Portland (Oregon)

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Travel Guide North America USA Western United States Oregon Portland

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Introduction

Portland, known as the City of Roses, is the largest city in the state of Oregon and is generally considered the greenest city in the country and also one of the most liberal. It is also home to amazing brew pubs, wonderful coffee shops, nice museums, good restaurants and world famous bookstores. This is a wonderful city to spend a few days in before adventuring off to explore the amazing wilderness nearby.

Portland has roughly 2 million people living in the greater metro-area. The city was built near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers making it an important center for river traffic and the city's port is still very important to this day. When the town was first founded the two founding fathers of Asa Lovejoy and Francis W. Pettygrove both wanted to name the city after their home towns. This was settled on a 2 out of 3 coin toss and Pettygorve won. The Portland Penny can still be seen at the Oregon Historical Society. Portland was officially incorporated in 1851 as the county seat and grew from there.

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Neighbourhoods

Portland has many unique and interesting neighborhoods to explore. One of the most exciting aspects of visiting Portland is constant possibly of discovery. Rather than containing most places of interest to a few busy streets, Portland has food, shopping, parks, and other activities sprinkled all throughout the city. Here are just a few notable neighborhoods:

Downtown Portland is the heart of the city, centered around Pioneer Square and home to modern commercial towers, new condominiums, and converted lofts, along with several museums and urban parks of interest to tourists, including Tom McCall Waterfront Park along the river. To the immediate south of Downtown is the campus of Portland State University and South Waterfront, an urban revitalization area at the southern end of the streetcar line with newly built glass residential towers.

Just to the north of Downtown is Old Town, which is where Portland was first settled and which has some historic buildings and is a nightlife center, but also contains a fair amount of social services for homeless and mentally ill. The neighborhood also holds the remnants of Chinatown which, despite a lovely archway entry at Burnside and 4th Avenue and some Chinese-inspired street decorations, is rather desolate and may prove a disappointment for visitors expecting the bustle of San Francisco's or New York City's Chinatown.

Just to the northwest of Downtown is the Pearl District, a very hip and trendy neighborhood on the streetcar line which was not long ago derelict warehouses and empty industrial space. The economic success of the Pearl has made it a frequently cited urban planning model, and it is an excellent place to hang out and people watch, eat in fine restaurants, and visit the famous Powell's Bookstore. Perhaps the best spot to people watch is Jamison Square, a city park at the heart of the Pearl that includes a popular fountain which fills a pool during the summer months that's popular with little kids. For a slightly more quiet retreat, Tanner Springs Park is just a couple of blocks north and built to resemble a piece of reclaimed wetland, with tall grasses and a nice pond. On the First Thursday of every month, all art galleries in the Pearl district open their doors for casual viewing, and many serve wine and cheese.

To the north of the Pearl, at the northern end of the streetcar line is the Northwest District, also known as Nob Hill and also on the trendy side and with a variety of retail shops, bars, and restaurants along with plenty of lovely Victorians and tree-lined streets. West of this is the West Hills, where the well-to-do of Portland have traditionally lived. Because of the geography, the streets in the West Hills are a bit of a maze, but they still make for an interesting trek; you'll find lavish mansions, ornate public staircases, and good views of Downtown.

Hawthorne Blvd, which runs east-west across the river from Downtown, has a broad selection of shops including a menagerie of vintage goods at the House of Vintage and the ornate Bagdad Theater Pub, and is a center of the counter-culture/bohemian community which is dissipating to make way for a variety of upscale businesses. The nearby Belmont Street is also worth a visit if you are in the neighborhood, with a similar - if smaller - array of shops and attractions.

Located along Broadway and Sandy Blvd northeast of downtown, Hollywood is a commercial district for the nearby neighborhoods and home to the Hollywood Theater, a historic non-profit theater with an ornate facade showing a variety of independent, second run, and classic films as well as original programming and interactive events. There is also a popular Saturday farmers market in the neighborhood during the warm months.

To the north of downtown between MLK Blvd and 30th Avenue, Alberta Street has much the same feel as Hawthorne Blvd; a counter-culture/bohemian community that's becoming popular with yuppies. Alberta is home to Last Thursday, said by many locals to be the alternative to First Thursday in the Pearl District and also featuring wine tasting and gallery openings, along with street vending and performance artists. The Neighborhood between Alberta Street and Broadway is known as Irvington, and contains many historic Craftsman homes.

Other neighborhoods to explore include: St. Johns in North Portland featuring the gorgeous St. Johns Bridge, Mississippi Avenue, quaint Sellwood, Inner Southeast a loosely defined neighborhood where bars and music venues have been cropping up amidst the industrial landscape, Foster-Powell, East Burnside and Stark, Division and Clinton Street, and North Williams.

