Ariel Bloomer was born and raised in Portland but took a hiatus from Stumptown to go college and teach English in Bulgaria. “The travel bug comes as a bit of a curse,” she says. “I’m privileged and doomed to travel around the world knowing the best place I can imagine lies in my wake.” There are certainly worse problems to have. Now Ariel’s happily back in her old stomping grounds, and celebrating her homecoming with a tribute to all things Portland.

Portland (Oregon) is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is Portland Saturday Market, where Portland’s signature quirkiness is on full display among the artists’ booths and food carts.

Cyclists on parade during Portland's Bridge Pedal ride (Photograph by KTesh, Flickr)

Cyclists on parade during Portland’s Bridge Pedal ride (Photograph by KTesh, Flickr)

Late summer is the best time to visit my city, because the sun is shining and the west shore of the Willamette River is buzzing with annual festivals, like the Waterfront Blues Festival, Oregon Brewers Festival, and the Bite of Oregon food festival.

You can see my city best from the serpentine Terwilliger Parkway.

Locals know to skip McDonald’s and check out the seasonal offerings at Burgerville instead.

Made in Oregon is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs. Powell’s City of Books also has a fun souvenir section.

In the past, notable creatives like Chuck Palahniuk, Matt Groening, and Clark Gable have called my city home.

My city’s best museum is the Portland Art Museum because its permanent collection of Northwest Coast Native American art puts a distinctive aspect of the region’s cultural heritage on display.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s to watch out for bicyclists. Whether you are opening your car door when parked on the street or making a right turn across a bike lane, take a second to look and make sure you don’t accidentally collide with one of the city’s many cyclists.

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is Forest Park, where 70 miles of trails can make you forget you’re within city limits. Runners-up include Tryon Creek State Natural Area in Southwest Portland and Mount Tabor Park in Southeast Portland.

My city really knows how to celebrate beer. In addition to the aforementioned Oregon Brewers Festival, other celebrations of intemperance include the Holiday Ale Festival and Portland International Beerfest. We also do a pretty good job at celebrating wine and spirits. Check out the Portland Seafood & Wine Festival and the Great American Distillers Festival.

The Vista House observatory on the Historic Columbia River Highway (Photograph by life is good (pete), Flickr)

The Vista House observatory on the Historic Columbia River Highway (Photograph by life is good (pete), Flickr)

You can tell if someone is from my city if they show contempt for umbrellas (locals never use them).

For a fancy night out, I’d splurge on fresh, local seafood at Jake’s Famous Crawfish and then attend a screening at the Portland International Film Festival.

Just outside my city, you can visit the Columbia River Gorge. I enjoy watching the windsurfers, but prefer to stay dry so I stick to the trails around Wahkeena or Horsetail Falls.

My city is known for being rain-soaked, but it’s really just mildly damp all of the time.

The best outdoor market in my city is the Portland Farmers Market, which has multiple locations around town.

The Buffalo Gap is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and the Original Hotcake House is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Willamette Week or Travel Portland’s online events calendar.

My city’s biggest sports event is Trail Blazers Basketball. Watch it at Moda Center, formerly known as the Rose Garden.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I wait for “discount days.” On the first Sunday of every month, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is only $2; on second Tuesday, the Oregon Zoo is only $4.

The Portland Japanese Garden (Photograph by zetrules, Flickr)

The Portland Japanese Garden (Photograph by zetrules, Flickr)

To escape the crowds, I take a walk in one of the historic pioneer cemeteries, like Lone Fir Cemetery, which doubles as a botanic garden.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be the actor Matthew Gray Gubler because he’s creative, multi-talented, endearingly hipster, and easily burned by the sun.

The dish that represents my city best is VooDoo Doughnut’s Bacon Maple Bar, and home-brewed beer is my city’s signature drink.

The original Old Spaghetti Factory is my favorite building in town because of its funky purple roof and views that look out over the Willamette River to Ross Island.

The most random thing about my city is the Shanghai Tunnels, so named because unwary, over-intoxicated saloon patrons were occasionally “disappeared” through trapdoors to the tunnels below, where they were taken to the docks and put aboard ships bound for the Pacific that needed extra crew.

The Crystal Ballroom is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out the bars in Old Town Chinatown.

Bridge Pedal, a thousands-strong community bike ride that traverses many of Portland’s bridges could only happen in my city.

A maple-bacon doughnut from VooDoo Doughnut  (Photograph by roboppy, Flickr)

A maple-bacon doughnut from VooDoo Doughnut (Photograph by roboppy, Flickr)

In the spring you should take in the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in nearby Woodburn.

In the summer you should meander on foot through the 5.5-acre Portland Japanese Garden or strip down in the city for the World Naked Bike Ride.

In the fall you should get lost in the “maize” at the Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island.

In the winter you should head to Mount Hood (which lies about 70 miles east of Portland) for skiing or snowboarding.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the wooden roller skating rink at Oaks Amusement Park.

The best book about my city is Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon by Chuck Palahniuk.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is ”Dream of the 90s“ from the sketch-comedy show Portlandia.

In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because what we lack in sales tax, we make up for in character.

Comments

  1. Matt S
    Iowa
    October 30, 2013, 9:18 pm

    I miss my Portland/Vancouver! Loves every minute of living there. Great article