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21 Reasons Portland Is the Ultimate College Town

Portland Insider Guides
by Alex Scola Jan 27, 2014

1. It has some of the cheapest rent in the country. Fresh out of college, my 780 sq. ft. apartment runs me just over $600 (with utilities and internet).

2. It’s still a foodie heaven for the broke college student, with food cart pods possibly outnumbering restaurants, where you can get a vegan burrito, a fried pie, poutine French fries, and a basil lemonade for under $10.

3. Keep Portland Weird — Portland, Oregon…a place that prides itself on just how weird it is. Go ahead, Google it. It’s a place where the below is an everyday occurrence. So at a time when you’re discovering who you are, it’s the best place for you to experiment and to push boundaries, and a place that will love you no matter who you turn out to be.

4. As the “big city with a small town feel,” Portland is a friendly community, so you’re bound to make new acquaintances and run into familiar faces at the same haunts, though it’s just big enough that you won’t have to if that’s not your thing.

5. It’s a young and liberal place, where most of the locals are excited by fresh faces and outside ideas. Unlike in other cities, they won’t make you feel guilty for being from somewhere else.

6. With a serious biking culture and public transit system, it’s very easy to get plugged in, and in some cases having a car actually makes it more difficult to get from point A to point B.

7. There’s a city, 4 mountains (some of which are volcanoes), some hot springs, the high desert, a temperate rainforest, and coastline all within an hour and a half of each other. As a bonus, that coastline is littered with wild-growing magic mushrooms, and there are endless miles of forests to trek while those fungi digest.

8. Thanks to all the rain, everything is green, from the Douglas fir trees to the pot.

9. It has a sweet music scene. You’ll see your favorite artist play in a tiny coffeeshop, and probably get to hang out with them after the show.

10. Geek Love. Portland is a hub for geek culture, being home to both Dark Horse Comics and Oni Press headquarters (and a myriad of indie comic publishers), such events as Trek in the Park (a weekly live-action reenactment of Star Trek episodes in July), and dozens of board-game shops. If you loved comics or games as a kid, in Portland you can continue to love them with like-minded individuals.

11. Zoo bombing: The Portland Zoo sits atop a monstrous hill and droves of teens and college students use said hill to get wasted, dress in costumes, and ride children’s bikes and scooters down at break-neck speeds.

12. Santa Rampage (aka SantaCon): In the words of Chuck Palahniuk: “Drinking a hallucinogenic liqueur — made by soaking marijuana in rum, called ‘Reindeer Fucker’ — the jolly ‘red tide’ of several hundred Santa Clauses crashes elegant holiday parties, storms through swanky restaurants, boogies in strip clubs, and generally keeps Portland’s Central Precinct busy and paranoid.”

13. Vegan strip clubs. Portland loves its strip clubs — it’s a weird part of its culture, with such vegan strip clubs as Casa Diablo at the top of the list. The food is vegan, the strippers are vegan, and it shows up on your bill as a vegan restaurant. What’s not to love?

14. Between the strip-club culture, the naked bike parades, the Pride festival, and Reed College’s freshman initiation, you’re bound to run into a naked person at some point in your college career.

15. Portland also loves its beer, and its 124 craft breweries have put it on the map as one of the microbrew capitals of the country.

16. Speaking of beer, Portland has found a way to add drinking to all your favorite activities, from living room theaters to world-famous bar-cades.

17. Nearly every major neighborhood of the city has 2-3 pub-crawl circuits, or you can cruise with friends or make some new ones on a brewcycle.

18. Did I mention Portland loves its beer? You can now fill a growler at many gas stations and convenience stores, which feature up to 30 signature microbrews on tap.

19. It’s got every cuisine imaginable, ranging from traditional ethnic cuisine to truly “Portland” concoctions, like the bacon-brie-basil savory waffle from the Waffle Window.

20. The unanimous excitement from your fellow college students (and envy of any friend who’s ever been to Portland) when they see this.

21. It’s exactly like Portlandia. Seriously.

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