Proud home of hipsters, fixie bikes, bridges, coffee snobs, beer snobs, the Trail Blazers, the Timbers, and a criminally loose definition of formal (we’re talking hiking boots and jeans everywhere) – Portland, Oregon continues to draw attention from all over the country.
If you combine the surrounding suburbs and counties, the Portland area is home to nearly 2.5 million people and is the country’s 25th largest metropolitan area. Located along the Willamette (pronounced: Will-Am-It) River, Portland is the county seat of Multnomah County. To the west lies Washington County and growing population centers like Hillsboro, while Clackamas County (extending all the way to Mt. Hood) borders the east.
Using the river as one axis and major streets and highways as the other, Portland is easily broken up into four large sectors:
Northeast: East of the river and north of Burnside Street
Southeast: East of the river and south of Burnside Street
Southwest: West of the river and south of Highway 26
Northwest: West of the river and north of Highway 26
Perhaps one of the best features of downtown Portland (and believe me, there are many) are the South Park Blocks. Nestled between northbound and southbound Park Avenue, you’ll find a 12-block strip of green called the “park blocks”. Spanning from Portland State University to the south all the way to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall to the north, the Park Blocks are home to beautiful statues, the Portland Art Museum, the Ladd building, and several noteworthy cafes, restaurants, and bars.
This green oasis perfectly translates Oregonian’s love of nature. Nearly everywhere you look, you’ll find parks, environmentally friendly cars and buildings, and a plethora of vegetarian and vegan restaurants.
To be fair, most people moving to Oregon are headed to the biggest population center: Portland. But don’t think for one second that Portland is exactly like the rest of the state. If you’ve decided on Oregon, but aren’t sure about your exact destination, do yourself a favor and check out some of these lesser-known cities.
Home to arguably one of the best breweries in the state, Deschutes Brewery, Bend is an outdoor junky’s dream. Year-round activities include hiking, boating, skiing and snowboarding, camping, boating, and so much more.
Located in the high desert, Bend’s winters are typically stronger than the cities in the Willamette Valley. If you’re not comfortable shoveling snow, Bend may not be the place for you. When things do start to thaw, an army of tourists from all over the state flock to take advantage of the nearby activities.
Despite these challenges, Bend remains one of Oregon’s premier destinations. Check out the city’s official website here for local news, events, and more.
Another award-winning destination, Ashland, Oregon lies on the state’s southern border – just 15 miles from California. Home to Southern Oregon University, Ashland offers all the perks of living in a small college town while also being a hub for outdoor activities.
One of the city’s highlights is the annual Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Featuring 11 different plays (including several from other playwrights), this event draws tourists from all over the country.
Quack! Quack! Welcome to the home of the University of Oregon and the mecca of Duck Country. Located about 100 miles south of Portland along the I5 corridor, Eugene proudly embraces its hippie history.
The weekly Saturday Market (during the dry season) is probably one of the most fun and unique outdoor bazaars in the country and offers tons of locally grown food, art, and music.
Though not technically in Portland, Hillsboro is only a 20-minute drive west along highway 26. Home to major employers like Intel and Nike, Hillsboro continues to be one of the fastest-growing cities in the Tri-County area.
Thanks to an extension of light-rail to the area in 1998, areas like Orenco and Tanasbourne have blossomed into hotspots of shopping, luxury apartments, and public parks.
Before walking into Powell’s Books with your reusable canvas bag and ordering your triple shot, soy milk latte, there are some key phrases every new Oregonian should learn.
The beach is now the coast. You also may wish to pack hiking boots in addition to your flip flops.
The Five is just i5 (there’s also no need to say “interstate”).
Portland’s northern neighbor of Vancouver, Washington is affectionately (mostly) called The Couve.
When someone talks about Rogue they probably mean either the major brewery (Rogue Ales) or the river - not Jason Bourne.
The MAX is Portland’s public train system. It stands for Metropolitan Area Express – though honestly, most native Oregonians don’t even know that.
To the rest of the country, it’s Kroger, to Oregonians, its Fred Meyer’s – or simply Freddy’s.
Basketball fans may know this already, but Portland is often referred to as Rip City after TrailBlazer announcer Bill Schonely coined the phrase in 1971.
Lewis & Clark may be household names across the country, but it’s also a private liberal arts college in Southwest Portland.
Literary buffs probably recognize Three Sisters as a Chekhov play, but Oregonians use it to identify the three mountains of Charity, Hope, and Faith near Bend.
A good portion of Oregon’s northern border with Washington follows the Columbia River Gorge, or just: The Gorge. A windsurfer’s paradise, the Gorge boasts dozens of waterfalls and hundreds of trails and camping destinations.
The Pearl = The Pearl District: an increasingly popular area of NW Portland featuring many shops, restaurants, apartments, and condos.
RCTID = “Rose City ‘til I Die” – motto of the Portland Timbers Football Club (PT *clap clap* FC).
Alis volat propriis or “She flies with her own wings” for you non-Latin majors. Oregon’s state motto is one of the most beautiful in the nation.