of food stores.
The closest Safeway stores to the hotel are at the corner of SW 10th and Jefferson (10 short blocks from the hotel) and at the
corner of NW 13th and Lovejoy (a dozen short blocks from the hotel). If you don't want to walk,
the 10th Ave. streetcar (catch it in front of Powell's)
will take you close to the second of the above mentioned Safeway stores, and the 11th Ave. streetcar (catch it
a block or two to the south on 11th)
will take you to the back corner of the first of the above mentioned Safeway stores. There are also plenty of little "convenience stores" which sell groceries, etc., in the vicinity of the hotel.
The closest place to the hotel I know to buy liquor other than beer and wine
is on SW 10th between Taylor and Salmon Streets
(about two-thirds of the way to the Safeway store). There may be (probably are) other
liquor stores closer, but I don't
know them (ask at the hotel). Regarding beer, there is a tendency by Portlanders
to like a strong flavor of hops in their beer;
also lots of different beers are available (for example, the big Fred Meyer store on Broadway in NE Portland has a large section with
lots of types of beer
from the national companies, another large section with lots of types of relatively widely distributed beers
from the northwest, and a gigantic section with
lots of craft beers).
The places that serve or sell beer also in many cases appear to have selections of alcoholic cider.
Regarding wines, of course good ones are available from California, France, Italy, and other
places in the world, but those from the northwest are also often very good (including those from the Willamette
Valley). By the way, even though you may only be in Portland for a few days, it couldn't hurt
to sign up for a Safeway
"frequent flyer" card (I can't remember what it is really called; this gets one non-trivial discounts
on some foods but I have been
particularly impressed with the discount the cards can bring on wines).
The big grocery stores probably all have deli counters where you can get prepared food to go.
I know the Safeway
at SW 10th and Jefferson does; I've eaten a lot of sandwiches, Chinese food, etc., from there.
Places to eat
Portland is a big deal place in the foodie sense — lots of good restaurants and food carts.
However, I will only mention places at which I personally have eaten (or that an Oregonian has recommended
in a few cases). You are on your own to find
other places to eat and drink, asking the hotel or a conference attendee who lives in Portland, using a
Portland food guidebook from Powell's, or looking on the web for a list of the nearby restaurants (or best food carts). You will
see plenty of other possible eating places as you walk to the places I mention.
East from the hotel on Stark
- Across the street from the hotel is Kenny and Zuke's, which is a good enough place to eat. I assume you can
get a bagel there, but I am not sure if they make bagels there as they do in their place on NW Thurman between
23rd and 24th (the bagels there are considered by some people to be the best in the city; I like those from Bagel Land,
on NE Fremont between 42nd and 43rd, better).
- Next door to Kenny and Zuke's, a little farther east on Stark, is a Stumptown Coffee location.
I don't drink coffee, but my wife has picked up her morning cup of coffee at this location. (The Stumptown
founder or CEO or something like that also has a couple of highly regarded restaurants. He's a foodie in addition to
being a coffee mogul.)
- On the other side of Stark (in the middle of the block between 11th and 10th) is the entrance to
the Union Way arcade that runs indoors between Stark and Burnside one block to the north. Immediately inside the entrance to the arcade is Boxer Ramen (I haven't tried it yet but I like the arcade). Partway through the arcade is the Little T Baker bakery (I also haven't tried this yet).
- The rest of the way down the block of Stark between 11th and 10th is the Living Room Theater on the
north side of Stark
which serves drinks and food. I have eaten there many times, and not always before a movie on one of
their five screens always showing independent films. One can also order
food (and drink, e.g., a bottle of wine) to be
brought to you in a theater just as your movie is about the start.
- Diagonally across the 10th and Stark intersection from the Living Room is Martinotti's
Cafe & Deli. I like this place; take a look at the
My wife likes the soups; I particularly like the sandwich they make which is Italian
but reminds me a little of a
muffaleta sandwich from New Orleans.
North on 10th Ave.
- Moving north on 10th Ave., there is a pizza shop (Sizzle Pie) where Burnside, Oak, and 10th intersect that I have often thought about trying, but never have.
- Crossing Burnside from SW to NW Portland, Powell's is on your left (although you will have to enter at NW 11th and Couch). They also have
a coffee shop.
- Moving on to the next block, at the corner of Couch and 10th on the east side of the street is Noodles & Co. It has
a limited but nice menu. You order at the counter and take your meal to a table.
- Past Noodles & Co. is Little Big Burger, which has a limited menu of hamburgers and and good French fries at
- Continuing on 10th, just before the intersection with Flanders is Isabel's, which I have liked.
In the summer
one whole wall of the restaurant is open to the outside
- Crossing Flanders, just past the intersection, is Nuvrei Pastries, with the best croissants
in Portland (in my view). It's a nice place to get your morning coffee (or Diet Coke) and a pastry.
- At the next intersection (10th and Glisan), if you turn left and walk to 13th, you will find Andina, which serves very interesting Peruvian food.
- If when you were back at the corner of 10th and Couch you had gone one block down the hill (east)
on Couch, on the corner of Couch and 9th is the Pearl Bakery. They have excellent baked goods
to take away and you can get a sandwich (as I remember).
- From the Pearl Bakery, one block farther north on 9th at the corner of Davis is Fuller's Coffee Shop, an old style breakfast and
- From the Pearl Bakery, two blocks farther east on Couch, at the corner of NW Park Ave., is the Glyph Café and Arts Space. Its goal, apparently, includes being a gathering space for arty people. In addition to selling coffees and teas, they also have pastries and a small selection of
more lunch-like foods (I liked the sandwich and cookie I had there). I list Glyph here particularly because of its name; the space also has a nice feel. It is new and I hope it still is surviving by July.
- Across the "Park Blocks" (the two streets with the grass mall inbetween) from Glyph is another culinary school, this one belonging to the Art Institute of Portland. I know nothing about this except they also have a cafe or restaurant that might be open to the public and interesting to try.
