Many see the Rose City as a lackadaisical hipster haven, but there’s serious business being done in the riverfront town.
Known for bicycles, breweries, and an abiding love of coffee that just might rival ours, Portland is a destination on the rise, gaining popularity for its quirk thanks to media attention from shows like Portlandia.
Put Portland is more than just jokes about putting a bird on it and feminist bookstores (although you will find those) – the City of Roses is home to almost 50 companies from the Inc. 5000 list and was named one of the best places to launch a startup in 2014 by Radius, a San Francisco technology company that collects small-business data in the U.S.
Portland is growing economically, too. The city has replaced most of the jobs it lost during the recent recession and, according to a 2013 report from the Value of Jobs Coalitions, the Portland metro area’s Gross Metropolitan Product – the market value of all goods and services produced in an area – grew at the nation’s second fastest clip.
If work takes you to that fellow Pacific Northwest gem just a few hours south, here’s how to make the most of your trip.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
One nice thing about business travel to Portland is how many options there are to get there.
You can hop in your car, of course, for the three-hour trip, or fly one of many airlines from Sea-Tac to Portland International Airport. Perhaps the most relaxing way to get there, though, is on the Amtrak Cascades. It takes just under four hours to make the journey, and unlike in a car or airplane, you’ll have room to move (plus free Wi-Fi). Another option is the BoltBus, with makes multiple trips a day from Seattle’s International District to Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square area. Fares are as low as $1 each way – although $10 to $25 is more likely – and seats include power outlets for gadget recharging.
Once you’re in the area, the MAX light rail system is a convenient way to get around downtown and to some farther-flung spots, such as the Portland Expo Center and Beaverton, headquarters of Nike. Cycling also is a popular way to navigate the city. “It’s very flat downtown and in some of the surrounding areas, making biking the transportation of choice,” says Lis Weller, the brand manager at Rodda Paint who lived on the Eastside for 20 years before relocating to Portland. “Routes and bike lanes make it easy to negotiate, and you blend in with the locals.”
The Power Lunch
Smack dab in a busting area of downtown, Pazzo Ristorante offers up hearty Italian dishes and a nice wine menu with a side of free Wi-Fi. Grab three courses for $16, and they’ll wrap up the meal-ending brownie to go if you’re in a hurry. In the Pearl District, Bluehour provides white-tablecloth service in a sleek, glitzy environment, with varied enough menu options to please any palate.
Weller says you can rarely go wrong in choosing a restaurant. “While there are a few standards – Pok Pok, Screen Door, Portland City Grill, Le Bistro Montage – there are more that pop up every day and even more that are under-sung and waiting to be discovered.”
Get Some Sleep
Known for being among the best hotels in PDX, The Heathman Hotel doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the small details, from a super-helpful concierge service to a world-class contemporary art collection to a lending library of books signed by the authors – Heathman guests themselves at one time or another. And forget pillow menus – here, there’s a bed menu. You get the choice of a Tempur-Pedic, European pillow-top , or European feather-top bed for your snoozing pleasure. If you have business at the Oregon Convention Center, the Courtyard Portland Downtown/Convention Center is a good choice, both for location and amenities – free high-speed Internet, ergonomic desk chairs, well-lit desks, and meeting rooms.
Need a sugar rush to stay up working? Take a break and stand in line at Voodoo Doughnut, a Portland tradition open 24 hours a day. There’s almost always a crowd waiting patiently for the offbeat concoctions, like Captain My Captain (liberally sprinkled with Cap’n Crunch cereal); the Bacon Maple Bar; and the signature Voodoo Doll, filled with raspberry, covered with chocolate, and adorned with a pretzel stake right through its heart.
For a clearing-your-head break, wander around the expertly landscaped Portland Japanese Garden in Washington Park, small but stunningly peaceful. Lan Su Chinese Garden, created by workers from Portland’s sister city Suzhou, China, is similarly tranquil. Tom McCall Waterfront park is good for people-watching and, if the weather is clear, views of Mount Hood. It’s also a lovely jumping-off point for a jog along the river.
Was your favorite place left out? Tell us in the comments and we’ll add it to the map.
Thumbnail photo courtesy Travelportland.com