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Portland is Oregon's largest city, with a metropolitan area population of about 2 million. It is located at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, in what, if you're a lover of the outdoors, could be said to be the best of all worlds. The Pacific Ocean is 1.5+ hours to the west; Mt Hood, with skiing into June, about 1 hour to the east. Hood River, one of the world's wind-surfing capitols, is 45 miles up the scenic Columbia River gorge. The high desert of central Oregon, with seemingly limitless outdoor recreational opportunities, is less than a 3 hour drive from the city. For years, Portland residents often felt the city was seen as the ugly step-sister of the Pacific Northwest's largest metro area, Seattle, WA. In the last few decades, Portland has gone through a process of self-realization, claiming its own identity, and charting its own path.
Oregon is well known for rain. The truth though is that Portland gets no more rain than some other American cities. (For example, Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Philadelphia and Washington DC all receive more rain on annual basis... plus more snow!) Summers in Portland are almost guaranteed to have perfect crystal clear skies and warm temperatures. Humidity is rare here. Fall is another great time to visit but by late October, the winter rains will start in earnest and continue through late spring. Summer begins July 5th! Snow is rare on the valley floor and temps usually don't dip below freezing for more than 20 days a year, but there can be "Arctic blasts" which bring very cold conditions.
The city is nationally reputed for its livability and environmentally friendly attitude. Streets are bike and pedestrian friendly. Mass transit systems rank amongst the best in the country. Residents are generally laid-back and outwardly friendly, though often private and individualistic. Visitors are immediately drawn to the beauty of the place, both the cityscape and the surrounding landscape. Can you say clean and green?
Portland has long been known as a pioneer of micro-brewing, reportedly having more micro-breweries than any other city outside of Germany. Several beer festivals occur from June through September. The largest are the Brews & BBQs in McMinnville, the Oregon Brewers Fest in Portland, the Blues Festival in Portland over the 4th of July, Bones and Brew in Portland in August and Oktoberfest in Mt.Angel in September.
If your taste tends more to wine, Portland has that too. Less than a hour's drive south into the Willamette Valley is a pinot noir region that rivals Burgundy in France. The evidence is in the growing number of relatively small wineries producing wines that are quickly gaining world-wide recognition and acclaim. The Dundee Hills are not Napa nor France, but Oregon's unique spin on wine. Visit estate wineries where you can taste the wine in the same building where it was made, surrounded by the vines that grew the grapes...and have it served to you by the winemaker. It's an experience unlike any other.
If you don't like the outdoors, beautiful scenery, good to great food, beer, wine, and a comparatively relaxed pace of living, maybe you shouldn't visit Portland. But if you do find yourself here without anything else to do, you might consider:
The International Rose Test Gardens in Washington Park;
The Japanese Gardens, near Washington Park;
Classical Chinese Gardens in downtown;
Pittock Mansion in the NW hills;
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry ("OMSI") on the east bank of the Willamette River;
or any of the several other local museums and/or galleries.
And if all else fails, shopping is always an option. There is no state sales tax in Oregon.
The photograph below is Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge.
The photograph below is of Silver Falls State Park, outside of Salem.