It’s easy to fall in love with Portland, and at University Place Hotel, we’re no exception: we think our city is just about the best place in the world to do everything from sightseeing to shopping to exploring the great outdoors. What sets Portland apart is a thriving culinary scene, a passion for sustainability, and fierce pride in our local, artisan communities—all set against a backdrop of spectacular Northwestern beauty. These qualities (and more) have made Portland a favorite destination for travelers from all over the world.
We’ve put together a few suggestions to help you enjoy your stay in Portland—whether you’re looking for a relaxing afternoon of shopping or a heart-pumping hike, you’ll find there’s plenty to see and do.
Portland has one of the best public transit systems in the United States; even if you’ve never used public transit, you’ll find that it’s fast, easy, and inexpensive (and maybe even fun). Trimet provides light rail, streetcar, and bus service in and around the Portland Metro area. University Place Hotel is a very short walk from several major transit stops—ask for directions at the front desk, or use Trimet’s excellent Trip Planner service to locate stops, calculate fares, and plan trips. Trips from University Place Hotel to anywhere in downtown Portland’s Free Rail Zone are always free; fares to other destinations range from $2.10 to $2.40, with options for daily and weekly passes. Check out http://www.trimet.org for more information.
Repeatedly named one of the most bike-friendly cities in America, Portland is fun and easy to explore by bike. The Portland State University Bike Hub is a quick walk from University Place Hotel, and rents bikes to visitors by the half-day, day, or weekend. The Bike Hub can also help with route suggestions, maps, and tips for urban riding.
For day trips or just a fuss-free way to get around town, Avis and Budget can provide the perfect car for your needs. With a new rental office right in our lobby, renting a car is easier than ever—everything you need is under one roof! Visit Avis or Budget, or call 503.241.2810 for rates and services.
From local boutiques to farmer’s markets to outlet malls, Portland is full of fun and unique shopping opportunities.
Powell’s Books—W. Burnside & 10th, Downtown
Powell’s is a must-see for any book lover: a 3-story bookstore that stretches over an entire city block! We love Powell’s for its amazing selection of new, used, and rare books and its helpful and knowledgeable employees. With an on-site café and nooks and aisles that encourage you to browse, read, and explore, don’t be surprised if you accidentally spend an entire afternoon here.
Portland Saturday Market—Waterfront Park, SW Naito Parkway, Downtown
Since 1974, Portland Saturday Market has been the place to find handmade jewelry, clothing, and art. Every Saturday and Sunday from March until December, artists set up booths and sell directly to customers. Saturday Market also features a variety of food carts and performers.
Portland Farmers Market—SW Park Blocks, Downtown
On Saturdays from March through December, farmers and food vendors gather to sell fresh produce, flowers, meats, cheeses, sweets, and beyond. A favorite of visitors and natives alike, the market is one of the largest and most vibrant in the country. In addition to the main market on Saturdays, each neighborhood has its own smaller market during the week—our downtown market is on Wednesday, right down the street in the Southwest Park Blocks on the PSU campus.
Bordered by West Burnside and the Willamette River, the Pearl District is known for its high-end boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants. The Pearl is easily reached from University Place by streetcar or light rail.
Across the river in the North and Northeast quadrants of Portland, the Mississippi and Alberta districts are ground zero for everything young and hip in Portland. Filled with small shops, edgy art spaces, and interesting food carts, these neighborhoods have seen an incredible revitalization in the past 10 years.
The Hawthorne and Belmont neighborhoods form the heart of the inner Southeast Portland shopping district. Home to cafes, bookstores, clothing boutiques, and restaurants, Hawthorne and Belmont offer classic Portland charm.
Just south of the Hawthorne and Belmont districts, Clinton and Division streets are filled with vintage and secondhand stores, neighborhood bars, and bike shops. Visitors walking from Hawthorne should make sure to take a route through Ladd’s Addition, a maze-like Portland neighborhood that’s known for its well-kept rose gardens.
Located in the center of downtown Portland, Pioneer Place features stores such as J. Crew, H&M, Juicy Couture, and Apple.
Directly accessible from downtown Portland via MAX, Lloyd Center has 130 stores and 35 restaurants, as well as an indoor ice rink.
Located just outside of Portland, Washington Square has hundreds of shops and restaurants, including Lush, Pottery Barn, The Body Shop, and Williams-Sonoma.
Located outside of Portland, but directly accessible via MAX, Clackamas Town Center features a wide array of stores, plus a 20-screen movie theater.
Woodburn Company Stores are located approximately 30 miles outside of Portland, and feature outlet versions of stores such as Nautica, Banana Republic, Bass, and Calvin Klein.
