I am going to be in Portland for just a Saturday and Sunday this weekend and want to pack in as much as possible. I'm going for inexpensive options that can be accessed by public transportation and showcase the cool, Portland vibe. Any recommendations?
I live in central Portland, and Sunday will be pretty wet (it's raining right now, and Saturday will be fairly dry). We do have a decent transit here, so it is possible to see quite a bit. There's a brand new streetcar route to OMSI (Science Museum) on the east side. Take the MAX lightrail from the airport terminal (or Greyhound/Amtrak stations) to the downtown area or to Washington Park to see the Japanese Gardern, Oregon Zoo or several other attractions in that park. Saturday morning PSU (Portland State Univ.) is the site of a large Farmer's Market downtown in another park setting - walk over to the PSU fountain below the athletic field and say hello to me and my Jack Russell Terrier. Take the Streetcar to the Pearl District to shop/browse at Powell's Bookstore and then have a few cool ones down NW11th Ave at Deschuttes Brewpub. Stop into the Information Center at Portland's Living room (Pioneer Square in the center of town) for all sort of brochures, maps and transit information.
(the best restaurants are not downtown, but rather scattered all over the east side/eastern side of the river that splits the city. I recommend Pok Pok Thai on SE Division. Portland is awash in brewpubs - one of the major industries in this area.) You might want to rent a bike on Sat since most of the area is totally flat - as long as you don't venture into the West Hills (bikes are ok on lightrail and streetcar).
Avoid Chinatown - a total dump! There is a crafts market at the foot of the Burnside Bridge downtown called Saturday Market, but it's open all weekend (very crowded with terrible food). If you insist on eating downtown, I suggest Huber's Restaurant - try the turkey!
The city is split into 4 parts:
NE - north of Burnside and east of the river
SE - south of Burnside and east of the river
NW - north of Burnside and west of the river (includes the Pearl District)
SW - south of Burnside and west of the river (most of downtown is SW)
[ Edit: Edited on 12-Oct-2012, at 17:13 by Daawgon ]
Daawgon, you rock! thanks for the information! And I'm actually going next weekend not this weekend, so hopefully it will be a bit drier by then! Maybe I'll run in to you and your Jack Russell Terrier. Do you have a booth at the farmers market or you just hang out there?