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.

Buffalo thrill: the ultimate way to see America's Great Plains

Buffalo thrill: the ultimate way to see America's Great Plains

South Dakota, one of the USA’s Great Plains states, holds an annual buffalo roundup in Custer State Park. Last week was the 51st event and we were lucky enoug…

21 Feb 2017 • Neil McQuillian insert_drive_file Article
Dive in: 7 unforgettable experiences in the Florida Keys

Dive in: 7 unforgettable experiences in the Florida Keys

Life in the Florida Keys is dominated by the ocean. The simplest trips become postcard-worthy adventures on the Overseas Highway, the link between its countless…

17 Feb 2017 • Georgia Stephens insert_drive_file Article
The best places to go in spring

The best places to go in spring

Springtime is beautiful, with its big blue skies and flowers in bloom, so there may be no better time to travel. If you're thinking about getting away, here are…

14 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
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