Portland Is Popping: The 5 Best Attractions in Rose City

Portland is an unusual place. Usually when cities reach a certain size, they start normalizing. There seems to be an unspoken rule that all American cities with a large population need to conform to a certain ethos. After all, you can't keep the strangeness of a small town alive in a city with a huge population. Or rather, most cities can't. Portland is getting more and more popular every year, and it's only getting weirder. The reason Portland succeeds in standing apart from the crowd is that native Portlandians actually embrace the weirdness of their city, propelling anything strange to the forefront of the city's culture. To appreciate this, you'll likely need a temporary residence. If you're wondering about where to stay in Portland for a weekend, that link should help sort your travel schedule out.

When a city gets to be as big and weird as Portland is, the best attractions are going to be wildly different from one another. That's a good thing, though. Whereas most cities are known for one or two attractions, Portland is guaranteed to have an attraction for everyone in your vacation crew. Let's check out a few examples that highlight this phenomenon.

1. Lan Su Chinese Garden See, we're off to a weird start already. How can one of the best attractions in the Rose City be a Chinese garden? Honestly, I have no idea what made anyone decide that Portland was the best place for the best Chinese garden in America, but you can bet your bottom dollar that's exactly what it is. Lan Su is widely considered the most authentic and complete Chinese garden in the United States. Not only is this botanical paradise the perfect location for a tranquil walk, but the park's upstanding reputation has also earned it additional features. Now, you can enjoy a cup of tea at the Garden tea house before picking out some souvenirs at the Lan Su Gift Shop. If you happen to be visiting Portland in the summer, be sure to check out Lan Su's series of musical performances, known as Jazz in the Garden. Relax to some chill jazz beats and take in the splendor of Lan Su.

2. Oregon Zoo Eh, why bother? You've probably been to a zoo before. A few animals put in stuffy cages there's nothing left to see, right? WRONG! There's a reason this attraction is arguably the single most popular destination in Oregon. If you can go to only one place in Portland, the Oregon Zoo is the right choice. But just how impressive is this zoo? 130 years old. Sixty-four acres. 230 species. More than 2,000 animals. We're talking elephants, giant cats, penguins, and more. You name it, the Oregon Zoo's got it. The zoo regularly hosts seasonal events, so check out their website ahead of time and see what options the zoo has available during your visit. Have fun, and remember not to throw peanuts at the elephants (they're sensitive).

3. Washington Park At 410 acres, Washington Park is so large that you would have a hard time doing everything in the park in just one day. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try, though. This attraction is perfect for anyone traveling with a large group. Washington Park features tons of family-friendly fun, including hiking trails, playgrounds, toys, and the Portland Children's museum! Send the kiddos to the museum, and the adults can take a romantic walk through the magnificent Japanese Gardens that are also within the park's bounds. It may not be traditional romance, but if you want romance without any strangeness, you'll want Nashville over Portland. Oh, and if you weren't already sold, the park also contains the ancient 46-acre Pittock Mansion. The mansion has 46 rooms (one for every acre, I guess?), each with more interesting architecture than the last. It's the perfect place for historians, architects, and bird-watchers. Set aside a decent chunk of time to explore Washington Park - you won't regret it.

4. Oregon Convention Center Okay, okay, let's go inside. As cool as Portland's outdoor attractions are, it can be nice to get under a roof from time to time. And if you're going to be under a roof, why not have it be the roof of the single largest convention center in the Pacific Northwest? The OCC hosts not one, but two separate ballrooms! For the folks in your group that don't care for fancy foot movement, there's insane architecture and over two million dollars' worth of art to examine within the Convention Center. To best use the OCC, though, you just have to pick out an event that's showing during your stay in Portland. The Oregon Convention Center hosts shows of all types and flavors-you're basically guaranteed to find a performance that's fun for everyone.

5. Powell's City of Books If you've heard of Portland, you've probably heard of Powell's. Powell's Books earned its nickname as a "city" by being the single largest bookstore on the planet. If you like reading, walking into Powell's will be akin to walking into Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. This is the only shop in the world that can make grumpy 15-year-olds get excited about reading again. Unlike most bookstores, however, Powell's is so popular that it's never quiet. This bookstore is practically a dance club for nerds. Oh, and they have a delicious selection of snacks and coffee in the cafe.

Whatever part of Portland gets you excited, you go for it. Between delicious foods, incredible culture, and more attractions than you could hope to see in a week, Portland is the perfect vacation destination. Have fun exploring the odd places in Rose City, and stay weird!

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