Visiting Portland? Here Are 10 Things to Know About the City of Roses

From the world’s largest independent book store to the world’s smallest park, there is no shortage of intriguing things to check out while visiting Portland.

Portland is often noted for its quirkiness—after all, people lined up to take photos with the Portland International Airport carpet during the PDX Carpet Fest. Here are 10 interesting things you should know about when visiting Portland.

See Mount Hood when visiting Portland

If visiting Portland on a clear day, you can see Mount Hood from the top of Rocky Butte

Photo Credit: Alamy

1. There are volcanoes.
Portland sits within the Boring Lava Field, a volcanic field zone that has been extinct for more than 300,000 years. When visiting Portland, check out the four cinder cones within city limits: Mount Tabor, Rocky Butte, Powell Butte and Kelly Butte. Portland is one of only four U.S. cities to have an extinct volcano within its bounds. (The other three are Bend, Oregon; Jackson, Mississippi; and Honolulu.)

2. It’s the City of Roses.
Portland is home to the oldest rose-testing program in the United States. New rose varieties are grown and introduced at the International Rose Test Garden. When visiting Portland, stop by to see more than 10,000 plantings of more than 500 varieties. Want even more roses? Check out the public rose gardens at Peninsula Park and Ladd Circle Park and Rose Gardens.

visiting Portland for craft beer

Craft beer aficionados visiting Portland can sample brews at more than 70 breweries

Photo Credit: Jamie Francis/TravelPortland.com

3. There are breweries for everyone.
Portland is nicknamed Beervana for a reason: It’s home to more breweries—70 and counting—than any city in the world. Sour beers, gluten-free beers, beers with toasted marshmallow on the chalices—they can all be found in the City of Roses, making it easy for craft-beer aficionados visiting Portland to easily find a cold one to enjoy.

4. It’s a bookworm’s paradise.
For book lovers visiting Portland, Powell’s City of Books is a must stop. The flagship store is possibly the world’s largest independent bookstore. Housing more than one million new and used books, the Pearl District shop occupies a full city block. Its collection of out-of-print and rare books draws bibliophiles in from around the world.

5. There is no sales tax.
There’s no sales tax—state or city—in Portland. So go ahead—indulge a little.

Check out the Saturday Market (on Saturday OR Sunday) to pick up some souvenirs and take advantage of the no sales tax when visiting Portland.

Check out the Saturday Market—on Saturday or Sunday—when visiting Portland to pick up some souvenirs and take advantage of the lack of sales tax

Photo Credit: Jamie Francis/TravelPortland.com

6. It’s home to the largest open-air craft market.
To take full advantage of the absent sales tax while visiting Portland, stop in the Saturday Market. It’s the largest continuously operating open-air craft market in the United States. Founded by two artists in 1973, the market generates an estimated $8 million in gross sales each year.

7. You can’t pump your own gas.
If you have to fill up your tank while visiting Portland, make sure to stay in your car. Oregon is one of two states where an attendant must pump gas (the other is New Jersey). The only exception is if you’re in a rural area at night; otherwise, there’s a $500 fine if you try.

A stop at the International Rose Test Garden is a must when visiting Portland.

A stop at the International Rose Test Garden is a must when visiting Portland

Photo Credit: Alamy

8. It is home to the nation’s oldest and largest children’s parade.
Each summer, Portland comes alive with the more-than-100-year-old Portland Rose Festival. Though the festival is filled with several weeks’ worth of events, the children of Portland get to shine during the Junior Parade, wherein kids dress in costume and showcase decorated bikes and wagons while walking through the streets to the accompaniment of elementary and middle school marching bands.

9. Portlandia is more than a TV show.
Perched atop the entrance to the Portland Building is Portlandia, the second-largest hammered copper statue in the United States. The near-35-foot sculpture, created by Raymond Kaskey and installed in 1985, is smaller only than the Statue of Liberty.

10. You’ll be lucky to step foot in this park.
There are many parks in Portland, but perhaps the one worth visiting just to say you did is Mill Ends Park. At about 3 square feet, the park is the tiniest in the world. It was originally meant for a light post, but an Oregon Journal columnist took over the space in 1948. It officially became a city park in 1976.

AAA Travel offers a variety of trips to the Pacific Northwest. Call 877-396-7159 or contact a AAA Travel Counselor to start planning today.

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Janice Yip-Hudson, AAA Travel Counselor, Daly City, Calif.

Today, people's lives are so busy. We're thinking three days ahead just to get through our to-do lists. I love helping my clients plan vacations where they have nothing to do but relax; where time stands still, and you're just on vacation.

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