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Portland is well known for its cutting edge rock'n'roll, though Shakespeare, Broadway shows, ballerinas, chamber music ensembles and full blown classical orchestrations exist here. Try one of many outdoor activities available year round with views of some of the country's best scenery. Portland has historical and cultural monuments, museums, and historic sites. According to a recent CNN survey, Portland is one of the five most "kid-friendly" cities in the United States. Portland has OMSI (the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry), the nations fifth largest science museum, the Oregon Zoo, and the Children's Museum with a strict "please touch" policy. For adventure, head for the indoor North Clackamas Aquatic Park, with its four foot waves and water slides, or visit an old fashioned Oaks Amusement Park, featuring roller coasters, thrill rides, a train, go carts, and bumper cars.
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8-night Columbia and Snake Rivers Cruise

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Portland


Portland, Oregon, lies on the northern border of the state at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Despite explosive growth in recent years, this area of the northwest has not wavered in its support of environmentalism.

Portland is referred to, justifiably, as one of the greenest cities in the U.S. Though it no longer has the most LEED-certified buildings (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, an environmental rating) per capita in the nation, Portland was named the first-ever Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Community. Portland's bike-friendly development sense has led to a varied lane and trail network that connects all parts of the city, and it is the first city in the U.S. with a program that provides free bicycles, safety training, helmets, pumps, toolkits, rain gear, locks and maps to low-income residents.

The local food scene also supports ecofriendly practices—the fertile Willamette Valley provides many of the ingredients for area restaurants, from fast food to fine dining. The most prominent landmark in the area is Mount Hood, on the city's eastern horizon.

Portland residents and visitors have access to beautiful parks, unique neighborhoods, theaters, brewpubs and coffeehouses, and what is quite possibly the best bookstore in the world (Powell's). There's a burgeoning coffee and craft beer culture, and the city has always had a strong contingent of food trucks. You can also dine at restaurants that really know how to prepare fresh seafood, and you can hike up to 70 mi/113 km of nature trails—all within the Portland city limits.

While the city might not be for everyone—its slogan is "keep Portland weird"—but it isn't just offbeat shops and events. Portland features on most lists of "best places to live" in the U.S. because of its friendly atmosphere, its proximity to the coast and the mountains, and its temperate climate. It has one of the best public-transit systems in the country (100% bike- and wheelchair-accessible), and strict building codes have kept its historical architecture mostly intact.

Portland's careful urban planning has also set aside plenty of parkland, including a huge urban forest that dwarfs New York City's Central Park. With its progressive attitude and thriving cultural-arts scene, Portland attracts so many frequent visitors that more than a few decide to make it their home.

Must See or Do

Sights—The Washington Park International Rose Test Garden; the Portland Aerial Tram; Lan Su Chinese Garden; Multnomah Falls and the Columbia River Gorge; Mount Hood.

Museums—World Forestry Center Discovery Museum; Portland Art Museum; Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

Memorable Meals—Portland City Grill for stunning city views and meals to match; Castagna for some of the most inspired fine-dining anywhere; Le Pigeon for a trend-setting Portland take on French cuisine; Andina for modern Peruvian in a fun setting; Pok Pok for a taste of chef Andy Ricker's famous Thai street food; KOi Fusion for a memorable bulgogi-beef burrito at a quintessential Portland food truck.

Late Night—Hanging with a hip crowd at Dig a Pony; quirky sweets at Voodoo Doughnut.

Walks—Hiking and exploring expansive Forest Park; walking along the Eastbank Esplanade; strolling through Hoyt Arboretum; taking in the view of the Cascade Mountains from the serene Japanese Garden in Washington Park.

Especially for Kids—Hands-on exhibits at the Portland Children's Museum; exotic wildlife at the Oregon Zoo; rides at Oaks Amusement Park; a rainy day at Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade.

Geography

Although it's considered a West Coast city, Portland is not on the Pacific coast—it is about 70 mi/110 km east of the ocean, on the eastern side of the Coast Range mountains. The Columbia and Willamette (pronounced wil-LAM-et) rivers define the town. The Willamette is crossed by 12 bridges within the city limits, giving rise to one of Portland's nicknames—Bridgetown. The Columbia forms the city's northern limit.


