There are certain cities out there that either because of size, geography or what have you, people simply don’t hear enough about on a day-to-day basis. That’s too bad in certain ways, because there are jewels all over the United States that too many people are missing. One of those jewels is Portland, Oregon. Portland is gorgeous, pristinely clean and the people are about as friendly as any you’ll find anywhere. Yet, it’s not a top destination for tourists. That’s fine with me – I’m one of those travelers who enjoys doing what the locals do anyway, so you can save the tourist traps for others. I like to get a flavor of what it’s like to live in a place, even if I’m only there for a short amount of time.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I found out that I’d be delayed in Portland on a layover for about a day. I needed to find transportation and a place to stay. Since lodging is almost always a bit difficult to find at the last minute, I decided to work on that first. I opened the HotelTonight app and within minutes, I had found the perfect hotel for me. It was so easy I wondered if I had done it right. I decided to find out after I rented a car and drove to the location. Once there, I realized I was all set. I dropped my things in my room and asked around a bit to see how one goes about experiencing Portland from the perspective of locals. It was time to head out.
Since my hotel was downtown, I left my car for a bit and explored the area. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a downtown as clean and orderly as this one. I wandered a bit in Pioneer Courthouse Square, taking in all that there was to do, eat and drink. I kept walking and found myself at Waterfront Park, and it was as if I had stumbled into some sort of carnival where people sat, laughed, danced and played games, and these were the adults. I walked back through the square and was immediately in another park. This time it was Director Park. Even downtown, folks in Portland want to maximize the beauty of the landscape in which they live.
I headed north out of downtown because I kept hearing about this emerging area of town known as “NoPo” or North Portland. When I got there, I could see how so many viewed this area as the local land of opportunity – lots of space, lots of beauty and even a college campus. I strolled around the University of Portland for a bit, enjoying the scenery once again. I stopped at a local café and enjoyed a delicious cup of coffee, which I was going to need for the rest of my journey.
Northeast Portland is one of those parts of a city that is seemingly transforming before our eyes. A lot of investment has gone into this area, but it seems as though they are doing it right. Urban areas are now developed for several different uses beyond industrial, and the Lloyd District provided me with time and opportunity for shopping. I was hungry now, and it was time for lunch. North Mississippi Avenue is home to a wide range of restaurants, so I sat down and filled myself up with some local fare that is worth writing home about.
Speaking of transforming, Southeast Portland is in the midst of it as well. This is now home to the young professionals, and that’s why there are endless opportunities for entertainment. I had a local craft beer at one of the pubs to quench my thirst on this fine afternoon, and I could almost see the blue-collar past of the area. That’s mostly because developers wanted to keep it around for others to see, and I’m glad they did.
It was time to cross the Willamette River and see the “other” side of Portland. I soon realized that I had moved into the part of town where families have chosen to live. The area was filled with parks, and it seemed that all of them were also filled with children. I walked a bit more, this time through the campus of Lewis & Clarke College, which is as beautiful and unique a campus as I have ever seen in my life.
Northwest Portland seems to be an area where the homes and the lots are the largest compared to other areas I had seen. It was also home to Forest Park, which is one of the biggest parks I had ever seen. There’s even a trail that I walked on for a time. I had spent the entire day looking at the landscape of the area, but I was nowhere near tired of it yet. It’s all too beautiful no matter what part of town you find yourself in or what time of day it is.
It was quite a day in Portland. I had never really spent a lot of time here but I will definitely be back. This is a place that’s too beautiful not to enjoy as often as possible. Thanks to HotelTonight, I won’t have to worry about Portland hotels either, as I’ll be able to simply click a few times and I’ll have the exact lodging I need.