The chill city of Portland, OR

Portland is “strolling-thru” city.

Portland is not the city with most sightseeing stuff. Nevertheless there are still many things to be explored and it is fun to just watch the people in the city and to get a feeling of what life is like here. The perfect city to stroll thrugh the streets and get to feel this hipster vibe.

Saturday morning we flew at 6:00am from San Jose, CA to Portland, OR. We flew back on Sunday at 7:00pm. That was definitely enough time for Portland and its surroundings. For just the state way too short.

Portland’s airport is very small and makes a kind of old-looking impression. Therefore it is also extremely cozy. We took of Saturday morning with the sunrise and the only thing I can comment on that…..well I just looove watching sunrises from an airplane. I have not a single clue how many pictures I actually took but I bet it’s over 50! Once we landed in Portland we were glad we got to see the sun that morning at all because ….arrived in Portland….obviously, rain. The weather on Sunday was not different at all so we decided to head to the airport early and had an hour until boarding started. When we arrived at our Terminal, there were many people waiting for their flight. Most flights were delayed due to the bad weather. Portland’s airport has many power outlets and free Wi-Fi which made the wait way more entertaining. Aaaand the Superbowl 2017 was on. Next to our Gate was a small restaurant with apparently the only TV in the airport. There was a huge crowd of people surrounding this little thing. There is no better place I would have wanted to watch the Football game than there! All the people there became a team and cheered. We talked to many people and even found new friends 🙂

Powell’s City of Books.

The bookstore, which was opened in 1971, carries the title of being “the biggest bookstore in the world“. In my opinion: totally true!

The store’s size is 67.8 squre foot and  has more than 500 employees, buys daily over 3000 used books and has an inventory of over 4 million new and used books. CNN declared the store as “coolest bookstore on earth”.

1005 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209
9:00am – 11:00pm

Pittock Mansion.

The special thing about Pittock Mansion is not necessarily the castle itself, it’s more the view over the entire city of Portland that you can have from there. Our Coachsurfinghost (you can read more about couchsurfing here) gave us this insider tip.

The Pittock Mansion itself is a castle, build in the French Renaissance-Style. The Mansion was originally built by the, in London born, Henry Pittock and his wife on a 2045142.98 square feet big  property in 1909. Nowadays the property belongs to the city of Portland and is a public place.

Often there are exhibitions and tours are offered. For more information just visit the website

For the great view on the city you obviously have to drive a little bit. Pittock Mansion is located in the West Hills of Oregon. A great area with a lot of nature. You only have to drive up the hill, a long beautiful houses and very tall tress.

3229 NW Pittock Drive, Portland, OR 97210

Voodoo Doughnut.

A very hyped Donut store which is known for the electro music and its iconic pink boxes with the logo. The original store opened in 2003 in Portland but now there are shops in Eugene, Dever, Austin, Universal City and Taipai. Their slogan is “The Magic is in the Hole”.

Another special thing is: they only accept cash. So keep that in mind and bring it!

Fun fact: For the biggest fans they even hold weddings.

The store is that hyped that the people even stand in line outside of the store. It can take up to 40 minutes to finally hold your doughnut in your hands. I would recommend to come during Lunch Time (12:00pm), while (hopefully) everybody is eating Lunch or to come on a rainy day (nobody wants to be on the outside then). Since they are open 24 hours just walk by a couple of times and watch the line….maybe you’ll figure out the least busy time 🙂

In the store you already get welcomed by a huge display window which is spinning, showing all different doughnuts. If you actually forgot to take cash, there is an ATM with a fee of $1,26 :).

The doughnuts are, in my opinion, nothing special but to really get everything from the Portland flair it is definitely worth it to come here.

22 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR 97204

Food Trucks.

No matter where you are. They are there. Food Trucks over Food Trucks. In Portland it really is impossible to starve.

But that also brings a lot of different food with it. A lot of different food from different country’s in the world. Starting from American food to Thai, Turkish and even German food.

Fun fact: Most of Portland’s Food Trucks aren’t food trucks, they are food carts. Most food carts in Portland are only mobile when they are attached to a truck. Most of the carts have a semi-permanent location on private property.

Operating a food cart in Portland is simple and inexpensive. Oregon has provisions for carts to operate without a separate commissary kitchen and having a single location means that a cart faces significantly less regulatory overhead.

Restaurant owners do not like the idea that a food truck could  show up all the sudden across the street. Food carts with fixed locations to not create the same kind of enmity, so there is no strong organized opposition to them. By comparison, Seattle’s newly-relaxed laws still include provisions limiting the ability of trucks to operate near restaurants.

Urban Waterfall at Ira Keller forecourt Fountain Park.

Again, an insider tip by our dear coachsurfing host.

The originally named Forecourt Fountain and Auditorium Forecourt is a small (really small) park in the middle of the city. The 0.92acre (0.37ha) park opened in 1970. The park is a great place for your lunch break!

When we came here, the waterfall was covered with white sheets and on each platform were tiny candles with quotes to symbolize the women’s strength. A great message, in a great city.
The mentioned waterfall was designed by Angela danadijeva and is inspired by waterfalls in the Columbia RIver George located east of Portland.
The waterfall has been subject to vandalism many times. Putting dish detergent in the fountain has been common.

