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Lay of the Land

Portland is a city of rivers—and therefore also a city of bridges. The Columbia River runs along its northern edge, separating it from Washington state, and the Willamette River runs right down the middle. The city is divided into four quadrants, with the Willamette dividing east and west, and the Burnside thoroughfare separating north and south. Portland's downtown is located in the southwest quadrant, and the popular Pearl District is located in the northwest. Visitors generally spend most of their time on the western side of the river, where the bulk of the attractions and shopping opportunities are located, though the east side is increasingly home to some of the city's edgier restaurants and nightlife.


Portland is at its most picturesque and pleasant in the early fall (September and October) after the scorching summer heat has passed and before the long winter rains set in. It can take a long time for spring to come around (May and or even June), but when it does, it is spectacular. No matter when you go, it's wise to pack an umbrella.


Portland International Airport is located in the northeastern part of the city, about ten miles from downtown ( Taxis are reasonable enough ($25-30), but the most reliable and easy way to get downtown is via Max train, Portland's light-rail system (, which departs straight from the terminal and deposits you in the city center within half an hour.


While a car is necessary for day trips outside of Portland, or helpful if you want to go hiking in Forest Park, many of Portland's attractions can be easily reached on foot or with public transportation. Portland has three forms of transit. The bus system covers the greatest area, and maps and schedules are available at The light-rail system has three lines and is an efficient way to travel to and from the airport. The streetcar runs in a loop from the N.W. 23rd Avenue shopping area, through the Pearl District, and downtown to River Place. Most of downtown and the Pearl are located within Portland's fareless square area, meaning can ride for free. If you do rent a car, it's generally easy to navigate the area, and parking is rarely an issue.


Portland Oregon Visitor Center 701 S.W. Sixth Avenue at Morrison Street Tel: 877 678 5263 (toll-free) Tel: 503 275 8355

Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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