I hear it rains a lot in Portland, but somehow, in mid-February, I was blessed with 36 hours of sunshine and perfection. In this earthy, trendy, bike-all-you-can, food-cart every day, drink from microbreweries at night type of city, in 36-hours I was able to see just a little sneak-peak into what makes Portland so unique. So sit up and get excited, because with so little time and so much to see, you are going to want to hear about Portland’s Top 5:
1. Food Carts
In Portland there are more than 400 food vendor licenses registered in any given year. Throughout the city there are a number of food cart pods (the term for a cluster of food carts) but some of the most frequented and largest are the 5th and Oak Pod and the 10th and Alder Pod. The names also speak to where they are located in the city. With so many choices, and being the professional sampler I am, I figured the best way to approach the pods would be by going on an organized tour. There are a number of companies that offer tours, but I was absolutely blown away by the tour provided by Portland Walking Tours, it was worth every dollar. Our tour guide, over the course of two hours, took me and two other people to three different pods within a mile radius of one another and we got to sample from ten different carts. Each one was better than the next and we were given a variety of favors, cuisines and portions. Of course you can stroll through the pods by yourself and at your own leisure but if that was the case I would have missed out on some seriously good eating!
Korean Twist- Korean Beef Taco
2. Powell’s City of Books
The largest independent used and new bookstore in the world! Each room is color-coded and categorized. Naturally, I spent most of my time in the red room exploring the travel section. 3. Voodoo Donuts
There are just so many good flavors!! There is not much else to say about Voodoo than it is quirky, and strange and you must try one of their doughnuts when you are in Portland! They are most-famous for their maple bacon doughnut; however, the voodoo doll that pours red jelly out from its stomach was my absolute favorite!
4. Bike Tour
Portland is the worlds cycling capital! It was voted the most cyclist-friendly city in the world, and has more bike paths than any other city! Many people in Portland commute to work via bike- roughly 6%- so what better way to city than on my own bike! Through Pedal Bike Tours Portland, I was able to get a personal tour of the city starting in the Old Town. We traveled along the Willamette River until we reached the Japanese American Historical Plaza. Prior to World War II, 80% of small business were owned by Japanese American families. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, when all of the Japanese were put into entrapment camps, all of these businesses in Portland were abandoned, devastating the Portland economy. Over time, the storefronts were claimed by other entrepreneurs and now the community has the memorial and a museum to remember the Japanese Americans who were uprooted from their homes and lost their family businesses. We then made our way into Chinatown where we were able to visit the Lan Su Chinese Garden. The garden was created in 1999, when 65 workmen came to Portland from Suzhou, Portland’s official Chinese sister city. With them, they brought wood and rocks to create this serene garden as a present to Portland. We then made our way into the Pearl District. The Pearl District was once the industrial part of the city and because of this real estate was less expensive, which led to art galleries starting moving into the vacant industrial space. These art galleries became known as “pearls in the rough” and hence came the name Pearl District. The city is now investing a lot of money into the Pearl District and it has become one of the most expensive parts of the city. In the Pearl District we stopped for some time at Tanner Springs Park which was created to “strip away” the industrial neighborhood and reconnect the people with the pre-industrial wetlands. Finally, we pedaled through the South Park Blocks, passing Portland State University and ending at the Saturday Farmer’s Market.
The Portland Saturday Farmer’s Market has become a hub for many local vendors to sell their produce, hand crafted cheeses, home-made jams and hand- carved wooden crafts. The market buzzed with live music and there was an awesome vibe among vendors and local visitors. Enjoy Portland!