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Sights and Activities

  • Oregon Zoo is a must-see for most visitors. It is particularly famous for its collection of elephants, the largest in a zoo collection anywhere in the world.
  • Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, (OMSI), 1945 SE Water Ave, ☎ +1 503-797-6674. Summer: 9:30AM-7PM daily; Winter: Tu-Su 9:30AM-5:30PM. OMSI is great for kids, with hundreds of hands-on activities with a particular emphasis on technology and earth sciences; you can spend a full rainy day here and not get bored. Moored in the river just outside is the USS Blueback, an old navy submarine which is open for tours (separate ticket required). There's also a planetarium and an IMAX theater which requires separate admission, but you can view the IMAX projector in operation without paying for the movie ticket. $12 adults, $9 youth/seniors (parking $2/car, IMAX theater, planetarium, and submarine tickets require separate admission).
  • The Portland Saturday Market is more than a market. Enjoy free shows, a good vibe, sample foods and much more.
  • Museum of Contemporary Craft
  • Oregon Historical Society, 1200 SW Park Ave (across from the Portland Art Museum), ☎ +1 503-306-5198. Tu-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. Lots of artifacts and exhibits on the history of the state. $11 adults, $9 students/seniors, $5 youth, free for ages 5 and under.
  • Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Ave, ☎ +1 503-226-2811. Su noon-5PM, M closed, Tu-W, Sa 10AM-5PM, Th-F 10AM-8PM. Has several outstanding collections and is regularly updated by moving exhibits. It is an expansive museum where one could easily spend an entire afternoon. The Whitsell Auditorium in the basement of the museum is where the Northwest Film Center hosts film screenings. $15 adults, $12 seniors/students, children 17 and under free; free on the 4th Friday of every month 5PM-8PM.
  • Oregon Maritime Center and Museum, SW Naito Pkwy at Pine St (on the Willamette River at Tom McCall Waterfront Park), ☎ +1 503-224-7724. W F-Sa 11AM-4PM, closed Su-Tu Th. Located on the Portland, a steam sternwheeler tug boat moored in the river, the museum contains numerous ship models, maritime artifacts and memorabilia, while tours are offered of the ship itself. $7 adults, $5 seniors, $4 students, $3 youth, children under 6/military free.
  • http://www.portlandcm.org|Portland Children's Museum]]
  • Portlandia, 1120 SW 5th Ave (W side of Portland Building). Looming over the west entrance of the Portland Building is the second-largest hammered-copper statue in the U.S. (after the Statue of Liberty); a classical sculpture of a woman bearing a trident, crouching over the entryway and reaching down to welcome visitors. For its sheer size, it's surprisingly easy to miss - keep your eyes peeled for Michael Graves' historic postmodern building painted in red, blue, and tan.
  • Pittock Mansion, 3229 NW Pittock Dr (Bus 20 from Downtown to NW Barnes, followed by a 15 min moderate climb), ☎ +1 503-823-3623. Feb-Jun, Sep-Dec 11AM-4PM daily; Jul-Aug 10AM-5PM daily; grounds open 5AM-9PM daily. A stunning Victorian mansion in the hills of west Portland, dating back nearly a century now and preserved just as it looked then. The mansion also contains beautiful artworks and furniture collected by the original owners. $8.50 adults; $7.50 seniors above 65; $5.50 youth 6-18; free for children under 6.
  • Portland Aerial Tram, at SW Moody and Gibbs (in South Waterfront, at the southern end of the streetcar line). Trams depart every 6 minutes M-F 5:30AM-9:30PM, Sa 9AM-5PM, Su Jun-Sep 1PM-5PM. An aerial tram which connects the South Waterfront neighborhood to the Oregon Health Sciences University campus on a hill to the west. The tram is sleek and offers an excellent view of Downtown and the surrounding area, with splendid views of the mountains on a clear day. The joint-venture project is part of Portland's public transit system. Roundtrip $4, children 6 and under free.

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Events and Festivals

Beer Festivals

Holidays

  • New Year’s Eve - The US celebrates the outgoing of the old year and incoming of the New Year quite dramatically. Every state boasts its own parties to ring in the New Year, but none is more extravagant than New York’s Time Square, which sees people overflowing into the neighboring restaurants, bars, parks, beaches, and neighborhoods.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. and sometimes referred to as MLK Day) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15. The holiday is similar to holidays set under the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. The earliest Monday for this holiday is January 15 and the latest is January 21. King was the chief spokesperson for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law.
  • St Patrick’s Day - March 17 celebrates the US’s large Irish population. Many cities around the country boast boisterous parades and Irish-themed parties, especially New York and Chicago, where the river is dyed green. Be wary of the drunkenness that dominates as this is definitely a party-day.
  • Memorial Day - Memorial Day is an important holiday throughout the United States, but not for crazy festivities. Parades commemorating wartime heroes are often held and the day is also the ‘unofficial’ start of summer. Most visitors follow the crowds to parks and beaches, which are capped off with informal BBQs.
  • Independence Day - Also known as the Fourth of July, Independence Day celebrates the US’s break from the British during the 18th century. Barbecues, street parties, beach trips, and weekend getaways are commonplace to appreciate freedom.
  • Labor Day is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend. It is recognized as a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day be set aside to celebrate labor.
  • Halloween - Halloween is a fun holiday on October 31 for all generations to dress up in costumes and relive their youth. Children walk around the neighborhood trick-or-treating for candy, while adults attend parties. Other seasonal events include haunted houses, pumpkin farms and carving, and corn mazes.
  • Thanksgiving - On the fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is held in almost every home in the US. Tourists will have a hard time finding anything to do as the country essentially shuts down in observation. A typical Thanksgiving meal consists of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie commemorating the original Pilgrim’s feast at Plymouth Rock.
  • Christmas - On December 25, Christians celebrate Christmas as the pinnacle of their calendar by attending church and opening gifts from Santa Claus. Almost everything shuts down to promote family togetherness. The northern regions hope to experience a “white Christmas,” with trees and festive lights blanketed by snow.

