Portland is the home of the hipster and the setting for the hit TV show Portlandia and it’s also where LGBT people go to thrive, thanks to the city’s vibrant arts and nightlife scenes, progressive politics and accepting attitude.
A hip urban hotspot also known for its fresh gourmet cuisine, funky districts, and tax-free shopping and eating! TIME.com called Portland “America’s new food Eden” due to abundant fresh delicacies from Oregon’s nearby farms, ranches, rivers and the Pacific Ocean — not to mention multitudinous breweries, wineries and distilleries.
The City’s legendary beauty is surpassed only by the myriad of cultural opportunities, indie music and performing arts available – all easily accessed on foot and bike or by an award-winning public transit system.
Portland has many intriguing neighbourhoods, each with a unique flavour and heritage. The New York Times calls Portland “The Capital of West Coast Urban Cool.” You’ll find the arts, nightlife, and fashion thriving in The Pearl District, the cultural heart of downtown. Nob Hill has plenty of boutique shops in which to take advantage of Oregon’s tax-free shopping, eating and drinking. Old Town Chinatown is a bustling entertainment district, home to the famous Portland Saturday Market, Voodoo Donuts and Lan Su Chinese Garden. Historic Mississippi Avenue combines originality, variety, and excellence with style and energy. Or lose yourself for a few hours browsing the largest bookstore in the USA, Powell’s Books.
Portland is the “City of Roses” and for 100 years Washington Park in the west hills above the city has been home to the International Rose Test Garden. Marvel at the beauty of its 7,000 luscious rose bushes which are at their best April to October. Directly above the Rose Gardens, achieve a sense of peace, harmony and tranquility at the Portland Japanese Garden, considered to be the most authentic outside of Japan. Just 10 minutes to the Northwest from downtown is the aptly named Forest Park, the largest urban woodland park in the USA with more than 70 miles of walking and hiking trails. Take the Portland Aerial Tram for sky high views of all of the city and beyond or explore Portland at ground level on bike and criss-cross the eight bridges spanning the Willamette River. All are set against the magnificent backdrop of Mount Hood.
Over the past two decades, the city’s food scene has really come of age. Among its countless accolades, it’s been called one of the “best places to eat” in North America and the city with “the world’s best street food”. Access to superb local ingredients has certainly been key to the city’s rise to culinary stardom. Happily for visitors, compared with other US cities famous for dining, Portland stands out dramatically when it comes to value. It helps that the city’s most acclaimed eateries are set in all kinds of neighbourhoods. From the downtown core, where you’ll find more of the upscale spots, to sometimes out-of-the-way, seemingly prosaic neighbourhoods that have recently become destinations for culinary-minded travellers, all hold good food.
Portland has no shortage of LGBT-owned and -friendly bars and clubs and a rich drag and performance art culture. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing night with friends, a high-energy dance party or a drag show, Portland delivers.
Branx/Rotture is a popular two-level music venue. The Escape is an all ages LGBT nightclub and Crush is a laid-back lounge that offers something for everyone. The Darcelle XV Showcase and the Phoenix Variety Revue are Portland institutions. On Sundays The Superstar Divas host a variety show including comedy, skits, singing, game shows and dance at CC Slaughters. Too many to name, but you will find friendly and popular hangouts throughout the many neighbourhoods.
LGBT Festivals and Events
There are LGBT festivals and events throughout the year but two of the highlights include:
Known far and wide as a gay-friendly destination, the Rose City is open and accepting. And celebrating its 21st anniversary in 2015, June gets friendlier than ever, when the Portland Pride Festival and Parade makes a name for itself — and LGBT community members — all over town.
Portland Queer Film Festival
October heralds the return of the Portland Queer Film Festival, an annual showcase of LGBT short and feature-length narrative and documentary films from around the world. The historic Cinema 21 theatre, a Northwest Portland landmark since 1925, serves as festival home base.
Portland can be just the launching point for an Oregon visit. Located only a hour from the Pacific Coastline and the Cascade Mountains, Portland has the beach, skiing and countless other outdoor pursuits on its doorstep. The world-famous Willamette Valley and Columbia River wine regions span out to the South and East of the city. Further afield, the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls, the deserts of Eastern Oregon and Crater Lake provide just a few of Oregon’s stunning backdrops.
Portland International Airport (PDX) is the #1 ranked airport in the USA by travelers and served by all major US and several international airlines.
Discover North America have a special Oregon’s LGBT Coast 10 day fly-drive tour from £1,199 per person including transatlantic flights, car rental, 9 nights hotel including Portland, Astoria, Newport and Eugene. www.discovernorthamerica.co.uk
Where to Stay
Hotel de Luxe
729 SW 15th Street
+1 503 219 2094
614 SW 11th Avenue
+1 503 224 3400
525 SW Morrison Street
+1 877 229 9995
Where to Eat
Tasty N Alder
580 SW 12th Avenue
+1 503 621 9251
2337 E Burnside Street
+1 503 542 0880
Raven & Rose
1331 SW Broadway
+1 503 222 7673
22 SW 3rd Avenue
+1 503 241 4704
Further information/free guides and maps available by contacting Travel Oregon’s UK office by any of the following methods:
Call: 01326 250213