What comes to mind when you think of Portland? First, you must realize that there are two Portlands in the United States and that we are talking about the West Coast city. Portlanders take pride in their European-like city that is often visited annually for what it has to offer. It’s not over touristy, yet it has timeless attractions worth visiting. Your first time in Portland will guarantee that you’ll want to book cheap tickets again and make another trip to enjoy more of what Portland may have to offer. So, without further ado, check out our first-timer’s guide to Portland!

Sip Coffee at Stumptown Coffee Roasters

Guide to Portland Coffee

[Above image “Another Latte” by Jason Brisch on Flickr – licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0]

Coffee Culture has swept through America and has taken hold of big cities like Seattle and New York. Portland is also a part of this trend with the famous chain: Stumptown Coffee Roasters. They originated in Portland and have even reached over to the other side of the country in New York and even internationally in Amsterdam. People love Stumptown because of its cool vibe and the delicious, yet simple coffee you’ll need to fuel yourself for your travels through Portland.

Grab a Beer at McMenamins Brewery

We’ve all heard of taking classes to learn more about the art of beer, but we’ve never heard that you could enjoy a beer in a classroom! McMenamins Brewery in Portland is located in a former classroom in the old Kennedy School that isn’t in session anymore. Imagine the funny Facebook statuses you can make saying that you’re enjoying a pint in the detention hall, or watching a movie with a pale ale in the auditorium. And yes, the beer is so good that you can even take a doggie bag to go in a mason jar or growler to enjoy on your own time.

Tour the International Rose Test Garden

Guide to Portland International Rose Garden

Portland is nicknamed the “City of Roses” because of one thing – the International Rose Test Garden. These rose experts have been cultivating the famous romantic flower since the early 20th century. This beautiful space is still a test garden where new hybrids are tested and roses are studied and understood like art. For visitors, it’s a tranquil spot to enjoy nature at its best. There is even an amphitheater that hosts classical music concerts and a few plays. You can even picnic and play outdoor games in this multifunctional space when there’s no event scheduled.

Peruse Powell’s City of Books

Guide to Portland Powell City of Books

[Above image “20140405-Day03-IMG_0242” by ocean yamaha on Flickr – licensed under CC by 2.0]

Who doesn’t love free stuff? Portlanders certainly do, and you should join them! Not everyone is a bookworm, but anyone can appreciate Powell’s City of Books. The world’s largest independent bookstore is home to more than a million titles. Best of all, it’s the spot to be on a rainy or cool day where you can truly enjoy the bookstore with locals who are most likely enjoying their coffee and curling up with a good book.

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Sit Back and Relax at a Brewpub Movie Theater

Since you’re practically a local now that you’ve enjoyed so much of Portland, you can now understand the love of movie brewpubs. A guide to Portland is practically useless without this iconic favorite on our list. So venture out, grab a comfortable seat, and enjoy a larger projection screen, house-brewed beer, and the opportunity to mingle with others. You’ll feel like you’re in someone else’s living room being served as a guest and catching a flick with a few friends, making the movie-watching experience a bit more intimate. And luckily, Portlanders are friendly, welcoming, and will make sure you enjoy your time as much as they do!

Take A Hike In Forest Park

Guide to Portland Forest Park

Who doesn’t love strolling beneath shady trees, looking at stunning flora and fauna, and feeling the breeze on their face? For bikers, hikers, runners, and horse riders, Portland offers up to 70 miles of trails through Forest Park. Situated at the southernmost portion of the Tualatin Mountains on the slope of the West Hills of Portland, the trails and parks along the way offer visitors and residents alike plenty of the wonders of Mother Nature. The trails and parks can be accessed from several points around the area. There are also loops and cut-offs so that visitors don’t have to walk the entire 70 miles of trails.

Get A Sugar Rush At Voodoo Doughnut

Guide to Portland Voodoo Doughnut

[Above image “Voodoo Doughnut (3)” by Kristina D.C. Hoeppner on Flickr – licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0]

When was the last time you had a doughnut with a sense of humor? Kenneth Pogson and Richard Shannon had just such a sense of humor when they opened their iconic doughnut shop, Voodoo Doughnut, in 2003. Their off-color brand of humorous sugary treats has since been shared in locations all over the country like Orlando, Hollywood, Austin, Denver, and Eugene, OR. So, what’s it all about? Well, it’s about a voodoo doll doughnut dressed in chocolate frosting, filled with raspberry jelly, and sporting a stake through its heart – a pretzel. Now that’s a doughnut with a twist!

Check Out The Portland Japanese Garden

Guide to Portland Japanese Garden

Washington Park, inside Portland’s West Hills, is home to the Japanese Gardens. Twelve acres host 11 gardens in addition to a cultural village. The Strolling Pond Garden, the Flat Garden, the Sand and Stone Garden, the Natural Garden, the Entry Garden, the Tea Garden, the Tsubo-Niwa, and the Ellie M. Hill Bonsai Terrace offer visitors ponds, falls, bridges, trees, and plants of all kinds, as well as Japanese iconic items such as a 100-year-old pagoda lantern.

Visitors can feel the peace and harmony of nature from 10 am to 5:30 pm on Wednesday through Monday. The gardens are closed on Tuesdays.

Grab Something To Eat At The 5th Avenue Food Cart Pod

Portland is home to some of the best food trucks in the country. Over 600 food trucks gather in various neighborhoods in groups called pods. Included in these pods are covered areas with picnic tables, beer gardens, strings of lights, and more. Not sure what you’re craving? Visit the 5th Avenue Food Cart Pod just off the MAX Line. If you feel like Thai food, Egyptian food, or perhaps Korean tacos or rice bowls, it’s all there. Perhaps Indian food would do the trick. Bon appetit!

Explore The City’s Hippest Areas By Bike

Guide to Portland Biking
When you visit a city, of course you’ll want to see its major attractions and enjoy the wonderful food. You can walk around for days learning the history of the place. But, for those who want to see the other side of the city, bikes are another great option for getting around. The Nob Hill neighborhood, close to the Japanese Gardens and Forest Park, is great for exploring by bike. It features the usual restaurants and shops, but its claim to fame is the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium with its oddball items, not to mention ice cream.

Another great area for biking is the Hawthorn district, which is perfect for visitors who love vintage shops, imaginative food, as well as live movies, music, and comedy. The Alberta Arts District is also ideal for biking. Along with great food and drink, galleries, and boutiques, the area is home to the Last Thursday street fair that offers visitors the wares and talent of musicians, local artists, and performers of all types.

Go Shopping At The Portland Saturday Market

Guide to Portland Saturday Market

Feel like hearing some jazz? Hungry for some falafel? Perhaps you’d rather see examples of woodworking, handmade jewelry, clothing, home accessories, or ceramics? For almost 50 years, the Portland Saturday Market has combined local food specialties, music, and crafts. The Rose City tradition is the biggest constant operating arts fair in the country. It began in 1973 with two vendors and has amassed many more since then, many of which are known for their handmade items. It’s open from 10 am until 5 pm on Saturdays from March until Christmas Eve. For those who find cheap flights to Portland around Christmas time, there’s a dedicated week for down-to-the-wire shoppers so you can get all your holiday shopping down without breaking too much of a sweat.

Did we miss any must-see Portland destinations? Let us know in the comments section below!

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