National Geographic intern Elaura Rifkin spent the first 22 years of her life in Portland, Oregon until the itch to go to graduate school finally forced her east. She is currently based out of Washington, D.C., but still proclaims her love of “the Pacific Northwest’s greatest gem” loudly and proudly to just about anyone who will listen. Check out Elaura’s recommendations for getting the most out of her hometown, then add your two cents in the comments section below.

Keep up with Elaura on her personal website or follow her posts on Intelligent Travel.

Portland is My City

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is Powell’s Books.

When I crave Mexican food I always go to Por Que No?

To escape the city I head to Multnomah Falls. It’s hard to be stressed when you’re hiking up a beautiful waterfall.

Multnomah Falls. (Photo by Parker Lefton, My Shot)

If I want to get rowdy and cheer on my team, I go to a Portland Timbers game. Have some drinks on NW 23rd Street before the game and make sure to sit with “The Army.”

For complete quiet, I can hide away in one of Portland’s many parks. Gabriel Park in SW Portland is a personal favorite.

If you come to my city, get your picture taken with the White Stag Portland sign in downtown.

If you have to order one thing off the menu from Marco’s Café, it has to be the asparagus and Andouille sausage omelet.

New Seasons Market is my one-stop shop for great picnic faire.

Locals know to skip chain restaurants and check out the food carts instead. Portland is the original food cart capital of America.

Get your picture taken in front of the famous White Stag sign. (Photo by Brittany Runyan, My Shot)

When I’m feeling cash-strapped I go to Portland’s East Side. Twice the charm, half the price, three times as many hipsters.

For a huge splurge I go to Portland City Grill for dinner. The 30th-floor restaurant is a great place to take a date or your parents. Insider tip: they also have a fantastic happy hour, so you can enjoy the view without spending your life savings.

Photo ops in my city include the city skyline and the mountains. The best vantage points are from Pittock Mansion (which is also a great place to spend a day).

If my city were a celebrity it’d be Zooey Deschanel — quirky, hysterical, and occasionally clumsy.

The most random thing about my city is that “Portlandia” is real. Locals will never admit it, but the show is pretty accurate.

Don't miss the view of Portland from the lawn of Pittock Mansion. (Photo by Jerod Elder, My Shot)

My city has the most hip and hairy men.

My city has the most hip and hairy women. Joking! Okay, they’re all hip, only sometimes hairy, and always quick-witted.

In my city, an active day outdoors involves hiking, biking, kayaking, kite surfing, the list could go on forever. Since it rains most of the year, it’s a huge faux pas not go outside the moment the temperature creeps above 65 degrees. “What did you do outside today?” is a normal part of summer conversations.

My city’s best museum is the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). Once a month they keep the museum open late and local restaurants and breweries bring food and drinks to the museum (21+).

My favorite jogging/walking route is the Tom McCall Waterfront Park loop. It takes you along the Willamette River, over the bridges to the East Side, and back again.

For a night of dancing (and karaoke), go to the Boiler Room. Or, for live music, check out the Doug Fir Lounge, Crystal Ballroom or Wonder Ballroom – all great venues in different corners of the city.

Le Bistro Montage is the spot for late-night eats. Open until all hours of the morning, they’ll even sculpt your leftovers into a hysterical tin foil animal.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read The Portland Mercury.

You can tell a lot about my city fromthe people who live there. Portlanders are friendly to a fault.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they are horrified that you went to work on a sunny day.

Sauvie Island. (Photo by Miguel Gonzalez, My Shot)

In the spring you should go to one of the wineries that are super close to the city. Take a picnic basket and spend the day lounging outside and sipping wine.

In the summer you should go berry-picking on Sauvie Island.

In the fall you should take a trip to Eugene and watch the Ducks play football. Autzen Stadium is one of the best (and loudest) places to watch a college game.

In the winter you should try not to get soaked walking from your house to your car! It rains a lot, but don’t even think about an umbrella – we’ll know you’re from out of town.

A hidden gem in my city is Multnomah Village in SW Portland. Cute shops, great places to grab a bite, and a truly excellent bookstore (Annie Blooms).

For a great breakfast joint try Meriwether’s Restaurant in NW.

Don’t miss the Organic Brewers Festival at the end of June/beginning of July. It’s much smaller than the more famous Oregon Brewers Fest, but it packs a big punch.

Just outside my city, you can visit McMenimans Edgefield, a 74-acre oasis that houses a hotel, restaurant, brewery, and the one of the best outdoor music venues I’ve ever been to.

The best way to see my city is by bike!

If my city were a pet it would be a chinchilla – cute, friendly, a little unexpected, but still totally legal to have in your home.

If I didn’t live in a city, I’d live in a tree house at the Treesort!

The best book about my city is Beezus and Ramona! Ramona Quimby was named after Quimby Street and her friend Henry Huggins lived on Klickitat Street.

Kids (and kids at heart) go nuts for Portland's zoo. (Photo by Jared Learnard, My Shot)

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is any song that includes a banjo – in an ironically un-ironic sort of way.

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss the Portland Children’s Museum and the Oregon Zoo. They moved next to each other in 2001 and now the area, known as Washington Park, has become a kid-friendly haven.

My city should be featured on your cover or website because it’s a hidden gem of the Pacific Northwest.

Comments

  1. Clay Telecom
    india
    April 26, 2012, 3:35 am

    Beautiful pictures!
    Portland is certainly a very nice place!
    The view from the pittok mansion is incredible!

  2. Mark Stalcup
    Portland, OR
    April 26, 2012, 12:28 pm

    First off – thanks for using my picture for your article! Secondly, as a relative newcomer to Portland and looking at the city from that perspective, I totally agree with Elaura’s comments and places she mentions – great job of highlighting the great things about Portland! We certainly are a hidden gem!

  3. Willamette International Travel
    Portland, OR
    April 26, 2012, 12:43 pm

    Great post! There’s no better city for summer than Portland. Do you recommend any particular vineyard?

  4. Lauren Russell
    Portland, OR
    April 11, 2013, 5:43 pm

    The views at Portland City Grill are great but the food doesn’t feel like it represents the city. Go for the views at Happy Hour, so you don’t feel so bad eating their mediocre chain-food. If you want a great splurge and amazing food that is purely Portland I recommend going to Beast. Naomi Pomeroy’s prix fixe plates are decadent and a carnivore’s dream. Genoa is also another great choice. It is Portland institution and when you think splurge in Portland Genoa comes to mind with food that feels worth the dime.