Something for everyone in Portland, Ore.
Portland, Ore. is more than just an indie music scene and the setting for the hilariously tougue-in-cheek TV show "Portlandia."
While Elliott Smith, The Shins and the Decemberists all hail from there, Portland is also a hearty Pacific Northwest outdoorsman's town; a bicyclist's town and a foodie's town. And it's more interesting and diverse than what you see on the show. (Though a parody is, by definition, rooted in truth.)
For an urban vacation with a bit of the outdoors, try "PDX."
Get on a bike
The most obvious and natural thing to do in Portland is ride a bike. The city is accessible by many forms of transit, from light rail to bus, but you'll feel like a local on a bike. While bike share (run by Alta, just like in NYC) isn't set to open until 2014, there are many bike rental shops.
According to "Hop in the Saddle," a guide to biking and beer drinking in Portland published last year, "You'll only understand Portland's bike magic from the saddle."
Ride your bike from the east side to the west side, across the Willamette River, on one of the city's numerous bridges. In downtown Portland, swing by famous Powell's Books (1005 W. Burnside St., powells .com), the largest independent used and new bookseller in the world, where you can easily spend hours perusing the racks.
Portland has been an honest-to-goodness beer town since at least the 1980s, when some of the country's first craft beer breweries opened. Since then, beer as a conversation piece has been as popular as biking. And, in fact, the two pastimes go well together. As the authors of "Hop in the Saddle" write: "In Portland, craft brew and bicycle cultures intertwine, soaking and stoking each other to inspire creativity and passion." Sounds like fun to us!
One spot that can't be missed is the BikeBar at Hopworks Urban Brewery (3947 N. Williams Ave., hopworksbeer.com). In addition to organic beers such as the Survival 7-Grain Stout and the Hopworks IPA, you can refuel with bites such as pretzels with beer cheese and mustard stout.
Portland is known for its food cart scene. Long before artisanal food trucks were a huge deal in NYC, small-business food operators were slinging tacos, Vietnamese food and barbecue in Portland lots. For a large variety of vendors, swing by SW Alder and SW 10th streets in downtown.
And while eating from food carts is a way of life in Portland, inventive restaurants and local sourcing are, too. After all, this is the home of Pok Pok, which in the past year has taken NYC by storm. Some local favorites include The Farm Cafe (10 SE Seventh Ave., thefarmcafe.com), where fancy cocktails are only $8, and Simpatica (828 SE Ash St., simpaticapdx.com), a catering company that cooks a family-style dinner at the restaurant each weekend.
This year marks the second annual Feast Portland (feastportland.com), devoted to Oregon's bounty. From Sept. 19-22, the City of Roses will celebrate food and raise money to fight hunger. And while local restaurants are a focus, out-of-town chefs, such as Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese Food (San Francisco and NYC), are also a draw.