Five things to love about Portland, Oregon

Five things to love about Portland, Oregon

There is no end of fun things to do and see in the City of Roses. Here I share five things to love about Portland, Oregon.

Portland is a fun city. It makes a great weekend getaway and is an ideal spot for a girls trip. I recently spent a long weekend in Portland with a very good friend of mine. I was a return visitor and she was experiencing Portland for the first time. We both had an equally wonderful trip, demonstrating that Portland is great for newbies and veterans alike.

We stayed downtown in the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Portland. The location was great and the service was fantastic. But my favorite part was the decor. The funky wallpaper and colorful upholstery represent Portland well and staying here only added to our overall experience.

Queen suite Kimpton Hotel Monaco Portland
The Kimpton Hotel Monaco is a fantastic place to stay in Portland.

As a return visitor, I found new things to experience. But I also enjoyed some tried-and-true favorites. Below are my five things to love about Portland, Oregon.

1. Donuts

Did you know there is a Portland Downtown Donut Tour? We did not go on it, but it shows this city’s love of donuts. The most popular donut comes in a pink box. Voodoo Donuts is practically an institution in Portland and is on many visitors must-do list. Expect to wait in line.

Personally, I prefer Blue Star Donuts. The flavors, particularly the lemon poppy buttermilk old-fashioned cake donut, are moan worthy. You’ll see a few tourists in line, but you’ll see more locals. I can also recommend Coco Donuts. Regardless of which donuteer you prefer, getting a donut (or two or three or four) is kind of a must when you visit Portland.

Blue Star donuts Portland, Oregon
Donut carnage at Blue Star Donut.

2. Books

Speaking of Portland institutions, it is impossible to talk about the things to love about Portland, Oregon, without mentioning Powell’s Books. The headquarters has been dubbed Powell’s City of Books and it occupies a full city block in the Pearl District. It also claims to be the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world. Being large is helpful since there will be a lot of tourists and locals also exploring the nine, color-coded rooms.

With over 3,500 sections, it is easy to get lost in the City of Books, literally and figuratively. As someone who loves to read, I cannot help but love Powell’s. I particularly love the children’s classic used books, the travel section and all of the fun gifts and nicknacks spread throughout the store. Even my friend who doesn’t like to read managed to kill a good hour here. Note, Powell’s is a great place to hang out when it rains. Which it does a lot in Portland.

3. Tea

A first for me on this trip was a visit to the Lan Su Chinese Garden. The gardens were small, but lovely. A few of the trees had started to bloom, but I can only imagine what the garden looks (and smells) like when spring is in full bloom. Regardless of the time of year, I highly recommend you visit.

The real star of the garden is the teahouse. Don’t miss it! The two-story teahouse is beautiful and a wonderful place to relax. If you time it right, there is live music as well. We enjoyed a cuppa and a small tea ceremony, but they also serve light meals and snacks if you are hungry. After you explore the gardens and enjoy a cup of tea, be sure to stop by the small gift shop. There are treasures to be had there.

Outside of the Lan Su Chinese Garden teahouse, there are plenty of other tea rooms, tea houses and tea shops to explore. This is a city of tea. I am excited to come back and sip my way through a few more of Portland’s tea offerings.

Lan Su Chinese Garden teahouse things to love about Portland, Oregon
Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland, Oregon.

4. Handmade wares

Perhaps my favorite thing to love about Portland, Oregon, is the artisan scene. Handmade goods abound here, which makes the shopping spectacular. We did not venture too far from downtown, yet we only scratched the surface when it came to shopping for local wares. It seemed like every street we walked along, cute boutiques were calling our name. I came home with some fun stuff from Tender Loving Empire, Woonwinkel, Crafty Wonderland and Boys Fort.

Long before this latest trip to Portland, I was a big fan of local jewelry maker, Betsy & Iya. You can find her stuff in various stores around Portland (and even in Idaho). But if you are in Portland, I recommend you visit the studio. You can see where the magic happens! No jewelry making was happening when we visited, but it was still fun to see the shop. And I am now the proud owner of another gorgeous ring.

There is something for everyone in Portland. I promise. You just have to get outside and start exploring. Sooner or later, you will find yourself walking out of some sort of boutique with that one-of-kind souvenir. That is Portland at its best.

Betsy & Iya store things to love about Portland, Oregon
Beautiful wares from Betsy & Iya in Portland, Oregon.

5. Keeping it weird

“Keep Portland Weird” is a slogan that can be found all over the city. I’m not entirely sure its origins or its purpose, but I love how this city owns its slogan. What’s especially funny to me is that I find the many signs and bumper stickers superfluous. You don’t have to spend a lot of time in Portland to realize how weird it is compared to other places.

My friend, M, found this aspect of Portland particularly novel and fun. She embraced the sentiment and did her best to keep Portland weird while we were there. (This mostly consisted of taking photos with tiny hands, which her Instagram followers loved.) I appreciate a city that embraces what makes it unique. In Portland’s case, that is a whole lot!

Keep Portland Weird sticker tiny hands
M keeping it weird in Portland with the tiny hands.


I have shared five things to love about Portland, Oregon. But there are plenty more. Every time I go back I experience something new. I also enjoy my favorites from previous trips. What are your favorite things about Portland? What do we need to try the next time we visit? We would love to hear from you.

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