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Portland, Oregon: Your Essential Weekend Itinerary

Portland, a port city in the Willamette Valley region of the Pacific Northwest, was founded in 1845. A hub of progressive values, the city has always been a bastion of cultural innovation and environmental sustainability. Also known as the City of Roses, Portland enjoys warm, dry summers and cool, rainy winters. The city is connected by several bridges that span the Willamette River, which flows through downtown. With a vibrant music scene, Portland is the home of the Dandy Warhols, Everclear, Pink Martini, The Decemberists, and the late Elliott Smith, among others. One of its most distinct cultural traditions is its “brew and view” scene, which refers to the many movie theaters that serve beer and show classic films, including the Bagdad Theater and Pub, built in 1927, Cinema 21, and the Laurelhurst Theater, open since 1923.

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Lardo

Via Eater Portland

Arguably Portland’s best sub shop, Lardo serves a dozen superb sandwiches, which can be paired with the delectable dirty fries, which include parmesan and pork scraps. After living in New York City and Vermont, owner Rick Gencarelli landed in Portland in 2009. Drawn to its cutting-edge food culture, Gencarelli set up a food cart the following year, and eventually opened Lardo, which now has two locations. Favorite sandwiches include the pork meatball banh mi with pickled vegetables, sriracha mayo, cilantro and cucumber, the Bronx Bomber house roast beef with fire roasted peppers, provolone ‘whiz’, oregano and mayo, and the griddled ham with asparagus pimento cheese and arugula on toasted sourdough. Sides include hush puppies, potato salad and macaroni salad. Lardo also features a different guest chef sandwich each month.

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Portland Sightseeing Tour

Via Art in Nature Photography

The Portland Sightseeing Tour, which includes a stop at the Columbia Gorge Waterfalls, allows visitors to explore Portland’s history as well as its modern day charm. The tour begins at Pioneer Courthouse Square, which dates back to 1856 and features several renowned pieces of public art. A stop at Pittock Mansion, a French Renaissance home built in 1909, gives visitors a sense of Portland’s evolution from small lumber town to bustling metropolis. Washington Park is scented with the fragrance of over 550 varieties of roses, and the Lan Su Chinese Garden, a collaboration between Portland and Suzhou, a sister city in China, showcases hundreds of trees, orchids, water plants, perennials, bamboos, and shrubs. After lunch, visitors will head to the spectacular Columbia River Gorge, stopping at the Portland Women’s Forum, Crown Point Vista House, Latourell Falls, and Multnomah Falls, the most visited natural recreation site in the Pacific Northwest.

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Ox

Via ChefStable

Ox, one of Portland's most in demand restaurants, is a wood-fire grill steakhouse headed by chefs Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, which celebrates the culinary traditions of Argentina, Spain, France and Italy. Featuring quality local meat and fish, Ox, an industrial space with exposed brick walls and solid wood furnishings, exudes efficiency. Though the menu is undoubtedly creative, it also packed with comfort food. Favorite starters include the spiced beef, green olive and raisin empanadas, the fresh clam chowder with smoked marrow bone, green onion and jalapeño, and the squid and octopus salad with fennel, basil and spanish croutons. The main event, though, is the meat selection, which includes the asado argentino with grilled short ribs, house chorizo and morcilla sausages, skirt steak and sweetbreads. Fish lovers will enjoy the wild alaskan halibut, on the bone, with sunflower seeds and salsa verde, and the pan-roasted sea scallops with dungeness crab risotto, herb butter, lemon breadcrumbs, frisée and capers. Guests are advised to reserve well in advance.

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The largest city between San Francisco and Seattle, Portland is decidedly laid-back. Its impressive music and arts scene, as well as its food, beer and wine selections, make it a worthy cultural contender compared to other larger and more complex American cities. Featuring historic and modern architecture, as well as verdant parks, trails and wildlife, Portland convincingly balances urban sophistication and natural beauty. Visitors will want to make time for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, which showcases an old navy submarine moored in the river that is open for tours, the Portland Aerial Tram, which offers breathtaking views of downtown Portland and the surrounding mountains, the Portland Art Museum, which features continually updated moving exhibits, and the Oregon Maritime Museum, which includes the Portland steamer, a restored sternwheel ship. Portland’s music scene is also rich and varied. Known as the "indie rock capital" of the US, the city provides a wide array of musical options, including the Waterfront Blues Festival in July, as well as the 2410, a club that attracts some of the biggest names in electronic music, and the Roseland Theater, a larger venue that draws national rock and hip hop artists.

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