Sport

  • Super Bowl Sunday - the world’s most watched sporting event and one of the highest grossing TV days of the year, Superbowl Sunday is a spectacular extravaganza. Held the first Sunday in February, the Superbowl is the final playoff game between the NFL’s top two teams. The venue rotates every year around America, yet the local parties seem to remain. Pubs, bars and restaurants are great places to enjoy the Superbowl or locals throw their own parties with different variations of betting.
  • The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

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Weather

Portland has mild weather year-round with rainy winters. Most of the rain falls from late October to early April, while snow is possible from December to February but only a few inches in total. The best time of the year to visit would be late spring to early fall. Average highs from June to September are mostly between 23 °C and 27 °C, with nights around 12-14 °C. Winters from December to February see highs of 7-10 °C with nights still above zero.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max7.4 °C10.6 °C13.3 °C15.9 °C19.5 °C23.3 °C26.6 °C26.8 °C23.7 °C17.8 °C11.4 °C7.6 °C
Avg Min0.9 °C2.3 °C3.7 °C5.2 °C8.3 °C11.6 °C13.6 °C13.8 °C11.1 °C7.2 °C4.2 °C1.6 °C
Rainfall135.9 mm97.8 mm90.4 mm60.7 mm52.3 mm37.6 mm16 mm27.7 mm44.4 mm67.8 mm135.6 mm155.7 mm
Rain Days14.712.914.411.196.32.84.16.39.415.915.7

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Getting There

By Plane

Portland International Airport (9 mi (14 km) northeast of downtown, near the Columbia River). It is a dual-use air force base, which may cause confusion on some maps. Most major airlines serve Portland, though Alaska Airlines carries the most traffic through PDX, using Portland as a hub. Non-stop service is available to most major U.S. airport hubs, a lot of smaller cities in the Pacific Northwest (served by Alaska Airlines and United Express), and a limited number of international flights from Canada (Air Canada and Alaska Airlines), Frankfurt am Main (Condor); Keflavik International Airport (Icelandair); Benito Juárez Airport (Alaska and Aeromexico); Guadalajara (Volaris); Tokyo Narita Airport, London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol (Delta).

To/from the airport
A taxi from the airport to downtown is around $35, but the Portland airport is well connected by public transit, which allows you to save quite a bit of money. The most convenient and least expensive option is the MAX train, TriMet's light-rail system. Just catch the 2 MAX Red Line in the south end of the airport terminal, near the baggage claim area, at lower level. The ride downtown takes about 30 minutes and costs $2.50, which includes a transfer good for two and a half hours with unlimited transfers to any TriMet bus or train, or even to a C-TRAN bus (except the express buses at the Parkrose Transit Center Stop), which serves Vancouver, Washington.

To get downtown from the airport by car, follow Airport Way to the junction with Interstate 205 south, then proceed to exit 21B to take Interstate 84 west. Follow I-84 until it ends at the junction with Interstate 5, then follow the signs to City Center.

By Train

Portland Union Station, 800 NW 6th Ave. Amtrak serves Portland Union Station, which is about a 15-minute walk from most places downtown. Union Station is well connected by public transit. It sits on the northern end of the transit mall, so many Trimet buses as well as the MAX Yellow and Green Lines stop nearby. Union Station is also across the street from the Greyhound depot. The region has seen some investment in passenger rail in recent years, so journey times and reliability have improved and will likely continue to improve incrementally as new construction is completed. Three Amtrak routes serve Union Station:

  • The Amtrak Cascades is the most frequent train, coming in from as far south as Eugene and as far north as Vancouver, British Columbia. The Cascades offers certain amenities not available on the other two routes, such as Wi-Fi, more space for bikes, more power outlets, a bistro car serving Pacific Northwest foods and wine, and the occasional movie.
  • The Coast Starlight runs between Seattle and Los Angeles. Stops include Tacoma, Olympia, Salem, Eugene, Klamath Falls, Redding, Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara. Historically the Coast Starlight has been nicknamed "the Coast Starlate" due to its frequent, horrendously long delays, but its reliability drastically improved since about 2008.
  • The Empire Builder, Amtrak's busiest long-distance route, runs between Chicago and its two western termini, Portland and Seattle. It stops at Milwaukee, Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Glacier National Park, and Spokane along the way. The westbound train splits into two branches (or joins into a single route going eastbound) in Spokane with one branch going to Seattle and the other to Portland.

By Car

The easiest road connection to Portland is the Interstate Highway System, especially Interstate 5, which runs through Washington, Oregon, and California. Driving from the south, you can take exits to the southern part of downtown before I-5 crosses the Willamette River, or you can take the Interstate 405 bypass to access the rest of downtown. From the north, you can take I-405 over the Fremont Bridge to cross the Willamette River and reach downtown, or take exits 302A or 300B and follow the City Center signs. Interstate 205 is a bypass route that splits from I-5 and serves the eastern side of the Portland metro area.

From northeastern Oregon, Boise, and other points east, take Interstate 84. It follows the Columbia River on the Oregon side and terminates in the center of Portland, where it meets Interstate 5. U.S. Route 26 comes to Portland from the Pacific coast (near Seaside and Cannon Beach) in the west, as well as from central Oregon.

As in the rest of Oregon, there are no self-serve gas stations in Portland. Just stay in your car and wait as an attendant does the pumping for you.

By Bus

Long distance buses pick up in front at Union Station (800 NW 6th Ave) and the Greyhound depot next door (550 NW 6th Ave) in addition to other places on the way in or out of Portland. They can only pick up passengers on the outbound trip and drop off on the inbound trip but cannot transport passengers between two points within the Tri-Met Service Area (Portland Metropolitan Area). For example, a CoBreeze bus coming from Bend cannot pick up passengers in Gresham and drop them off at the airport. They can only drop off in both places on the inbound trip within the Portland area.

