As you’ll find on our tour, Portland is a great town for walking. It’s mostly flat, with a compact, almost European-style layout and an abundance of parks and open spaces—thanks to the city’s unconventional approach to planning and transportation, especially during its formative years. Despite rapid growth in the last decade, Portland still has plenty of odd little nooks and crannies where you can hang out, relax, and explore ideas like “What if we used bicycles to transport our brewpub around the city,” or “How about we put a design hotel in that abandoned building?” And in case you’re worried about the city’s infamous rain, there’s an inviting café, brewpub, coffee shop or tea house on nearly every block.
The area generally considered Downtown Portland radiates out from the city’s “living room,” its civic heart, or at least its best vantage point for people-watching: Pioneer Courthouse Square, a public gathering space often filled with downtown workers scarfing lunches bought from nearby food carts. Our downtown tour also includes the South Park Blocks and surrounding area—basically the city’s museum district. This is where you’ll find the art museum and history center, along an invitingly wide, tree-lined walkway through the park blocks. Finally, we’ll stroll along Waterfront Park, for an appreciation of the river that gives the city so much of its character.