South on 10th from Stark
- Walk one block and you will come to lots of food carts between Washington and Adler Streets. On the
west side of 10th the food carts are on two sides of the block. On the east side of 10th the food carts
go all the way around the block. I have had some swell lunches at various of these food carts.
- In the next block on the left is a block square building which now holds a Target store.
Le Cordon Bleu College
of Culinary Arts
in Portland is also in this building. I don't know if they still do it (you can call to find out), but I have
had an excellent 3-course lunch for a surprisingly modest price in the school's restaurant where the students do rotations of cooking for
the restaurant and serving in the restaurant.
- Also at the intersection of 10th and Adler, on the southwest corner is Jake's Grill. It has a decent reputation
but I didn't like it the one time I went there for lunch.
- Probably a block father south on the corner of Morrison is a small, informal,
inexpensive Mexican food place that
I like — Maya's.
- Going on, between Yamhill and Taylor, across the street from the main branch of the Multnomah County Library,
is the Virginia Cafe (or "the VC"). This is a Portland institution, with a long bar in addition to the booths and
tables, good enough food, heavily tattooed servers, racy prints in the rest rooms, etc. It's open from 11am until
- Left from 10th on Taylor a short block you will find Pastini, part of a small chain of Italian restaurants. I've enjoyed this
every time I have visited it.
- Diagonally across the intersection from Pastini in the Paramount Hotel is the Tasting East Asian fusion restaurant with which
I haven't been impressed.
- Back on 10th, continuing one more block to Salmon, turn left and go one short block to find the Southpark restaurant.
This is a favorite place of mine: excellent seafood, a cozy wine bar (with food) at one end, and excellent hamburgers
and chocolate chip cookies on the lunch menu.
- Across Salmon Street from the Southpark is the Shigezo Japanese restaurant. This seems very popular, but I didn't like it the one time I tried it. As I remember, I ordered tonkatsu and it came with some sort of American gravy on it instead of Tonkatsu sauce (e.g., from Bull Dog).
- You could also get to the Southpark from Pastini on SW Park Ave, a continuation of SW 9th.
Between Taylor and Salmon on Park you will also find Benessere which sells excellent olive oils and vinegars
out of big containers, and you will find an excellent frozen yogurt place. On the corner of Taylor and Park
is a Starbuck's
coffee place, but you can find them all over the city.
- Back on 10th and continuing south, a little over half the way from Main St. to Jefferson St. on the right, is
the Behind the Museum Cafe, a nice little place serving Japanese Tea. (On the left side of 10th is the Portland Art
Museum — more about that in another section.)
- At the corner of 10th and Jefferson, opposite Safeway in one direction and the art museum in another direction
is Honey's cafe, a nice little Japanese-oriented breakfast and lunch place.
- Two block west (uphill) from 10th on Jefferson is the West Cafe at the corner of 13th and Jefferson. This is a
nice place. (Staying on the same side of the street there are several more restaurants between 13th and 14th, but
I don't know much about them.)
On 11th going south from the hotel
- India house is 3 blocks from the hotel at the corner of Morrison. I like this place very much (and they
serve Kingfisher beer).
- East India Co. Bar and Grill is one and a half blocks farther south on 11th on the other side of the
street. This has higher ratings on some lists than India house and it is certainly OK, but I liked India house better.
Maybe those of you with more sophisticated taste than I have will think East India Co. is better.
In SW, northwest of the hotel
There are many food places in the area bounded by NW 11th Ave., Washington St., NW 14th Ave., and Burnside —
in other words, in the several blocks behind the hotel, more or less. I haven't tried most of them.
- Masu Sushi, upstairs on 12th between Washington and Start. This place has an excellent ambiance,
serves sushi in innovative ways, and is expensive.
- Ringler's Pub, a McMenamin's establishment, at the
corner of NW 14th and Burnside (McMenamin's Crystal
Ballroom is upstairs). There are McMenamin's pubs all over Portland (and elsewhere in Oregon and even some in Washington).
The McMenimin brothers were instrumental in getting Oregon law changed (as I understand the history) to
permit micro breweries in pubs. In the years since then, they have bought out other pubs, established
new pubs of their own, and bought other bigger places (e.g., an abandoned elementary school) which they
repurposed to have their standard pub and micro brewery
capability as well as other capabilities (e.g., movies, more traditional restaurants, hotel rooms, etc. — for instance,
the McMenamin's Crystal Hotel is on Burnside in the triangle of land bordered by Burnside, SW 12th, and SW Stark; it also has more McMenamin's pubs).
- Henry's Tavern is on 12th Street just across Burnside into the NW district.
They have a restaurant section and a bar section where you can also get food; the bar also has 100 different beers on tap and a few hard ciders, etc. I've liked the food and beer I've had at Henry's. This could also be a good place to go for a pizza.
A few more in SW
- Sushi Sakara on SW 6th at the corner of Washington.
I have not tried to investigate Japanese food in NW or SW, but I have gone to Sakara multiple times for a
quick lunch; it is OK. This is one of those places where you sit at a counter and little dishes pass by you one some sort
of conveyor system, and you just grab what you want off the conveyor. You pay based on the number and colors of
plates you have in front of you at the end of the meal. (PS, I haven't liked the Koji chain of Japanese restaurants.)
- Saucebox on SW Broadway on the east side of the street between Ankeny and Oak Streets. It has Asianish food.
I have only been their for happy hour which was good. It is noisy; in other words, it is oriented to
people much younger than I.
- The Portland City Grill, on the 30th floor of the building between SW 5th and 6th Avenues and
Burnside and Oak Streets. I have not eaten there, but I have gone to the 30th floor to get a glance at the 360 degree view.
My assumption is that sometime I would take an out-of-town visitor there on a clear day to see the view and to
try the happy hour.
- Three blocks east of the Portland City Grill's building, at the corner of SW Pine and 3rd, is the Bijou Cafe. I've enjoyed breakfast here on a couple of occasions, and it might be a good place to eat breakfast before going on to the Saturday Market a few blocks farther east to the waterfront and then north a few blocks.