  • BoltBus, (bus stop) NW Everett Street between Broadway and 8th, toll-free: +1-877-BOLTBUS (2658287). Service from Eugene, Albany OR, Seattle, Bellingham WA; and Vancouver BC. up to $30.
  • CoBreeze, (bus stops) Union Station, Greyhound terminal, Portland International Airport & the Cleveland MAX station in Gresham, ☎ +1 541 389-7469. Goes down to Bend via Sandy, Welches, Government Camp, Madras, Prineville P&R and Redmond Airport. Buses may not make all the above stops regularly but on request in advance of travel. Check with them.
  • Greyhound, (Depot) 550 NW 6th (next building occupying two city blocks south of Union Station — front entrance facing NW 6th in the middle of the block between NW Irving & Glisan), ☎ +1503 243-2361, toll-free: +1-800-231-2222. Greyhound travels primarily on Interstate 5 (Portland-Seattle & Portland-Sacramento on two separate routes. Some buses run contiguously between Seattle and Los Angeles); 84 (Portland-Boise-Salt Lake City); & 84-US395-90 (Portland-Pasco-Spokane). Passengers transfer to other buses in Seattle, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Spokane, Boise, Medford, and/or Pasco to get to other destinations. Prices vary depending on your destination. edit
  • Tillamook Transportation District Rt #5, (stops) Union Station, Greyhound depot, Sunset Transit Center & NW 185th Ave, ☎ +1 503-842-0123. Twice daily trip to/from Tillamook along US Hwy 26 and OR-Hwy 6 $15 OW or $20 RT.
  • Oregon Point (Operated by MTR Western), (bus stop) Union Station @ 800 NW 6th Ave (Stops in both Greyhound & Union Station), ☎ +1 541 484-4100. Tickets can be also be purchased at the Greyhound or Amtrak ticket counters for two of their routes:

* Northwest Point goes up to Astoria via Manning, Elsie along US Hwy 26 and Seaside, Cannon Beach, Gearhart and Warrenton along US Hwy 101. Picks up from both the Union Station and Greyhound terminal.
* Cascades Point/Amtrak Cascades Thruway goes down to Eugene via Salem & Albany. Some buses detour into Oregon City and Woodburn too. Check schedules. Picks up from the Union Station only. At other times take TriMet Rt#35 to get to Oregon City.

By Boat

No useful boat lines exist, although you can take cruises up and down the Willamette River and multi-day tourist cruises from Portand to Clarkston, Washington.

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Getting Around

Much of Portland is a grid, and fairly easy to navigate. Portland is divided into five sectors, sometimes referred to oxymoronically as the "five quadrants". These quadrants are roughly divided by Burnside Street between north/south and the Willamette River between east/west, with a fifth sector (North) between the Willamette River and Williams Avenue. If you hear Portlanders talking about Southwest or Northeast, they're probably talking about a sector of the town rather than Arizona or Massachusetts.

All Portland addresses contain their designating sector inserted between house number and street name (i.e. 3719 SE Hawthorne Blvd.) The house address numbers increase 100 per block starting from Burnside Street or the Willamette River. This should make it easier to figure out where things are. In general, East/West streets are named while North/South avenues are numbered. On named streets, the address numbers correspond to the nearest numbered cross-street, so 1501 NE Davis St. is on NE Davis near 15th Avenue. An exception is North Portland where North/South avenues are also named. On the West side, some streets and arterial roads follow a North/South grid, others follow the topography and curve a great deal. There are major arterials that cross town in NE/SW or NW/SE orientation including Sandy Boulevard, and Foster Road on the East side, and Barbur Blvd on the SW. The streets of inner Northwest Portland are arranged alphabetically starting with Ankeny, Burnside, followed by Couch, then Davis, etc. through NW Vaughn Street making directions easy to follow here.

Most of the city (and everything near downtown) is along the northerly flowing Willamette River, and not the much larger Columbia which flows west. However, the airport and Portland's northern neighbor, Vancouver, Washington, are next to the Columbia. If you confuse the two rivers, you can easily mix up your bearings. As the Willamette River can be hard to spot on a map of Oregon, many newcomers mistakenly think Portland is along the nearby Columbia.

By Car

Driving around downtown is not recommended. Inconvenient, expensive and hard-to-find parking, combined with active parking meter enforcement (8AM-7PM) and non-intuitive street closures, transit malls, and restrictions, make it frustrating even for locals. Most people can walk from one end of downtown to the other in 15 minutes—faster than driving at times (or bike even faster). In fact, many of the traffic lights, both downtown and in inner Portland, seem to be timed for bike speeds.

If you must park downtown, the best parking deal is any of the six SmartPark garages maintained by the City of Portland. As of May 2015, rates are $1.60 per hour on weekdays for the first four hours, and $5 flat rate evenings after 5PM and all day on weekends. Also, some businesses can validate your parking.

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

TriMet provides public transport throughout the city with buses, streetcar and light rail. Portland is home to a great metro system that can get you anywhere in the city. The lines are:

  • The Blue Line, which runs from Hillsboro east through Beaverton and downtown to Gresham.
  • The Red Line, which runs from the Portland International Airport to downtown and west on to Beaverton.
  • The Yellow Line, which runs from the Expo Center west to downtown, and south to Portland State University.
  • The Green Line, which runs from Clackamas Town Center west to downtown, and south to Portland State University.

Most of downtown is covered by the Free Rail Zone, where rides on the MAX and Portland Streetcar are free as long as you board and leave within the zone.

Adult fare is $2.50, and 1-day, 7-day, 14-day, and monthly passes are available. TriMet uses the proof-of-payment system—when you pay the fare, you'll receive a validated paper ticket good for two-and-a-half hours of travel on the entire system. Stick to your ticket; you must show it to any transit police officer or fare inspector upon request, or face a $175 fine for fare evasion.

You can pay fare, or buy passes, at any MAX station ticket machine (but expect the occasional out-of-order machine), on-board any streetcar, or on any bus (with exact change). Smartphone users (iPhone or Android) can use the TriMet Tickets app to buy digital tickets; show your ticket on the phone screen to the bus driver, transit police officer, or fare inspector, and make sure your phone's battery doesn't die!

In July 2017, TriMet released the Hop FastPass, a contactless smart card for electronic fare payment. Hop works on TriMet, the Portland Streetcar, and C-TRAN in Vancouver. Just tap the card on the card reader on board buses and streetcars, or on MAX station platforms.