Portland is composed of many neighborhoods, with addresses defined by a five-section system. The city is geographically broken up into the Southwest, Northwest, Northeast, Southeast and North sections. An address alone is usually enough to give you a good idea where a site is located. The east-west divider is the Willamette River; the north-south boundary is Burnside Avenue. Therefore, an address such as 1300 N.E. Halsey would lie in the Northeast section—north of Burnside and east of the river.

The numbered avenues also point you in the right direction: They run north-south and lie on both sides of the Willamette, increasing in number as you move away from the river.

Downtown proper is in the Southwest section. It's between Burnside Avenue, the Willamette and Interstate 405. Downtown and less-central parts of Southwest boast the greatest range of sightseeing, shopping and entertainment venues.

Just north of downtown is the chic and rapidly up-and-coming area known as the Pearl District. It is located in the Northwest section of Portland, which offers troves of restaurants and boutique shopping options, especially on N.W. 21st and 23rd avenues.

The eastern side of the city used to be an endless urban sprawl with countless hidden neighborhoods. Today, the Hawthorne, Alberta, Division/Clinton and Sellwood neighborhoods are well defined. The Hawthorne neighborhood is often compared to San Francisco's Haight Street for its vibrant artistic and hipster communities; the Alberta neighborhood is known for its collection of boutique shops, great restaurants and art community; Division/Clinton has many of the city's most renowned restaurants, including Pok Pok, all on one street; and Sellwood offers excellent antiques shopping. You won't find many sights in these areas—only cultural experiences.

North Portland is home to the trendy and artistic Mississippi Neighborhood.

Mount Hood, visible from many parts of Portland, is the highest peak in Oregon at 11,295 ft/3,501 m. It's part of the Cascade Range, which is about 60 mi/95 km east of the city. The Columbia flows through these mountains in the Columbia River Gorge, a scenic and recreational wonderland.

History

Portland's setting on the Columbia River has always been the key to its appeal. The region's natural abundance allowed the Native Americans who inhabited the area, including the Chinook, Watlala and others, to develop a rich culture. And it was the river that first drew European explorers to the area, as well.

The Lewis and Clark expedition floated down the Columbia River in the autumn of 1805, and the Hudson's Bay Company established Fort Vancouver just across the Columbia from present-day Portland in the 1820s. Beginning in the 1840s, tens of thousands of settlers from the eastern U.S. poured over the Oregon Trail. They soon recognized that the point where the Willamette River met the Columbia had good potential as a port city.

It got its name when two East Coast founders—one from Boston and the other from Portland, Maine—flipped a coin to determine which hometown would be honored. The famed coin, known as the Portland Penny, is still on display at the Oregon Historical Society in town.

Growth in the early years was spectacular, with Portland rivaled in the west only by post-gold-rush San Francisco. By the turn of the 20th century, however, Portland was being overshadowed as a port by both San Francisco and Seattle.

Portland's growth was led by Henry J. Kaiser, who facilitated the construction of two Columbia River dams. The 150,000 workers he recruited to the resulting shipyards played a major role in the city's growth.

Fishing and timber became the city's main businesses, but their good fortunes were not to last. Fish stocks had been all but depleted by the time the last dams went up on the Columbia in the 1950s. In the 1970s, the timber industry crashed, and Portland became a rather sleepy river town.

Since the 1980s, the city has seen remarkable growth. Low housing prices and favorable business conditions drew people and industry from California and the East Coast, including many computer-related companies. Yet the growth wasn't willy-nilly as it was in some Internet boomtowns. Progressive initiatives kept a handle on growth and insisted upon livability for the city's residents.

Well established as a progressive, independent and green city, Portland has become increasingly popular with entrepreneurs as well as corporations such as Nike and Daimler Trucks North America holding significant operations there.

Potpourri

More people bicycle to work in Portland than in any other city in the U.S., according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Portland is considered the craft-beer capital of the world, with more than 50 breweries in the city limits, more than any other U.S. city. The annual Oregon Brewers Festival, held each summer, is the largest gathering of independent brewers in North America.

Portland is home to the smallest park in the world, according to Guinness World Records. Mill Ends Park is just 2 ft/1 m across. Over the years, landscaping and miniature additions have made it a quirky city darling.

Portland is also home to Forest Park, the largest urban park in the U.S. It has more than 5,000 acres/2,023 hectares of forest.

There are about 72,000 personalized bricks in Pioneer Courthouse Square. Try to find the one bought in honor of Elvis Presley.

