Living in Vancouver, I often feel a little isolated. Particularly in the winter, we have limited options for weekend “city breaks”. Sure, there’s Seattle. Or even Victoria. And yes, there are plenty of outdoorsy options if you want to spend the weekend battling the elements or hitting the slopes.
However, if you are looking to get out of Vancouver and enjoy a lively urban area, my favourite choice is Portland, Oregon.
Portland is accesible from Vancouver by car, bus or train. Google Maps shows a driving time of 5.5 – 7 hours from downtown Vancouver to downtown Portland, depending on your route. Greyhound offers service between Vancouver and Portland with a time of 8.5 – 10 hours, at an approximate price of $50 CAD. Finally, Amtrak offers its Cascades route that takes around 8 hours at a cost of approximately $80.
My husband Patrick and I went to Portland last Easter and had a fantastic time. It has become our favourite city in the Pacific Northwest and it offers a great range of things to do. The city itself is clean, friendly and progressive. There’s an interesting history, with a lot of diverse architecture. It’s extremely walkable and is known as one of the most cyclist-friendly cities in North America.
Portland has a vibrant, affordable and multicultural food truck scene, offering everything from grilled cheese sandwiches to Thai food (and everything in between). While not a food truck, my favourite place to grab a delicious lunch is Violetta. They offer great burgers, sandwiches and salads made from local ingredients at very reasonable prices. Located in Director’s Park (SW Taylor and SW Park), Violetta is walkable from almost anywhere in downtown Portland.
When I was last in Portland, I absolutely loved going to the Oregon Zoo. I know, you’re probably thinking, “but… isn’t that for kids?”, but bear with me here. It was actually fun. It was a slightly drizzly afternoon and there were hardly any people around, giving Patrick and I practically free run of the place. The Pacific Northwest exhibit was informative and offered us the chance to observe a bald eagle at close range. The eagle was spectacular and absolutely massive! Normally, I’m not a big supporter of zoos as I find their environmental (and animal rights) practises extremely out of touch with current realities. However, the Oregon Zoo has some pretty important and powerful sustainability measures in place – everything ranging from water conservation to community outreach “Eco Booths”. There is also something to be said for zoos helping in species conservation.
There’s so much to say about Portland! Patrick and I are heading there again in 12 days so I’ll be sure and update you on some more of my favourite aspects of this great city.