Cards are sold for $3 at Fred Meyer, Safeway, and other Portland metro area stores. Load fare at these stores, online, by phone, through the Hop app, or at TriMet or C-TRAN customer service centers.

The card readers also accept Android Pay, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and NFC-enabled debit/credit cards. But one of the major benefits of using a Hop card is daily and monthly fare caps. Hop users travel free for the rest of the day after paying $5 in fare (two one-way trips), as if they had a day pass. Likewise, after paying $100 in a calendar month (20 days of round-trip rides), Hop allows free travel for the rest of the month, without the steep upfront cost of a monthly pass. This is very useful for visitors—you won't have to decide whether you'll ride often enough to justify buying a pass.

Android Pay users can buy virtual Hop cards online and load them into Android Pay. They combine the benefits of Hop with the convenience of mobile payments.

In addition, TriMet operates the Portland Streetcar service, which consists of modern light rail vehicles running along Downtown streets about every 15-20 minutes. Because the streetcars usually share space with car traffic and stop every few blocks, this is a much slower service than the MAX and is intended primarily for getting around the Downtown area. A 2½-hour Streetcar Only ticket can be purchased for $2 at fare machines at Streetcar stops and on the Streetcar vehicles. There are three lines:

  • The NS (North South) Line, which runs between Northwest Portland and South Waterfront through the Downtown area. The route runs along Lovejoy/Northrup through Northwest Portland and the Pearl District before turning south along 10th and 11th Avenues through Downtown to Portland State University, then winds it way past Riverplace to South Waterfront.
  • The A Loop and B Loop lines, which run clockwise and counterclockwise respectively, between Downtown and Central Eastside. The route runs from SW Market through Downtown along 10th and 11th to the Pearl District, across the Broadway Bridge and along Broadway/Weidler through the Rose Quarter, then along MLK/Grand south past the Convention Center through the Lloyd District and Central Eastside to OMSI, where it crosses the Tilikum Crossing bridge over to South Waterfront before returning north to Portland State University and SW Market.

Many of TriMet's buses run from Downtown to other parts of the city, though a growing number of crosstown or local routes do not. Nearly all TriMet buses connect with MAX at one or more stations. A number of TriMet buses are designated as providing frequent service, meaning they run at least once every 15 minutes.

A very special way of transport is the Portland Aerial Tram which connects the South Waterfront neighborhood to the Oregon Health Sciences University campus on a hill to the west. The trip offers an excellent view of Downtown and the surrounding area, with splendid views of the mountains as well.

By Foot

Portland is a great city for walking. Many intersections are designed with pedestrians in mind, and Portland has a lot of street life. Good mass transit also makes walking more feasible in Portland. The City of Portland Office of Transportation offers free, highly detailed walking maps that may be ordered online. For a scenic walk, the Eastside Esplanade along the Willamette River across from downtown offers lovely views of the skyline. Parts of the esplanade actually float on the water

By Bike

Portland, the self-proclaimed "Bicycle Capital" of the nation, is an excellent city for bicycle travel. The whole metro area has an extensive network of bike lanes and designated bike-friendly streets. Bike streets are generally signed with green "Bike Route" signs. On the east side, they are usually spaced about halfway between major thoroughfares. You can obtain bike maps from the Bike There! section of Metro's website.

Even public transit is bike-friendly here. TriMet provides plenty of info for bikers on their website. They offer Bike & Ride facilities and bike lockers at many MAX stations and major transit centers. All buses, MAX trains, and streetcars have space for bikes too. If you're taking the bus, just be prepared to sometimes wait until a bus comes with an open bike rack, especially on popular routes. The MAX, on the other hand, virtually always has enough bike hooks available.

In July 2016, the Biketown bike share network was launched. The system has 1,000 bikes at 100 hubs around central Portland, and it's well suited for brief, one-way trips. Single rides up to 30 minutes cost $2.50. A day pass costs $12 and includes up to 180 minutes of ride time with the first bike rented only ($0.10/min with the following bikes) within a 24-hour period. In each case, you can ride for longer than the allotted time at a rate of 10 cents per additional minute.

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Eat

Foodies may find their nirvana in Portland. With its location in one of the most fertile agricultural areas in the nation, an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and seafood raised not far from its boundaries, award-winning wines and beers, and a food culture that supports food artisans and emphasizes local, seasonal food served fresh, it's no surprise that the culinary scene in Portland has received national attention in recent years. Restaurants and food carts have popped up in large number throughout the city, making it quite easy to enjoy a good meal at a reasonable price.

Portland has an amazing selection of farmers markets. The PSU Saturday Market offers a wide range of cuisines made from healthy, local ingredients, and is great if you only have time for one. The downtown core is home to a small army of food carts; with less overhead than the traditional indoor restaurant, you can pick up a delicious meal on the cheap and choose from a variety of foods including Indian, Mexican, pastries, and hot dogs.

