Posted by & filed under Travel Post Monthly.

by Kerrie Hubbard

Let my friend MAX chauffeur you to the best places in Portland. Courteous and flexible, MAX can deliver you to the world’s largest bookstore or an outdoor concert.

MAX—the Metropolitan Area Express—is Portland’s light rail system. It can assist you in getting to unique cultural pockets around the Rose City. Here’s a sample of some of the best:

1. NW 23rd Avenue—Part of Nob Hill, known for fashionable boutiques featuring local fashion designers, NW 23rd Avenue is a great place for a walking tour. Drop into one of the local businesses for a free map. Burn off some of the calories you consume from teahouses and cafes with a walk around the neighboring streets to view old Victorian homes.

2. Powell’s City of Books (1005 W Burnside)—Featuring more than a million books (both new and used), Powell’s earns the honor of being the world’s largest independent bookstore. Powell’s specializes in out-of-print and rare books and takes up an entire city block, so you’ll surely find something for every taste.

3. Pearl District (bordered by W Burnside, Naito-Parkway, Broadway and the 405 Freeway)—Portland’s hottest art district is another great place for a self-paced walking tour. Visit Print Art to pick up a print from one of 150 local artists represented. Browse through unique and modern housewares at Hive or select furniture at Hunt and Gather.   

4. Pioneer Courthouse Square (701 SW 6th)—Fondly known by locals as “Portland’s Livingroom,” Pioneer Courthouse Square offers over 300 free concerts and events each year. Even when no event is scheduled, it’s a great place to people watch while you eat take-out lunch from a nearby vendor. The square also houses a visitor’s information center. (To find events happening during your trip to the city, visit: http://www.pioneercourthousesquare.org/calendar.htm.) A walk across the street from the Square takes you to Pioneer Place Shopping Center—four city blocks of stores, food and fun. From the Square, you can hop on ART (Portland’s Cultural city bus). For $1.95 you can stop at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), Washington Park, Oregon History Center, and the Portland Art Museum.

5. Saturday Market (under the east side of the Burnside bridge)—On any Saturday or Sunday, March through December, let MAX drop you off for free in the heart of Saturday Market, where you’ll find your senses overloaded with stimulating colors, mouthwatering aromas, and original sounds. This open-air market showcases unique jewelry, clothing, pottery, paintings, candles and much more—all sold by the 300 juried artisans who crafted them. Succumb to the tantalizing allure of freshly prepared international foods in the food court—your taste buds won’t be disappointed.

6. SE Hawthorne Boulevard—You’ll have to leave your light rail chauffeur behind and hop the city bus to finish your ride to Hawthorne Boulevard. The transfer isn’t difficult, and well worth the effort, as this eclectic street bustles with bohemians and hipsters. Many cafes, bookstores, and specialty stores crowd Hawthorne Boulevard. Visit the Historical Bagdad Theater and Pub refurbished by McMenamins (made famous by their microbrew pubs with a twist) where you can eat pizza, drink beer from one of 14 taps, and watch a cheap second run movie.

My friend MAX will take you to all these locations and more. In addition, MAX (along with all Trimet public transportation vehicles) offers a “fareless square” allowing riders the opportunity to ride for free to many downtown locations. When the time comes to say good-bye to Portland, MAX is even a convenient chauffeur to the airport. (See http://www.trimet.org/max/index.htm for schedules and locations.) I hope to see you on board!

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