- At the corner of 6th and Columbia SW is Nel Centro. It has fine food and an excellent environment.
- Veritable Quandary (VQ) on SW 1st between Jefferson and Madison. I think this is very good but it is pricey.
This is a 20 minute walk from the hotel.
- The Old Spaghetti Factory (715 SW Bancroft). This is the original restaurant in the 50 restaurant, multi-state chain.
It's good, especially with children. You can get there by streetcar (get on at 11th and Adler, down the street
from the hotel; get off at the SW Lowell & Bond stop; Bancroft is toward the river; walk a short way south
on Bancroft and look left — there may be a path along the river to the restaurant which you
might try coming back to the streetcar stop). If you are already near the Old Spaghetti factory, this
might also be the time to take the cable car up to the hospital area high on the hill; great views from there.
- Another place with a great view on a clear day is the Chart House, on SW Terwilliger Blvd. I wouldn't attempt to
walk there from the hotel (3.5 miles including a long stretch of narrow curvy road with fast moving vehicles). But public
transportation can take you near there in 30 to 45 minutes (and of course there are taxis).
Up the hill (west) on Burnside to NW 21st and 23rd
NW 21st and 23rd from Burnside to Thurman is a trendy area with lots of restaurants, fancy or just
interesting shops, etc. It's a fine place to walk (and not such a long walk from the hotel). Unfortunately,
I have not tried many of the restaurants there as I just keep going back to San Sai over and over.
Rather than walking to this district, you can also take the streetcar at the corner of Burnside and Couch.
This can drop you at the corner of 23rd and Northrup or 21st and Lovejoy. One idea is to ride the streetcar one
way, wander around the district, and then walk back to the hotel. Of course, you could also ride to 23rd, walk
the length of 23rd to a block or two before Burnside, walk downhill to 21st and walk the length of 21st back
to the street car which will let one off on 11th near the hotel.
- Ken's Artisan Bakery on NW21st at the corner of Flanders; good sandwiches and good baked goods to take away.
- San Sai Japanese Grill on NW 21st at the corner of Hoyt. It is good and
seems inexpensive to me, for a Japanese restaurant.
- Hala's Lebanese Grill on NW 21st at the corner of Northrup (it's just past the corner on the west side
of 21st, and down some stairs from street level); I enjoyed lunch there.
- Paley's Place is at the corner of NW 21st and Northrup. It was one of the early restaurants in the
Portland food/restaurant movement that is flourishing so much today. It is still highly regarded, but I prefer VQ for this
level of dining.
- Bamboo Sushi is near Kearney on the east side of 23rd Avenue NW. They emphasize interesting tastes.
- RingSide Steakhouse on Burnside between NW King Ave. and 22nd Ave. (a little over 1 block farther
up the hill from 21st). Karl Berry reports they have excellent steaks there.
On the east side
Many of the hottest (in the popular, not spicy, sense) restaurants are on the east side of the river. I will not
cover these here, as they are not as easily walkable, with the exception of some Chinese restaurants (as I mentioned
in another section, the Chinese have largely left Old Chinatown; and now there is a considerable Chinese
presence on the east side of the city).
- Frank's Noodles, on NE Broadway between 8th and 9th (south side of the street). This is my favorite noodle place in Portland, and I always
go there for dinner the first evening after I arrive in Portland from the east coast. Frank's has a mixture (not in the same dish) of Chinese
and Korean food.
- Shandong Restaurant, on NE Broadway between 37th and 38th (south side of the street). This is a nice
Chinese place, like the best we have outside of Chinatown in Boston's neighboring towns.
- Wong's King Seafood, on SE Division between 87th and 89th (closer to 89th, set back from the street
in a mini-mall-like set of buildings, on the north side of Division). This is where I go for dim sum. It's
the quality of a typical Boston Chinatown dim sum place (good, but not great).
- Chinese Delicacy, on SE 82nd Ave. (west side of the street — going south on 82nd, pass Foster
Road, then pass Woodstock Blvd, but you have gone too far if you pass Duke St.; it's at the corner of
Henry St.). This is where I go for the Chinese dumplings the west coast people call pot stickers. Chinese
Delicacy also has some Korean dishes.
Portland has a very useful "happy hour" tradition. In other places in the U.S. bars and pubs often have
happy hours — a few hours in the later afternoon when some beer or drinks are sold at a discount.
However, that gives the places with liquor licenses an unfair competitive advantage
over restaurants which don't have liquor licenses. Therefore, the non-liquor-license restaurants also
have happy hours for food — a
period when a short list of food dishes are sold at a discount. Today many (maybe most) food
and/or drink establishments
have a happy hour. There is an annual Portland guidebook for happy hours including ratings, discount coupons, and maps of locations.
In addition to the many restaurants focusing on ingredients that come from relatively nearby in the northwest, Portland
also has a swell set of farmer's markets, several of which
are easy to get to from the conference hotel. The bigger ones, e.g., at Portland State University on Saturday, are
also likely to have people playing music.
Events, sightseeing, etc., in Portland
There is a lot of overlap between this section and the sections on walking, etc., and on unique ("weird") aspects of Portland. Check those sections, too. You can look at guidebooks, tourist maps, etc., to find the activities you want; I will merely mention a few that come to mind for me. Also look at
the online list of July activities.
The Pearl has two art schools of which I know: Pacific Northwest College of Art (NW Johnson between 12th and 13th) and The Art Institute of Portland (NW Davis between 11th and 12th). These contribute to the artiness of the Pearl district. You will find a variety of galleries with art for sale as you walk around the Pearl, e.g., in the region between the two schools and the blocks east and west of them. Also, at the southeast corner of NW Couch and 8th Ave. is a complex of buildings with
store fronts extending a block south on 8th and a block east on Couch; included through the
doorways of these locations are the Museum of Contemporary Craft (small but each exhibit I have seen has been
interesting, and a very nice craft shop), Blue Sky Gallery (Oregon Center for Photographic Arts; a small location with frequently changing exhibits), plus three commercial art galleries.
