As a fan of the show Portlandia, Oregon’s largest city inevitably crept up on my travel list. I allotted a weekend to explore the city and a few gardens, before continuing on my Pacific Northwest road trip. Even though I packed in as much as possible, I still felt like I missed out.
If you’re short on time, but want to see the very best of Portland, here are a few places to start:
Nearly 100 waterfalls flow in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, which is about 45 minutes from the Portland airport (PDX). While you really can’t see them all in a short weekend trip, you can access a bunch of them, either by short hikes or from roadside pullouts on the Historic Columbia River Highway. We started at the Crown Point Vista House, a century-old observatory, rest stop and museum for a 360-degree of the gorge and a bird’s-eye view of the Columbia River. Then we drove down stopping at Guy Talbot, Latourell Falls, and Bridal Veil, until reaching Multnomah Falls. After walking the bridge, we treated ourselves to a bite at the restaurant inside the historic Lodge at Multnomah.
Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm
This is a working field, but the best time to visit is from St. Patrick’s Day to the end of April, when the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm is in full bloom. They’ve been growing tulips since the seventies and making couples swoon in the field ever since. The Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm is located an hour south of PDX at 33814 S. Meridian Road in a town called Woodburn.
Lan Su Chinese Garden
Built by Chinese artisans from Suzhou, the garden’s name is a mix sounds from the words Portland and Suzhou. Opening just two decades ago, Lan Su Chinese Garden is one of Portland’s most beloved places among visitors and locals alike. After strolling the gardens, you can treat yourself to snacks and teas at the Teahouse. The Garden is located at 239 NW Everett Street.