We are pleased to present a new Solo Travel Destination Post from Melissa, a member of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook. Melissa lives in Puerto Rico, and submitted the following report about Portland, Oregon. Do you have a solo travel destination that you would like to recommend? Submit your description here, along with a few photos, and share it with fellow travelers!
Solo travel rating: 1 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult. Please see chart below)
Languages spoken: English, Spanish
Reasons to Visit Portland
Inspired by movies, books, and, of course, travel sites, I decided it was time to “test the waters” and travel alone for the first time. I picked Oregon as my first solo destination for several reasons, but mainly because of its natural beauty and stunning landscapes. I had the chance to visit downtown Portland during the first and last days of my trip and these are some of the places that captivated me. I can’t wait to visit again!
My first stop in the “City of Roses” was the famous International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park. The Rose Garden truly is a marvel: rows and rows of roses in all colors and sizes invite you to look at them, photograph them, and, of course, take the occasional selfie. The garden, founded in 1917, served as a haven for roses grown in Europe during World War I, according to its website. You can therefore contemplate their beauty and remember the history while strolling through the peaceful garden and smelling the roses. The entrance is free and it is very easy to get there using the public transportation system (MAX light rail and/or buses). I recommend buying a TriMet day pass in any of the stations for US$5. You can also park your car for free in some of the MAX stations – check their website for the specific locations.
My second stop was Pioneer Square, named after the Pioneer Courthouse Building, the oldest federal building in the Pacific Northwest. The square, alive with movement and energy, allowed me to sit and observe a new city and even to make new friends! There are plenty of stores, restaurants, and cafes to capture your attention. The Square also hosts famous food carts, which I unfortunately could not sample because of a disagreement my stomach and I had over a hamburger on my layover in New York. Nevertheless, it was a great place to have lunch and see downtown. Walking southwest from there you can also see the enormous Portlandia statue by Raymond Kaskey in the Portland Building.
Another must-see in Portland is Powell’s City of Books, the largest independent bookstore in the world. According to them, it’s a whole block (between NW 10th and 11th Avenues)! A heaven on Earth for us book lovers, Powell’s stocks approximately 1 million books on its shelves and it even has a Rare Book Room with thousands of titles. I promise you won’t regret adding it to your itinerary when you’re in the city.
On my last day my Airbnb host, Donna, wanted me to see something different in the city so she took me to the McMenamins Kennedy School, an elementary school which had been converted into a hotel/restaurant/brewery. The hallways, classrooms, and most of the spaces had been adapted to its new purpose, be it a small pub or a restaurant, but it all somehow kept its past essence. The whole concept was incredible and very Portland-esque. Also, my stomach was recuperating so I had the chance to eat at its Courtyard Restaurant and the veggie pizza was delicious. I highly recommend it! Just as I recommend Portland to fellow solo travelers who wish to walk around a new city and feel welcomed by it.
Solo Travel Destination Rating System
Safety – 1 (1 very safe, 2 safe in most areas, 3 be cautious at all times.)
Language – 1 (1 English is first language, 2 English speakers easy to find, 3 English speakers rare)
Navigation – 1 (1 easy to navigate by transit or car, 2 poor transit, car necessary, 3 not easy to get around)
Culture – 1 (1 Similar to North America or Western Europe, 2 Different from above but relaxed and easy, 3 Challenging)
Average Rating – 1 (1 is easiest, 3 is most difficult)