The Portland Art Museum between SW 10th and Park Avenues and Main and Jefferson Streets. I like this museum very much. It is of a very manageable size and has a nice collection of modern art in the north wing (including a photography gallery); a nice collection of northwest art in the south wing; a small downstairs gallery with changing shows of prints; always some sort of interesting temporary exhibit; and a nice exhibit of more classic art. Like many museums, the Portland Art Museum has a much bigger collection than it can display at one time. Finally, I have had great success finding gifts for my wife in the museum gift shop.
There are other colleges and universities in the Portland area (including the art colleges mentioned above). Four of them are Portland State University, University of Portland, Lewis and Clark, and Reed College (where both Chuck Bigelow and Kris Holmes studied with Lloyd Reynolds; here is an essay by Chuck, honoring the Reed centennial).
- Theater, concerts, dance
There are numerous little theaters around Portland. The closest to the hotel is probably the Artists Repertory Theater at SW 15th and Morrision, a few blocks southwest of the hotel across Rt. 405. Or maybe the Gerding Theater at the Armory at the corner of NW 11th and Davis is closer.
There is a complex of theaters at SW Main between Broadway and Park. North of Main is the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall (known as The Schnitz); the Portland Symphony and visiting concerts artists play here. South of Main are the Newmark Theater and the Winningstad Theater. The Newmark and Winningstad are in the same building as the Portland Centers for the Arts Box Office. Also in this building, open in the evening when there are shows at any of the just mentioned locations, is the Art Bar restaurant, which I have very much enjoyed. It has a limited menu and closes at show time. The Keller Auditorium is another location a little farther southeast in SW.
There is a lot of dance in Portland, but summer is not really dance season. Nonetheless, look it up. Particularly see if White Bird is putting anything on.
- Central library
On the way from the hotel to the Portland Art Museum or to the Schnitz and the other theaters co-located with the Schnitz, is the central branch of the Multnomah County Library. It is worth stopping into the library, and either walking up the central stairway or taking the elevator to the top public floor and walking down the central stairway. On either the second or third floor (can't remember which) there is usually a small temporary exhibit of some literary nature. Across the street from the library is the Virgina Cafe restaurant mentioned in another section.
Portland is a movie mecca (and I speak as a serious movie goer—at least one a week for many years). The Living Room, Regal Fox 10, McMenamin's Mission, and Cinema 21 show independent films (and there are lots more on the east side of the river). You can get the more Hollywood films in the Regal theater in Pioneer Place and on some of the screens at the Regal Fox 10 (and there are the two big theater complexes at the Lloyd Center in NE).
By the way, the annual Portland International Film Festival, which happens in winter, is wonderful in my view.
There is a guidebook to Portland architecture that covers mostly office, public, etc., buildings, including those downtown. There are lots of different books about the residential architecture of the northwest, craftsman or bungalow style, etc. Portland is in an era of gentrification where small, old, rundown craftsman bungalows are being torn down and replaced by large condominium buildings or by contemporary single family houses in the old style. For instance, walk around the Irving and Sabin neighborhoods in NE.
- Formal gardens
I mention the Japanese Garden and the Rose Garden in the Walking section. An easier walk from the hotel (no steep hills) is the Chinese Garden at the corner of NW Everett and 3rd.
A longer walk is the Keller Fountain Park at the corner of SW 5th and Clay. This is not a formal garden but is an interesting set of waterfalls covering a city block.
- Museums, Portland Zoo
I've already mentioned the Portland Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Craft. Three more places are located around the surface exits from the MAX Washington Park station: the zoo, the Children's Museum, and the Forestry Center (I list these in the order I like them).
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is on the other side of the river (there is a number 6 bus stop before you get off the Hawthorne Bridge on the other side of the river; you can catch the bus at the corner of SW 10th and Columbia which is a diagonal block from the 11th and Jefferson streetcar stop; or you can take the streetcar from NW Burnside and Couch which does a big loop across the Broadway Bridge and will eventually take you to OMSI). OMSI is very child friendly.
The Oregon History Museum is at the corner of SW Park and Madison. If you want to know more about the settlement of Oregon, this is a very interesting place to visit.
- Sports and convention centers
I mention these two categories together because there is overlap and some of the activities.
There are three major league professional teams in Portland: the Timbers men's soccer team, the Thorns women's soccer team, and the Trail Blazers men's basketball team. When I looked up the Timber's schedule, they were playing away games during our conference. The Timbers and the Thorns both play in Providence Park, an easy walk west on Burnside (look left a block at about NW 18th or 19th Ave.), so maybe the Thorns will have a home game during our conference if the season last long enough. The basketball season will be over by the time of our conference; in season the team plays at the Moda Center.
The Moda Center where the Trail Blazers play is right next to the Rose Quarter Transit Center in NE Portland (the transit center doesn't have a building—just a bunch of intersecting bus and MAX lines). The MAX and lots of buses, e.g., #77, go there. You could also walk there across the Steel Bridge. The Moda Center is also a place where stadium size concerts, etc., are held. The are two arenas at the Moda Center. Last year I watched a regional championship women's roller derby match in the arena which is the second one going away from the transit center.
A little to the northwest of the Moda Center is the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Lots of other events happen there, e.g., garden shows, car shows, etc. To get to this, it is probably closer to take the streetcar that crosses the Broadway Bridge.
A little southeast of the Rose Quarter Transit Center is the Convention Center (it has its own MAX stop one farther from downtown than the Rose Quarter stop). All kinds of interesting events take place there.
Unfortunately, triple A baseball (the Beavers) left Portland a few years ago (when the Timbers took over Providence Park). A new single A team arrived two years later: the Hillsboro Hops (i.e., in Hillsboro over the western hills from downtown Portland). The Hops will be playing a few home games around the time of our conference.
- Saturday Market
This is a large arts, crafts, and food carts open-air market down at the waterfront just south of the Burnside Bridge. (In another section I described how to walk to the Saturday Market; search for that.) The Saturday Market is also open on Sunday. It is part of Portland's uniqueness and definitely worth visiting. The people selling things are from the Portland region, so the market is a good place to get local goods.
