Living and studying English in San Francisco or San Diego is a dream to many international students: the cities are alive with options for activities, festivals, shopping, eating, socializing . . . the list goes on and on! As great as SD and SF are, we encourage our students to see more of the U.S.: there is so much to see in this large and diverse country! One weekend destination we highland recommend is Portland, Oregon.
Portland is the largest city of Oregon, which is the state above California. The city is known for its unique and cool vibe: residents are laid-back, eco-friendly people who love nature and outdoor activities. Coffee and beer scenes are big in Portland, so there’s always a cool cafe or bar to relax in, and the hip music scene means that there are plenty of concerts to attend. Portland is a fun and exciting place!
It is easy to travel to Portland from SD or SF: just book a short flight (if you book in advance, you can get great deals) and you can arrive by late Friday afternoon/early Friday evening after your last CISL class. Here are some of the many things you can check out!
Weekend getaway: Exploring Portland!
Downtown and Willamette River
“Keep Portland Weird” is the unofficial slogan of the city, so be prepared to see some unique and hilarious things (and people) when Downtown. Portland’s Downtown is small and easy to walk: check out the bars and restaurants on Hawthorn Street and the shops and galleries on Alberta Street.
If you’re interested in a little more culture, check out the Portland Art Museum and enjoy the Asian, American, and Native American art collection before heading over to the Tom Call Waterfront Park for some fresh air (and possibly some exercise: there are many paved walkways and bicycle paths!). Have a picnic in the many grassy areas and enjoy the view of the Willamette River, and then stroll through the beautiful Lan Su Chinese Garden. Architecture lovers: be sure to stop and enjoy Steel Bridge, which is a famous landmark.
Enjoy the food and drink scene
There are over 30 breweries in Portland: grab a glass! The food truck scene is also thriving in Portland, so be sure and check out one of the local vendors for something tasty, like the delicious Mexican cuisine from La Jarochita (5th Ave and Oak St, Downtown), the mouth-watering porchetta sandwiches from Lardo, and Belgian fries at their best at Potato Champion. Not sure where to find food trucks? Check out Downtown’s Mississippi Avenue: it usually has a nice collection of local vendors.
Relaxing with museums and nature
Learn a little about the history of the area at the Oregon Historical Society, and then spend the day exploring some of Portland’s many gardens! Check out The Grotto, a Catholic garden which has beautiful and serene gardens and a Pieta replica (pictured below). Then take a cab to Mount Tabor, which is a park that covers an extinct volcano. Pretty cool! Also cool? The gorgeous views from the top.
To plan your trip to Portland, Oregon, check out some of these useful websites:
If you’re heading to Portland, make sure you know the local lingo! Here are some words that you need to know!
Pods are collections of food carts. (We told you the food cart/food truck scene in Portland was strong!)
“The Max” is short for TriMet Metropolitan Area Express, the public transportation light rail that connects Portland to surrounding areas. You can even take it to and from the airport!
Stumptown, P-Town, Puddletown, Portlandia
Some of the many nicknames for Portland!
For more Portland slang, check out this great article “10 Slang Terms You Must Learn to Live in Portland.”