Mild weather complements a dynamic, adventurous scene in Portland, Oregon, an up-and-coming, funky city with a small town feel. Just 90 minutes from the majestic, craggy peaks of Mt. Hood and an equal distance from the pristine waves of the Pacific, this city entertains in spades. Smaller and cheaper than its northern neighbor Seattle, Portland provides a plethora of outdoor recreation, sustainable living, quaint neighborhoods, and tasty restaurants wrapped in a blanket of creative eccentricity. In 2008, Fortune Small Business ranked Portland sixth among the 100 Best Cities to Live and Launch.
Due to its location at the conflux of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, the city of Portland was the major port in the Pacific Northwest for a large portion of the 19th century. The Willamette River ran through the middle of the frontier village—dividing it into east and west—making bridges a paramount need for bustling commerce and transportation. The logging and shipping industries thrived as a result of the aquatic location and verdant, forested landscape. Today, over 10 bridges span the Willamette River—a phenomenal number for a city of its size—giving Portland one of its nicknames, "Bridgetown". Along both rivers, with a large concentration in north Portland where the rivers meet, boating culture is widespread.
Distinct seasons here provide multiple opportunities for outdoor entertainment. Be sure to grab your umbrella or raincoat in fall, winter, and early spring—it's a drizzly city. In spring or summer, take a hike up the woody landscape of the Columbia Gorge. Wander around the numerous parks and rose gardens, or grab your bike and steer down the mountainous terrain of Forest Park, one of the largest urban forest reserves in the nation, stretching over eight miles on hillsides along the Willamette River. Fall is gorgeous as red, yellow, and orange-colored leaves dance through the wind before falling into colorful piles. In winter, pack up your skis, snowboard, or snowshoes and visit Government Camp, Mt. Hood Meadows, Timberline Lodge, or Mt. Hood Skibowl to work up a sweat on the slopes.
Preservation of parks, strict land use planning, and sustainability are paramount aspects of life in Portland. In 2006, SustainLane, a green-living research and publishing group, ranked Portland the most sustainable city in the U.S. Aiding this sustainable culture is the biking lifestyle. As a means of transportation, leisure, and entertainment, bikes are as prevalent in Portland as are cabs in New York. Almost 10% of commuters are bicyclists, the highest percentage in the nation. So taking your two wheels out for a spin automatically puts you in good company.
If the outdoors is not your thing—although it's hard to be disinterested here—take it inside by traveling around to the various eclectic neighborhoods. Shake off that morning stupor with a hot cup of freshly roasted java from Stumptown Coffee Roasters in the hipster neighborhood of Belmont in southeast Portland. Snuggle up with a good book purchased from downtown's Powell's City of Books, the largest new and used bookstore in the world. Traipse through numerous art galleries in the eccentric northeast neighborhood of Alberta or try on clothes at a fashion boutique on NW 23rd Ave. in the quaint area of Nob Hill. Grab some friends and head over to the trendy, warehouse district—The Pearl—for a microbrew. A hop Ale or thick Stout from Deschutes Brewery will quench your beer-loving thirst.
Your thirst and appetite will definitely be quenched and satiated in this town. A creative dining powerhouse, Portland is also known for its beer and wine industries. Over 25 breweries dot the state—more than any other state in the nation. According to Michael Jackson, well-known beer enthusiast, Portland should be considered the beer capital of the world, outpacing Germany. Further, the surrounding Willamette Valley is rife with wineries, some within a 40-minute drive of the city. Keeping with the small town, sustainable feel, is the food culture. A wide range of restaurants is plentiful here, from cheap fares to luxury—even organic and luxury—dining. Farms existing in close proximity to Portland provide fresh, local produce for creative chefs. Tasty eateries are present in most every neighborhood, with small restaurants competing in popularity with large chains.
If it's nightlife you're interested in, you're covered. Shake your groove thing at the dance clubs in Northwest or Southwest Portland, catch an indie rock concert anywhere in the city—Wonder Ballroom's a good start—or head over to a theater performance at the historic Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Or for sports, cheer alongside a raucous NBA crowd as the City of Roses roots for its favorite, sole professional team, the Trail Blazers.
A small, shining jewel lies in the Pacific Northwest. A lush green, throbbing metropolis of arts, entertainment, and business—Intel and Nike are based here along with numerous small businesses—Portland has plenty to see, eat, drink, and explore.