Mentioning above things made around Portland reminds me that the Made In Oregon stores are another nice place to visit.
- More popular culture
I'll let you read about these possibilities in the
Portland Mercury and the
Willamette Week. There is always some sort of pop concert at the Crystal Ballroom at the corner of SW Burnside and 14th just a short walk up Stark from the hotel.
- More: I will add more as I think of it.
Walking and hiking, biking, parks, and Parks and Recreation
Walking around downtown
In downtown and up into the western hills, Portland can be a great walking city. You might start by simply spiraling out from the hotel for a few blocks to see the various businesses, eating and drinking places, etc., that are nearby. The eating and drinking section also describes walks north and south on 10th and 11th Avenues, west on Burnside, and north and south on 21st and 23rd Avenues. The whole Pearl District between NW Broadway, 10th Ave., Burnside, and say Northrup is worth exploring on foot. Going southeast from the hotel, you will come to Pioneer Square between SW Broadway and 6th and between Morrison and Yamhill. It is also interesting to walk farther south on Broadway for a few blocks, or farther east on Morrison or Yamhill past the Old Courthouse (the view from the cupola at the top of this historic building is cool) to the Pioneer Place indoor shopping mall (the Apple store is within this complex). Continuing down to the riverfront, you come to a park along the river which is good for walking. North, just before Burnside, is the Portland Saturday Market location (a shorter way to get there from the hotel is east on Burnside to SW 4th, right on 4th to Ankeny St., and then toward the river on Ankeny until you reach the Saturday Market).
Here are a few places that might be useful to you:
- Shoes on the Run (same day shoe repair; also zipper and purse repair) at 803 SW Morrison St. (take 11th south to Morrison, turn left and walk down the hill on Morrison until you are at an intersection diagonally opposite to the block-square Nordstroms store; in the door in the corner of the building by which you are standing is a stairway to the basement shoe repair shop).
- Down that same stairway as the shoe repair shop is an alterations shop; however, many clothes cleaners will also have sewing repair and alterations capabilities.
- If you need a haircut, you can undoubtedly find an appropriately refined place on your own. However, the small regional Bishops chain handles men and women (no appointments) with modest prices, often heavily tattooed hair stylists (all women in my experience), rock/punk/etc. posters all over the walls, and free beer while you wait. There is a Bishops at SW Columbia and 11th and a Bishops at NW Everett and 11th.
- The main branch of the U.S. Post Office in Portand is on NW Hoyt between Broadway and 9th.
- The big Safeway grocery stores have pharmacies; I can't remember but I assume the Rite Aid Pharmacy at 622 SW Alder (closer to the hotel than the Safeway stores) also has a pharmacy
- Vinopolis Wine Shop (1025 SW Start, just around the corner from the hotel).
Portland has lots of parks, many of which are managed by the wonderful Parks & Recreation department of the city. There are small (or in one case, very small, i.e., Mills End Park which has an area of 452 square inches) or few-square-blocks parks all over the place. Then there are some much bigger parks: two of them are Washington Park (130 acres), in SW starting partway up the western hill behind the conference hotel, and Forest Park (5,172 acres, including 70 miles of recreational trails).
At some Parks & Recreation locations, there are community halls with swimming pools where the price to swim is very reasonable. I don't know if any such facilities are close to the hotel (I've only been to locations in NE, far SE, and far SW).
One way to visit Washington Park is the take the MAX train from the corner of SW Morrison and 10th to the Washington Park stop. Get off the train, and take the elevator up to street level (the MAX tunnel is deep underground). The Portland Zoo (very nice), Children's Museum (very nice), and Forestry Center (pretty interesting) are on three sides of the of the surface entrance to the MAX. If you walk up the road from the MAX surface entrance, you will see signs for the Hoyt Arboretum (you might want to look at this). Past a parking lot on the right with the Hoyt Arboretum sign in sight is a road off to the right (SW Kingston Dr.). You can follow this down the hill or you can follow one of the walking/hiking trails down the hill sort of parallel to the road. Eventually you will be near the Japanese Garden (very nice to visit) and the International Rose Test Garden (also very nice and free). From near the gift shop of the Rose Garden you will have a great view of Mt. Hood on a clear day. From one end or the other of the Rose Garden you can work your way farther down the hill in the park and then onto the city streets which you can use to walk back to the hotel. (You can do a similar trip by car by taking SW 11th to Jefferson, turning right on Jefferson and driving uphill, then down, and then up and under a high bridge until Jefferson merges with Rt. 26 going west about a mile from the turn off to the Portland Zoo, and then into the Zoo, etc., parking lots area, and around the parking lot to SW Kingston Dr.)
The south end of Forest Park is in NW Portland, with many ways to approach it. One approach might be to take the 10th Ave. streetcar (be sure you get on the one going deep into NW and not the one that is going to cross the river to the east side) to the corner of NW 23rd and Northrup and then walk uphill on Northrup to 25th, go right on 25th to Upshur, and then walk up Upshur until you reach the MacLeay Park Entrance: there is a nice trail off to your left (going under the road bridge). If you are interested in Forest Park and its hiking trails, you might buy a copy of One City's Wilderness: Portland's Forest Park, 3rd edition; perhaps a used copy is available at Powell's.
One place worth visiting in the south end of Forest Park is the Pittock Mansion. This is the home a rich guy built in the early 1900s, and it is outfitted with period furnishings. It's pretty interesting. I particularly liked the bathroom plumbing. However, even without going in the mansion, there is a nice view from mansion. You could hike up there, or you could go there by vehicle (west on Burnside and look for the signs on your right) and then hike back downtown.
The Audubon Society of Portland is located near the south end of Forest Park on NW Cornell Road. It's a 1.5 mile walk from the northwestern stop of the 10th Ave. streetcar, or you can follow the directions in the prior paragraph to the MacLeay Park Entrance to Forest Park and then hike the trail through Balch Creek Canyon to Audubon.
