Destination: Portland, Oregon

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Only in Portland can you pull up to a red light and find yourself flanked by station wagons:

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This city is not large and it does not take long to unearth its quirkiness. Visitors can walk (or rent a bicycle, because Portland, derrr) and be almost anywhere in minutes. The ease of exploring is just one component of Portland’s allure, as are these highlights from my time in a city I’ve long considered a quieter Seattle:

Powell’s Books: If you took Costco and filled it with 1970’s pine wood bookcases, then lined said bookcases with serious amounts of used books (of the uncommonly good variety), the result would be Powell’s. Any bookstore that sells its own t-shirt (this is where I add that once in Canada I ran into a man from Chicago wearing a Powell’s Books shirt) is worth its weight in hardbacks.

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Voodoo Donuts: As a walking advertisement for processed sugar (unpaid, but the fact remains the same) it is no surprise that I recommend a visit to Voodoo, the world famous donut shop. Tip: don’t be the guy that stands in line for hours at Voodoo’s overcrowded original location; visit one of these other spots for a quicker yet equally satisfying sugar high.

Nuvrei: I can’t guarantee you’ll find this cafe in travel guides; nonetheless, order the ham and cheese croissant from Nuvrei while in town. Dining somewhere that wasn’t in a travel guide does seem like a rather Portland-y thing to do, no?

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International Rose Test Garden: 7,000 rose plants can’t be wrong (for the allergy-free set, at least). Mixed accounts of the garden’s history endure, but I prefer a story about how the roses were imported from wartime Europe to ensure that European species weren’t bombed into extinction. After browsing the garden’s hundreds of varieties, check out other features of Portland’s massive Washington Park, including the Portland Japanese Garden and the Oregon Zoo.

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Learn more about Portland here.

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