The home of hip: A guide to Portland, Oregon
Trendy, tasty and excessively green,‘Stumptown’ is America's most fashionable city break
Portland has soared up the travel ranks in recent years, aided by its unrivalled craft beer scene and the success of Ace Hotels, which began here. Oregon's state capital is now not so much an alternative city break as a mainstream must. So much so that Delta Air Lines has begun the UK's first nonstop flight, departing from Heathrow until 29 October.
What to do
The planetarium at the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry is excellent, and the Portland Art Museum hoards incredible indigenous works. But this is a city for being outside – be it climbing Mount Hood, wandering one of the many parks, striding along the Willamette River or following The 4T, a scenic tram, train, trolley and track loop.
Where to shop
Portland's vintage shops, bike-wear outfitters and pretty concept stores are spread all over town. The closest thing to a hub is Downtown, where highlights include artisan arcade Union Way, labyrinthine Powell’s (the world's biggest independent bookshop), and Animal Traffic, which basically sells everything and epitomises the city's mix of characterful old and handmade new.
Where to drink
Some 75 breweries are scattered across Portland; among the best for visitors is 10 Barrels, with its peachy Pearl District roof terrace. As for coffee – another PDX specialty – try Heart, whose branches in Downtown and leafy Kern roast beans freshly received from Central America, South America and Africa. Ideally, combine your caffeine with a Raspberry Romeo from Voodoo Doughnut.
Where to eat
Creativity is the thing here. A fine-dining winner of the national James Beard award, Le Pigeon serves American food with a twist, such as wasabi fried chicken and blue corn and leek tamale with strawberry mole. At Tasty n Alder, flat iron steak with sherry glaze, cracked rice risotto with morels, and grown up, boozy chocolate shakes are all available. Purchase a 'hall pass' to members' club, the speakeasy-style Multnomah Whiskey Library, for a top-notch cocktail and dinner from their traditional American menu, which includes three-cheese mac and cheese, bourbon-glazed chicken and a 3lb ribeye steak.
Where to stay
Ace Hotels began in Portland, and their West End residence remains the chain's flagship address. It's actually a bit more hostel-like than later, posher incarnations, with bunkbeds and shared bathrooms, although all the usual quirks and brand values – hooded robes, health-conscious local food – remain, and there are some perfectly lovely deluxe rooms.