I Went to Portland and All I Had Was a Wonderful Time


Meet the big city with a small-town vibe.

Portland, Oregon, may not be the first place you think of when you are looking for your next big travel adventure or inspiration, but this big city with a small-town vibe has a huge amount to offer to all kinds of travellers. Portland is Oregon’s largest city, nestled between the Columbia and Willamette rivers, and lies in the shadow of the snow-capped Mount Hood (where you can ski year-round).

Portland has become a hub for makers, small businesses and entrepreneurs with the city encouraging and supporting individuals who are looking to create something special using local products and produce, and taking full advantage of the amazing diversity the city has to offer.

Looking for inspiration?

Check out ADX, an inspirational 24,000 square foot makers’ space that provides tools and equipment to individuals where they can set-up a space to make, create and, most importantly, learn from other makers. ADX allows people to bring their ideas to life, whether they are seasoned professionals or students just starting out. It was launched in 2011 by founder Kelley Roy, who identified a need for shared tools, space and knowledge in Portland’s emerging maker culture. ADX has now helped over 200 crowd-funded projects achieve their goals and has been the nursery to over 100 businesses.

Need more inspiration?

Take a walk and get immersed in the maker culture of Portland. Check out some of local businesses that have been born and bred in Portland such as Betsy & Iya (jewellery), Red Clouds Collective (lifestyle accessories), and Shwood Eyewear (sunglasses made from wood and other natural products).

Looking to eat?

You can’t visit Portland without discovering the city’s food culture. With nearly 700 food trucks spread across all regions of the city, you can opt for a casual street-side meal at almost any time of the day or night. If a more refined dining experience is to your taste, try Tasty n Alder and Ned Ludd, which uses locally grown, in-season produce to create amazing meals you won’t forget (The Family Feast at Ned Ludd was a highlight).

And of course, you can’t “do” Portland without having brunch. Get in early or you will find yourself in a queue of people at any of the amazing restaurants that specialise in brunch. Tusk restaurant serves a tantalising brunch menu with all of the vegetables and most of the flours and grains used sourced directly from local farms that executive chef Sam Smith has developed close relationships with.

How about a drink?

Portland has a thriving boutique beer scene, with breweries such as Ecliptic Brewing (so named because the owner, Oregon craft brewing icon John Harris, also has a passion for all things intergalactic), showing the rest of the US just how it’s done.

If beer’s not your thing, there are many wineries in and around Portland creating award-winning wines. Dip your feet in a splash pool on the back of a truck at Teutonic Wine Company or visit the remarkable Southeast Wine Collective, which provides a custom crush wine production service to several artisan wine producers, along with a wine bar where you can taste the wine produced on site.

Looking for a night cap? The Multnomah Whiskey Library boasts more than 1000 bottles of whisky from around the globe and must be seen to be believed.

Want to get close to nature?

Portland is surrounded by natural wonders. Visit Mount Hood, Oregon’s tallest mountain, which offers skiing 365 days a year, and where you can visit the Timberline lodge, which you may recognise from the opening scene of The Shining. Enjoy the beauty and power of one of the many beautiful waterfalls, such as Multnomah Falls, which at 189m (620 feet) is the second largest year-round waterfall in the United States.

If you want to stay closer to town, you can visit the International Rose Test Garden or take a guided tour of the Portland Japanese Garden, which has recently undergone a cultural village expansion project.

Portland will show you a different side to the United States. It is a city of acceptance, encouragement and collaboration that will leave you feeling inspired to make and create, and is a must for any budding entrepreneur or maker.

The writer of this article was a guest of Travel Portland and Air New Zealand.

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