From arts and crafts to stars and planets, Portland’s museums cover all the bases.
Sitting just outside the Portland State University campus, the Portland Art Museum has been curating incredible collections since 1872. The museum’s holdings stretch from ancient to modern art, with a notable Native American art collection. The Portland Art Museum also features a busy calendar of lectures, events, and special exhibitions.
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry— or OMSI, for short—is a place for visitors of all ages to explore, learn, and play. With an IMAX theater, a planetarium, interactive exhibitions, and a real submarine, adults and children alike will enjoy visiting OMSI.
Just across the street from the Portland Art Museum is the Oregon Historical Society, a place to explore Oregon’s long and interesting history. Exhibits highlight everything from popular music to politics to Oregon’s geological past.
The Portland Children’s Museum is the perfect way to engage Portland’s smallest visitors. Museum exhibits join learning and fun in a casual, colorful atmosphere.
In partnership with the Pacific Northwest College of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Craft explores the past, present, and future of the studio craft movement. The museum also features rotating exhibitions and a retail shop dedicated to Pacific Northwest craft and design.
From literary lectures to symphonic sounds, Portland’s cultural offerings are widespread.
Portland Center for the Performing Arts
Spread across multiple downtown venues, PCPA houses performances in dance, theater, music, and art.
Portland Center Stage
Portland Center Stage is Portland’s largest theater company (and one of the largest in the US), performing everything from musicals to classic and contemporary plays.
The Oregon Symphony is one of the largest symphonies in the nation, performing for over 225,000 people per year.
Established in 1989, the Oregon Ballet performs five ballets each year, ranging from seasonal classics to edgy new favorites.
Popular with Portlanders for nearly half a century, the Portland Opera combines classic and modern opera with innovative set design.
PICA encourages the exploration of contemporary art by facilitating workshops, lectures, residencies, and exhibitions. The centerpiece of PICA’s programming is the annual Time-Based Art Festival, a week-long festival of contemporary visual and performance art.
On the first Thursday of each month, downtown Portland’s art galleries hold open houses, often with wine, music, and live performances.
Literary Arts facilitates the Portland Arts & Lectures series, which brings key authors and thinkers to Portland.
The Artists Repertory Theater performs experimental, contemporary plays, as well as innovative takes on familiar classics.
Gardens & Parks
The Pacific Northwest has some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the world, and Portland’s efforts to join urban living with natural landscapes have produced spectacular parks and gardens all over the city.
A peaceful retreat in the heart of downtown Portland, the Lan Su garden features gardens and architecture that reflect China’s landscape and culture. The gardens are also home to a traditional tea house.
Tucked into Portland’s West Hills, the Japanese Garden is an authentic 5.5-acre space filled with ponds, pagodas, bridges, and a sand and stone garden.
Located directly below the Japanese Garden, Portland’s International Rose Test Garden holds over 700 varieties of roses and provides spectacular views of downtown Portland.
Located near the Japanese and Rose Test Gardens, the Hoyt Arboretum is a living horticultural museum, home to over 1,000 species of plants from around the world. The 187-acre Arboretum also provides over 12 miles of trails, which are free and open to the public.
Densely forested and stretching for over 8 miles, Forest Park is one of the largest urban forest reserves in the United States. The park is home to 70 miles of trails, making it popular with hikers, mountain bikers, and trail runners.
Located downtown near the Southwest park blocks, Fox Tower plays first-run features, and is often the first theater in town to play new independent and foreign films.
On the 3rd floor of the downtown Pioneer Place shopping center, the Pioneer Place theater plays first-run features.
Housed in a former Swedish mission, the Mission Theater plays second-run films, hosts concerts and lectures, and serves food and alcohol.
Steps away from Powell’s Books on Southwest 10th Avenue, the Living Room theater shows first-run foreign and independent films, and serves dinner, drinks, and dessert.
Located across the river on East Burnside, the Laurelhurst Theater shows classic and second-run films, and serves food and alcohol.
Located in the Concordia neighborhood in Northeast Portland, the Kennedy School is a renovated elementary school. The theater shows second-run films, serves food and alcohol, and features couches and armchairs instead of standard theater seating.
Inspiring fierce loyalty (and occasionally, crushing disappointment), the Blazers are Portland’s professional basketball team. The Blazers play at the Rose Garden Arena, which is quickly and directly accessible from downtown via MAX.
Known for their rabid fanbase—called the Timbers Army, recognizable by their green scarves—the Portland Timbers are our major league soccer team. The Timbers play at Jeld-Wen Field, located on Southwest 18th in downtown Portland.
