A Traveler’s Guide to the Portland, Oregon Region

Are you thinking about Oregon for your next travel contract? Portland is the perfect place for you. When I first hear the word Oregon, my mind immediately goes to Portland. It is renowned for livability, food and drink, arts and culture, and much more. Whether you prefer the mountains or the beach, Portland is only a short drive from both. Portland is located on the northwestern border of the state of Oregon, in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, north of California and south of Washington. Portland, Oregon’s largest city, is 78 miles from the Oregon Coast, at the convergence of two major rivers, near the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood, Willamette Valley wine country and other regional destinations. The Portland metro area rests on traditional village sites of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Bands of Chinook, Tualatin Kalapuya, Molalla and many other tribes. Portland is 175 miles from Seattle, or about a three-hour drive by car.

The people of Portland are what makes the city unique. Portland has a thriving community of artists and makers who encourage innovation in design and craft. In Portland, it’s good to experiment with what you love. Portlanders also place a high value on sustainability, which can be seen in the way locals maintain and enjoy the city’s public gardens and green spaces, urban forests, miles of protected bike lanes, efficient public transportation and preserved natural areas. Portland is perhaps best known for being a sustainability-minded, bike-friendly city with easy access to nature; plentiful coffee, art, craft beer, delicious food and live music; and crafty people who celebrate individuality and creativity. Portland is known for and visit our list of top sights and things to do for a round-up of can’t-miss local attractions.Portland’s layout is also unique. With 12 bridges entirely within city limits, and several more connecting Portland to Vancouver, Washington, the city’s “Bridgetown” moniker is certainly accurate. Portland is divided into north and south by Burnside Street and east and west by the Willamette River.

The Culture

People flock to Portland for a piece of its vibrant culture. Whether it is for the food and beer, arts, cultural communities, festivals or nightlife, Portland wants you to be a part of it. Historically an affordable city for the arts, as it has grown so has the visibility of its deep culture. Whether you’re a fan of theater, live music, craft beer, funky foods or just being outside, Portland has something for you. The numerous communities within Portland contribute heavily to the area’s culture. Some of the dominating communities are the Black community, the Native American community, the Hispanic and Latinx community, the Japanese American community, the Chinese American community, the Jewish community, the Indian American community, the Arab American community, and the LGBTQ+ community. Each of these communities have tens of thousands of members who each bring something special to the city. Whether it is pride parades or shopping from Black owned businesses, each of these communities have an impact on every person who passes through Portland.

The Scenery

Portland’s cityscape derives much of its character from the many bridges that span the Willamette River downtown, several of which are historic landmarks, and Portland has been nicknamed “Bridgetown” for many decades as a result. Three of downtown’s most heavily used bridges are more than 100 years old and are designated historic landmarks: Hawthorne Bridge (1910), Steel Bridge (1912), and Broadway Bridge (1913). Portland’s newest bridge in the downtown area, Tilikum Crossing, opened in 2015 and is the first new bridge to span the Willamette in Portland since the 1973 opening of the double-decker Fremont Bridge. Portland is 60 miles east of the Pacific Ocean at the northern end of Oregon‘s most populated region, the Willamette Valley. Downtown Portland straddles the banks of the Willamette River, which flows north through the city center and separates the city’s east and west neighborhoods. Less than 10 miles from downtown, the Willamette River flows into the Columbia River, the fourth-largest river in the United States, which divides Oregon from Washington state. Portland is approximately 100 miles upriver from the Pacific Ocean on the Columbia. Though much of downtown Portland is relatively flat, the foothills of the Tualatin Mountains, more commonly referred to locally as the “West Hills”, pierce through the northwest and southwest reaches of the city. Council Crest Park at 1,073 feet  is often quoted as the highest point in Portland; however, the highest point in Portland is on a section of NW Skyline Blvd just north of Willamette Stone Heritage site. The highest point east of the river is Mt. Tabor, an extinct volcanic cinder cone, which rises to 636 feet. Nearby Powell Butte and Rocky Butte rise to 614 feet  and 612 feet, respectively. To the west of the Tualatin Mountains lies the Oregon Coast Range, and to the east lies the actively volcanic Cascade Range. On clear days, Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens dominates the horizon, while Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier can also be seen in the distance.

The Weather

Portland has a warm-summer Mediterranean climate with cool and rainy winters, and warm and dry summers. This climate is characterized by having overcast, wet, and changing weather conditions in fall, winter, and spring, as Portland lies in the direct path of the stormy westerly flow, and mild and dry summers when the Pacific High reaches its northernmost point in mid-summer. Winters are cool, cloudy, and rainy. The coldest month is December with an average daily high of 46.3 °F.  Evening temperatures fall to or below freezing 32 nights per year on average. Annual snowfall in Portland is 4.3 inches, which usually falls during the December-to-March time frame. Summers in Portland are warm, dry, and sunny, though the sunny warm weather is short lived from mid June through early September.The months of June, July, August and September account for a combined 4.19 inches of total rainfall. The warmest month is August, with an average high temperature of 81.8 °F. Because of its inland location 70 miles from the coast, as well as the protective nature of the Oregon Coast Range to its west, Portland summers are less susceptible to the moderating influence of the nearby Pacific Ocean. Consequently, Portland experiences heat waves on rare occasions, with temperatures rising into the 90 °F for a few days. However, on average, temperatures reach or exceed 80 °F on only 61 days per year, of which 15 days will reach 90 °F and only 1.3 days will reach 100 °F.


Here are the top 10 things to do in Portland:

  1. Portland Saturday Market— Open every Saturday from March-December, Portland Saturday Market is the largest arts-and-crafts fair in the U.S.
  2. Powell’s City of Books— Covering an entire city block, Powell’s has grown into a Portland landmark and the world’s largest new and used bookstore.
  3. Forest Park— Escape the city without leaving Portland; with 70 miles of trails within Portland city limits, 5,156-acre Forest Park is a popular escape for runners, equestrians, and hikers alike and supports more than 112 bird and 62 mammal species.
  4. Portland International Rose Test Garden— The oldest officially continuously operated public rose test garden in the United States, the Portland International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park features more than 10,000 roses, and great views of the skyline and the Cascades.
  5. Voodoo Doughnut— Since 2003, Portland’s Voodoo Doughnut has sold millions of wacky, sugary snacks. The 24-hour landmark still attracts lines at all hours of the day.
  6. Portland Japanese Garden— A haven of meticulously maintained, tranquil beauty, proclaimed one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan, the Portland Japanese Garden offers meandering streams, intimate walkways and an unsurpassed view of Mount Hood.
  7. Pittock Mansion— High in the West Hills, the Pittock Mansion offers picture-perfect views of the city and interesting insights into Portland’s history.
  8. Oregon Zoo— Located near downtown Portland in Washington Park, the Oregon Zoo is home to more than 2,600 animals.
  9. Lan Su Chinese Garden— This year-round wonder taking up an entire city block houses an authentic Ming Dynasty style garden built by Suzhou artisans. Lan Su Chinese Garden offers a peaceful escape in Portland’s historic Chinatown district.
  10. Portland Art Museum— The largest art museum in Oregon and one of the oldest in the country, the Portland Art Museum is central to the city’s cultural district, housing a large and wide-ranging collection of artworks.

If you are feeling the pull of Portland, Pamela’s List can get you a top paying contract and have you out there in no time. Before you know it, you could be walking the streets of Portland and exploring everything this beautifully diverse city has to offer. From mountains to beaches, live music to art galleries, Portland has it all and is waiting for you. Summer is coming and it is the perfect time to visit, so why wait?

Come Join Pamela's list

Skip to content