by Ashley Gartland - 183 Reviews - 53 List
From wine tasting to hiking to dining out, there are plenty of activities to enjoy in Portland. But when you desire an activity that truly showcases the local spirit, you need to look beyond the ubiquitous experience you could have in any other city. Here, we share the destinations that provide a true taste of Portland's flavor from a jaunt through the city's famed farmers market to a doughnut shop that promises that life in Portland could never, ever be boring. (Photo: Shutterstock/Gary Gilardi)
Updated: September 02, 2009
To truly understand the farm-to-table philosophy that has won over everyone from home cooks to top tier local chefs, you must visit the city's famed Saturday Farmers market. From late March through late December, the South Park blocks fill with vendors hawking farm-fresh eggs, artisan cheeses and baskets of fresh, seasonal produce; passersbys can snag tastes of everything from pork pates to fresh raspberry soda whether they are shopping or merely passing through.
Hikers, walkers, runners and mountain bikers have made this enormous urban green space a veritable outdoor playground for all manner of physical exertion. Under the canopy of trees, athletes and outdoorsy types seek out shady paths that provide a needed respite from summer sun as well as partial protection from the rain during the winter.
Downtowners, Eastsiders and suburban families swarm the waterfront path that frames this 20-acre park when the weather turns sunny. The park grants them access to a waterfront path, which crosses the Willamette River multiple times and provides a close up peek at the city's charming bridges. For those who care to stay in the grassy park, the summer months bring a slew of festivals like the annual Oregon Brewfest--a weekend-long celebration for passionate beer drinkers and revelers alike.
The shops that punctuate this trendy shopping district are purely Portland from the boutique beauty store to a Northwest gelato shop and an artisan cookie bakery. This is an avenue for upscale finds or, alternatively, window shopping should designer jeans, expensive housewares or a fancy meal be outside your budget for now.
Avid readers and book collectors frequent this block-long independent bookstore to pick up everything from the latest bestseller to a copy of an old classic to hard-to-find magazines. It's also a popular destination for first dates, and for students who rely on the laid back coffee shop scene and strong espresso to get through late-night study sessions.
This quintessentially Portland doughnut shop's pink-and-ochre-walls and off-the-wall sweets attract a regular line of tourists, bike messengers, late night revelers and donut addicts. Bacon-topped maple bars, the cream-filled Cock-n-Balls doughnut and a selection of vegan doughnuts ensure that the menu has something for every appetite and personality as well.
For Portlanders who want to do more than just drink their daily cup of Joe, there exists Stumptown. At the annex to the local chain's Southeast Belmont cafe, coffee aficionados geek out over daily cuppings in which they learn to taste and evaluate coffee like a professional would.
Tourists and locals capitalize on the Pearl District's walkable nature and wealth of culinary-driven businesses by signing up for this tour company's Epicurean Excursion. The 3.5-hour tour packages more than twenty quintessential Portland experiences into one morning or afternoon, from tasting local beer to meeting the baker who turns out the best baguettes in the neighborhood.
Taking the sleek aerial tram from Portland's hilltop hospital, OHSU, to the South Waterfront District isn't just for hospital staff and patients: thrill-seeking locals and tourists dig this shiny, streamlined transportation system, too. The quick trip delivers with views from all sides, including ones of downtown, the Willamette River and--on a clear day--mountains in the distance.