Portland was another exciting stop on our incredible tour of the Pacific North West. After a day spent exploring the beautiful Oregon Coast, we dedicated our final day in Oregon to exploring all that Portland has to offer. We parked up in the fashionable Pearl District of the city and set off in search of the city’s landmarks. Portland, Oregon is a city famous for its bridges, green spaces, and bicycle paths. Arguably the birthplace of the hipster, it’s also got a wonderful reputation for its eco-friendliness, craft breweries, and excellent coffee houses. With the city’s unofficial strapline ‘Keep Portland Weird’, it’s a city that doesn’t shy away from its quirkiness.
First stop – of course, the legendary Powell’s Books. The world’s largest independent bookstore, it’s truly heaven (that English MA is finally useful somewhere)! Set across multiple stories in a huge unit, the shop’s inventory spreads across all topics and walks of life. It’s quite incredible. Used books nestle against new books, and all kinds of vintage magazines and posters are spread around. You find the most bizarre book titles too. I think ‘The Best Places to Pee’ has to be one of the strangest I’ve come across.
The shop also boasts some adorable souvenirs, just in case you forget where you are.
Walking Around Portland, Oregon
We wondered through the city early in the chilly morning, in search of a good breakfast spot. Despite trying to get a space at the critically acclaimed Mother’s Bistro, the line up was enough to put us off. Instead, we stocked up on some lovely Mexican eggs from Alto Bajo. Portland’s a compact and super hipster city. Our eyes wandered to the impressive shopfronts and quirky accents that PDX is so famous for.
Of course, we had to go and take a look at some of the city’s iconic bridges. Portland boasts a total of 12 bridges spanning the Willamette. Although we didn’t have time to look at them all, we took in the lovely fall views across the aquamarine waters.
It’s impossible to skip the beautiful architecture of the city. This also applies to some of the quirky bars and restaurants that appear to have a ‘prohibitive’ theme, serving up tipples like moonshine and whisky rye.
We even saw a beefeater outside a hotel. That’s definitely a first for me outside of London. The architecture is beautiful and makes walking around the compact city very enjoyable indeed.
There’s a plethora of shops selling unique and quirky Portland souvenirs. I could have shopped in the city all day long. If only we had more room in the Jeep!
One thing you must do on a visit to Portland is to try and spot some of the city’s quirky landmarks. There are certainly a few around.
Portland Signpost, Pioneer Courthouse Square
One of the most iconic is the overwhelming signpost in Pioneer Courthouse Square. It’s the perfect example of the whacky nature of Portland, and helps to give a little more perspective on where the Oregon city sits in the world.
Grabbing our pictures, we went on to enjoy the colourful scenes, sites, and characters of the city.
This is the Old Town area of Portland. A little rough around the edges in some parts, it’s still a fascinating city to explore. There are so many cool murals, shops, and hipster coffee places on every street. Even the billboards are painted on walls like murals.
The White Stag Sign
You can’t come to Portland and not see the White Stag sign. It’s a neon sign that sits on top of the White Stag building, and has become a true Portland, Oregon icon. It welcomes incoming traffic into downtown Portland, and was installed back in 1940 becoming a local landmark ever since. At Christmas, the stag’s nose lights up red to look like Rudolph.
Voodoo Doughnut, Portland
Voodoo Doughnut is one of Portland’s most famous attractions. It’s an independent doughnut shop that’s famous for its unique decor, quirky doughnuts, and legendary pink boxes. Voodoo Doughnut boasts it’s own bizarre strapline, ‘the magic is in the hole’. If you don’t fancy a lengthy lineup, try sneaking there around midnight.
I enjoy a doughnut as much as the next person, but I can’t wait forever in lineups for one. Conveniently, next door is Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Having smelt the delicious aromas from bags stacked up in Powell’s Bookstore (which soon vanished off the shelves), we had to pop in. One of the best lattes I have ever had, so be sure to check it out.
There’s a very cool vibe inside too, with low lighting, exposed brick walls, and plenty of tattooed people. A typical Portland hipster coffee shop.
‘Keep Portland Weird’ Sign
It’s no secret that Portland embraces it’s bizarre culture. The phrase was brought to Portland from Austin, Texas by the owner of record store, Music Millenium, Terry Currier. In 2007, the phrase was trademarked, and over 10,000 were sold by the end of the year. Portland’s quirkiness is party what makes it so popular with locals and visitors alike.
After seeing the iconic sign, we went to explore more of the city. We dipped into independent boutiques and saw tons of adorable Portland souvenirs.
Sneaking out of the city after a stop for some soup, we headed back towards the car in the Pearl District. We passed an adorable little print shop, Oblation, with its very own ‘public typing station’ outside. It’s another quirky thing to love about Portland.
How amazing are these 3D paper cards!?
Our trip to Portland was truly weird but wonderful. It’s a cool city that’s unique in all the right ways, with interesting shops and excellent coffee.
Have you been to Portland, Oregon? If so, what did you get up to in this ‘weird’ city?