Portland’s all-female roller derby team joins grit, athleticism, and pure entertainment at their monthly matches. The Rollers hold their matches at the rink in Oaks Amusement Park, located in Southeast Portland.
Portland loves an excuse to celebrate, whether it’s organic beer or local fashion. With festivals happening during every season of the year, you may find an interesting one (or two) to attend, no matter when your visit falls.
- Holiday Ale Festival (December)
- Crafty Wonderland (December)
- Portland Jazz Festival (February)
- Portland Seafood & Wine Festival (February)
- Portland International Film Festival (February)
- North American Organic Brewer’s Festival (June)
- Pedalpalooza (June)
- Portland Rose Festival (May/June)
- Waterfront Blues Festival (July)
- Oregon Brewer’s Festival (July)
- PDX Pop Now! (July)
- Portland International Beer Festival (July)
- Portland Zine Symposium (August)
- Bite of Oregon (August)
- Portland Bridge Pedal (August)
- MusicFest Northwest (September)
- Time-Based Arts Festival (September)
- Wordstock (October)
- Portland Fashion Week (October)
Want to get out of town? In less than two hours, you can be hiking on Mount Hood, watching waves on the Oregon Coast, or wine tasting in the Willamette Valley. Thanks to our partnership with AVIS/Budget, day trips can be a fun and surprisingly affordable way to explore Oregon.
Hikes & Outdoor Activities
Visible from Portland on clear days, Mount Hood is the defining landmark of Northwest Oregon. The Mount Hood National Forest is one of the most popular National Forests in the United States, with over 60 miles of forested wilderness and plenty of opportunities for hiking, swimming, and fishing. Visitors can also take advantage of one the country’s longest ski seasons on Mount Hood’s Ski Bowl.
Roughly 16 miles from Portland, the Columbia River Gorge winds through an 80-mile stretch of Oregon and Washington. The Gorge is a favorite spot for hiking, camping, and scenic drives. The views from the Columbia River Highway are especially spectacular, with unbroken views of waterfalls, steep cliffs, and the Columbia River. The Gorge’s most famous waterfall, Multnomah Falls, is a must for visitors. Just 30 minutes outside of Portland—and clearly visible from the Columbia River Highway—Multnomah Falls is 611 feet tall, with an easy-accessible bridge at its base that allows visitors to get up close and personal.
Over 30 years after its famous eruption, Mount Saint Helens provides a rare opportunity to see ecosystem recovery firsthand. Though the landscape has been drastically changed, life has returned to the mountain, and it’s a popular spot for hiking, camping, and climbing. With a special permit, visitors may even climb to the rim to look into the volcano’s still-smoking crater. (We’ll just stick with a photo, thanks.)
Oregon’s Willamette Valley is known for producing superior Pinot Noir. The region outside of Portland is dotted with hundreds of wineries, many of which offer tastings and tours. For a full list of Willamette Valley Wineries, visit http://www.willamettewines.com.
Craft brewing is a big deal in Oregon, and some of our independent brewers have made big names for themselves. Full Sail and Double Mountain both have facilities in Hood River (a small town a little over an hour outside of Portland), and Rogue and Fort George have taprooms at the coast. For a complete list of breweries in Oregon, visit: http://www. http://oregonbeer.org/.
Oregon’s coast is filled with dramatic scenery, quaint seaside towns, and excellent dining. Only two hours (or less!) from Portland, a trip to the coast can be as relaxing or exciting as you want it to be, from a quiet walk on the beach to an afternoon of whale watching. A favorite stop for many visitors is Haystack Rock, a 235-foot-tall “sea stack” near Cannon Beach. An hour an a half outside Portland, Seaside is a classic beach town, with a waterfront promenade and plenty of antique shops, art galleries, and all the saltwater taffy you can eat. Further north is Astoria, a port town on the Columbia River where boutiques and canneries coexist in a 1920s-era downtown district (Astoria is the oldest settlement west of the Rockies). To the south is Tillamook, home to the beloved Tillamook Cheese Factory, where hungry visitors can sample cheese and get an up-close view of the cheese-making process.
Food & Drink
Portland is a town of foodies. From tacos to tea houses, the choices are endless—and everyone has an opinion. While there’s a restaurant to fit everyone’s taste and budget (including our own, Lincoln Station Grill), Portland has become famous for a few things in particular: small coffee roasters, independent breweries and distilleries, and a thriving food cart culture.
Coffee is serious business in Portland. From a velvety latte to a perfectly pulled shot of espresso, good coffee is everywhere. Here are a few of our favorite local cafes and roasters:
A Portland institution, Stumptown is the largest and best-known roaster in the city. Stumptown has two locations downtown: Southwest 3rd and Pine, and Southwest 10th and Stark. The Southwest 3rd café hosts free public tastings every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 11 and 3 pm, where visitors can taste varietals, observe different brewing methods, and learn about the roasting process.
