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Portland, Oregon, boasts a distinctive charm that sets it apart. Renowned for its eco-consciousness and vibrant arts scene, Portland offers an eclectic blend of nature and urban living. The city’s iconic landmarks, like Powell’s City of Books and the International Rose Test Garden, beckon explorers. Each neighborhood showcases its distinct character: the hipster haven of Alberta Arts District, the quaint charm of Laurelhurst, and the eclectic culture of Hawthorne. Proudly embracing local businesses and farm-to-table cuisine, the city is a foodie paradise. Portland fosters and embraces a sense of diverse community, making it a truly unique and captivating destination.

Portland, Oregon, is exceptionally accessible, thanks to its excellent transportation connections. Interstate 5, the West Coast’s primary north-south route, runs through the city. Seattle is only about 2.5 hours away (if there isn’t an accident on I-5). From the South, Portland is just under 5 hours from the California border.

For those preferring air travel, Portland International Airport (PDX) serves as a major gateway to the city. PDX is well-connected to various domestic and international destinations, making it a hub for travelers worldwide. Numerous airlines offer regular flights to and from the airport, ensuring convenient and hassle-free travel options for visitors.


Portland, OR, USA. 


Eating, Shopping, Art, Music


2-3 days

Getting There

On a shorter trip, particularly a long weekend,  being able to get to your destination relatively early in the day is a good way to make the most of your holiday time. With some planning and an early start, you can be in the mountains by 2:30 or 3 pm, and even squeeze a hike in! All other things being equal, this makes Banff fairly unique among major parks in the North American West.

On a shorter trip, particularly a long weekend,  being able to get to your destination relatively early in the day is a good way to make the most of your holiday time. With some planning and an early start, you can be in the mountains by 2:30 or 3 pm, and even squeeze a hike in! All other things being equal, this makes Banff fairly unique among major parks in the North American West.

There are basically three options for getting to Banff proper:

  • Public Transportation: From downtown Calgary you can take a $10 (CD) shuttle bus to Banff, but it only runs from May until early September.
  • Banff Airporter: This commercial shuttle runs multiple buses per day from YYC to several spots in Banff. It’s more expensive than the public option, but it’s more convenient. It’s around $50 / person in USD, but kids 6-17 are half price, and kids under 5 are free.
  • Car Rental: This is the option we chose. We rented a minivan through Turo so we could explore the Icefields Parkway and get to trailheads that were farther away. I would highly recommend this as you’ll be able to spend more of your time in the wild and less waiting on buses.

green trees of a chicago park in front of taller buildings

Where to Stay

Banff has a pretty broad range of lodging options, but because there just isn’t that much land to build on, they all tend to be fairly expensive. On the low end, there are several respectable hostels, including the HI Banff Alpine hostel and the Samesun Banff. Expect to pay between $40 and $70 / night for a bed in a shared room. At the high end there are the magnificent Fairmonts, one at Banff Springs and another up the highway at Lake Louise. They can run upwards of $600 / night for small rooms, but offer service and locations that you can’t find elsewhere.

We ended up checking out two places – the Delta Banff Lodge, which is a Marriott Bonvoy property, and the Mount Royal Hotel, a historic hotel operated by a niche hotel group called Pursuit. The Delta has since closed, likely for some updating, but I would recommend both. Neither hotel was particularly luxurious – the Delta offered bigger, quieter rooms and was a few minutes walk from Central Banff.

The Mount Royal was hipper and had a rooftop pool and bar, but had smaller rooms and more noise. It definitely had the better location and I would probably prefer it for a similar price. We mostly just used the hotels for crashing after long days out, and if that’s your plan as well, there are plenty of options.

Note: During peak season hotels book out very early consider reserving six or more months in advance. If the weather is cloudy or rainy, hotels will get cancelations, so you can snag a room at the last minute for quite a bit less money than you could if booking ahead. But if the weather is glorious, you might not get your preferred room (or any room).

marina city towers in chicago and river bridges raised up

Portland, Oregon, is a beautiful location for a relaxing weekend getaway. Green mountain views and a metropolitan vibe make Portland appealing to a wide variety of interests. Our weekend itinerary will make it easy to fill three days in this lovely city.

Friday Afternoon

When you first get to Portland, you are going to want to head downtown and check out some of the city’s famed landmarks. Start your trip with something sweet at Voodoo Doughnut, known for their wide variety of tasty creations.

From there, it is only a short walk down Burnside Street to Powell’s Books. One of the largest bookstores in the world, Powell’s has a collection so extensive that they give guests maps of the building. You could spend all afternoon navigating your way to a plethora of topics.

Scoring our doughnuts

Friday Evening

After you have loaded up on books, take a walk down SW 5th Avenue, and check out the outrageous selection of food carts that have drawn so much attention from around the world. Whatever type of food is calling to you, it can be found on this strip. As it gets darker, Portland’s nightlife emerges. The city is known for its local music scene, so try to take in a concert at one of the nearby venues. Check out Dante’s, which has the famous “Keep Portland Weird” mural painted on the back.

Tom McCall Waterfront Park

Saturday Morning

On the weekends, hundreds of vendors come together for the Portland Saturday Market. Stretching from Waterfront Park into the heart of the city, the market will give you a great feel for the diverse cultures on display. You will also be able to get your fill of artisan crafts and festival food. Be sure to hang around the park to hear local musicians display their talents on stage.

Saturday Afternoon

After you grab a bite to eat, perhaps at Mandarin House, strap on your hiking boots and head to Multnomah Falls. Just outside the city, this magnificent waterfall will remind you why so many people are drawn to the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

Multnomah Falls

Saturday Evening

After your hike, grab a slice of pizza at Sizzle Pie. This vegan-friendly eatery is proud of its punk rock atmosphere, and its pizza is as delicious as it is affordable. Across the street is Living Room Theater. While it might seem weird to go to the movies on a vacation, it will be a great break from being on your feet for the last two days straight. Not to mention, Living Room is an experience like none other. As its name would suggest, this intimate setting provides comfy, reserved seating with servers who bring food to you. While they have standard theater fare, they also offer specialty items and a wide variety of local beer and wine.

Sunday Morning

Start your peaceful Sunday morning at Peninsula Park. In the warmer months, you can truly appreciate the rows of blossoming roses. Portland has many public rose gardens, but Peninsula Park was the first. Plus, it doesn’t charge an admission fee. Since it first opened in 1909, the park has been a wonderful place to take a stroll, or simply sit and reflect on the gorgeous landscaping.

Portland, Oregon sign

Sunday Afternoon

Peninsula Park is very close to Mississippi Ave, so why not head over? When walking down this strip of local shops and restaurants, visitors are able to get a real grasp on what it’s like to live in Portland. There are many businesses that display the city’s “do-it-yourself” attitude, so make sure you support the local vendors by purchasing some handmade souvenirs for your friends back home. Also, if the line isn’t too long, stop by Blue Star, which many consider the best doughnut shop in the entire city.

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