People who are away from their home or gym stairclimber might want to take a look at The Portland Stairs Book by Laura Foster. In it she describes almost 200 public staircases in Portland and five stairway treks. Ms. Foster has also written another book for people who like longish walks: Portland Hill Walks: 24 explorations in parks and neighborhoods.
There is also the 4T cycle (trail, tram, trolley, train). Take the MAX from the corner of SW 10th and and Morrison. Get off at the Washington Park stop and take the elevator to the surface. Then follow the directions from the zoo to the trail head and the trail described at the 4T website until you get to Oregon Health and Sciences University. Take the cable car (tram) down the hill (it is free going downhill; $4 going uphill). Then catch the streetcar back to SW 10th and get off at the stop on either side of Burnside for the short walk back to the hotel.
The are scads of additional hiking opportunities in the Portland region.
Portland views itself as one of the best biking cities anywhere. There are bike lanes on lots of major roads, there are streets which are implicitly more for bikes than for cars (and the reverse, so the bikes and cars can tend to avoid each other), there are innumerable bike shops and a number of places making bikes or bike parts, and there is valet bike parking at the bottom of the cable car up to OHSU including the option of bike repairs while you are at work (I believe my daughter-in-law gets two or three dollars from her employer for each day she rides her bike to work and doesn't drive her car and thus contribute to the overcrowding of the business's parking lot and streets getting there).
The closest bike shop to the conference hotel is West End Bikes just across SW Stark from the hotel. They sell bikes and bike clothes and equipment, repair bikes, and fix bikes. They undoubtedly can give recommendations about biking in Portland. (I have not used this bike store — I've used another some blocks south on 10th and one in NE; but this shop is most convenient to the hotel, and they were friendly to me when I went in to ask about the extent of their services.)
It seems like every day of the week group bike rides of varying levels of difficulty are scheduled. You should be able to google to find one. And I think Zoobomb still runs on Sunday nights bombing downhill from Washington Park (near the Portland Zoo) to the bottom of the hill. Take a look at the pile of bikes at the corner of Burnside and 13th (where those two streets intersect with SW Stark).
The Portland city Department of Transportation concerns itself with biking, including free Bike/Walk maps. I picked up copies of these maps for NE and N Portland at a branch library (maybe the Central Library on SW 10th, a short distance from the hotel, has copies of the Central, SW, and NW maps available for you to take; I know you can pick up copies in the Parks and Recreation office
on the ground floor at 1120 SW 5th Ave [a building designed by Michael Graves—look at it from across the street]).
Some Portlanders espouse the motto "Keep Portland weird". Probably this means different things
to different people. To me it means keep Portland unique (unconventional, non-normal). Another saying is, "Portland, where young people come to retire" (or at least to live a more laid back life than they
might lead in other cities—there is a scholarly
study investigating the supposition that people migrate to Portland to live a better life more than for economic opportunities). Below are some
examples of "different" kinds of places in Portland (which real Portlanders might not agree with).
I hope you get the idea from the above. I think it is all very interesting and an impressive effort people to be different.
- It rains lots in Portland, all year, but you mostly don't see people using umbrellas. You also see people wearing shorts year 'round. They seem to be pretending to themselves that the climate of Portland is a lot better than it actually is.
- There seem (to me) to be more specialty shops content to be doing what they love rather than making lots of money as in other cities of a comparable size; some examples are
- Echo Audio (hi fi equipment), on SW Washington between 10th and 11th
- Button Emporium and Ribbonry, on SW Taylor between 10th and 11th
- John Helmer Haberdasher, at the corner of SW Broadway and Salmon (if you are already here, you might have a little chocolate drink/candy treat at Cocao just across Salmon St.)
- Everyday Music (used albums, CDs and cassettes), on Burnside at the corner of NW 14th
- the aforementioned Powell's City of Books
- Bridge City Tool Works
- Winks Hardware (the best hardware store I've ever seen in terms of its massive collection of little
fittings, parts, nuts and bolts, etc. — with people who will work with you to find something that
suits your special need), on SE Stark between MLK and the river
- Blue Moon Camera and Machine on NE Lombard which sell film cameras and mechanical typewriters and develops and prints film.
- Hippo Hardware and Trading Co. (lots of antique fixtures), on E Burnside between 10th and 11th
- I mentioned Martinotti's Cafe and Deli in the eating and drinking section (I wonder how long this wonderful little place can survive).
- Bob's Red Mill flours, etc., is based in SE Portland. You can see a wide selection of their ground grains, etc., and get a nice sandwich or soup there.
- They are not little specialty shops but they are local companies, albeit with international distribution: Pendleton Woolen Mills has its headquarters at the corner of NW Broadway and Davis with a store at street level; Columbia Sportswear has a store at the corner of SW Broadway and Taylor; Nike shoes is headquartered in Beaverton, and they have outlet stores in Portland. Perhaps because of the presence of shoe people (e.g., Nike) in Portland, Adidas, Adidas has its U.S. Headquarters (I believe) in N Portland.
- The Shop Vintage Portland collection of businesses includes some more businesses like this.
- Chuck Palahniuk's book, Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk Through Portland, Oregon, gives a picture of weird Portland, although lots of what he described has changed by this time, a number of years
after the book's publication. Still, it is interesting and fun reading. The Willamette Week tabloid newspaper had an article last year on what has changed (and a bit of what has not) since Palahniuk's book was published; do read the article too, for a bunch of examples of weird Portland.
- Another now somewhat obsolete book which gives a flavor of weird Portland is The Zinester's Guide to Portland. Maybe Powell's has a used copy cheap; it's worth skimming through.
- There is also the book Portland is Weird: The Official Unofficial Guide to the City's Uniqueness which is pretty up to date and quite short.
- A newer book that gets into a particular aspect of Portland history is The Red Guide to Portland, describing Portland history and sites (including self-guided sightseeing tours) in terms of the city's "rich heritage of radical social dissent". That someone would think a book on this topic and with this title should be written is itself an example of weird Portland, I think.
