Many Canadians drive to the US with the unique purpose to go shopping, as clothes, food and gas are usually cheaper there. Those who do so usually stay in Bellingham or Seattle, as there is a large Outlet Mall on I-5, near Seattle.
Living in Canada, I prefer to support the Canadian economy, so I had never gone to the US for heavy shopping. Anyway, this is kind of a philosophical discussion that some people will agree and others not. That is not the point of this article. The point here is to show why you should drive all the way down to Oregon, even if all you want is “shop till you die”.
1. If you are all about shopping, go to Oregon instead of staying in WA. Oregon is tax-free. You will save more dollars.
2. The scenery. As a Canadian at heart I know it’s almost impossible to find prettier scenery in the world than we have here, at home. So… why travel if we have it all?
As humans, it’s in our nature to be curious about places and cultures. Our DNA probably carries genes from our ancestors, who were always moving from one place to the other. Well… I don’t know if everyone carries those genes but I certainly do!
In order to have a different perspective from the beauties we have at home, go to Oregon and stay a couple of days there. You will keep your “discovery genes” happy!
While there, don’t miss the Columbia Gorge Scenic Area. Drive along US 30 Historic Route to have the chance to get close (and even wet) of amazing waterfalls! There are several trails, some of them easy enough to carry small children. The drive along Route 26 complements this tour, giving you the opportunity to go on a loop around Mount Hood, a dormant volcano.
3. Dining. Portland has restaurants from all ethnicities, styles and prices. The huge number of eateries pumps up competition with each place making its best to conquer your palate and your heart.
We had delicious meals while staying there, and found the prices very reasonable (much cheaper than in our local restaurants, I have to admit).
Although restaurants are reasonably priced, if you are on a tight budget go to have some Street Food.
Accordingly to CNN, Portland is the best place for street food in the world. I totally agree. There are several “pods” in the downtown area. Pioneer Square has 5 carts, 3rd Av and Washington has 20 carts; 5th & Stark has 20 and 10th & Alder has amazing 60 carts!
There you can choose from German sausages to Thai, with almost all nationalities in between. The spring rolls I had at the Thai booth (3rd & Washington) were super crispy and tasted better than some I’ve eaten in fancy restaurants around the world, including Thailand!
4. Biking. If you love to go biking, Portland is the place to be. The city is known as the friendliest American city for bikers. We went cycling during our visit and I can confirm that.
If you plan to carry your bikes with you, I recommend you start your day going to the Portland Building, 1120 SW 5th Ave., 8th floor to get bike maps. All bike maps are free.
5. Breweries. There are countless breweries, serving delicious drafts and snacks. Prices are great and service is excellent too! The only “problem” is there are so many interesting places to try that you may be temped to go from one place to the other and other… It’s wise to write down the name of your hotel before starting your brewery tour. Just in case…
6. Transit. It’s always good to visit a city and don’t feel the necessity of driving, he? This is true in Portland!
You don’t need a car while visiting Portland. Public transit is awesome! Buses, streetcar, light rail…
We kept our car parked at the hotel mostly of the time we were there. We only got in it to drive along Route 30 and the scenic Mt Hood loop.
The streetcar is an excellent option as it covers the main tourist attractions. It cost only USD 1.00 with tickets are valid for two hours. You can get the streetcar map at your hotel.
7. Books. Love to read? Portland is the place to go! There you will find the largest bookstore in the world!
Powell’s Books is the best place in the world to buy books.
An interesting detail, at least for me, is that they sell used books side by side with the brand new ones. What happens? You can buy an excellent book much cheaper than you would usually pay anywhere else.
As an example, I am planning a trip to Croatia, so I found a book in mint condition for USD 4.00 while the same title / author in a newer edition cost five times more!
8. The Japanese Garden. It’s ranked as the second best Japanese Garden outside of Japan for quality. It’s really lovely!
Located at the top of Park Place, very close to Washington Park’s entrance, this garden is an attraction you must go, specially in a sunny or cloudy day.
9. The roses. Portland’s nickname is “Rose City”. We visited the rose beds (located in beautiful Washington Park) only to get to now where the roses will blossom in summer. If you are planning a visit during summer, for sure Rose Garden will top the attraction’s list.
10. You leave with a taste of “I want more”.
Time flew and we couldn’t see everything we planned. It’s time to draw a return trip! Next time including the famous Oregon Coast!
Note: As you probably noticed, English is not my native language. I am Canadian at heart but my native language is Portuguese. You probably will find grammar mistakes, or phrases that could be rephrased. Feel free to send me a note suggesting any corrections you might find useful. Thank you!