Photo: Joshua Resnick/Shutterstock

Dear Travelers to Portland: Please Don't Come Until You Understand These 10 Things

by Michelle DeVona Jun 30, 2016

1. Yeah, you and half of the visitors here are going to be greedily buying cannabis at Mind Rite, but check yourself.

There’s nothing lamer than being that guy smoking in broad daylight on Eastbank Esplanade or some shady alleyway in Old Town. Smoking in public anywhere in Portland is illegal (unfortunately). Instead, ingest your edibles at a friend’s home before a long walk through to catch Shafty play at Goodfoot Pub & Lounge.

2. Be aware that Portlandia is merely a caricature of Portland. Not (quite) everyone here sports piercings, tattoos, and rides bicycles.

Portlandia rendered our city as the place where “young people go to retire.” And for sure we have our share of creatives who have helped shape the city into the hipster haven it is today. Just take a stroll down Mississippi Avenue, and you will find Land Gallery, the shop where the infamous “Put a Bird on It” sketch was filmed. Yet, with more and more people coming in, gentrification is inevitable. Just remember when you’re queuing for brunch at Screen Door that many long-time residents were pushed out of their neighborhood so you can enjoy your praline bacon waffle.

3. Homeless camps are legal and have pretty much become a part of the city.

In 2015, Portland mayor Charlie Hales declared a state of emergency around homelessness, allowing for an emergency housing plan and more homeless shelters. Given that, there is still not enough room to accommodate everyone at the shelters, so homeless people are legally allowed to camp on sidewalks. While it is generally a safe city for tourists, be aware that this is a real issue here. There is even a Yelp review which pokes fun at Portland’s camping scene, giving it five stars, all seriousness aside.

4. Don’t complain about the rain. Just bring a good raincoat or buy one at Next Adventure, then please shut up and deal with it like the rest of us.

Rain is just a given in Portland, unless you are traveling here in summer, which is generally pretty dry. We thrive in a temperate rainforest climate, which is the reason we can enjoy lush, green hiking trails, such as the Wildwood trail in Forest Park. Oh yeah, and Portlanders do not use umbrellas. That’s for out of towners, newbie residents, or sissies. But don’t worry, we’ll have fun secretly sneering at you if you do.

5. If shopping at Fred Meyer, New Seasons Market, or pretty much any store in Portland, don’t expect to get your goods packed in a plastic bag. That’s because Portland has banned the use of these environmental nuisances.

Sure, we do have brown paper bags. But think of all the trees you can save if you just bring your own goddamn reusable bag.

6. Don’t even try to pump your own.

Besides New Jersey, Oregon is the only other state with full-service gas stations. Guess Oregon doesn’t trust people enough to pump their own gas without blowing themselves up.

7. Oregon is pronounced OR-UH-GUN, not OR-EH-GONE.

Probably one of the most mispronounced states in the country, Oregonians will be quick to correct you, so better to learn before you go. We take great pride in our state, so we don’t need folks butchering our name. Also, when referring to the Willamette River, it’s not pronounced Wil-Ah-Mit, but Wil-Am-Mit. Rhymes with dammit. This is our river after all, so show it some damn respect. Bonus points: Couch Street is not pronounced like the piece of furniture but COOCH.

8. Nobody gives a damn about the latest Louis Vuitton bag here. Or anything flashy for that matter.

So, leave the coat and tie or high heels at home. Unless you’re here on business, of course. Portland is generally a chill spot, so think flannel and jeans instead of Egyptian cotton and slacks.

9. Vegan drumsticks exist here. As does a vegan strip club.

Fuck yeah, we even have a vegan mini strip mall on Southeast Stark Street. Just in case you were thinking of getting that brazen VEGAN tattoo across your arm, in Portland you can get one without being a hypocrite. Because, you know, most traditional tattoo supplies use animal products.

10. We take pride in our ugly airport carpet. So much so that it’s become sort of a city emblem. Carpet patterned socks, anyone?

After all, what other city nicknames itself after its own airport? No one. Portland is weird as hell. Just one of the many reasons why we stole the “Keep Portland Weird” slogan from Austin, Texas. They had it first, by the way.

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