Nestled in a lush green Pacific Northwest valley at the confluence of two major rivers—the Willamette and the Columbia—with the majestic white-capped Mt. Hood in the distance, Portland’s scenic landscapes are matched by its vibrant, artistic and beer-loving residents. Situated in the perfect spot an hour from both the mountains and the coast, Portland has ample opportunities for the outdoorsy, from great hiking and biking to kayaking to skiing. And, while outdoor activities abound, the cityscape itself is sure to impress with its gracefully arching bridges connecting the two unique sides of the river, offering visitors everything from high-end shops to edgy record stores and vegan cafes.
The two diverse sides of the river also offer guests unique and varied choices for Portland hotel accommodations, which range from high-end boutique hotels in the Pearl to chain motels and quaint bed and breakfasts. There are even a handful of hostels in Portland, where you can find adventurous and independent travelers escaping refuge in this northwestern utopia.
Repeatedly voted as one of the most livable cities in the nation, Portland is also home to friendly people who seem to love the great public transportation system, lots of parks, beautiful gardens, sustainable living, and green businesses. In fact, the city is so accessible without a car that visitors don’t have to worry about renting one after getting their flight to Portland International Airport (PDX), and will find ample ways to get around the city between the light rail Max, streetcar and extensive bus system.
The city is also chock-full of great local foods, which you can wash down with a fresh Oregon brewed beer, a glass of Willamette Valley wine or a good old Northwestern cup o’ joe. As a result of access to so many great, local products, the city is also burgeoning a dynamic and interesting culinary scene in which local chefs and restaurants are starting to receive national attention.
Portland: The Good & The Bad
If you’re thinking about moving to Portland, here are a few things that make Portland the best city around:
- 1 hour from both the breathtaking Oregon coast and majestic Mt Hood
- Over 200 parks, including Forest Park (the largest wilderness park within city limits in the US)
- bike lanes and bike boxes galore
- the gorgeous Willamette River crossed by 11 bridges
- recycling, green etc
- amazing farmers markets
- more breweries within city limits than any other city in world
- it’s hard to get a bad cup of coffee in this town
- Over 200 food carts
- cheap [brilliant] eats
- cheap pub theaters where you can get pizza and a beer and watch a $4 movie.
- artists/DIY scene – not like a major metropolitan city — Portland is more like Etsy to New York’s MoMA
- indie music heaven
- public transit options: MAX light rail, bus, streetcar, tram
- Oregon wine – yep we have that too
So you probably already knew all that. It’s why you want to move here. So what’s the downside to this gorgeous city?
Yes, Portland is the brunt of weather jokes. Ten years ago, if I said “Portland”, you’d have probably said “rain”. These days, you might mention one of the many reasons to love the city instead. Regardless, Portland rain is not a laughing matter. Some new residents underestimate how bad a little bit of drizzle can be, and if you’re coming from a climate that rain is either or a downpour or day or two of rain replaced with blue skies and sunshine, the rainy season may come as a bit of a shock.
So what to expect? Between November-ish and June-ish, Portland weather is “rainy”, which can mean fog, drizzle, downpour, cloudy, grey or all of the above. It’s not the typical rain you think of where the sky dumps a bucket a water and then resumes with it’s day — instead it’s just a general lack of sunshine, day after day after day.
Lack of diversity
Let’s admit it, Portland does not have the same multi-cultural diversity that most major cities have, even big sister Seattle. So while Portland continues to attract well-educated, young white professionals, the lack of diversity is definitely noticed by their non-white counterparts.