TL/DR: (1) Our public transit is excellent, take it! (2) Go beyond the Convention Center area to see the best of PDX (3) We’re building a crowdsourced map of Portland goodness; find places to go and add the places you find.
Welcome to PDX, FOSS4G! Here’s a little hint for making your stay even more enjoyable: get away from the Convention Center. There is a lot to be seen close by. The MAX light rail stops right outside and can whisk you to more exciting parts of town in just a few minutes. If you’re feeling like a walk, head down to the Eastbank Esplanade, and cross the river on the Steel Bridge’s pedestrian path – it takes you right into Old Town. From there it’s a short walk to the Pearl District (home to Powell’s Books), the beautiful Waterfront Park, and the bustling Downtown area. Trust us, it’s worth the trip. Here’s a crowdsourced map of good things in the city — add your favorites!
Getting around Portland: Transit, bikes, and feet
You can find information on public transit via TriMet; one ticket will cover you for the MAX (light rail), buses, and the streetcar. If you expect to be crossing the river multiple times a day, you can get a weeklong pass that will pay for itself over the course of the week.
Biking* is a wonderful way to get to know Portland. Bike rental options include Portland Bicycle Tours, Pedal Bike Tours, and Waterfront Bikes, as well as the PSU Bike Hub. If you’re looking for a stroll, strike out on the Eastbank Esplanade (waterfront) or follow this tour of the Willamette and some of the city’s bridges.
But first I need coffee.
Good call. Again, you have myriad options: we offer you a roastery map or two and one more highlighting “independent coffeeshops and their walkingshed communities”. Grab a cup of something locally-made and I bet you won’t be disappointed.
Help! I’m hungry!
Congratulations, you have come to the right city. (And while Voodoo Doughnuts is a standard when-in-Portland visit, it is perhaps not the best of lunch options…) Remembering that getting away from the Convention Center is an fantastic first step, we encourage you to strike out and see the city by fork. Some local foodie opinions can be found at EaterPDX and foodcartsportland, as well as Travel Portland. (And when you must depart, our airport has pretty good food, too.) Portland has become well known for its food carts, and “pods” are all over the city. The biggest takes up an entire city block, at SW 10th and Washington, just two blocks from Powell’s.
Nurse! I’m thirsty!
We do have some of the best-tasting** tap water in the nation (thanks, Bull Run!) — but you are also surrounded by good wine country (the Willamette Valley, extending south from Portland) and in a city that features an abundance of great microbreweries. Beer lovers, here’s three to start: Bailey’s Taproom downtown is a good option for those seeking stronger beers (if you’re serious about strong beer, head to SE to Hair of the Dog, whose “visit” directions include lat/long.). Also in SE, Green Dragon (map) has 50 (yes, fifty) taps, and is one block away from the sour beer haven of Cascade Barrel House (map). And if beer’s not your thing, then there’s always Distillery Row. (More of a wine person? You’re covered, too.)
Some destinations that aren’t food or drink
Put a bird on it: You’re lucky enough to be here during the flight of the Vaux’s Swifts at Chapman School – they are incredible. Grab a picnic and enjoy of the great wonders of urban nature. (Background from the Audubon Society)
Small things: The tiniest park in the world, Mill Ends (downtown PDX).
Thanks again for joining us in Portland for FOSS4G; we are excited to have you here.
*Two Portland biking tips: don’t ride on the sidewalks downtown (illegal) and beware train tracks (cross them at a 90 degree angle). Otherwise, follow the same rules you would when driving a car.
** Based on sampling done by the author. I mean, c’mon, don’t you agree?