In summer you can even bath in the waterfall!

SW 3rd Ave and Clay St, Portland, OR 97204

Waterfront and bridges.

The Willamette River, which divides the city into east and west side host 14 bridges, which makes Portland definitely is the city with most bridges. You can perfectly tell that by just going to Tom McCall Waterfront Park and stare at all those beauty’s. Each one of those looks different. The park is 1.5 miles (2,4 km) long and runs along the Skyline of Portland and, obviously, the waterfront.

Every summer, visitors and locals celebrate the annual Providence Dridge Pedal event. Participants can choose between a 5mi (8km), two-bridges walk to an epic, 37mi (60km) bike ride crossing 11 bridges.

If you are looking for a great photo opportunity than is here a short guide to Portlands bridges:
St. Johns Bridge – towering above all its souther neighbors, the 408ft (124m) St. Johns Brigde is the sole suspension bridge in the Willamette Valley. Its dual gothic style towers inspired the name of the neighboring Cathedral Parl. (1931) best way to cross: bike, foor, bus, car
Burlington Northern Railroad Bridge – also known as the St. Johns Railroad Bridge, is exclusively for locommotives, but visitors can still enjoy seeing Amtrak and Union Pacific trains glide over the rails of this vertical lift truss bridge. (1908) best way to cross:  no public access
Fremont Bridge – resembling nothing so much as the sloping tracks of a modernist rollercoaster, the Fremont Bridge is the second largest tied-arch bridge on the world. This bridge isn’t an option for pedestrians or cyclists, but eight double-decker lanes connect North Portland with downtown via Interstate 405 and US 30. (1973) Best way to cross: car only
Broadway Bridge – built on the heels of the Steel Bridge, the Broadway Bridge was, for a time, the longest bascule bridge (better known as a drawbridge) of any type in the world. Repainted in 1963 from basic black to an eye-catching “Golden Gate” red,  the four lanes and sidewalks carry motor vehicles, bikes, pedestrians and the Portland Streetcar from the Lloyd District onn the east side to the foot of Union Station on the west. (1913) Best way to cross: bike, foot, streetcar, car
Steel Bridge – one of the most visually distinct bridges in Portland, the Steel Bridge rises like an epic-scale erector set over the Willamette River. Connecting Old Town Chinatown (west side) and the Rose Quarter (east side), the Steel Bridge’s double-decker construction allows for a diverse spectrum of traffic: automobiles and MAX light rail trains ride up top, while the lower deck accommodates freight cars, Amtrak, pedestrians and cyclists (The Oregonian call it the hardest working bridge on the river.) (1912) Best way to cross: bike, foot, MAX light rail, car
Burnside Bridge – the Burnside Bridge is distinctive for its Italian Renaissance style towers. It also offers an incredible view of the illuminated White Stag “Portland Oregon” sign on the west side, as well as its neighboring bridges to the north and south. (1926) Best way to cross: bike, foot, bus, car
Morrison Bridge – the current Morrison Bridge is a 1958 update of its 19th century predecessor, known for an incredible LED system that decorates the river with dazzling multi-color displays, courtesy of the Willamette Light Brigade. (1958) Best way to cross: bike, foot, bus, car
Hawthrone Bridge – rising from the ashes of the original Madison Bridge (which was destroyed in a 1902 fire), the Hawthorne Bridge is the oldest vertical lift bridge still in operation in America. In 1998, the city funded a $22 million upgrade, including a new coat of nontoxic paint and broadening of the sidewalks, making it the busiest bicycle transit bridge in the city. The Hawthorne became even better for pedestrians and cyclists in 2001, when it was connected to the Eastbank Esplanade and Springwater on the Wilamette trails. (1910) Best way to cross: bike, foot, bus, car
Marquam Bridge – this utilitarian double-decker bridge may be the ugly duckling of the Bridgetown family, but what the concrete and steel construction lacks in beauty, it makes up for in effectiveness; carrying nearly 136,000 motor vehicles a day via Interstate 5, the automobile-only Marquam is the busiest bridge in all of Oregon. (1966) Best way to cross: car only
Tilikum Crossing – the newest addition to the Bridgetown family is Tilikum Crossing. Named for the local Chinook tribe’s word for “people,” the Tilikum is unique among its fellows, as it is the only bridge in Portland not open to private motor vehicles. Instead, the Tilikum was designed to accommodate the rapidly growing number of pedestrians and cyclists, as well as public transit such as TriMet buses, Portland Streetcar and MAX light rail. The easy accessibility, along with an LED system illuminating the modernist cable-stayed construction, makes the “Bridge Of The People” a must-see. (2015) Best way to cross: bike, foot, MAX light rails or streetcar
Ross Island Bridge – the Ross Island Bridge was yet another addition to the “bridge boom” of the 1920s. This bridge stands apart from the many vertical lift and drawbridges on the Willamette due to its sturdy cantilever truss construction. Like the Broadway Bridge, the Ross Island Bridge got a 1960s makeover, going from black to blue. (1922) Best way to cross: bus, car
Sellwood Bridge – originally opened in 1925, the Sellwood Bridge is the latest span in Portland to get a major overhaul: Construction was completed in 2016 on a new bridge to better accommodate cars, pedestrians and cyclists. Portland’s southernmost bridge, the Sellwood connects the eastside to Southwest Portland and is the busiest two-lane bridge in all of Oregon. (2016) Best way to cross: bike, foot, bus, car

NW Naito Parkway, Portland, OR 97209

Portland Aerial Tram.

