Linked to the Pacific Ocean by the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, Portland is the largest city on the west coast between San Francisco and Seattle. The city dates back to the mid-1800s when it was established as a strategic trading town. As the main shipping port in the Pacific Northwest, Portland grew in size and population through the beginning of the 20th century. Today the Portland metropolitan area is home to more than two million residents, making it the largest city in the state and the 3rd largest city in the Pacific Northwest.
Enjoying moderate temperature and dramatic outdoor scenery, Portland is a nature lover's paradise. With a skyline dominated by majestic Mount Hood, the city below is crisscrossed with waterways, bike paths and over 40 miles of wilderness trails. It is no surprise that Portland has been voted the top cycling city by Bicycling magazine on more than one occasion. The nature-friendly city boasts more than 37,000 acres of park ranging from the beautiful 5,000-acre Forest Park to Mill Ends Park, the world's smallest park at only 24 inches. Portland is home to numerous green golf courses, including Eastmoreland Golf Course and Heron Lakes Golf Course, both of which are included in Golf Digest's list of the nation's top 75 public golf courses. Skiers will find themselves in heaven having four ski resorts nearby and the longest ski season in North America, extending into 90 days of summer. Ice climbing, hiking, and fishing are also popular sports in the area.
Built on top of the Boring Lava Field, this once active volcanic zone has given rise to lush gardens that constitute many of the city's top attractions. Enjoy the fragrance of more than 8,000 rose bushes at the International Rose Test Garden, the oldest official unremittingly operated test rose garden open to the public in the nation. Visit the Portland Classical Chinese Garden built by Suzhou artisans and reawaken your senses amongst magnolias, rhododendrons and bamboo. Explore the winding pathways through the Portland Japanese Garden, which has become known as one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan. View thousands of plants displayed in over 20 colorful specialty gardens including water features, a 400-year-old oak tree and numerous artistic installations at the Oregon Garden. With an abundance of flora and fauna, it is easy to see how this blossoming city has become known as "the City of Roses."
As a cultural metropolis with a thriving pulse, Portland attracts more than seven million visitors a year. Enjoy a wide range of performances by the Oregon Symphony led by Carolos Kalmar or be captivated by one of the Portland Opera's internationally-cast operas such as Aida or Cinderella. Sit in awe while watching the mystifying acrobatics of Do Jump Theater's "actorbats." Visit the Museum of Contemporary Craft, the oldest cultural institution in Portland, which has housed many captivating ceramic exhibits of artists such as Hilary Pfeifer, Eliza Au, Zen Parry and Susan Taber Avila. Art fanatics will also enjoy the Portland Museum of Art, offering a wide range of media, including its nationally-acclaimed permanent collection featuring art from the ancient times to today.
From recreational to cultural, Portland's attractions are not just varied but very unique. Encompassing an entire city block, Powell's City of Books is the largest new and used bookstore in the world. The historic Pittock Mansion showcases antique furniture representing the splendor of Portland's trading days and has been on the National Historical Registry since 1914. The Oregon Zoo is home to 200 species, but instead of cages used at many other zoos, animals are kept in sunken pits to allow for more open exhibits. Other nearby attractions include the Pearl District, where historic industrial buildings have been transformed into trendy shops, restaurants and art galleries, and the Portland Saturday Market, which showcases local crafts and homemade foods. For a refreshing combination of big city attractions and gorgeous, open green spaces and sparkling waters, Portland is the place to go.