6 Reasons Why You’re Already In Love With Portland
#5 You like good beer, and lots of it.
Portland: home to food trucks, beer festivals and basically every cool band ever. You know of it, and probably feel an undeniable sense of kinship with the place too thanks to all those seasons of Portlandia you binge watched, so it’s about time you faced the facts: Portland is where you belong. Here are a few reasons why.
#1 You enjoy reading
The largest independent bookstore on earth, Powell’s, actually has books written about it (so meta). When you arrive in store you’re handed a colourfully illustrated map because you’ll most likely get lost without it.
PSA: Do not go to the dispensary next door and then attempt to visit Powell’s. You will almost certainly get lost and end up sitting in the chairs in the Pearl room (the rare books room at the top of the building) staring at one of the the million (yes, million) books in over 3,500 sections and never make your way back to the exits. Your best bet is to ask one of the many friendly (and good-looking) bookkeepers for help.
Next up on your novel pilgrimage, Microcosm Publishing, an Ollivanders-type bookshop setup where yes, the book chooses you. Full of the coolest zines you’ve never seen, it also hosts a quirky and unfettered range of books and catalogues. They also have a sliding scale of payment because they are good people.
#2 You listen to music
Heard of The Shins, The Dandy Warhols, The Decemberists, Sleater-Kinney, The Kingsman, or Pink Martini? Yeah, they all call Portland home, so you might want to check out some of the venues the musos love. Intimate and eclectic, the Doug Fir resembles a bucolic timber lodge, until you hear drums welling up from a dark underground level where you’ll enter a grungy sonic playground. It also can’t hurt to try their massive selection of local beers and the most damn perfect cheese toastie to ever exist.
If you’re looking for some bigger acts with a real local crowd head to The Wonder Ballroom. Everyone’s there for the music, so bring only good vibes to the decidedly unpretentious crowd.
#3 Food trucks are your lifeblood
Portland is the beating heart of the food cart mega-trend – here, upwards of 700 food carts flood the city centre. Worth the queue is the cult Nong’s (try the chicken and rice dish) in one of the largest food cart “pods” on Alder Street in Downtown.
Vegan and vegetarians are welcome at one of the city’s best taco trucks, El Nutri Taco. The Chipotle Tempeh Burrito is worth the time it takes to pronounce it. Also of note, on the side of a red brick wall on Hawthorne Blvd, you’ll spy Waffle Window (which is literally a window). They do things with waffles you didn’t know were possible, like their Bacon, Brie and Basil Waffle or The Whole Farm: pepper bacon, mushroom, spinach, roasted pepper, tomato and marinated chèvre. Delish.
#4 Parks are a priority to you
Portland takes sustainability pretty seriously, so you’ll find this city perched high on those greenest cities lists. Plastic bags are illegal, recycling is a must (unless you enjoy being publicly heckled), and there is a hell of a lot of old-growth forest. An unmissable stop is the accurately named Forest Park – with around 700 acres of pure wilderness, it’s the largest urban wooded forest in the US. Bike, walk or jog your way through the 112 kilometres of tracks. Just after sunset, visit the enchantingly creepy “Witches Castle,” an abandoned stone hut straight outta Hogwarts.
If you’re ready for even more nerd, Laurelhurst Park is the meeting area for LARP’ers. If you’ve seen the movie Role Models, you may be aware that LARPing is where passionate role players dress up like knights in an empty field and host a (fake) battle. At Laurelhurst you’ll spy dancers, sword-fighters, and the odd school play taking place in one of the many natural amphitheatres. Not far away is the endearing novelty, Mill End Park – it’s officially the smallest park in the world, at 0.76 meters wide. Inside the park there’s, of course, miniature human figurines, a swimming pool figurine, and a mini ferris wheel (which was delivered by an actual sized crane… weird, right?).
#5 You like good beer, and lots of it
Fun fact: Portland’s pseudonym is “Beervana” thanks to its deep-seeded love of all things beer. Home to 70 microbreweries and five massive beer festivals, knowing what’s on the ever-rotating tap is a competitive sport here in Portland. When attending a Portland brewery session be prepared for mouthfuls – not just of beer, but of new vocabulary too.
Here’s the basics: if you like dark chocolatey beer, go for Terminator Stout at McMinnamins. Light bright treasures? Try Green Dragon Brewery in Southeast. After some bitter love? Super strong nine percent Double IPA’s are your best friend – open a Rouge brew in downtown. Take your notes and bring them back home for when your friends are drinking Coopers (*shakes head*).
#6 You get around
Public transport is strangely cheap and surprisingly pleasant in Portland. You’ve got the option of regular buses, the MAX (light rail), a streetcar, or the commuter rail (the WES). All tickets are available on the Portland Trimet App, and you can just show your smartphone ticket to an official instead of using a paper or plastic card. The future is here.
Transit is also part of the ritual of going out, so be prepared to talk to some friendly strangers heading out for the night. There are even websites dedicated to the hot people on TriMet, so if you don’t fall for Portland itself, there’s always the Portlandians.