The Aerial Tram which is located south of downtown, is built to transport doctors and sick people up the hill to the Oregon Health and Science University and the connected hospital. But because the aerial tram counts as a public transportation, everybody can take it for $5 and ride up Marquam Hill. Because you only have to pay to drive up the hill it would make a lot of sense to just ride down the hill. That way you can safe some money. From the gondola you will have a great view on downtown, the waterfront and a very good view in Mt. Hood.

Including travel and boarding time, cabins typically depart every 6 minutes. A trip is 4 minutes each way.

Everybody should decide on their own if they really want to ride the gondola. We didn’t know before that it literally leads to a hospital. Would I have known that before I would not have taken the tram. But, still, the view is phenomenal!

3303 SW Bond Ave, Portland, OR 97239
: Mo-Fri: 5:30am – 9:30pm
       Sat: 9:00am – 5:00pm

St. Johns Bridge.

St. Johns Bridge leads over the Willamette River in Portland and is one of the most-photographed bridges in Portland. It was opened in 1931 and with 2,067ft (630m) it is Portland’s largest bridge. There is a rumor that the St. Johns Bridge was built by the same architect who build the Golden Gate Bridge which is not true! Even though they are equally beautiful!

You’ll have the best view of the bridge from the eastern side, from the St. Johns neighborhood. There is no official Vista Point to the bridge but if you turn right, right before entering the bridge you’ll end up on a parking lot from which you’ll see the entire bridge in its full beauty.

8600 NW Bridge Ave, Portland, OR 97203

White Stag Sign.

The White Stag Sign is a huge illuminated sign that spells “Portland Oregon Old Town“. It is also known as the “Portland Oregon Sign“. The sign is on top of the White Stag Building in Old Town. When you come from the Burnside Bridge, you’ll have the best view on the sign. You can also just walk on the sidewalk of the bridge. I would recommend, since this is a busy street, to directly walk on the left side. This way you won’t have to cross the street with 4 lanes. From this bridge you can also access the Old Town which host every saturday the Portland Saturday Market (2 SW Naito Pkwy).

The first sign in 1940 read “White Satin Sugar” inside an outline of the state of Oregon, advertising a brand of sugar. In 1957, the sign was changed to advertise White Stag, an apparel munfacturer that owned the building and has occupied it since 1924. The lettering was changed to “Home of White Stag Sportswear” and a silhouette of a white stag was added to the top of the sign. For the 1959 Christmas seasin, a red neon “nose” was added to the stag’s snout in imitation of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a tradition that has been repeated anually ever since. In 1997, the lettering of the sign was changed one last time until now from “White Stag” to “Made in Oregon” and the smaller nein letting along the bottom of the sign was changed from “Sportswear” to “Old Town” indicating the location of the sign.

70 NW Couch Street, Portland, OR 97209

Hollywood Theatre.

The Hollywood Theatre is a historic movie theatre in northeast Portland, owned by a non-profit organization. It is the central historical point of the Hollywood District.

Commisioned by Jensen and Herberg, architects John Virginius Bennes and Harry A. Herzog designed the outside of the building after the Baths of Caracalla. The theatre opened on July 19th 1926, with 1,497 seats, as a venue for vaudeville and silent movies. It mecame a movie theatre in 1961, utilizing the ultra- widescreen process until 1963.

In 1975, the theatre was divided into three auditoriums, and ran second run films throughout the 80’s and 90’s.

The theater was purchased in 1997 by Film Action Oregon. Starting in 2011, major renovations were done, including new seats, screens, sound systems and an updated paint job.

The Hollywood Theatre currently screens first run films; along with a wide range of well known and obscure classic cinema, offbeat exploitation, educational, independent and experimental films; with a focus of screening repertory films on 35mm and 70mm. The main auditorium has a 50-foot screen and 384 seats, while two smaller auditoriums are located upstairs, each seating 111. The movie theater is operated by a non-profit organization whose mission is to entertain, inspire, educate and connect the community through the art of film, while preserving a historic Portland landmark.

The theatra is knownn by tourists beacue of its  great photo opportunity because theilluminated sign that spells “Portland”. It is especially worth going here at night.

4122 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland, OR 97212

Union Way.

Not too far away from Powell’s City of Books you can find Union Way. A tiny mall with a few stores. This mall is completely made out of wood and has a great interior. If it rainy and you have really nothing better to do this is a great alternative to walking through the streets.

1022 SW 10th Ave, Portland, OR 97205
: 11:00am – 7:00pm


Once you are in Portland and if you have access to a car and you strolled around enough in the streets, you can also visit the beautiful Multnomah Falls! I already wrote an article about them which you can read here.

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