Open since 2009, Heart is a microroaster that produces delicious roasts and thoughtfully prepared drinks. Heart has two locations: one on Southwest 11th and Stark (inside West End Bikes), and one across the river on East Burnside and 23rd.
Barista prides itself on serving the best roasts the country has to offer—many of which happen to be roasted right here in Portland. The café habitually serves roasts from Stumptown, Heart, and Coava (another one of our local favorites). Barista has a westside location on Northwest 13th, and a second location on Northeast Alberta.
The Fresh Pot is a great little spot to relax and enjoy a cup of Stumptown coffee. The café has three locations: downtown at Southwest 3rd, across the river on Southeast Hawthorne, and in North Portland on North Mississippi.
Located just down the street from Pioneer Place on Southwest 5th & Alder, Spella is a European-style coffee counter. Though you may miss it if you blink—there isn’t even room for a table inside—Spella serves some of the best espresso and gelato in the city.
Craft brewing is an Oregon tradition, and we’re happy to reap the rewards. Portland is home to many, many excellent brewpubs, where visitors can taste the products of the region’s most talented brewers.
Brewing since 1984, Bridgeport is one of Oregon’s most popular breweries. Their brewpub on Northwest 13th & Marshall serves beer and a full menu of food in a restored, historic building. Bridgeport also has a location in Southeast Portland on Southeast Hawthorne and 36th.
Based 3 hours south of Portland in Bend, Oregon, Deschutes beers are a common sight on taps all over Portland. Deschutes has a brewpub on Northwest 11th, with rotating taps and a full food menu.
The Lucky Lab has four family and pet-friendly brewpubs in Portland—including a Pearl District location on Northwest Quimby—all of which feature full beer and food menus.
One of the first craft brewers in Portland, MacTarnahans has a taproom on Northwest 31st (in Portland’s Industrial District), featuring over 12 beers on tap and a full food menu.
Lompoc Brewing has five brewpubs in Portland; its Northwest 23rd location, New Old Lompoc, is a busy pub with a patio, rotating taps, and a full food menu.
Tucked away on Southwest Ankeny, Tugboat specializes in British-style strong ales. If conversation lulls, reach for one of the pub’s books or board games, which line the walls in the cozy space.
As with craft brewing, Portland has become famous for some of its small-batch distilleries. From liquors made from Stumptown coffee to an aromatic Douglas Fir eau de vie, Portland’s distilleries produce spirits that are both classic and innovative.
The heart of Portland distilling lies in Distillery Row, a cluster of six distilleries in inner Southeast Portland. Featuring Deco Distilling, Highball Distillery, House Spirits, Integrity Spirits, New Deal Distillery, and Stone Barn Brandyworks, Distillery Row offers tastings, tours, and workshops on a regular basis.
Forget your notions of traditional food carts: Portland food carts serve some of the most creative and delicious food in the city. Usually offered at a fraction of the price of a restaurant meal (and with portion sizes that can sometimes feed us for days), cart food covers everything from falafel to fried pie. Portland’s food carts can be a great way to sample unusual or unfamiliar foods without spending much money.
Portland’s food carts are usually arranged in small groups, called pods. Strategically placed all over the city, many pods have become destinations, with heated seating areas, alcohol permits, and even the occasional live music performance. Downtown Portland has several food cart pods: Southwest 4th and College (just a quick walk from University Place Hotel ), Southwest 5th and Stark, Southwest 9th and Alder, and Southwest 3rd and Washington. For a full list of food carts and pods, visit http://www.foodcartsportland.com/.
Food & Drink Tours
Guided tours can be a great way to experience Portland and all of its delicious offerings.
Forktown offers a 3-hour walking tour of northwest Portland’s Alphabet District, with tastes of French pastries, local beer, and seasonal produce.
Portland Walking Tours leads two downtown food tours: a sugary “Chocolate Decadence” tour, and a more general “Epicurean Excursion.” The company also offers cultural tours, including “Underground Portland,” “Beyond Bizarre,” and “Best of Portland.”
Unsure of where to start with Portland’s breweries (or just want a ride)? Brewvana offers guided brewery-hopping tours, with a private bus that takes guests from stop to stop. Each tour includes lunch at one of the breweries.
Feeling more adventurous? Pedal Bike Tours offers guided bike tours of some of Portland’s culinary highlights. The “Bites by Bike” tour includes stops at a downtown coffee roaster, pizzeria, and chocolate shop, while the “Brewery” tour hits 11 local brewpubs.