Portland Visitor Information
Getting Around the Greater Metropolitan area of Portland & Lake Oswego
- Public Transportation: If you fly into Portland’s airport, PDX, which by the way is consistently chosen by Conde Nast as the number 1 airport in the US, you might consider skipping the car rental! Instead, catch “Max”, Portland’s light rail system, just outside baggage claim, and you can hop off in the middle of city center near your hotel.
While downtown, you can hop on and off the MAX (light rail) and the streetcars in the downtown core area for free in our “Fareless Square”. (For the first time in 40 years, you must now pay if you need to ride the bus in the downtown core.) Portland has one of the best public transportation systems in the U.S. Between our light rail system “Max” which was the first west coast system to provide transportation between PDX airport to Portland city center, and beyond through Beaverton and Hillsboro, our extensive bus service, our modern streetcars in our city core,
and our commuter rail “Wes” connecting west side suburbs of Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville, Portland offers a seamless public transportation system. TriMet administers the system, and offers directions, scheduling, and maps on-line. Additionally, thousands of Portlanders bike to work using our two hundred plus miles of biking lanes. For more on Portland public transportation please see our Green Portland page.
Other Portland transportation options: If you want to try out Portland’s miles of bike lanes and Willamette River trails, and special routes for touring the city, you’ll be able to find a selection of companies renting bikes by the day or the hour or even guided bike tours of Portland. For a stunning view of Portland and Mt Hood, try the OHSU Tram up the hill between the Waterfront neighborhood and OHSU. At only $4.00 round trip, you’ll be thrilled and if you’re a patient at OHSU, you’ll find parking much easier at the base. During warmer months, you’ll see some horse drawn carriages downtown, and PDX Pedicabs cycling by. These can be hailed on the street, pick you up at your hotel, or reserved for special tours.
Automobiles: Ok–so must of us need to use a car at some point, if not daily. If you’re driving and are moving to the state of Oregon, or newly returned, within 30 days of residency, you must title and register your vehicle with the Oregon Department of Transportation whose convenient website will answer all your questions about time lines for that new registration and license.
Area Codes Rule! Local phone calls in Portland always require using the Portland area codes. When placing a call in the greater Portland area including Lake Oswego, you must first dial the area code. Portland area codes are 503 and 971.
No Pumping in Oregon! Oregon gas stations are another local quirk . You cannot pump your own gas in Oregon –it’s against the law, so enjoy the service! And by the way–no tipping is necessary for this service
Parking Kiosks: Portland was one of the first U.S. cities to do away with parking meters. Instead, downtown Portland has parking kiosks within 40 feet of where you park. These solar powered parking kiosks accept coins or credit cards but they take a few seconds to process with credit cards. Print your receipt and simply stick it in at the bottom of the window that is closest to the sidewalk. You can move the car to another location as long as the time on your receipt has not expired. If you find unexpired parking receipts that others have stuck on the kiosk, feel free to use one! These days, those parking kiosks are very hungry, and demand to be fed at the rate of $1.60 per hour from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM for all seven days of the week. Portland also has several “Smart Parks”–indoor garages at a reasonable fee for an hour to all day parking. One is on SW 10th Ave just down from the Portland Public Library.
What is the layout of Metropolitan Portland Oregon?
Willamette River divides Portland East and West
The City of Portland is divided east and west by the Willamette River , and because of its 11 bridges, sometimes goes by the nickname ” Bridgetown .” Here’s a sampling of some of our bridges.
The Columbia River Divides Portland from the State of Washington on the North and West
To the north and west of Portland, the mighty Columbia River forms the boundary between Oregon and Washington . A drive east along the Columbia River Gorge is a must. The dramatic sweep of the river flowing west to the Pacific is punctuated on the Oregon side by waterfalls, the most spectacular being Multnomah Falls.
Burnside Divides Portland’s North & South Sides
Dividing Portland Or north and south is Burnside Street, an old stage coach road that goes from the countryside of the West Hills all the way to the east where it joins with the highway to Mt. Hood, which is about 80 minutes from downtown Portland.
Along Burnside you’ll experience the many faces of Portland, including a tunnel in the West Hills, Powell’s Books in the center of the downtown area, the huge and beautiful gate imported from China to announce our “China” town, the distinctive Burnside Bridge over the Willamette River, the newly renovated and 50′s style hip Jupiter Hotel with its Doug Fir lounge, Music and Classical Millennium–about 30 years old and still surviving, the monuments announcing the Laurelhurst neighborhood with elegant homes, commercial strip malls near 82nd Avenue, and suburbia giving way to highway to beautiful Mt. Hood’s skiing, lakes and forests.
West of Downtown Portland
Downtown Portland is encircled by the West Hills and the Willamette River, and farther west past the West Hills are the large Portland suburbs of Beaverton & Hillsboro Oregon located in Washington County.
To the west and south of Portland are the popular wine areas of Washington and Yamhill Counties–some of these wineries such as Cooper Mountain are less than 30 minutes from downtown Portland. Many of Oregon’s wineries are located in Washington and Yamhill Counties, including Sokol Blosser Winery and Duck Pond Winery near Dundee.
