“Keep Portland weird.”

If you’ve heard one thing about Oregon’s northernmost city, it’s probably its quirky slogan.

Portland isn’t just that weird city in Oregon, though. It isn’t just a city of “weird” people and places, either (despite what the famous slogan would have you believe).

While I couldn’t miss the unusual quirks that earn Portland its reputation – and the people who are trying their best to keep it alive – what was even more obvious to me was something else.

Portland is a city that cares.

Not just about its famous identity – although there’s no denying that. But to focus on the “keep Portland weird” narrative would be doing this city a mis-justice.

Because what I found in Portland, more than anything, was a city that cares about the world. Portland cares about people. Portland cares about the planet. And Portland cares about protecting our children’s futures.

(Side note: I’m sure it cares about things that don’t begin with the letter ‘P’ too!)

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Ecotourism in Portland Oregon United States

 


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Why eco-conscious travellers need to visit Portland

For responsible travellers, Portland is a must-visit destination. It’s leading the way in ecotourism in the United States , making it perfect for humans who also care about our planet.

I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty confident that visiting Portland will make you a better human being.

Here’s why Portland is a city that deserves your attention, and how you can enjoy guilt-free travel while visiting.


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NWGSD poster in Portland Oregon USA
Expect to see at least one sign like this on every street in Portland.

Portland is a city for humans

Portland has the highest number of not-for-profit organisations per capita in the whole of America.

It’s impossible to walk around Portland without becoming aware of at least one stranger’s point of view. Portland residents visibly support the causes they care about. From Black Lives Matter posts in local bakeshops to boards begging for equality on front lawns, Portland isn’t afraid to speak out. 

 

As passionate as Portland is, nobody will ever throw their message in your face. The support here is a subtle, peaceful sign of solidarity.

Many of the banners you’ll see around town are the product of Nasty Women Get Shit Done, an activist group that emerged after the 2016 elections. They’ve grown massively since then, with activists spreading their messages all over the USA.


RELATED READ: Do you need a visa to visit the USA?


How to support Portland’s social initiatives: 

When you’re visiting Portland, it’s hard not to feel compelled to act. Luckily, you won’t have to look to far to do your bit.

Nasty Women Get Shit Done hold a weekly Postcard Writing Party every Thursday – and you can go along! 

Sadly, I didn’t find myself in Portland on a Thursday (or I totally would have been there). However, NWGSD did hold a letter writing event while I was there, which I (obviously) did go to. 

 

As well as knowing I could do my bit, it was really interesting meeting some of the women who are regulars at these events. I really enjoyed getting to know them, hearing their stories and learning about why they got involved.

Everybody is welcome at NWGSD events. You can find out more about their upcoming events and get involved via their Facebook group.


A Black Lives Matter poster inside a cake shop in Portland Oregon USA
Portland businesses visibly support the causes they care about.

Portland is a city that challenges perceptions

When you think of the United States, one of the first words that comes to mind might be “big”. Everything is bigger in America. 

Except in Portland, that is. In Portland, everything is smaller!

Portland is pioneering the tiny house movement in the United States. Proving that we need less than we think we do and doing their bit for the environment, the tiny home community is growing rapidly in Portland. Even the tourism industry is starting to get in on it too – which means you can enjoy it!

 

How to experience Portland’s tiny home movement: 

Stay at the Tiny House Hotel. While there are now similar hotels throughout the world, Caravan was the first of its kind and it’s right in the heart of Portland’s fun arts district. 

Even though it’s a operational hotel, Caravan’s primary aim is to raise awareness – not cash. Staying in one of their tiny homes is a great way to understand the tiny house concept, and maybe see if it’s for you!


A Tiny home at Caravan Tiny House Hotel in Portland Oregon USA
Caravan’s tiny homes are some of the cosiest hotel rooms you’ll ever come across!

Portland is the most vegan-friendly city in the USA

Vegans have nothing to worry about when travelling Portland. The Oregon city is packed with all kinds of vegan food, from sweets treat to plant-based takes on international favourites. 

Finding vegan food in Portland couldn’t be easier – you never have to look far. Whether you eat at one of the many vegan restaurants or elsewhere, a good meal is always nearby.

