PortlandAEs Promise

Article excerpt

Byline: Joseph B. Frazier Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. u Portland is not A-listed among the glamour cities, and Portlanders tend not to care if other cities have taller buildings or a bigger this or that. Over time, the city has followed its own path.

The city on the Willamette River doesnAEt try to be more than it is. Therein and elsewhere lies much of its affordable charm. There is plenty to do that is free or surprisingly cheap compared to more glittery money pits, and Oregon has no sales tax.

Some Portlanders take themselves a bit seriously, but generally it is an unpretentious, eclectic city that welcomes like-minded people, one where everyone fits in somewhere.

Try goseeportland.com to see what other visitors and locals think of hundreds of places. Only a few get multiple mentions, which says more for variety than for consensus. Also try POVA.com for discount packages.

If youAEre out, about and Twittering, a new feature will connect you to people with fast answers: travelportland.com/visitors/twitter.html. Meanwhile here are some ideas:

Knocking around

Portland is full of quick hits. Consider:

* The Japanese Garden overlooks the city in Washington Park (adults, $8). A short walk from the Japanese Garden is the world-famous International Rose Test Garden, which is free. Portland is called the Rose City for a reason.

Also in Washington Park is the Oregon Zoo, served by an underground station on the light rail, and the kid-friendly ChildrenAEs Museum and World Forestry Center. Abutting Washington Park is the 7,000-acre Forest Park. Click on "Find a Park" at portlandonline.com/parks for information on the parks and gardens.

* PowellAEs City of Books, 1005 W. Burnside, claims to be the worldAEs largest independent used and new bookstore. Entry is free and it does seem like a city. You even get a map. The exit fee depends on your self control, powells.com.

* Local craftsmen show their wares downtown at the Saturday Market

near the Burnside Bridge, portlandsaturdaymarket.com/

* The Portland Aerial Tram runs from the South Waterfront up to Oregon Health & Science University, the University of OregonAEs medical school and hospital. Round trip is $4 with a staggering view. It runs frequently; portlandtram.org.

* The Chinese Garden, in whatAEs left of PortlandAEs once-raucous Chinatown, is downtown. Artisans were brought from China to build it; portlandchinesegarden.org ($8.50).

* The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, just across the river from downtown, is hands-on and kid-oriented with its own naval submarine, the USS Blueback, open for tours, omsi.edu/, 1945 SE Water Ave. (adults $11, children $9, submarine tours additional $5.50). For kids 7-18, OMSI also has superb summer science camps, from marine biology to high-desert fossil beds, four to 10 days long, as well as family programs that accommodate adults and younger children.

* Portland is among the nationAEs more bike-friendly cities. Rentals: yelp.com/reviews/12uPortlanduOR/bikerentalsupageu0.html. (If youAEre bringing OlAE Brown-Eyes, itAEs among the more dog-friendly too, but ask your hotel first.)

* AEHoods: Trendy 23rd Street in Northwest Portland has tempting shops, galleries and restaurants. The Hawthorn district in close-in Southeast is a bohemian-lite street of coffee houses, hole-in-the-wall restaurants and interesting shops.

And if you wonder how we got this way, visit the Oregon Historical Society Museum downtown. Thoughtful exhibits and a gift shop good for books and more: ohs.org ($11).

Wine and beer

The state has nearly 400 wineries, and some near Portland grow Pinot Noir that has put the French in the shade. Many offer free tours and tastings. Start with oregonwine.org.

Portland has about 30 microbreweries. Many give tours and tastings, oregon. …