South of Portland
Portland’s neighbors to the south are Lake Oswego, West Linn, Tigard, & Tualatin. Following Interstate 5, Oregon’s state capital of Salem is an hour away, and Eugene, home to the University of Oregon an be reached in 90 minutes.
Driving times from Portland Oregon to other West Coast cities
Seattle: 3 hours
Vancouver BC: 6 hours
San Francisco: 12 hours
Portland Weather or….. Does It Really Rain in Oregon ?
- Oh yes, but that’s what makes Portland and Lake Oswego so green and lush! Seldom does it rain for hours or even downpour. Instead,we have rain, showers, sprinkles,
intermittent rain, drizzle, light rain, mist, most of which is interrupted by clearing & a bit of sunshine. Lots of U.S. cities have more precipitation than Portland. You’ll notice that most Portlanders don’t even carry umbrellas!
- Here’s some average stats on Portland weather:
Monthly Ave. Low: 34F Monthly Ave. High: 80F
Hottest Month: August Coldest Month: January
Driest Month: July Wettest Month: December
Portland Or Average annual precipitation: 37.390
Recreational Activities in Greater Portland & Lake Oswego Oregon
Portland Oregon is surrounded by natural beauty in the hills, rivers and nearby mountains, with the Cascade Mountain Range to the east, the Coastal Mountain Range to the west, and accented by volcanic mountains including Mt. Hood to the east and active volcano Mt. St. Helen’s visible from Portland to the north in Washington.
Oregon Beaches: The Oregon coast is about 75 miles from Portland–80-90 minutes drive, with Seaside and
Cannon Beach the closest. Seaside is a family fun town, with arcades, bumper cars, and a board walk along the flat beach. This is the end of the Lewis and Clark Trail. Nearby Cannon Beach is more artsy, with lots of galleries and gift shops, and the largest monolith rock in N America nicknamed Haystack Rock. A short drive south of Canon Beach takes you to lovely Manzanita with one of the most accessible Oregon beaches. From the Lake Oswego or Tigard areas, it may be closer to drive to Lincoln City in the Mid-Oregon coast. In about 1967, Oregon’s Governor Tom McCall was instrumental in making all Oregon beaches public–no private enclaves here. Even where there are beach front homes, there will be access to the Oregon beach. Both the Seaside/Cannon Beach and the Lincoln City/Newport areas are easy Portland day trips.
Portland Hiking: Hiking is popular even within the city in our many parks, including Forest Park , the largest wilderness park in an urban area in the U.S., and Tryon Creek Park, a state park within the city limits of Portland. There are miles of hiking trails in the Columbia River Gorge as shown in the picture to the right, which is only 30 minutes to the east of Portland.
In the Gorge, waterfalls cascade down the foothills of Mt.Hood, with Multnomah Falls being the most spectacular.
Portland Water Sports: Since Portland is split down the middle by the Willamette River , and bordered by the Columbia River on the north and west, along with other rivers such as the Clackamas and Tulatin Rivers, boating, fishing, and kayaking are naturally popular. Golf courses abound, and there is an active tennis community as well with the largest tennis complex in the Pacific NW at the Tualatin Hills Recreation Center located in Beaverton. Running and biking are very popular in Portland, which is home to Nike and Columbia Sportswear, both located in the Beaverton area.
Portland Gardens: Don’t miss Portland’s gorgeous gardens. The Japanese Garden is one of the largest outside Japan, and the Chinese Garden was strictly modeled on formal Chinese design, with many of the elements coming straight from China. Perhaps one of our most famous gardens is the Portland International Test Rose Garden located just above downtown in Portland’s Washington Park, where roses are actually created and tested. There are lovely views of Portland and Mt Hood from the Rose Gardens. In fact, known for its roses, and dubbed the City of Roses, Portland hosts the annual Portland Rose Festival each June, with month-long events and a grand floral parade, waterfront carnival, special concerts, Dragon Boat Races and more festivities.
Portland Sport Teams: Portland sports teams are led by the Portland Trail Blazers who play at the Rose Quarter, with other entertainment provided by the Portland Winterhawks Ice Hockey, and our very own soccer team, The Portland Timbers.
Portland Culture: Not all recreation happens outdoors, though, and Portland Or offers many cultural opportunities, including ballet, opera, symphony, lively theater groups such as Portland Center Stage and the Public Playhouse, music festivals including jazz and blues, Chamber Music NW, time-based performance art and more! Check out summer concerts in the the parks, the Portland Zoo, and the amphitheatre at Washington Park. Portlanders are also readers-the library system has more use per capita than any other library in the nation. And of course infamous Powell’s Books is fondly patronized. The various Portland area colleges and universities all contribute to our cultural life, from opera at PSU, Chamber Music NW with its summer concerts at Reed College, to the University of Portland’s active theatre department. Similarly, but on a smaller scale and only 15 minutes from Portland is Lake Oswego with its own recreational and cultural events including nearby Marylhurst University galleries, the Lake Oswego Center for the Arts and the Lake Oswego Theatre.
More Questions about Portland?
Please connect with Portland & Lake Oswego real estate agent Sharon Francis via email @ email@example.com, or give her a call at 503-516-8066.