Words by Carlie Tucker
Portland has well and truly shaken off the dust of its small town roots. That's not to say that the charm is gone though. This Pacific Northwest hub has grown in all the right places, now offering travellers (corporate and leisure) a refreshingly diverse range of things to see, taste and do. From nature trails to microbreweries, Portland showcases the best of the region and this is where to start:
Image courtesy of urbanfarmerportland.com
Where To Eat
In a city where sustainable is the name of the game, it comes as no surprise that dining is all about locally sourced and seasonal. Foodies will delight in the variety of breakfast, lunch and dinner options that span the eating spectrum. Whether you're after traditional American classics or something on the healthier side, Portland serves it.
Breakfast: Situated in the heart of the Downtown area, Urban Farmer epitomises everything Portland with a sustainably sound operation that focuses on local, organic sourcing. Sure you'll find dishes that err on the healthier side with offerings such as steel cut oatmeal and farm vegetable frittata, but the heartier eater is well looked after too. Grilled Flatiron Steak & Eggs, Buttermilk Pancakes, Dungeness Crab Omelette are just a few of your choices to get your day going.
Lunch: When it comes time for a quick mid-day bite, you can't go past Portland's booming food truck scene. These moving gourmet stands serve up almost anything you can imagine. You'll have your pick from solitary trucks roaming the streets for the perfect daily location, or get to designated truck spots such as Cartlandia where multiple trucks are permanently parked. The Grilled Cheese Grill and Miss Kate's Southern Kitchen are two top trucks to test out.
Dinner: For dinner, it's worth slowing things down to really enjoy the spoils of this vibrant food scene. While can't be hard to narrow it down, the Hairy Lobster in the Pearl district is a worthy choice. Executive Chef David Root and famed pastry chef Mellisa Root have put together a top menu that combines classic dishes with modern twist. Think along the lines of Mustard and Apple Spiked Whole Trout, Red Flannel Confit Duck Hash and Butter Basted Turkey. Just save room for dessert, with Root's Tangerine Creamsicle being a house specialty.
Image courtesy of monaco-portland.com
Where To Stay
Portland has a bit of a reputation for being a little bit wacky -- in all the right ways, of course. If you're looking for a stay that epitomises that unique personality, look no further than the hotel Monaco in the Downtown area. Aside from a prime position that allows easy access to many of the city's most exciting activities (popular Pioneer Square is just a few blocks away), this is a SmartSTAY hotel. Book through your FCBT Travel Manager and you'll receive complimentary WiFi access, a welcome amenity, bottled water and a room upgrade (subject to availability).
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Oh and the rooms aren't too shabby either! In fact, the Hotel Monaco is regularly named among the best in the Pacific Northwest by many trusted travel authorities. This includes Conde Nast.
There are 221 guest rooms and specialty suites in total, with three separate configurations that range from the Queen Deluxe to the King Corner Room. Each is fitted with a comfy pillowtop bed, Italian Frette linens and beautiful neighbourhood views. Business travellers will also appreciate the oversized work desk and laptop-compatible safe. Dine onsite at the Red Star Tavern, serving up Northwest-inspired American food. There is also a bar and private dining available.
Image courtesy of Getty
Where To Play
One of the best aspects of Portland is its close proximity to nature. Venture a mere 30 minutes in any direction and you're likely to find yourself on a hiking trail surrounded by towering pines. Forest Park is only 10 minutes from the Downtown area, calling to nature lovers with more than 70 miles of walking and hiking trails and spectacular views over the Willamette River. If you'd rather stick to the city limits, make sure you make some time for the International Rose Test Garden. It is the story behind Portland's famous moniker, 'The City of Roses'.
If you'd rather stay indoors, Portland's shopping scene is well worth a look. This is especially true since Oregon doesn't charge sales tax! While a wander through prime retail districts such as Pioneer Place and Union Way will reveal plenty of unique buying opportunities, there are a few stops that you should definitely make time for. This includes Powell's Books. This iconic bookshop is part of the largest independent chains in the world, and this flagship shop happens to be so big you'll need a map to get through it.
Another popular pastime while in the city is touring the many microbreweries that have popped up across the cityscape. There are plenty to choose from, many of which offer up award-winning suds. Even better, many offer good eats to accompany your mug, so you can eat and drink to your heart's content! BridgePort Brew Pub and MacTarnahan's Tap Room are just a couple of your choices.