 

Where to find vegan food in Portland: 

Vegan restaurants are all over Portland, but these are some of my favourite spots: 

  • Start the day with a filling breakfast at Back To Eden Bakery for vegan brunches that will set you up for the day. 
  • For meat-free versions of your favourite Thai dishes, head to KaTi Portland for lunch.
  • Sweet tooth? Try a cashew cheesecake at Tiny Moreso. I recommend the passionfruit and matcha!

Vegan cheesecake at Tiny Moreso in Portland Oregon USA
Raw and vegan: Tiny Moreso’s cashew cheesecake are all vegan.

Portland is a city for sustainable beauty lovers

Portland is full of innovative start-ups, and many of them are in the beauty and cosmetics space. 

You never need to worry about finding vegan shampoo or eco-friendly essentials to replenish your makeup bag in Portland because the city is buzzing  with eco-conscious entrepreneurs. 

One of the best things you can in Portland is shop. Not only will you be supporting local businesses, but you’ll also be minimising your environmental impact by choosing sustainable supplies. 

 

How to enjoy Portland’s best sustainable brands: 

Try a glow-up experience at Blendily. Using herbs and flowers grown locally in Portland, Blendily is a skincare kitchen on a mission. 

You can shop their beautiful range of skincare and bathroom products completely guilt-free. Or, if you want to go a step further, enjoy a face mask and alcohol-free cocktail during a “Glow-Up” experience. They also offer consultations and massages, which you can book on their website.

If you prefer to enjoy your eco-friendly cosmetics in the comfort of your own home, you can still stock up on sustainable essentials in Portland.

Stop by one of Oregon Soap Company’s retailers to pick up some soap. In doing so, you’ll be supporting their mission to fight climate change, plant trees and practice sustainable business.

Or, if you’re in need of a new toothbrush, Goodwell Co. is revolutionising the oralcare industry with its sustainable toothbrushes and packaging. 


Blendily products in Portland Orgeon USA
Blendily’s beautiful products are made using herbs and plants grown just down the road.

Portland is a city that has fun making an impact

How often do you want to do something worthwhile but end up the pub because you’ve had another stressful day at work?

Or, perhaps you want to give some change to a charity donation but then realise you spent it on a glass of wine?

In Portland, you never have to choose between doing good and doing what you want. The Oregon Public House positions itself as a “fundraising department” for Portland’s many non-profit organisations. 

 

Every time you buy a beer or a meal at The Oregon Public House, you can donate part of the price to a charity of your choice. 

How to give back while having fun in Portland: 

Stop by the pub for dinner or a drink. What could be easier? It’s family and pet friendly, so there’s no need to leave anyone behind!


The Oregon Public House in Portland OR USA
Welcome to the first “philanthropub” in the United States!

Portland is a city surrounded by nature

Even though Portland is a busy, gritty city, you never need to venture far to enjoy nature. Portland is full of green spaces, from its expansive parks to its incredible gardens. 

Even if you only have a weekend in Portland, make time to enjoy at least a few of Portland’s greenest spots.

If you have more than a couple of days in Portland, it’s worth getting out of the city. There are some beautiful natural spots just a short drive, and they make for the perfect day trip from Portland. 

 

How to enjoy nature in Portland: 

My favourite park in Portland – by far – is the Japanese garden. Many in-the-know individuals have called it the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan.

If you have a little more time, there are lots of great hikes around Portland to try. This is Oregon, after all!


A waterfall inside the Portland Japanese garden in Oregon USA
The Japanese Gardens in Portland offer a slice of peace and tranquillity.

Portland is a city that will make you see the world differently

You don’t have to get out into nature to appreciate it. Even if you visit Portland in winter and spend your time dodging the rain, you won’t have to sacrifice seeing nature. 

One of my favourite experiences in Portland was the Exquisite Creatures exhibition at OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

This captivating exhibition showcased the work of Christopher Marley, an Oregon native who has a talent for creating art from the natural world. Carried out in an environmentally sensitive manner, his artworks made up of deceased organisms celebrates the biodiversity all around us.

 

How to enjoy the world differently in Portland:

If you love science and nature, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry should be top of your list of things to do in Portland. 

This unique museum is small in size but full of big ideas. Its exhibitions are just as creative as they are original. And, no matter what your end up seeing, it’s sure to leave you with a newfound appreciation for the natural world.

You can check the current exhibits on their website.


Exhibition at the OMSI Museum in Portland OR United States
Christopher Marley’s work will make you see – and appreciate – nature in a completely new light.

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eco travel guide to Portland Oregon USA