Whether you see Portland, Oregon, as a small town with a big-city feel or a big city that feels like a small town, it is a cool place to live. Located on the banks of the Willamette River only 90 minutes from snow-capped peaks and the Pacific Ocean, you might not realize Portland’s bustling downtown and waterfront are the heart of a metropolitan region with more than 2 million people. Twelve bridges span the Willamette River that runs through downtown, connecting the east and west sides of town.

During their free time, students will not have to worry about being bored. Portland has a wide variety of ways to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon. Whether the student is seeking a day at the beach or an afternoon at the mall, the educational experience of OMSI or the simple joys in a latte, Portland has something for everyone.

Portland also has an abundance of movie theaters, new and used bookstores, coffee shops and a whole lot to do. Throughout the sprawling city are unique neighborhoods brimming with culture and boasting a panoply of restaurants, parks, cafés, funky clothing shops, art galleries and the like. We hope the following sample of Portland activities will give you a closer look at the city we love.

Coffee Shops

A Google Maps search for “coffee shops” in the Portland metro area will list over 7,000 results! Several of these cafés are only a short distance from PBC. Apart from the six Starbucks shops within two miles of campus, listed below are some of the nearby coffee destinations most loved by our students.

  • Jim & Patty’s Coffee – A living room environment with friendly baristas, incredible espresso and tasty pastries.
  • Bipartisan Café – Down the road from PBC, Bipartisan Café is a great place to hang out with friends while enjoying good coffee and desserts.
  • Case Study Coffee – A superb study location featuring traditional espresso and house coffee as well as uniquely cold-brewed coffee.
  • Barista – With two locations in Portland, Barista serves exceptional coffee from some of the world’s best roasters with artful expertise.
  • Pips – Not far from campus, this is a favorite hangout spot not just for PBC Students, but the rest of Portland! They have the best mini donuts, whose size will make you feel less guilty about indulging.
  • Stumptown Coffee Roasters – Portland’s renowned, award-winning take on coffee; Stumptown has a few shops in the city but their coffee is used by a host of cafés.

Arts & Entertainment

When it comes to culture, Portland could never be accused of blandness. Rather it is teaming with artistic expression. In fact, American Style Magazine placed Portland as number 11 on its list of top 25 arts destinations in America.

  • Visual Arts – Portland has dozens of art galleries peppered throughout the city, displaying a variety of art in a myriad of mediums. In addition, the Portland Art Museum is an inexpensive way to appreciate art and it regularly offers free admission days.
  • Performing Arts – The Oregon Symphony, based in Portland, is one of the largest orchestras in the nation and holds numerous concerts throughout the year, giving generous discounts to students. For those who prefer Broadway over Beethoven, Portland has a top-notch theater scene with productions promoted by the Portland Center for the Performing Arts.
  • Jazz – Enjoying great jazz is easy in Portland. Order a cappuccino or a dessert and you can listen to jazz for free in the lounge of the Heathman Hotel. Or there’s always Portland’s nationally renowned center for jazz performance, Jimmy Mak’s. On top of this, the Portland Jazz Festival is held annually.

Unique Activities

Portland offers a diversity of fun and interesting activities. Here are only a few suggestions agreeable with a college student’s budget.

  • Hiking – Portland is a hiker’s dream. You don’t even need to leave the city to find worthwhile nature trails, such as Marquam Nature Park or Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. Some of the best hiking can be found only half an hour from PBC along the Columbia River Gorge, which is well known for its beautiful scenery. Many of the trails along the gorge encounter multiple waterfalls, the most famous of which is Multnomah Falls—the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States.
  • Powell’s City of Books – This is the largest independent new and used bookstore in the entire world. Its several story building occupies a full city block in downtown Portland housing millions of new and used books. Whether or not you need to purchase any books, exploring Powell’s can be an adventuresome endeavor—just don’t get lost!
  • Saturday Market – Every Saturday, for most of the year, hundreds of vendors set up booths and tents along the waterfront downtown to sell clothing, candles, paintings, pottery, food, furniture—a universe of stuff—as musicians play and entertainers perform.
  • Free Summer Activities – Students staying in Portland over the summer can easily save money for school while engaging in plenty of summer fun. Travel & Leisure dubbed Portland the number one US city for summer travel. Here are a few examples of free summer events in Portland: movies on big screens in the parks, outdoor concerts performed by local bands and the Symphony alike, entire streets closed down and converted into art walks, the Bite of Oregon, the Rose Festival (two weeks of exciting events throughout Portland), etc.
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