  • Costello's Travel Caffé, 2222 NE Broadway, ☎ +1 503-287-0270. M-F 7AM-5PM, Sa-Su 8AM-4PM. Low-key but sometimes busy cafe with an international travel theme. Offers a substantial breakfast/lunch menu. Good place to catch a soccer (sorry, football) match or other travel-related event. Wi-fi.
  • The Delta, 4607 SE Woodstock Blvd (at 46th Ave), ☎ +1 503-771-3101. M-Th 4PM-11PM, F 4PM-1AM, Sa 9AM-2PM and 5PM-1AM, Su 9AM-2PM and 5PM-11PM. Southern food (chicken fried steak, jambalaya, grits, etc.) on the cheap. The food is excellent and in large portions.
  • Dockside Saloon and Restaurant, 2047 NW Front Ave, ☎ +1 503-241-6433. M-F 5AM-9PM, Sa 6AM-4PM, Su 7AM-3PM. Probably the best classic breakfast in Portland: perfect eggs to order, great bacon and world class golden hash browns. Pleasant waitresses, good coffee and excellent value.
  • Laughing Planet, several locations; Downtown location at 1720 SW 4th Ave, ☎ +1 503-224-2326. M-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-9PM. Another easy and less-expensive option. They have a number of vegetarian & vegan dishes available as well as a small outside dining area when the weather is nice.
  • Le Bistro Montage, 301 SE Morrison St (under the east end of the Morrison bridge), ☎ +1 503-234-1324. Brunch Sa-Su 10AM-2PM; dinner Su-Th 5PM-2AM, F-Sa 5PM-4AM. Good Portland character, with Cajun style food including mac and cheese, alligator bites, and great mud pie. Service is quirky, as is the atmosphere. Make sure to save some food to take with you—all to-go leftovers come package in tin foil sculptures!
  • Voodoo Doughnut. Open 24 hours. A distinctly Portland spot, where you can get unusual donuts and a marriage while learning Swahili. While they do have the standard cake doughnuts, the real stars are the doughnuts topped with cereal, candy bars, strawberry Quik powder, and the maple bar with bacon (yes, bacon) on it. It's also the place to get vegan doughnuts. While the vibe is cool and flavour combinations and the naming gimmicks are creative, the doughnuts themselves are not that great. They tend to be a bit heavy and often lacking in freshness, and the cereal toppings are often soggy. If you want a sugar rush and possibly a free huge doughnut, take the Tex-Ass Challenge; eat one of their oversized glazed doughnuts in under a minute and a half and it's free. (Of course, you have to purchase it in advance!) Lines are frequently long and wrap around the block, with wait times up to two hours.
  • Marrakesh, 1201 NW 21st Ave, ☎ +1 503-248-9442. 5PM-10PM daily. Great food and the atmosphere is wonderful, with the guests sitting on long, ornately decorated couches or on huge pillows on the floor and Moroccan tapestries hanging on the walls. They also make sure you get your money's worth as $18.50 buys a five-course meal.
  • Mio Sushi, multiple locations; Northwest location at 2271 NW Johnson St (near NW 23rd St), ☎ +1 503-221-1469. M-Th 11AM-9:30PM, F 11AM-10PM, Sa 11:30AM-10PM, Su closed. A great and constantly crowded place to eat sushi. It's also pretty reasonably priced. The sushi is fresh and even when crowded the service is pretty quick.
  • Pazzo Ristorante, 627 SW Washington St (in Downtown), ☎ +1 503-228-1515. Breakfast M-F 7AM-10:30AM; brunch Sa-Su 8AM-2PM; lunch M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM; dinner M-Th 5PM-9PM, F 5PM-11PM, Sa 4:30PM-11PM, Su 4PM-9PM. Both an excellent location near several movie theaters and the shopping district and solid Italian-Pacific Northwest fusion cuisine. It gets quite crowded on Friday and Saturday nights, however, so be forewarned.
  • Portland City Grill, 111 SW 5th Ave, 30th floor of the Unico/US Bancorp Tower, ☎ +1 503-450-0030. Lunch M-F 11AM-4PM; dinner M-Th 4PM-midnight, F-Sa 4PM-1AM, Su 4PM-11PM. This expensive, lavish restaurant has been made into one of the most romantic spots in Portland. If you are lucky enough to get a table or smart to reserve a table next to a window, you can enjoy your meal overlooking the great city of Portland. The menu offers only the finest selection of steak and seafood and you get as good as you pay. Lunch, however, is not as expensive and offers the same wonderful view and good food. Happy Hour is even cheaper (4:30-6:30PM) for the same good food, but much more crowded than lunchtime.

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Drink

Downtown Portland

Downtown Portland

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If you're looking for a free drink while walking around downtown, look no further than the iconic Benson Bubblers. These are ornate drinking fountains scattered throughout the downtown area, made of copper and in one-bowl and four-bowl variations. Installed by Simon Benson in the 1910s, the fountains continuously run from 6AM to 11PM daily and offer a cool drink perfect for the summer months. Many cities have asked for Benson Bubblers of their own, but the City of Portland has turned them all down, respecting the wishes of Benson and his family. A single exception has been made, however — Portland has gifted one Benson Bubbler to its sister city of Sapporo, Japan.

Brew Pubs, Microbreweries and Ale Houses

Portland is famous for its Brew Pubs, Microbreweries and Ale Houses. There are many to chose from and for the big beer fan they could spend a lot of time trying the different beers at these pubs. Many of the pubs and microbreweries also serve good food making for a solid evening out. At many of the brew pubs it is not possible to buy there beer anywhere but at the pub.

Microbreweries

  • Amnesia Brewing is located at 832 N Beech St, phone: 503-281-7708 and is one of the more famous breweries in town.
  • Laurelwood Brewing Company is located at 5115 NE Sandy Blvd, Phone: 503-282-0622. This is a very professional brewery with a good restaurant.
  • Alameda Brew House is located at 4765 NE Fremont St, Phone: 503-460-9025. Hit up the Monday to Friday happy hour from 3:00pm to 6:00pm.
  • Roots Organic Brewing is located at 1520 SE 7th, Phone: 503-235-7668. This brewery features all organic beers for the green people.

Brew Pubs

  • Rogue Distillery and Public House imports its beer from its own microbrewery in Newport, Oregon. The public house is located at 1339 NW Flanders, Phone: 503-222-5910.
  • The Green Dragon is located at 928 SE 9th Ave, Phone: 503-517-0606. This is a great bar with a good rotating beer list, which actually makes its own absinthe. This bar also hosts a quiz night every monday at 7:00pm.

