Portland Skyline

12 Things We Love About Portland, Oregon

Portland Pearl DistrictHaving lived outside of Portland, Oregon in the late 1990s I had a slightly different memory about this city. All I remembered was Downtown Portland was IT.

Now having to re-visit Portland again (after almost 20 years), sadly I was not that impressed about Portland’s downtown anymore (in exception to Pearl District).

I was however, very fascinated about how vibrant the suburbs of Portland have become. I can certainly see the appeal of living in this City of Roses if you are raising a young family – the public transportation works quite well and getting around places (including hiking spots) doesn’t take more than 15 minutes by car.

Not to mention the greenery throughout the neighborhoods help makes the city very livable.

Here are the 12 Things We Love About Portland:

1. The Endless Food Carts

Scattered all over downtown and the suburbs of Portland, these permanent food carts are hard to miss and definitely worth every pound (and kilogram) gain.

Food Trucks Portland

Food Trucks Portland
Ramen Food Truck

Hawaiian Food Truck


Food Carts Maps and more info on Food Carts Portland


2. Pearl District

Dubbed as the most hipster neighborhood (whatever that means) out of all Portland, Pearl District is located on the Northwest side of downtown and home to designer shops and hip restaurants & bars.

Explore The Pearl Website

Travel Portland – Pearl District Website

3. Powell’s Books

Located in Pearl District and established in 1971, Powell’s Books is the largest independent bookstore that sells used and new books (including rare books). The store also sells the coolest gifts & merchandises, a must visit when in Portland.

Powell's Books

Powell's Books

Powell's Books
4. Ruby Jewel Scoops 

While we were driving around downtown hoping we could stop by at the famous Voodoo Doughnut (we immediately gave up after seeing the line). We stumbled upon Ruby Jewel Scoops(thank you Yelp!), located in Pearl District. The line was very reasonable and oh boy aren’t we glad we had found this place.

Move over Salt & Straw, your ridiculous line is no longer attractive.


Salt & Straw on NW 23rd St – the most popular Ice Cream spot in Portland. The line would usually go around the block.This photo was taken early morning, so there was no line yet.


5. Alphabet District    

Alphabet District, also known as the Northwest District, is a retail and residential neighborhood located close to Forest Park. The most famous retail street in this district is NW 23rd Street where you can find trendy boutiques, restaurants, bars and coffee shops. Head over here if you’re looking for a meal or a lazy coffee session (try Barista for coffee).

Alphabet District Portland

Alphabet District Portland

NW 23rd Street 

6. SE Division Street

Southeast Division Street located across the bridge from downtown Portland has a thriving food scene that is worth-visiting. You can tell this is a pretty happening street because there’s another Salt & Straw Ice Cream shop that also attracts a massive line of patrons. You can find all kinds of dining from breakfast, brunch, lunch to dinner on this street. There’s also one corner block of food carts that looks like a little food market and would be a great fun to visit.

Ava Gene’s, 3377 SE Division St Portland (photo: PDX Eater)

We were craving for Asian food so we had an early dinner at Sen Yai Noodles (Thai-inspired cuisine). The design for this eatery was to create a street food dining experience and they have done a terrific job at it. The food was also very tasty.

Sen Yai Noodles, 3384 SE Division St, Portland

7. Brunch

What’s a trip to Portland without a proper Brunch?Portland has plenty of brunch options to choose from and we decided to try Olympia Provision, (107 SE Washington, Portland), they also have a Northwest location. Olympia Provision specializes in authentic charcuterie (cold cuts) meats and cheese. We love how this location is hidden inside a restored industrial buildings and the menu was made very simple (no espresso machines, just plain old Americano).

Olympia Provisions Portland
Olympia Provisions, 107 SE Washington, Portland

Our easiest option was to brunch at Urban Farmer (525 SW Morrison St, Portland), located in the lobby of our hotel The Nines, A Luxury Collection Hotel (SPG Hotel Member). The decor was particularly charming from above (a view only accessible for hotel guests). The food we had was quite average although I did read (afterwards) that they have the best Eggs Benedict in town (unfortunately not what we ordered).

Urban Farmer at The Nines Hotel (Downtown Portland)

Other brunch spots we wanted to try but didn’t get a chance to:

Roost, 1403 SE Belmont, Portland

Tasty N Sons, 3808 N Williams Ave, Portland

Beast, 5425 NE 30th Ave, Portland


8. Portland Aerial Tram 

Portland’s Cable Car called the Goby Tram is one of the best ways to capture an aerial view of Portland. It travels at 22 miles per hour and each trip only takes 4 minutes on a load and go basis, the wait is only a couple of minutes for the next Goby Tram to arrive.

Goby Tram

View from Goby Tram

The round-trip fare per person is $4.50 and children under 6 gets to ride for free.


9. Lake Oswego

If you want to find your zen for the day, Lake Oswego will offer you just that. Only a 20-minute drive from downtown Portland, this affluent neighborhood is a great place for lunch or even for a quick coffee stop.

Lake Oswego Oregon

Lake Oswego Oregon

Lake Oswego
10. Portland Japanese Garden

The Portland Japanese Garden is a traditional Japanese garden occupying 5.5 acres (22,000 m²), located within Washington Park in the West Hills of Portland, less than 15-minute drive from downtown. The admission is $9.50 / adult, $6.75 / youth (6-17) and free admission for kids age 5 and under.

Portland Japanese Garden

Portland Japanese Garden

Portland Japanese Garden
11. Waterfront Carnival

Portland Carnival

Portland Waterfront Carnival

Portland Waterfront Carnival

More info on Portland City Fair / Carnival Events

Nuff’ said. Overall, we had a wonderful time in Portland. The fact that travel time in between places was so short we got to visit so many different places in just two days.

Keep Portland Weird!

Keep Portland Weird