Featured Tour Operators
City of Roses
Portland has long been known as a clean, green, friendly city, with lots to do and even more to see.
Leading Portland into the 21st century is its economical, easy-to-use public transit system, which annually transports millions of visitors and residents throughout the city and the surrounding area. Thanks to forward-thinking city officials and an environmentally friendly philosophy, you can explore even the farthest reaches of the Portland metro area while concentrating on enjoying the city - not navigating it.
TriMet's 44-mile MAX (Metropolitan Area Express) light rail system, which connects downtown Portland to the city's international airport, also features door-to-door access to one of the area's richest collections of visitor attractions. A 10-minute ride from downtown Portland delivers visitors to the Washington Park station, the deepest underground transit station in North America. The stop, located 260-feet below the Earth's surface, provides nearby access to Washington Park, the Oregon Zoo, the World Forest Cener Discovery Museum, and Hoyt Arboretum.
Meanwhile, the Portland Streetcar system links Portland's downtown Cultural District, the Pearl District, Portland State University, RiverPlace District on the Willamette River, and the Northwest/ Nob Hill Neighborhood. The sleek Euro-designed streetcars connect RiverPlace (at the south end of the line) to downtown Portland, the art gallery-filled Pearl District, and Nob Hill, known for its outstanding restaurants and upscale shopping.
No such thing as a free ride? TriMet, the Portland Streetcar and MAX see it differently. Passengers always ride for free in "Fareless Square," a 330-block area that encompasses the city center and much of the Pearl District.
At some point, however, visitors inevitably want to hop off Portland's streetcars and trains to wander and see the sights. One of the best places to explore is the Portland Art Museum.
Building a name for itself as the place on the West Coast to see the world's biggest blockbuster exhibitions, the classic red-bricked Portland Art Museum also houses an impressive permanent collection spanning 35 centuries of Asian, Native American, European and American art. A $40 million historical renovation of the museum's North Building - completed in 2005 - created 28,000 square feet of additional gallery space for the new Center for Modern and Contemporary Art.
There's a reason Portland is nicknamed the "City of Roses" - the metro area's incredible 37,000-acre park system includes three distinct rose gardens, including the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park and Peninsula Park Rose Garden on the east side.
Complementing these lovely blooms are Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, the Leach Botanical Garden, the Berry Botanic Garden, and the more than 50 miles of hiking, biking and walking trails that crisscross the nearly 5,000-acre Forest Park. It's no wonder that Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel magazine recently described Portland as a city where "the air is fresh, the food is organic, and the streets are paved with good intentions."
One of those good intentions, the Portland Classical Chinese Garden, has transformed a downtown parking lot into a stunning greenspace. The garden's on-site tea house is the perfect place for weary travelers to sip tea and relax in the midst of the city.
On the slopes of upper Washington Park, the Japanese Garden is a beautiful 5.5-acre oasis encompassing ponds, a waterfall, a pavilion and five garden styles. With a majestic view of the city and its surrounding mountains, the garden has been called the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden outside Japan.
All this touring can create a hearty appetite. But, never fear, visitors won't go wanting in Portland. In fact, Gourmet magazine recently praised Portland as "the Burgundy of America, rich in produce, laden with seafood, and blessed with fabulous wines."
In the midst of such bounty, Portlanders have developed a European reverence for their food and wine. This is clearly evident in the the city's sheer number of top-notch restaurants, wineries and cozy craft breweries that draw their exceptional flavors from Oregon's freshest ingredients.
© 2006 Rocky Mountain International