Written by Mimi from The Atlas Heart
Portland has some of the best craft beer in the world, it’s also the perfect backdrop for moody landscapes and the quintessential Pacific Northwest flannel and forest-exploring vibes. There are food carts, abundant waterfalls, and boutique doughnut shops to fill your days in unique ways.
Where to stay on a budget?
Portland has a few different hostels that are all overpriced and usually full because of how small they are. If you’re on a budget, I stayed at a beautiful campsite just outside of the city (about 15-20 minutes south), at Champoeg State Park. It’s the perfect spot to relax, meet some friendly people, hang out by the Willamette River, and go hiking.
If you have a bit more cash to spend, one of the coolest places you could stay is at the Kennedy School. It’s an elementary school that was built in 1915 in the Northeast of Portland and was changed into a hotel, movie theatre, and multiple themed bars by McMenamins. Guests are able to stay in old classrooms – with chalkboards still intact – have free entry to the films at the movie theatre, and have a drink at one of many bars that are school themed (i.e the detention bar, the honor roll bar, boiler room bar, etc). Rooms start at around $150 a night, but if you can swing it, this is the place to stay in Portland.
Where to eat on a budget?
Food carts!! Portland’s food cart culture is everywhere and especially if you’re looking for authentic ethnic food, the food carts are usually better fare than the restaurants in town and super cheap! If you’re downtown, Alder Street has a ton of food carts lining the sidewalk, but I prefer the Southeast neighborhood and the communal food cart pods that are set up in beer hall style.
What to do or to look at?
That really depends on what kind of Portland experience you’re after. If you’re into craft beer at all, or even if you’re not, Portland is the place to experience those Pacific Northwest hops and the craft beer culture that its famous for. It’s easy to go on your own brewery tour around town, especially in Old Town and the Pearl District where breweries are within a few minutes walking distance from each other.
Another great experience is to go drive or bike along the Historic Columbia River Highway. It’s one of the most stunning areas I’ve come across, just a 40 minute drive outside of Portland. This is where you’ll find a ridiculous amount of waterfalls, hikes, grand vistas, and the most famous landmark – Multnomah Falls. It’s also a really interesting look at Oregon’s pioneering history, and the incredible ingenuity it took to build such a highway back in 1915.
What not to do?
I would say as most locals do, to not even bother with the hyped-up Voodoo Doughnuts. It is a really unique and creative shop and considered a Portland staple- I just don’t think it’s worth waiting in a long line for a mediocre tasting product. Blue Star Donuts is the place to go if you’re looking for a true Portland sweet tooth experience.
3 fun facts?
1.The dream of the 90s really is alive in Portland. From the music you’ll hear in shops and cafes, to the fashion, and the guy with the pet ferret I came across last week, you’ll find a lot of 90s influence here.
- Portland was almost named Boston, Oregon!! It was all down to a coin flip by two of the original settlers, Asa Lovejoy and Francis W. Pettygrove. Lovejoy was going to name the new settlement after his hometown of Boston, Massachusetts, whereas Pettygrove was wanting to name it after his hometown, Portland, Maine. I think we all know who won that coin toss.
- Portland was once named the most dangerous port city in the world by the Queen of England. The Shanghai Tunnel culture was huge in Portland back in the late 19th and early 20th century. When a boat arrived in England with a bunch of sailors who didn’t wake up from a raucous night of drinking, the Queen of England banned all ships from going to Portland. It turns out the ringleader who was in charge of dragging these young sailors onto ships against their will when they were passed out drunk, accidentally gave them a keg of formaldehyde instead of beer.
And just one more for good measure…
- Similar to the craft beer culture, Portland is famous for its strip clubs! The city actually has the most amount of strip clubs per capita than any other city in America, and locals usually have at least a favourite or two.
This great guide was written by Mimi. Check her out on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. She also has a blog which is a great read, check it out here. If you are looking for more accommodation then check out Agoda and Hostelworld, I highly recommend them. Travel insurance? Go World Nomads, a trusted and reliable travel insurance company.
Author: Mimi is California girl who, after living abroad for two years, now spends her time travelling around the Pacific Northwest and writing about it on her blog. From jumping out of a plane in New Zealand, to eating snakes in Vietnam, learning how to cook in Italy, and scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, she always looking to live with an open mind and an Atlas Heart.