Portland is many things to many people: hipster paradise, foodie mecca, bike culture central, beer nirvana, and many, many more. Whatever your experience or bias toward Portland is, there is one thing you can't deny once you've been there: it's one of the most unique cities in America. And it's one of our favorites to visit.
We're kicking off our BAD Weekends series—where we'll profile some of our favorite weekend destinations around the States and our favorite things to do there—with the Rose City, so the next time you feel the travel itch you can grab your BAD BAG and head for PDX.
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is museum heaven for kids and adults alike. With interactive exhibits that explain how guitars work to how electricity is conducted, museums don't get more fun than this. And if you feel like a beer might help you enjoy it, they have just the thing: OMSI After Dark.
Check out Powell's City of Books
Powell's is a Portland institution and claims to be the largest independent bookstore in the world. There are five across Portland, including the one in the airport, but the flagship location on Burnside is the one to visit. With over one million books on hand on multiple levels with personalized recommendations by the staff, Powell's is a book-lover's dream.
Hike or run in Forest Park
At 5,200 acres with 80 miles of trails, Forest Park is the biggest park within city limits in the US. It's a recreational hub for Portland's runners, cyclists, and equestrians. For running, we recommend the Wildwood Trail but you really can't go wrong anywhere you go. Just be sure to stop at the Pittock Mansion for the best views.
Tour Portland's breweries—by bike
Bikes and beer make the short list for things that make Portland famous. So the smart folks at Portland Bicycle Tours or Pedal Bike Tours decided to combine the two and offer guided bike tours between the 40-odd breweries that call Portland home. What's not to like?
Check out the Portland Saturday Market
The Portland Saturday Market is all Rose City flavor, and was the start of the food truck scene. Running all weekend (yes, Sunday too) from March-December, the market features handmade goods from around the Pacific Northwest sold by none other than their creators. It's a nice dose of strange, eclectic and friendly, even if you don't leave with anything.
Chill out at the Portland Japanese Gardens
A former Japanese ambassador to the US called these gardens, "the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan.” With views of Mount Hood, eight different styles of gardens and a Japanese Tea House, this is a peaceful place to have some quiet while overlooking Portland. The gardens were totally renovated last year.
Ride a bike
We know we already included one activity with bikes but this is Portland: 7.2 percent of people here commute on bikes and it's one of the most bike-friendly cities in the US. You can use the bikeshare program BiketownPDX or rent from one of the myriad shops around town. We recommend biking across the Willamette on one of the 12 bridges in town. You can chart your course with the city's bike map.
Eat as much as you can
Portland is a true foodie city, with every style of food you can imagine. We recommend Thai restaurant Pok Pok, donuts at Blue Star or VooDoo, oysters at Jacqueline, whiskey at Multnomah Whiskey Library (yes, we know that's not food) and, of course, any number of the city's over 500 food trucks—the founding city for the trend!
This list is by no means exhaustive. We've been to Portland many, many times and always discover something new. We hope your travels take you there soon!