Portland gets about 36-44 in/91-112 cm of rainfall a year, which is less than Seattle, New Orleans, Miami or Mobile, but it is still one of the rainiest cities in the U.S.

Nicknames for Portland include City of Roses, Stumptown (a reference to its logging past), PDX (its airport code) and Bridgetown.

Location

A working waterfront, the Portland harbor is a heavily-polluted 10-mi/16-km stretch of the Willamette River that flows through the heart of the Rose City. A river barge system and goods gateway, the harbor exports the most wheat in the U.S. Although the EPA, in conjunction with the city and state, has allocated more than US$1 billion to clean up affected areas, the project could take up to 13 years to complete.

Although Portland is the beginning and end point for a handful of small cruise companies, it is not big enough to support large cruise ships and offers no cruise terminal facilities.

Visitors who want to view Portland by water will enjoy day trips along the Columbia and Willamette rivers. A variety of dining, day and specialty cruises are available.



Portland


The Isle of Portland is actually a peninsula that is connected to the Dorset mainland by a strip of beach. Portland is famous for its "Portland stone," which is limestone from local quarries that has been mined for centuries. If you're in the area, check out Portland Bill, a famous lighthouse located at the southern tip of the peninsula.

Location

Portland Harbor is one of the largest man-made harbors in the world. A free shuttle runs from Portland Harbor into nearby Weymouth. From there, hire a taxi or hop on a bus to explore Dorset.



Portland


Portland is Maine's largest city: Almost one-quarter of the state population lives within the greater metro area. Set on a peninsula that stretches into Casco Bay, Portland is a sophisticated coastal city with a working waterfront, but it also has its share of nearby beaches and lighthouses.

Fittingly, Portland has many of the enjoyable things, minus the hassle, that a big city can provide—a healthy arts scene, stylish restaurants, a respected symphony, the world-class Portland Museum of Art, minor-league baseball and ice-hockey teams, a slew of galleries and boutiques, and a collection of stately homes.

A downtown Portland renewal effort over the past few decades has reclaimed treasured Victorian-era buildings, refitted the gas lamps along the cobblestoned streets in the Old Port Exchange (known to locals as the Old Port) and sparked civic pride among residents.

Must See or Do

Sights—The quintessential Maine lighthouse, Portland Head Light; the magnificent views from the Portland Observatory and Fort Allen Park; the opulent splendor of the Victoria Mansion; Wadsworth-Longfellow House, the poet's boyhood home; the Eagle Island summer home of Arctic explorer Admiral Robert E. Peary.

Museums—Classic American and European paintings at the Portland Museum of Art; train rides at the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company & Museum.

Memorable Meals—Chowder and a lobster roll at The Lobster Shack, on the ocean front; upscale American cuisine at Fore Street Restaurant; innovative dishes featuring organic ingredients at Hugo's; sushi at Miyake; grilled Maine blueberry muffins at Marcy's Diner; delightfully different pizzas at the cozy, family-friendly Flatbread Co.

Late Night—Drinking beer at Gritty McDuff's or Brian Boru; seeing a performance at SPACE Gallery; relaxing to live music at One Longfellow Square.

Walks—Circling the scenic bay along the Back Cove trail; strolling among the shops in the historic Old Port; taking in the Casco Bay scenery; enjoying nature at Maine Audubon's Gilsland Farm; soaking up rays at Crescent Beach State Park.

Especially for Kids—Interactive exhibits at the Children's Museum of Maine; waterslides and rides at Funtown Splashtown USA; a Portland Sea Dogs baseball game; an astronomy show at the Southworth Planetarium.

Geography

The city is centered on a peninsula that protrudes into Casco Bay. From the water, Portland rises onto hillsides that offer views of nearby residential islands to the east and the mountains in neighboring New Hampshire to the west.

Commercial Street runs along the southeastern edge of the peninsula, lining Portland's waterfront and forming one border of the historic Old Port, perhaps the city's most popular tourist destination. Just a tad farther inland, close to the geographic center of the Portland peninsula, is the downtown area known as the Arts District, which extends along Congress Street.

History

Several early attempts to create settlements on Portland's site failed, beginning in 1624 with a small Casco Bay colony. Its mastermind, Christopher Levett, returned to England and wrote a book extolling the region—perhaps Portland's first example of real-estate hype. A trading post, dubbed Falmouth, was established in the area in 1632, but by the end of that century the settlement had been destroyed twice by local Native Americans. (The modern town of Falmouth is just north of Portland.)