- The above mentioned Willamette Week and the Portland Mercury are available for free all over (i.e., in street corner distribution boxes) and list the more or less weird events of the coming weeks (as well as a few more cultured events).
- Portland has the Sprockette bicycle dance team, the MarchForth Marching Band, an instance of the annual Naked Bike Ride, etc.
- Halloween is a big deal in Portland, with adults as well as kids in costumes, including wearing costumes to work.
- Dogs are another big deal in Portland. Lots of people have them. Grocery stores have places at which to tie up dogs while their owners shop. Lots of businesses place pans of drinking water out for dogs. Etc.
- Because of its usually not very extreme climate and how progressive people are here, Portland is the
"home" to a lot of "homeless" and barely-getting-by people. There is a large network (comprising various different organizations) who provide health care, shelters and low cost living places for low income people, people recovering from addictions, etc. The central facility of the county library allows homeless people to sit in the library all day with two country sheriff officers on duty to maintain order. I have also heard of the homeless being taken care of in other ways, e.g., provided with sleeping bags, lock enclosures in which to park their shopping carts piled with their things, etc. (A perhaps apocryphal story is that the approach to caring for homeless people in Seattle, WA, is to give them a bus ticket to Portland.)
- Another motto for Portland is "the city that works", which is painted on the sides of city trucks. I see this is ways that may be beyond with the city has in mind:
- The Portland area library system is actually a county-wide system (Multnomah County Library) which has its own library district. Thus, library services are not cut back when city finances get tight. A neat part of the library system is the Title Waves used book store which sells books the library has deaccessioned, at 216 NE Knott St., between MLK Blvd. and Rodney Ave.
- The happy hour culture and farmer's markets that were mentioned in the section on eating and drinking.
- You will see people panhandling at the entries to super markets, at Powell's, etc. They are typically very well behaved. Over the years there has been a series of court cases (as I understand things) where there were attempts to stop panhandling. Each time a court case resulted in the panhandlers Constitutional right to do it being upheld. Eventually a compromise was worked out which was not taken to court. People panhandling can do so in the couple of feet closest to the curb to the street; in other words they can be there but not block the doorways to businesses.
Sights not in Portland, but more or less close
Here's a list
of places from the web (there is considerable overlap between this list and the places I mention in the next section).
The are a lot of vineyards up and down the Willamette Valley, and some of them have tours (google on "Willamette Valley wine tours").
There are also orchards and other food producing locations you can tour (I will look for a list). Among other things, the region is a major producer of hazelnuts, which you may be able to buy at a farmer's market in Portland (to maintain their taste, keep them in the freezer between uses).
Sauvie Island, half an hour out of Portland to the north and a little west, has a wildlife preserve, farm stands, and beaches (on the Columbia River). The Sauvie Island Community Association website has information about these and other activities.
There are lots of hiking opportunities not too far from Portland.
I'll add more as I think of it.
Places to visit away from Portland
The point of this section is to suggest interesting vacation trips you can connect with a trip to the TUG conference
There are two highways that run north and south, up and down the west coast: Route 101 which runs more or less along the coast
by the Pacific Ocean, and Interstate Route 5 (I-5) which runs east of the coast range of mountains through the valleys to the west of the
big Cascade and Sierra mountain ranges. For much of its length I-5 is a high speed, limited access, divided highway, and for most of its length
Route 101 is a slower, often 2-lane road which becomes the main street of the towns it passes through. These two highways
extend from the Washington state border with Canada to the California border with Mexico.
The Canadian border is about a 4 hour drive north of Portland via I-5. After whatever delays happen at the border crossing,
it is another 30 or 45 minutes into downtown Vancouver. Vancouver is a wonderful city.
From Vancouver it is a few hour ferry ride to Vancouver Island which has the city of Victoria at its southern tip.
Victoria is another nice city, and the Butchart Gardens north of Victoria and west of the road between the ferry dock and
Victoria is a fine sight to see.
You can also take day trips by ferry from Seattle to Victoria, a beautiful water passage to a pretty city. Yet another
alternative is to take a ferry from Port Angeles, Washington (on Route 101 west of Seattle), to or from Victoria.
A nice car trip I have done is from Portland to Vancouver via I-5, from Vancouver
by ferry to Vancouver Island (with a
short visit, before getting on the ferry, to Point Roberts, Washington,
which can only be entered by land via Canada), from Victoria by ferry to Port Angeles, and south on Route 101 to Astoria, Oregon, and
from there back to Portland. We set aside a week for this trip in order to do sightseeing along the way.
Seattle is of course also a wonderful city, three hours by road or train from Portland. The nice, reasonably
priced, non-stop Bolt Bus runs frequently in
both directions between Portland and Seattle. (Portland people regularly do day trips to Seattle for NFL football or
MLB baseball; in July the Seattle Mariners baseball team will be playing.)
Don't confuse Vancouver, British Columbia, with Vancouver, Washington. The latter is just across the Columbia
River from Portland and is basically part of the metropolitan Portland region.
North on I-5 of Portland (and Vancouver, Washington) a ways is a turnoff to the east to
Mt. St. Helens Volcanic National Monument. This is a very interesting place to visit.
I'll add more about Washington state as I think of it: Good clamming in Long Beach, WA.
Take a look at a map to understand that Portland is not on the Pacific Ocean. It is 1.5 hours or more drive from Portland to
The drive (or bike ride) from Astoria at the mouth of the Columbia River (just across the river from Washington state)
to the California border is very interesting. South of Astoria is Seaside which is a resort town. A few miles farther south
is Cannon Beach which has art galleries, good restaurants, lots of
accommodations, Haystack Rock, a nice beach, etc. Going on down the coast there are lots of interesting little towns, typically
where a river from the interior of the state comes through the coast range of mountains and to the sea; there is also typically an
east-west road into these towns through the coast range of mountains to and from the Willamette Valley (which runs north-south
between the coast range of mountains and the Cascade range).
