The Best of Portland

Portland, Oregon, is a city that offers a unique combination of outdoor adventures and urban appeal. Near Mount Hood at the junction of the Columbia and Willamette rivers, it’s just a short distance away from some of the most stunning areas of the Northwest, with opportunities for biking, hiking, and kayaking.

3448, 1230 SE Grand Ave, Portland, OR 97214, USA
On the corner of a rather scrofulous downtown block and across the street from the Ace Hotel’s event space, Wildfang is a self-described “home for badass women.” Whether it’s street style with a feminist message—even in Portland, it’s not every day that one finds a “Slay the Patriarchy” baseball cap—or high-fashion clothing that works on all sorts of body types, Wildfang packs it all in. For hangers-on who aren’t as interested in shopping or fashion, the bar inside the store provides liquid relief, including beers designed in collaboration with 10 Barrel that were created by women brewmasters.
801 N Killingsworth St, Portland, OR 97217, USA
Looking to take home a piece of Portland? Your new best fronds are here to help. Solabee Flowers & Botanicals is your source for succulents, staghorn ferns, stately palms, and just about anything else you can imagine from the world of houseplants, ceramics and pottery, crystals, and palo santo, the popular South American incense sticks. All those plants make for a sunny bi-level shop that’s an olfactory heaven. The helpful staff of plant experts are happy to consult with you and troubleshoot any issues you may have with your cacti. This very Portland store even boasts a corgi mascot that’s often featured on Solabee’s Instagram feed.
1005 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209, USA
An iconic name in Portland retail—as well as among readers who have never been to the city—Powell’s has multiple locations on both sides of the Willamette. The downtown store remains the one best suited for visitors to explore, with miles of used reads, a tightly curated selection of books from the knowledgeable staff, and every Portland-themed book you could hope to find under one roof. A renovation in 2014 opened up the space and made it feel less like a warehouse of dusty stacks, an improvement that bodes well for the future of the business. Author appearances, even those at the satellite branches, are some of Portland’s best events for interesting discussions.
Southwest Council Crest Drive
It’s not exactly Portland’s highest point but, at 1,073 feet, it’s close. Irrespective of how Council Crest Park measures up, it provides a view of five surrounding mountains on a clear day: Rainier, Adams, Jefferson, Hood, and St. Helens, with helpful indicators showing which mountain is which for those not as versed in freestyle mountain identification as lifelong Portlanders are. Bolder folks may opt to hike to the summit along the trails here, though driving up the hill past suffering road bicyclists is an easier option year-round. The water tower that’s now part of the park was once a feature of the Council Crest Amusement Park, torn down in 1941.
2181 NW Nicolai St, Portland, OR 97210, USA
Anyone taking diligent notes on Portland decor is sure to notice similarities in design from location to location beyond a love for taxidermy. Much of that Rose City decorating style emanates from Schoolhouse Electric. Located in a 115-year-old redbrick warehouse and factory building in an industrial part of the city’s West Side, Schoolhouse Electric sells everything from perfect reproductions of 1960s-era IBM clocks to more vintage sconces and analogue clocks than you can shake a stick at. The store’s Ristretto Roasters coffee bar provides a caffeine boost when your energy for curated doorknobs reaches its limit.
1219 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97205, USA
The Portland Art Museum has been a fixture of the Rose City for longer than you’d expect—it’s the oldest art museum on the West Coast, opened in 1892. The current location, on the South Park Blocks, debuted in 1932 with a design by Pietro Belluschi. Today, the permanent collection includes 42,000 works along with a rotating selection of exhibits. Among the highlights in past years: pieces by Rodin and Andy Warhol, and what is thought to be the largest cat painting in the world. The 2.5-block campus also includes the Northwest Film Center.
626 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97205, USA
All those Willamette Valley pinot noirs you’ve heard about? This is the wine shop in Portland where you’ll find many of them. Fresh off a move in 2016 to a former brasserie, Park Avenue Wines now covers 8,500 square feet of space and includes a wine bar called Bardot, storage for your wine (wine lockers!), and plenty of room for evening tasting events. Northwest wine aficionados will want to join one of the wine clubs, one of which focuses solely on wines from the region. As a place to start an education about the wines from the Willamette Valley and environs, it’s hard to beat.
SE Salmon St, Portland, OR 97215, USA
Right inside the city limits, the dormant volcano Mount Tabor is one of Portland’s many natural treasures. The park in which it sits was designed in 1936 by Emanuel Tillman Mische, who, for most of his career, worked for the Olmsted Brothers, the leading landscape architects of the period. Today, the park’s winding paths are chockablock with bicyclists testing their mettle and hikers exploring the many trails and three reservoirs in search of fresh air and views of the surrounding valley. There are three main walking routes, and it’s also possible to drive to the summit and take a quick amble through the firs and pines.
2713 SE 21st Ave, Portland, OR 97202, USA
Now with two locations (in Northeast and Southeast), Löyly is a mecca for serious steamers in need of sauna time. Done up with a white-walls-and-blond-wood aesthetic that you’d expect from a Scandinavian establishment (löyly is the Finnish word for the steam that rises from water poured on sauna stones), these communal schvitzes are where you can soak away your worries. In addition to providing massages and skincare services every day of the week, Löyly hosts women-only sauna nights at both locations once a week. The wine and beer on offer help ease sauna newbies nervous about the experience.
Springwater Corridor Trail, Portland, OR 97236, USA
In a town with no shortage of impressive bike paths and walking trails, the Springwater Corridor stands out for its length and quality of scenery. The paved multi-use path follows a former rail corridor and is lined with blackberries, dogwoods, and willows. The original section of the path was completed in 1996, with more sections added in the intervening decades. The Eastbank Esplanade has made it possible to bike from the Inner Southeast all the way to Boring without having to ride on roadways with cars. A tip for food-minded adventurers: The Corridor runs past Cartlandia’s 32 different food carts.
6600 SW Macadam Ave, Portland, OR 97239, USA
Portland’s many bridges aren’t just for show—most of them are for crossing the Willamette River, which bisects the city. In recent years, and after much cleanup, a push to reclaim the river for recreation has been successful. Among the more popular activities is kayaking. Offering both tours and rentals, Portland Kayak Company is an excellent outfitter that gets urban adventurers out on the water with a minimum of fuss. The more romantically inclined may want to try a PKC moonlight kayaking tour, while those looking to up their paddling game can opt for one of the classes aimed at helping students hone their technique.
400 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205, USA
This is where everyone stops to smell the roses in the Rose City. Celebrating its centennial in 2017, the International Rose Test Garden is the nation’s oldest continually operating rose test garden (where varieties are evaluated for characteristics such as disease resistance, bloom size, and fragrance). Originally conceived as a way to preserve different varieties of European roses from the destruction of World War I, the garden today contains 10,000 plants across 4.5 acres in Washington Park. Best of all, it’s completely free, whether you want to compare green thumbs with professionals or take in the views of Mount Hood while breathing in the perfumed air.
53000 East Historic Columbia River Hwy, Corbett, OR 97019, USA
It was touch-and-go at moments, but 2017’s wildfires spared the lodge at this iconic waterfall in the Columbia Gorge, 30 miles east of downtown Portland. The stone structure at the site of the 620-foot, two-step falls was built in 1925, ten years after Multnomah Falls Park was dedicated. It’s an easy, paved hike up to the Benson Footbridge, situated between the upper and lower falls. On weekends and in the summertime, traffic can be a bear, so plan accordingly, either by arriving early or by taking advantage of the Gorge Express bus service, which departs regularly from the Gateway Transit Center in Portland.
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