Portland’s inclusive attitude makes it a great LGBT getaway
Portland has long had a reputation for being individualistic, quirky and … dare we say it, queer. Never keen to conform, Portland has a laid-back style and a reverence for all things local — an irresistible combination for chefs, environmentalists, artists and just about anyone else who enjoys coloring outside the lines.
Fabulous dining, flourishing culture and the gorgeous outdoors are all easy to come by in Portland.
SEE FOR YOURSELF
Our video love letter to Portland offers a taste of what makes this our favorite city in the world. Check out the video and then come experience it for yourself!
- Portland International Airport (PDX) has been voted business travelers’ favorite U.S. airport four of the last five years.
- The award-winning MAX light rail system connects downtown to the convention center, the airport, and points beyond.
- There’s no cost to ride MAX light rail trains and streetcars in the “Free Rail Zone,” a 330-block area including downtown, as well as the Oregon Convention Center and Lloyd Center shopping mall.
Portland has a wide range of fun and inviting attractions — these are a few of our favorites:
- International Rose Test Garden
Each year hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world enjoy the sights and scents of the oldest official continuously operated public rose test garden in the United States. The garden’s spectacular views and more than 8,000 roses make it one of the city’s most notable signature landmarks.
- Lan Su Chinese Garden
A year-round wonder, Lan Su is an authentically built Ming Dynasty style garden. Covered walkways, bridges, pavilions and a richly planted landscape frame a picturesque lake in this urban oasis built by artisans from Portland’s sister city of Suzhou.
- Portland Art Museum
Located in the heart of downtown’s cultural district, the oldest museum in the Northwest includes an outdoor sculpture court and historical interiors. Six stories of modern art and special exhibitions compliment magnificent permanent collection galleries, which feature an extensive collection of Native American art.
- Portland Japanese Garden
This haven of tranquil beauty in the scenic hills above downtown has been proclaimed one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan. Encompassing 5.5 acres and five separate garden styles, the garden includes meandering streams, intimate walkways and an unsurpassed view of Mount Hood.
- Portland Saturday Market
At the nation’s largest weekly open-air arts and crafts market, you can browse row upon row of unique creations made by the people who sell them, and enjoy live music and international snacks. Located in Waterfront Park; open rain or shine, Saturday and Sunday, March through December 24.
- Powell’s City of Books
Covering an entire city block, Powell’s City of Books contains more than 1.5 million books in 3,500 different sections. Get a cup of joe at the in-store coffee shop, grab a map to the nine color-coded rooms, and lose yourself in the largest used and new bookstore on Earth.
FOOD AND DRINK
Portland has a favorite flavor: fresh. A passion for seasonal ingredients — from salmon to Dungeness crab, pears to Marionberries — pervades kitchens throughout the city, from James Beard Award-winning fine-dining establishments to casual spots like downtown’s beloved food carts.
To accompany your meal, may we suggest an Oregon Pinot noir? Or, perhaps, one of the riot of handcrafted beers that have earned Portland the nickname “Beervana”? The fact that we have no food and beverage sales tax just adds to your dining pleasure.
With no sales tax, Portland is a haven for shoppers regardless of budget, transportation or personal style. Within steps of downtown hotels, you’ll find major national retailers, plus independent boutiques with designs you won’t see anywhere else. More shopping abounds in the trendy Pearl District, sophisticated Nob Hill and other unique neighborhoods around town.
So, where do gays and lesbians hang out in Portland? It’s hard to choose one area — there are popular LGBT spots all over the city, from the urbane Pearl District to free-spirited Hawthorne. Here are a few of Portland’s most gay-welcoming neighborhoods.
Downtown: In the city’s urban core, the Cultural District is home to many arts institutions, from the museums along the tree-shaded South Park Blocks to the opulent Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. The “West End” (adjacent to the Pearl District) has a handful of gay bars and cafés, and the verdant campus of Portland State University hosts a farmers’ market on Saturdays.
Pearl District: In this formerly industrial area, sturdy warehouses have become sleek restaurants, boutiques, art galleries and lounges. One of the neighborhood’s oldest businesses is Powell’s City of Books, the largest independent bookstore in the world.
Old Town/Chinatown: This historic district contains numerous galleries and gay nightlife favorites and is home to the Portland Saturday Market. Stroll through the tranquil Lan Su Chinese Garden or go underground with Portland Walking Tours to explore the city’s “Shanghai Tunnels.”
Mississippi Avenue: Ethnically diverse Mississippi Avenue is one of several eastside neighborhoods where independent businesses and creative spirits thrive. On this street, you’ll find down-home taquerías, boutiques, a huge emporium of reclaimed building materials (the ReBuilding Center) and Q Center (www.pdxqcenter.org), which serves the LGBTQ community.
Hawthorne & Belmont: These two southeast outposts of hippie and hipster culture have long been popular with lesbians and gays. Diverting, affordable and funky coffeehouses, bars, secondhand clothiers and boutiques line the main streets.
PLAN YOUR VISIT
No matter which part of town you visit (we humbly recommend them all), you’ll be welcomed with genuine warmth. And you needn’t take our word for it — Portland has been ranked among the best places to live in America by such wide-ranging authorities as Girlfriends magazine, Men’s Journal and Money Magazine.
So, plan your trip soon and find out for yourself why Portland is such a draw for visitors of every persuasion.
To learn more, and to book your trip, visit