Some of these towns are Newport (seals and sea lions to be seen, and the unusual Sylvia Beach Hotel), Coos Bay (more seals and sea lions and a nice
garden at Shore Acres State Park), Bandon (another art gallery town), and eventually Brookings. The first town across the border into
California is Crescent City.
There is lots of good seafood along this route, and good fishing as well.
In the coastal towns more or less
west of Portland there is surfboarding; google for a surf shop on the coast or in Portland to ask where to rent a board and
perhaps for some advice for where to try surfing. There are also some interesting lighthouses along the coast.
Tillamook has a cheese factory as does Bandon (called the Face Rock Creamery). There are plenty of state parks, wildlife preserves, and hiking locations
along the coast.
While Route 101 generally follows the coast, sometimes you may want to take a route closer to the coast, for example,
from Tillamook out around Cape Meares (good lighthouse) past Oceanside (and Roseanna's Cafe) and Netarts. Similarly, you will also have to go west from
Route 101 in Coos Bay to reach Shore Acres State Park.
I will add more about the coastal area as I think of it.
Continuing down Route 101 into California one comes to the giant Redwood trees. These are definitely worth seeing.
(You might read Richard Preston's book Wild Trees as part of your visit to the Redwood Trees.)
You can take Route 101 all the way to San Francisco (perhaps moving even farther west to Route 1 as you get near
Another option might be to make a loop back to Portland via Route 199 from
Crescent City to Grants Pass, Oregon, and then north back to Portland on I-5. A slightly bigger loop is to continue south on Route 101 to Arcata, California, and
then go east on Route 299 to Redding, California, and then take I-5 north past the spectacular Mt. Shasta, back into Oregon, and on to Portland.
Also, take a look at Route 3 from Route 299 to Yreka, California, which is already north of Mt. Shasta.
Willamette Valley and I-5 from Portland to the California boder
Some of the bigger cities and towns going south of Portland are Salem (state capital), Albany (with Corvallis and a state university
a little to the west), Eugene (state university town, essentially at the south end of the Willamette Valley), Roseburg, Medford, and Ashland (a theater and arts town).
I'll add more as I think of it.
To the east of Portland
Straight east of Portland on Route 84 is the Columbia River Gorge. This is a beautiful route to travel. My friends who do
windsurfing say this is the go-to place for their sport.
You can make a few hour loop via Route 14 east
from Vancouver, Washington, to a bridge across the Columbia River, and then back to Portland on Route 84.
On the Oregon side of the river, there are plenty of sights to see, e.g., waterfalls, things to do, e.g., floating down
streams with the current and swimming, etc.
You can also take Route 26 from Route 84, 20 minutes or so out of Portland, to Mt. Hood and the wonderful
Lodge. I am not a skier, but I believe there can be skiing and/or snowboarding more or less year around on Mt. Hood.
As the lowest snow level gets higher on the mountain in the summer, the trails may become more oriented to better skiers.
I have read that Timberline runs several-day skiing camps in June and July.
Going on from from Mt. Hood (last paragraph of the prior subsection), you can go southeast to Madras and then south to Bend (you could also
swing north and connect with Route 84 to the northeast of Mt. Hood for a loop back toward Portland). Bend is on the east side
of the Cascade mountains. From Bend you can loop back to Portland via Albany and I-5 through Sisters which claims to have the best
Marionberry milkshakes in the state (I think SnoCap Ice Cream was the little overcrowded place I liked). (Marrionberries are an Oregon specialty, a hybrid created
at Oregon State University. Try something flavored with these while you are in Oregon.)
You can also continue east from Bend into the high desert of eastern Oregon (interesting scenery, wildlife preserves,
state parks, etc.). Or you can continue
south along the eastern edge of the Cascade range and into Crater Lake (a must-see, if you have the time); it also has
a nice lodge I am told. And you can continue
south into California crossing the border a little south of Klamath Falls, Oregon.
The train that goes from Portland north to Seattle, also goes south into California to a location little east of
Sacramento in California's Great Central Valley (it continues all the way to Los Angeles). South of Eugene, the train
goes southeast to Klamath Falls in order to cross the the mountains into California via a more manageable pass (than the pass between Ashland, Oregon, and Yreka, California) and the train
track comes back near I-5 at Dunsmuir, California; in other words, the train goes on the east side of Mt. Shasta, not the west side
as cars on I-5 do.
Regarding the already mentioned Cascade range of mountains, on many days you can easily see Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood from locations in Portland.
Sometimes you can see Mt. Adams (east of Mt. St. Helens) and Mt. Rainier (a little bit southeast of Seattle). From east of Bend (and
a maybe?? a bit from the Willamette Valley down toward Albany and Eugene), you can
see several other tall mountains, e.g., Mt. Jefferson, South Sister, Middle Sister, North Sister, and Mt. Bachelor.
are lots of volcanic-related sites/sights in the state. There are also lots of hot springs in Oregon, for which there are specialized
guidebooks. And of course these mountains have more state parks, hiking trails, etc.
More Oregon notes from Robin (I do not know Manzanita or the ghost towns)
Manzanita is another wonderful little coastal town, a bit south of
Cannon Beach. Neahkahnie Mountain is a good place to hike.
Timberline Lodge and Crater Lake Lodge both have pretty fabulous
restaurants. Both have great hiking options in the summer.
If people want to get off the beaten path, they can travel to old west
towns such as Shaniko (ghost town), John Day and Baker City. The Wallowa
and Blue Mountains (Joseph and Enterprise) are worth a mention, plus the
Steens and Frenchglen.
Alaska and Hawaii
It's a pretty straight shot by plane, e.g., Alaska Airlines, to either Alaska or Hawaii from Portland.
Reaching Portland by train
I have already mentioned the trains down the coast from Seattle and up the coast from California.
There are also cross-country trains. My wife and I once took the train from Boston through Chicago (train change there)
and all the way to Portland (wonderful trip!). We have also longed to take the train from the east across Canada from which
one could come down the coast somehow (maybe by train) to Portland.