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Portland, Oregon – Food, Beer, and an Outstanding Atmosphere

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Written by Alyssa Onder (Classic Travel Intern, Fall 2012).

When I got the opportunity to travel to Portland, Oregon to visit a friend, I was ecstatic. He was spending the summer studying at Portland State University and constantly raved about how amazing the city of Portland was. On a whim, I decided to buy a plane ticket and head to the Northwest for a weekend getaway.

The first day I spent in Portland was jam-packed with activities. There is so much to do and I was only there for a weekend. We started off by eating an early lunch at Kenny and Zuke’s Delicatessen, an outstanding restaurant located in the Pearl District. I was beyond impressed with how delicious the food was. The waiter told us that many of the restaurants in Portland sell only fresh, locally grown food because it’s healthier for you and the environment, and also helps support the local economy.

The rest of our afternoon was spent wandering the streets of Portland. We stumbled upon the Oregon Berry Festival, where local farmers were selling the sweetest, most delicious berries I have ever tasted. There was live music, games, and tons of friendly people. We took the streetcar back to Portland State University’s campus. The streetcars are relatively inexpensive and extremely efficient (good for the environment, too!). There were many times that we hopped on the streetcar without even having to pay. However, normally they cost about $1.00 for a 2-hour ticket. The streetcars are almost always on time and can take you virtually anywhere in the city.

From campus, we decided to get drinks at Rogue Hall, one of Portland’s most famous breweries. They have almost 40 different types of beer to choose from, and even their own Rogue Root Beer! We enjoyed a beer on the porch and engaged in a favorite Portlander pastime, people watching. For dinner we headed over to the other side of the Wilamette River to explore Portland’s Hawthorne District. This vibrant neighborhood runs along Hawthorne Boulevard and is filled with locally owned coffee shops, antique stores, and trendy clothing shops. We came across a cozy restaurant called My Thai Bistro. The food, service, and atmosphere were to die for. Just down the street we visited the Bagdad Theater and Pub for a comedy show. The theater was awesome. Its Mediterranean architecture, paired with its one-of-a-kind entertainment provided us with a fantastic evening. The Bagdad also doubles as a casual pub, offering handcrafted ales and, from what I smelled, delicious food.

We ended the night by taking a long walk back to campus. The atmosphere, temperate weather, and plethora of street entertainers made the walk to the other side of the river a breeze.

The next day we headed to the Oregon Brewer’s Festival. It is held in Portland annually during the last full weekend in July. For $30, I got a 6oz glass and a dozen tickets (each 6oz glass of beer costs a different amount of tickets). There were 85 handcrafted beers from across the country at the festival and some pretty good wine, too!

After spending a few hours at the Brewer’s Festival, we decided to stop by the infamous Portland food carts. I was astonished at all of the choices! There were probably fifty different carts to choose from. There was everything from Hawaiian, to Mediterranean, to good ole’ American food. We went for the Mediterranean cart and headed to one of Portland’s many city parks to enjoy our gyros.

After lunch we headed to what was possibly my favorite part of the trip, the International Rose Test Garden. We went from city to nature almost instantly. We took a path up the hills surrounding the city that led us into a tree-covered walk to the garden. The smell of roses found us before the garden did. The roses were gigantic, vibrant, and plentiful. The harp player in the garden was icing on the cake.

For dinner we headed to another one of Portland’s famous attractions, Hotlips Pizza. They had an enormous variety of choices (I went for the feta, pesto and artichoke pizza). And, like almost every other restaurant in Portland, there was a wide array of beers to pair with your perfect slice.

My friend and I spent the remainder of the night walking around the city. We spent some time along the docks where there is a fantastic view of the city. There are street performers all over the place, and some of the friendliest strangers I’ve ever met.

My weekend getaway in Portland was coming to a close and I was anything but excited to return home. The weekend was the highlight of my summer, and has actually made me consider moving to the Northwest after graduation. The people, atmosphere, and of course, the beer, are unmatched.