Ale Houses

  • Concordia Ale House is a nice brew pub located at 3276 NE Killingsworth St, Phone: 503-287-3929. There is also a full kitchen here with good food.

Coffee

If your beverage tastes veer more to the caffeinated variety: Like the rest of the Pacific Northwest, Portland also loves coffee. You will, of course, have little trouble finding a Starbucks location in Portland, but the Rose City has also developed its own homegrown coffee culture.

  • Pied Cow, 3244 SE Belmont St, ☎ +1 503-230-4866. M-Th 4PM-midnight, F 4PM-1AM, Sa noon-1AM, Su noon-midnight. A great coffee house in Portland. No other place like it. If you visit for the summer, you must come to this place. It's a great experience.
  • Ristretto Roasters, multiple locations; largest and coffee lab at 3808 N Williams Ave, ☎ +1 503-288-8667. M-Sa 6:30AM-6PM, Su 7AM-6PM. Great, hard-core coffee roaster where craft is more important than flash. This small coffee shop roasts its own coffee in a visible back room. Be sure to take some home as there are not many places that do such a good job with their roasting. Free Wi-Fi on site.
  • Stumptown Coffee Roasters, several locations; Downtown location at 128 SW 3rd Ave (SW 3rd and Pine), ☎ +1 503-295-6144. M–F 6AM-7PM, Sa–Su 7AM-7PM. One of the most celebrated and appreciated local coffee roasters in a city known for good coffee, Stumptown is credited for having beans that taste as fresh as a good home roast. Frequent customers include a quirky assortment of hipsters, yuppies, artists and the like. Many other coffee shops around town sell exclusively Stumptown coffee, and beans can be purchased whole at any of the five locations, as well as more gourmet grocery stores such as Wild Oats and Whole Foods.
  • Water Avenue Coffee Roasters, 1028 SE Water Avenue #145 (SE Taylor and Water Ave), ☎ +1 503-808-7084. M-F 7AM-6PM, Sa-Su 8AM-6PM. A loft style cafe and coffee roastery.
  • World Cup Coffee and Tea, 1740 NW Glisan St (second location in Powell's City of Books downtown) (on 18th and NW Glisan), ☎ +1 503-228-4152. M-F 6:30AM-8PM, Sa-Su 7AM-7PM. Great locally owned company whose on-site coffee roasting has won awards. Serves organic, sustainable coffees in a great and comfortable atmosphere. One of the best coffee shops in Portland.

