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Portland is a pleasure

There’s a lot to see in the Oregon metropolis, but first you need to chill

By GRETCHEN MCKAY Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (TNS)

This article was published March 12, 2017 at 1:56 a.m.

If you plan on exploring sites outside the city limits, you’ll probably want to rent a car (overnight parking in city lots is about $15). If not, Portland boasts a light rail system (trimet.org) that can get you from the airport to downtown in 38 minutes, and costs $2.50; there’s even a display of public art on the Red Line. The 12-mile drive from the airport takes about 30 minutes.

Where to stay: Downtown Portland features all the usual suspects for those looking to splurge (Marriott, Kimpton, Westin) or pinch pennies (Econo Lodge, Travelodge). If you’re keen on the hip factor, the Ace Hotel ($125 and up) — where haircuts are free in the lobby the first Thursday of the month and some rooms come outfitted with record players — won’t disappoint. The McMenamins Crystal Hotel ($125 and up, pet-friendly rooms available) is equally funky, with colorful rooms that feature hand-painted headboards and walls inspired by rock songs. If you don’t mind not being downtown, the Tiny House Hotel in the Alberta Arts District is as cool as they come — it features six one-of-kind tiny houses (120 to 170 square feet) clustered around a courtyard with a fire pit. The rate ($155 and up) includes all-you-can-eat s’mores. Lodging at The Kennedy School, a remodeled elementary school, includes rooms in old classrooms. Rates start at $135 and guests receive complimentary use of the soaking pool and free admission to the movie theater.

Food and drink: Portland is a gourmand’s dream, offering everything including fine dining, soup and noodle houses, gourmet pizza shops, brewpubs and barbecue joints. Portlanders also take pride in their food trucks, a coffee culture that celebrates independent roasters (Stumptown is a local fave) and cool coffee shops and marijuana dispensaries. Pine Street Market features nine of the city’s best chefs and purveyors, including OP Wurst. And definitely taste-test Voodoo Doughnut against competitor Blue Star Donuts.

Activities: Portland has something for just about everyone. If you love beer or whiskey, there’s more than a dozen breweries, wineries and distilleries. If you’re into art, the Pearl District is a hotbed of galleries. Definitely plan a visit to Powell’s City of Books, billed as the world’s largest used and new bookstore. In nice weather, there’s biking through Biketown, the city’s bike share system (a day pass costs $12), parks and gardens, kayaking on the Willamette River and hiking on the Intertwine or nearby Columbia River Gorge, which offers some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the United States.

Information: travelportland.com or (877) 678-5263.

Here's the thing about this laid-back seaport city nestled in the shadow of Oregon's majestic Mount Hood. To really enjoy it, it's best to go native.

If you plan on exploring sites outside the city limits, you’ll probably want to rent a car (overnight parking in city lots is about $15). If not, Portland boasts a light rail system (trimet.org) that can get you from the airport to downtown in 38 minutes, and costs $2.50; there’s even a display of public art on the Red Line. The 12-mile drive from the airport takes about 30 minutes.

Where to stay: Downtown Portland features all the usual suspects for those looking to splurge (Marriott, Kimpton, Westin) or pinch pennies (Econo Lodge, Travelodge). If you’re keen on the hip factor, the Ace Hotel ($125 and up) — where haircuts are free in the lobby the first Thursday of the month and some rooms come outfitted with record players — won’t disappoint. The McMenamins Crystal Hotel ($125 and up, pet-friendly rooms available) is equally funky, with colorful rooms that feature hand-painted headboards and walls inspired by rock songs. If you don’t mind not being downtown, the Tiny House Hotel in the Alberta Arts District is as cool as they come — it features six one-of-kind tiny houses (120 to 170 square feet) clustered around a courtyard with a fire pit. The rate ($155 and up) includes all-you-can-eat s’mores. Lodging at The Kennedy School, a remodeled elementary school, includes rooms in old classrooms. Rates start at $135 and guests receive complimentary use of the soaking pool and free admission to the movie theater.

Food and drink: Portland is a gourmand’s dream, offering everything including fine dining, soup and noodle houses, gourmet pizza shops, brewpubs and barbecue joints. Portlanders also take pride in their food trucks, a coffee culture that celebrates independent roasters (Stumptown is a local fave) and cool coffee shops and marijuana dispensaries. Pine Street Market features nine of the city’s best chefs and purveyors, including OP Wurst. And definitely taste-test Voodoo Doughnut against competitor Blue Star Donuts.

Activities: Portland has something for just about everyone. If you love beer or whiskey, there’s more than a dozen breweries, wineries and distilleries. If you’re into art, the Pearl District is a hotbed of galleries. Definitely plan a visit to Powell’s City of Books, billed as the world’s largest used and new bookstore. In nice weather, there’s biking through Biketown, the city’s bike share system (a day pass costs $12), parks and gardens, kayaking on the Willamette River and hiking on the Intertwine or nearby Columbia River Gorge, which offers some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the United States.

Information: travelportland.com or (877) 678-5263.

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