The town thrived as a British lumber and shipping center until the Revolutionary War, when it was flattened by a British bombardment in 1775. The survivors renamed the town Portland and rebuilt it into a commercial port and shipbuilding center, drawing on Maine's vast timber resources.

In the early 1800s, many shipbuilders turned to trade, building schooners that ferried granite, timber and fish all down the East Coast—for a time Portland rivaled Boston as a port. But a celebration got out of hand on 4 July 1866: A firecracker tossed into a shipyard sawdust pile ignited a conflagration that leveled most of the city, leaving 10,000 people homeless. Portland, wealthy and resilient, again rebuilt—this time in a striking Victorian style—and once more became a flourishing commercial port.

The city emerged from a statewide economic decline in the 1970s when it was discovered by young professionals anxious to flee large cities for a simpler, yet urban, life. Not only did they help create a new economic base for Portland in banking, telecommunications and service industries, but they also brought with them a taste for cultural offerings, fine cuisine, shopping and enthusiasm for historic preservation. Although minorities are still only a small percentage of the population, in recent years the city has seen an influx of immigrants from Africa and eastern Europe.

Potpourri

Portland's official seal features a phoenix rising from the ashes and its motto, Resurgam (I will rise again), is quite appropriate. The city was leveled four times by fire or invasions and was rebuilt each time.

Eartha, the world's largest rotating globe (it's true—Guinness World Records says so), is located at the DeLorme map company in Yarmouth, about 15 mi/24 km northeast of Portland. The globe measures 41 ft/12.5 m in diameter and is full of amazing color and detail.

Today you can scarcely walk a block in Portland without finding a tavern or pub offering spirits or locally brewed beer. However, in 1815 the city was host to the first ever Total Abstinence Society. Clearly an influential bunch, Maine's teetotalers banned booze by 1851. Known as the "Maine Law," it was the forerunner of Prohibition, which was in effect 1920-33.

Explorer John Smith dubbed the islands that are scattered off the coast of greater Portland the Calendar Islands, claiming there was an island in Casco Bay for each day of the year. The exact number is debated, but it is agreed that more than 150 of them are larger than an acre/half-hectare. Today, several are home to year-round communities.

The lobster roll sandwich is everywhere in Maine—even McDonald's sells it during the summer. What to expect: chunks of lobster mixed with mayonnaise or served with melted butter (or both) on a toasted hot-dog bun, which in Maine may be flat instead of rounded.

Maine has a lower minority population than any other state than any other state but was a leader in the 19th-century Underground Railroad. Not surprising, since it borders Canada and was a rockbed of the abolitionist movement. Granite markers in Portland commemorate this legacy as the Portland Freedom Trail.

Even Hollywood knows Portland's charms: Deering Oaks Park was the location for the skating scene in the movie The Preacher's Wife.

The city's enduring connection to the sea is memorialized by artist Robert Wyland's Whaling Wall mural, measuring 450 sq ft/137 sq m, on the waterfront at Franklin and Commercial streets. The mural is part of one of the largest public art projects in history, with Whaling Walls in 79 cities across five continents.

Portland was the state's first, and temporary, capital. In 1832 the capital was moved to the more centrally located city of Augusta.

Location

Portland is a port of call rather than an embarkation point for large cruise ships. Most ships dock at the Maine State Pier's Portland Ocean Terminal, adjacent to the pedestrian-friendly Old Port.

The terminal has tourist information, restrooms and telephones. Expect about a 15-minute gradual climb uphill to downtown. A taxi is suggested if you're heading to the museums in town.

A visitors information office, run by the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Portland, is at 245 Commercial St. Another organization, Portland's Downtown District, has an information kiosk in Tommy's Park at Exchange and Middle streets in the Old Port (open June-October).



Shore Excursions

Typical outings take in historic homes, the 18th-century Portland Head Light and scenic Fort Williams in nearby Cape Elizabeth. If you have more time, you might travel by bus to the charming seaside town of Kennebunkport to get a glimpse of Walker's Point, the summer residence of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, or head to the outlet-shopping mecca of Freeport, home to outdoor and sports outfitter L.L. Bean. Check with your ship's shore-excursion staff or your travel agent for additional information.





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