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Sleep

  • Hostelling International Portland-Hawthorne, 3031 SE Hawthorne Blvd, ☎ +1 503-236-3380. Dorms $22-28, private rooms $52-60.
  • Hostelling International Portland-Northwest, 425 NW 18th Ave (at NW Glisan St), ☎ +1 503-241-2783. A lovely and clean hostel in a couple of pleasant old buildings. Kitchen, internet access, and the staff are very friendly and relaxed. You can't beat the location for the price; a fairly quiet side street in a nice neighborhood near downtown. Dorms $22-28, private rooms $59-76.
  • McMenamins White Eagle, 836 N Russell St, ☎ +1 503-335-8900, toll-free: +1-866-271-3377. Dormitory bunks at $30, full rooms at $40, queen rooms at $50-60.
  • Aloft Portland Airport Hotel at Cascade Station, 9920 NE Cascades Parkway, ☎ +1 503-200-5678. Complimentary WiFi access, PDX airport shuttle services.
  • Fulton House Bed & Breakfast, 7006 SW Virginia Ave (South Portland/one block west of Willamette Park), ☎ +1 503-892-5781. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Located in the southwest part of the city, one block from a beautiful park on the Willamette River. $125-175.
  • Hampton Inn Portland-Airport, 8633 NE Airport Way, ☎ +1 503-288-2423. Free daily breakfast and high speed internet access.
  • Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, 2300 N Hayden Island Dr, ☎ +1 503-283-8000. $130-180.
  • Inn at Northrup Station, 2025 NW Northrup St, ☎ +1 503-224-0543. Boutique all-suite hotel with modern decor, a rooftop deck, and kitchens. $150-200. edit
  • The Jupiter Hotel, 800 E Burnside St, ☎ +1 503-230-9200, toll-free: +1-877-800-0004. Crisp, modern guest rooms, cutting edge entertainment, food 21/7, and spa style rub-downs make up this unique boutique hotel. While there, The Doug Fir is not to be missed. All day eats and drinks. Often has loaner bicycles. $140-180.
  • The Kennedy School, 5736 NE 33rd Ave, ☎ +1 503-249-3983, toll-free: +1-888-249-3983, e-mail: info.ks@mcmenamins.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. A decommissioned elementary school converted into a hotel by the McMenamins's group who also have several other converted buildings in the Portland area. Each room was made from one-half of an old classroom with items like blackboards, coatrooms, and so on still in place. The hotel has a full restaurant with its own bar and large outdoor patio. Be sure to try the Cajun Tater Tots! There's also a second-run movie theater (free with hotel stay) with a bar/cafe and table service. Also on site are the Concordia Microbrewery, Detention Bar (smoking allowed), Honor's Bar (non-smoking), Cypress Room (smoking allowed), and an outdoor soaking pool. Free Wi-Fi and great artwork throughout. $115-145.
  • Marriott Portland City Center, 520 SW Broadway (in downtown Portland, two blocks from the MAX light rail), ☎ +1 503-226-6300, fax: +1 503-227-7515.
  • Oxford Suites Portland - Jantzen Beach, 12226 N Jantzen Dr, ☎ +1 503-283-3030.
  • The Park Lane Suites, 809 SW King Ave (near NW 21st and Burnside), ☎ +1 503-226-6288, toll-free: +1-800-532-9543. Apartment-like suites with kitchens (stove, refrigerator, coffee-maker, and dishwasher). Rooms also include a living room and comfortable beds. It's a short bus ride on the 15 to downtown. Rates are reasonable.
  • Le Pensione Guesthouse Style Bed and Breakfast, 1039 SE 37th Ave, ☎ +1 503-351-4831. A beautifully detailed 1892 Victorian. Huge king room, single room and very large bath. Amenities include gourmet coffee, fluffy robes, private entrance, microwave, mini-fridge, Dr. Hauscka bath products, luxury spa across the street.
  • Rodeway Inn Airport, 9723 NE Sandy Blvd, ☎ +1 503-255-1400.
  • Ramada Mall 205, 9707 SE Stark St (near Portland Airport on Stark St and I-205 near Mall 205), ☎ +1 503-252-7400, e-mail: ramadainn@integra.net.
  • The Benson Hotel, 309 SW Broadway, ☎ +1 503-228-2000, fax: +1 503-471-3920. A grand historic 1912 hotel located downtown.
  • Embassy Suites Portland Airport, 7900 NE 82nd Ave, ☎ +1 503-460-3000. Conveniently located at the entrance to the Portland International Airport. $200-250.
  • Embassy Suites Portland Downtown, 319 SW Pine St, ☎ +1 503-279-9000, e-mail: PDXPS_MOD@hilton.com.
  • Hotel Fifty, 50 SW Morrison St (Downtown on the waterfront), toll-free: +1-877-237-6775. Convenient to downtown and MAX train stops. $200-250.
  • Hotel Monaco, 506 SW Washington St (at 5th Ave), ☎ +1 503-222-0001.
  • Hotel Vintage Plaza, 422 SW Broadway, ☎ +1 503-228-1212. Luxury hotel with free daily wine tasting in the lobby. $150-300.
  • The Governor Hotel, 614 SW 11th Ave, ☎ +1 503-224-3400. Historic four star hotel.
  • The Heathman Hotel, 1001 SW Broadway, ☎ +1 503-241-4100.
  • Hilton Portland Downtown, 921 SW 6th Ave, ☎ +1 503-226-1611.
  • Hotel deLuxe, 729 SW 15th Ave, ☎ +1 503-219-2094.
  • Hotel Lucia, 400 SW Broadway, ☎ +1 503-225-1717.
  • Hotel Modera, 515 SW Clay St, ☎ +1 503-484-1084. Stylish boutique hotel in downtown.
  • Lion and the Rose Victorian Bed and Breakfast Inn, 1810 NE 15th Ave (at NE Schuyler St), ☎ +1 503-287-9245, toll-free: +1 800-955-1647, fax: +1 503-287-9247, e-mail: innkeeper@lionrose.com. Bed and breakfast in an elegant 1906 Queen Anne house in the Irvington Historic District. $135-260.
  • Mark Spencer Hotel, 409 SW 11th Ave (at Stark St), ☎ +1 503-224-3293, toll-free: +1 800-548-3934, e-mail: hospitality@markspencer.com. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: noon. A less-flashy, but highly dignified entry in Portland's hotel market, the Mark Spencer receives excellent reviews. Its arts theme is well served by its location near the junction of the West End, Pearl District, Northwest District, and Downtown neighborhoods.
  • Marriott Downtown Waterfront, 1401 SW Naito Pkwy, ☎ +1 503-226-7600, fax: +1 503-221-1789.
  • The Nines Hotel, 525 SW Morrison St (Entrance along SW Morrison.), toll-free: +1-877-229-9995. A grand boutique 4-star hotel located in the upper floors of historic Meier Frank Plaza building in a central part of the downtown core. Macy's is in the first five floors accessed from SW Alder (north side of the building) while the Nines occupy the 6th through the 15th floors accessed from SW Morrison.
  • Sheraton Portland Airport Hotel, 8235 Northeast Airport Way, ☎ +1 503-281-2500. 24-hour complimentary shuttle service to Portland International Airport. Complimentary high speed Internet access.
  • Riverplace Hotel, 1510 SW Harbor Way, ☎ +1 503-228-3233, toll-free: +1-800-227-1333, fax: +1 503-295-6161. Four star hotel overlooking the river. $150+.
  • The Westin Portland, 750 SW Alder St, ☎ +1 503-294-9000, fax: +1 503-241-9565.
  • The Duniway Portland, a Hilton Hotel, 545 SW Taylor St, Portland, ☎ +1 503 553-7000. A boutique hotel in downtown Portland near Pioneer Square.

View our map of accommodation in Portland or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

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Work

Former Oregon Governor Tom McCall (to whom a major riverfront park downtown is dedicated) said in a 1971 speech, somewhat famously, "We want you to visit our State of Excitement often. Come again and again. But for heaven's sake, don't move here to live. Or if you do have to move in to live, don't tell any of your neighbors where you are going."

Since then, the Governor's request has been widely repeated by people who ignore it, then quote it. Around 2009, Portland was one of the hardest cities in which to find work. Underemployment is a rampant problem, and wages tend to be artificially low compared to the cost of living. These forces combine to make Portland a tough job market to navigate. Many Portlanders commute to one of the suburbs such as Hillsboro or Beaverton. You are likely better off moving to one of those cities instead however, unless you like taking overcrowded light-rail trains or sitting in perpetual gridlock for 2 hours in the morning. Just ask a local.

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Quick Facts

[edit]

State
Oregon
Population
575,930
Nickname
The City of Roses
Time Zone
UTC -8
Coordinates
  • Latitude: 45.523875
  • Longitude: -122.670399

Accommodation in Portland (Oregon)

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This is version 46. Last edited at 9:34 on Jun 12, 19 by Utrecht. 12 articles link to this page.

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