Long overshadowed by West Coast hot spots San Francisco and Seattle, eco-friendly, organic PORTLAND is increasingly matching its rivals in the hipster cool stakes, with booming arts, culinary, coffee and microbrew scenes, an inexplicably large number of indie cinemas serving beer and an alternative, outdoorsy culture lampooned in cult US TV show Portlandia. Celebrated local writer Chuck Palahniuk, who started his career here, describes the city in his travelog Fugitives and Refugees; while there are no major show-stoppers, its eccentric characters, cafés and markets, leafy parks and eclectic neighbourhoods make it the most enticing destination in the state. The city is famous for its bicycling culture, and visit in June and you’ll see why it’s also known as the “City of Roses”, with public gardens overflowing with blooms. The Willamette (pronounced “wuh-LAM-it”) River bisects Portland into its east and west sides, with the downtown core between the river’s west bank and the I-405 freeway, but to really get to grips with the city you’ll need to sample the neighbourhoods.

The city was actually named after Portland, Maine, following a coin toss between its two East Coast founders in 1845 (“Boston” was the other option). Today Portland is booming, with the likes of Nike and Columbia Sportswear based here, Intel a major employer and Adidas making the city its North American headquarters. That’s not to say things are perfect; as you’ll soon realize, Portland has a major homeless problem, with some estimates claiming up to two thousand minors on the streets at any one time.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

USA features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Summer of Love: a journey through San Francisco 50 years on

Summer of Love: a journey through San Francisco 50 years on

San Francisco was the epicentre of the Summer of Love, a movement intent on changing the foundations of American society forever. Half a century later, Tamara…

04 Jul 2017 • Tamara Hinson local_activity Special feature
Where to stay in LA: an area by area guide

Where to stay in LA: an area by area guide

Few regions of the world have been as idealized and mythologized as California – and yet it seldom fails to live up to the hype. The glamour, surf beaches and…

22 Jun 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
The 15 most spectacular sights in Southwest USA

The 15 most spectacular sights in Southwest USA

A vast expanse of stunning desert scenery, the Southwest is arguably the USA’s most spectacular region. For splendour and sheer scale, the landscape consisten…

06 Jun 2017 • Rough Guides Editors insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month