Beginning June 4 through August 27, Alaska Airlines will launch a daily, seasonal nonstop flight from Atlanta to Portland, Oregon, making the City of Roses more accessible to thousands of southeasterners. Over the past 10 years, due much in part to the satire-laced television show "Portlandia," a national intrigue has developed towards the self-proclaimed "weird" city. Although you may see more bicep tattoos (on both men and women) and lumberjack beards than ever imagined, Portland is anything but weird. They just do things differently, and are celebrated for it. Here's how to spend a long weekend in Portland, Oregon.
After the five-plus hour flight, recalibrate your immune system with a 100 percent organic Green Being smoothie of pineapple, ginger, spinach, banana and lemon from greenleaf juicing company (617 SW Morrison St., Portland. 503-841.5767, greenleafjuice.com/). Throw in a shot of spirulina for a powerful dose of antioxidants and B vitamins. An early morning green smoothie is the best way to prepare for a crash course in Portland's food scene through the Epicurean Excursion tour from Portland Walking Tours (meeting at Pioneer Square, 701 SW Sixth Ave., Portland. 503-774.4522, portlandwalkingtours.com). Recent stops included local vendors Cacao for Ecuadorian drinking chocolate, Pearl Bakery for flaky croissants, and the famous tomato-orange soup at Flying Elephants Deli. Part of the tour is dedicated to a portion of Portland's more than 800 food trucks, on 10th street SW and Alder street, where 51 percent of the carts are owned by international residents.
Walk off the food in the world's largest independent bookstore, Powell's City of Books (1005 W. Burnside St., Portland. 503-228-4651, powells.com/). Grab a map from the information desk before setting off for hours to explore the corridors, aisles and stairways of the store that takes up an entire city block. Across the street from Powell's, pick up a unique souvenir from Portland-based maker showroom MadeHerePDX (40 Northwest 10th Ave., Portland. madeherepdx.com/). The boutique is set up with individual displays and stalls from local artisans, featuring well known items like the Pok Pok Som drinking vinegars, gourmet salt sets from Jacobsen's Salt Co. and expertly made tote bags from Chester Wallace. Wrap up the evening with a selection of small plates of grilled octopus, Bulgogi short ribs, and goat cheese dumplings arrabiata from Tasty n Alder (580 SW 12th St., Portland. 503-621-9251, tastynalder.com/), one of the Spanish-inspired restaurants from local chef John Gorham.
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Start the weekend at the Portland Saturday Market (2 SW Naito Parkway, Portland. 503-222-6072, portlandsaturdaymarket.com/), Portland's largest outdoor arts and crafts market. Peruse the more than 400 vendors, including artists, photographers, woodworkers and jewelry makers. Nearby, stop for lunch at Pine Street Market (126 SW Second St., Portland. 503-230-2337, pinestreetmarket.com/), one of the most anticipated new food halls in the country. The culinary marketplace features an open floor plan with tables for communal dining, and nine restaurants from top chefs right on the Portland waterfront. Straight from Tokyo, Marukin Ramen serves up spicy Red Tonkotsu ramen with pork bone broth, roasted pork, greens and a soft-boiled egg. Favorite Portland ice cream shop, Salt and Straw, tries out soft serve at their outpost WizBangBar with unique flavors like Smoked Oregon Ham and Roasted Strawberry Coconut on the menu.
From Pine Street Market, hop in an Uber and cross the Willamette River to explore the east side of Portland. The northeast neighborhood of the Mississippi Avenue Historic District is home to unique boutiques and shops where you're just as likely to pick up a vintage guitar from BlackBook Guitars (3624 N. Mississippi Ave., Portland. 503-236-2274, blackbookguitars.com/), or everything you need to make a green terrarium from Pistils Nursery (3811 N. Mississippi Ave., Portland. 503-288-4889, pistilsnursery.com/). The Mississippi/Williams neighborhood is also a great place to sample Portland's craft beer, either with a pint of Mississippi Red from StormBreaker Brewing (832 N. Beech St., Portland. 971-703-4516, stormbreakerbrewing.com/), or Belgian brews from Upright Brewing (240 N. Broadway #2, Portland. 503-735-5337, uprightbrewing.com/). For dinner, hop another Uber to Division Street and possibly wait in line at world-famous Thai restaurant Pok Pok (3226 SE Division St., Portland. 503-232-1387, pokpokpdx.com/) from Portland chef Andy Ricker. Don't miss the signature Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings, marinated in fish sauce and sugar then deep fried; Muu Paa Kham Waan, boar collar meat rubbed with garlic and coriander with a spicy chili sauce; and Hoi Thawt, a crispy crepe filled with fresh mussels, eggs, garlic and chives with sriracha sauce.
Head just out of downtown to the West Hills for a leisurely hike through Hoyt Arboretum (4000 SW Fairview Blvd., Portland. 503-865-8733, hoytarboretum.org/) in Forest Park. The less than a mile Redwood Trail starts at the Visitors Center and passes towering Redwood trees, Cedars and Sequoias. Near the Arboretum is the entrance to the Oregon Zoo (4001 SW Canyon Road, Portland 503-226-1561, oregonzoo.org), home to 2,200 animals from more than 260 countries, and the oldest zoo west of the Mississippi River.
Once back downtown, take the opportunity to see Portland's other green side on two wheels, thanks to the new Portland Pot Tour from Pedal Bike Tours (133 SW Second Ave., Portland 503-243-2453, pedalbiketours.com). Recreational marijuana use became legal in Oregon in July 2015, and the bike tour discusses the history and culture of hemp and pot in the state. The 11-mile ride stops at three dispensaries and two head shops, with a special snack break for the quirky ice cream flavors at Salt and Straw (3345 SE Division St., Portland. 503-208-2054, saltandstraw.com).
Where to Stay
Located in the heart of downtown, Hotel Vintage (422 SW Broadway, Portland. 503-228-1212, hotelvintage-portland.com) is within walking distance from major attractions like Pine Street Market, the Portland Waterfront and Pioneer Courthouse Square. The stylish boutique hotel celebrates all things wine, with rooms named after local wineries, artwork made from wine corks and a daily, complimentary wine hour from 5 to 6 p.m. Don't forget to take advantage of the in-room yoga mats, hotel rental bikes and grown up game room.