With few major attractions and an unpretentious bohemian flavour, PORTLAND makes for an excellent spot to slow down and relax in the wealth of good diners, microbreweries, clubs and coffeehouses. Though sporting grand Beaux Arts architecture, Portland has a small-city feel thanks to a walkable urban core of short city blocks and attractions that cluster close together. The city is also internationally famous for its bicycling culture, with two-wheeled commuting a rising trend and major streets losing their auto lanes to make way for more prominent bike lanes.
The city was named after Portland, Maine, following a coin toss between its two East Coast founders in 1845 (“Boston” was the other option). Its location on the Willamette River, just 78 miles from the Pacific, made it a perfect lumber and trading port, and it grew quickly, replacing its clapboard houses with ornate facades and Gothic gables. Though the heroic age of timber is long gone, as a reminder of that era, the town’s quirky downtown “Benson Bubblers” – four-headed drinking fountains funded by a lumber baron – are constantly flowing.