When you talk about traveling to the United States of America, thoughts of big, great cities like New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas or Chicago would usually spring to mind.
You would probably have heard of Portland, Oregon BUT you don't really think of Portland when you think about venturing to the States. Am I right, or am I right?
But trust me, Portland is really worth going to if you are heading to the West Coast. Let me tell you why Portland is my favourite place to be!
1. The Seven Wonders of Oregon
[caption id="attachment_6757" align="aligncenter" width="1000"]
A view of the majestic Mount Hood, reflected in Mirror Lake in Oregon.[/caption]
Credit: By Oregon's Mt. Hood Territory. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Visiting all the Seven Wonders of the World would be pretty impossible to do unless you’re a trust fund baby or your bank account is really healthy. But in Oregon, which is one of the greenest states in the USA, you get to see the seven natural wonders, just like how Mother Nature intended it to be. From Mount Hood, to the Oregon Coast, the Columbia River Gorge, Painted Hills, Smith Rock, The Wallowas, and Crater Lake, you would be humbled to see how beautiful Oregon is. I have personally seen Mount Hood up close and personal, and until today, I look at the photos I have and be reminded how God is indeed the best Painter.
More on the Seven Wonders here
2. Food cartsCredit: pattynguyen
According to CNN, Portland has the world’s best food carts. With over 600 food carts in the city, you’ll never have to pick the same food cart, ever. Want to know which food cart President Obama ordered from the last time he was in Portland? Try Koi Fusion
. I opted for tofu taco (halal/vegan option available) and I had never expected a tofu taco to be THAT good. There are halal food carts as well, mostly selling Middle Eastern dishes like kebab. If you’re into Latin American food, Portland Mercado
is your best bet.
3. Relive your Twilight teenage obsessionCredit: twilightersdream
I have to admit, back when I was younger, I loved Twilight! It’s not the greatest love story in the world but Edward Cullen was just dreamy… Now that I’m older, wiser and with cash to spend on traveling, I get to see the filming locations of Twilight! You can check out the Cullen House and the ballerina studio in Portland. Even if you’re not a fan, the Cullen House is still an amazing architecture to see up close. A family actually lives there so just be mindful not to go too close and breach their privacy. Other locations like Bella’s house or the parking lot where Edward saved Bella are in St Helens, which is about 40 minutes away from downtown.
Twilight fans are resourceful and they share their adventures online so you can track down the exact locations easily. Check out a fan’s Twilight journey here
4. Tax-free shoppingCredit
Portland is a shopping heaven! Unlike other big cities like L.A that charges tax through the nose, you don’t pay extra for your purchases in Oregon. In fact, people from neighbouring state Washington would drive to Oregon to take advantage of the tax exemption. So save your moolah and spend it like a bawse
5. A local Muslim community
According to Examiner.com, Portland is home to a large and diverse Muslim population, which is unique for a city its size. In 2011, it was reported that Portland has a total of seven mosques within a 30-mile radius. Portland is one of the more Muslim-friendly cities, I would say. If you wear the hijab, you would not feel out of place as you are bound to bump into hijabi sisters on the street or those working in retail, like a hijabi sister I saw who worked at Victoria’s Secret. There are many Islamic centres in Portland, such as Masjid As Saber and Bilal Masjid in case you want to check out the local Muslim community and their activities.
Info: Masjid As Saber
and Bilal Masjid
6. It’s just next to SeattleCredit: travelchannel
Location-wise, Portland is next-door neighbour to Seattle. It’s a three-hour journey by car and less than an hour on flight, so you can kill two birds with one stone if you go on a trip to Portland. Seattle is the birthplace of Starbucks and grunge, so I would definitely say you would cover a bigger base if you visit Seattle and Portland. Just remember to save all your major shopping for Portland to avoid the retail tax in Seattle.
7. Home to the biggest independent bookstore in the worldCredit: relaxghost
A bibliophile’s dream come true would probably be Powell’s Books, located at 1005 W Burnside St, Portland. Also known as Powell’s City of Books, you are going to be spoilt for choice for new and used materials in the store. You can spend hours easily going through the fantastic titles they have. I love how the books are curated here. Got myself a book and a tote bag before I left the place. You cannot miss out on Powell’s if you are in Downtown Portland.
Check out the titles they carry here
8. Stuff yourself with doughnuts and more doughnuts
They say you haven’t been to Portland if you haven’t tried Voodoo Doughnuts
! They have the funkiest names for doughnuts, like Ain’t That A Peach
, Captain My Captain
and Triple Chocolate Penetration
(I honestly don’t know how you keep a straight face ordering that one!). There’s always a queue at Voodoo stores, sometimes you get to the counter in 10 minutes, sometimes it’s longer. You can also hold weddings at Voodoo. There are other doughnut shops around as well but the bottom line is, you positively cannot leave Portland without trying at least one doughnut. Otherwise, the trip never happened.
22 SW 3rd Avenue Portland Oregon, U.S.A. (Open 24 hours 7days a week, closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day)
Portland is an awesome place for you to have that American experience without the feeling of being rushed through your trip. The laidback and easy-going pace allows you space to enjoy the city and simply be. There is just more to Portland than I could possibly fit into a short list and this is definitely one place you shouldn’t ignore when making that trip to the West Coast.