Portland in general is widely accessible for travelers with disabilities, including its public transportation; for more information on getting around town by light rail or bus, call 503-962-2455 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Biketown, the city's bicycle share program, has a program called Adaptive Biketown that rents hand- and foot-powered recumbent bikes through a local agency.
Inside the Travel Portland visitor center at Pioneer Courthouse Square, there's a high-tech, all-gender, ADA-accessible restroom with an attendant on duty.
Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.
Dangers & Annoyances
- Filed under annoyances: it's illegal to pump your own gasoline in Oregon, though a 2019 bill may change the law. Until then, it may mean long waits if a station suddenly gets busy.
- While it's sometimes possible downtown, you usually can't flag down a taxi from the sidewalk – you have to call the dispatcher, or if you're in a bar, ask the bartender to request one for you.
- Actual dangers are relatively few, but walking alone at night downtown or in industrial southeast can sometimes be uncomfortable; you're best off grabbing a bus or a cab after hours.
Portland Police Bureau Police and emergency services.
- Student discounts Students should carry their school ID card, which may enable discounts on admission to attractions.
- HI-USA card (www.hiusa.org) Two Portland Hostels, Northwest Portland Hostel and Hawthorne Portland Hostel, are members of HI-USA, which is affiliated with Hostelling International. A HI-USA card isn't required to stay at these hostels, but you can save a few bucks per night with one. Available for purchase at check-in.
- Military & senior discounts Many establishments offer discounts for active and retired military personnel, as well as people aged over 60 – just show any form of government-issued identification upon inquiry.
- Family Fun Pass (www.familyfunpass.org) Enables discounted access to attractions around Portland and the Willamette Valley, including the World Forestry Center and the Oregon Historical Society museum. Passes start at $49 for a group of four.
Emergency & Important Numbers
|US country code||1|
|Portland's city/area code||503|
- Formality Portlanders are super laid-back. Casual attire is accepted just about everywhere.
- Politeness It's standard courtesy to greet staff when entering establishments, and to wish them well upon leaving.
- Greetings Handshakes are standard when first interacting with strangers; hugs are common among friends, but with acquaintances and colleagues, it's best to ask first.
- Conversation People in Portland are extremely friendly and will strike up a conversation with just about anyone, anywhere.
- Taboo topics In a liberal hotbed such as Portland, it may seem as if there's no political topic that's off limits. Even still, such matters are deeply personal here, so choose your battles wisely.
- Transport Allow passengers to exit the MAX cars before entering; don't block the doors.
- Gratuity Expected in restaurants or bars; don't forget to tip.
- Road rules Portland drivers are notoriously pokey and deferential to pedestrians. Cyclists are respected more here than elsewhere in the US.
Ensure you have insurance upon arriving in Portland. If you have health insurance in your home country, check that it covers medical expenses abroad. If not, obtain supplemental health or travel insurance for your trip.
There is high-caliber healthcare in Portland, but as with the rest of the US, the cost is prohibitively expensive – even a seemingly minor ailment or injury could set you back thousands of dollars without adequate insurance coverage; critical ones could bankrupt you.
If you plan to rent a car, liability insurance is essential. Consider a travel insurance plan that includes this, along with coverage for luggage theft or loss, and for trip delays or cancellation.
Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.
Checking insurance quotes…
Wi-fi is ubiquitous in Portland. You can find it at almost all coffee shops, and all libraries in Multnomah County (Portland's county) have free internet access and wi-fi.
Keep Portland queer: with 5.4% of the city's population identifying as such, it's home to the second-largest LGBTQ+ community in the US, second only to San Francisco. Given the city's size, visibility is high – queerness is not only accepted in Portland, it's unabashedly celebrated. It was one of the first major cities in the country to elect an openly gay mayor in 2008. City commissioners made two-thirds of the city's public restrooms gender-neutral in 2016. Rainbow flags and emblems are posted in the windows and yards of countless businesses and residences.
Unlike most progressive cities with high LGBTQ+ populations, Portland lacks a definitive 'gayborhood.' The collective, speculative sentiment as to why is that it's already a liberal bubble, or that everyone in town is a little bit gay. Undoubtedly, gentrification and the city's housing crisis play a larger part in this. But no matter where you find yourself, it is generally safe – and even empowering – to exist in your skin here.
However, despite an embrace of LGBTQ+ people and culture by Portland's wider population, bias crimes (especially toward transgender and nonbinary people) do still occur. Local alt-right political groups have been known to incite terror among the city's LGBT+ contingent, and recent reports by local media suggest that some city police officers were in cahoots with one of them.
Resources & Support
Portland is a very LGBTQ+-friendly city in general. But for specific information, there are several resources available.
- Q Center Located in Northeast Portland, this community space provides support and information and hosts regular events.
- Proud Queer (www.pqmonthly.com) Online publication about the LGBTQ+ scene in Portland.
- Gay PDX (www.gaypdx.com) A directory, both in print and online, of queer-owned and -friendly businesses and services.
- Travel Portland (www.travelportland.com/plan-your-trip/lgbt-portland) For more general information, plus a list of annual festivals and events.
KBOO 90.7 FM (www.kboo.fm) Progressive local station run by volunteers; alternative news and views.
Oregon Public Broadcasting (www.opb.org) The state's public-radio outlet.
Oregonian (www.oregonlive.com) Mainstream newspaper now mostly online.
Portland Mercury (www.portlandmercury.com) Free local sibling of Seattle's The Stranger.
Willamette Week (www.wweek.com) Free weekly covering local news and culture.
Portland is full of banks with exchange services and ATMs. Credit cards are accepted at most hotels, stores and restaurants. Farmers markets, food carts and some restaurants and bars are cash only.
ATMs are easy to find in busy commercial areas, as well as outside of banks, and they're generally accessible 24 hours a day. Many bars, restaurants and grocery stores also have them, but service fees are steep ($3 to $5, in addition to your own bank’s fees).
There is a Travelex downtown and at Portland International Airport.
For current exchange rates, visit www.xe.com.
Tipping in the US is not optional, as most service-industry workers make only the minimum wage and rely almost entirely on tips for their income. However, if service is truly terrible, tip less than 15% or reduce the following standard amounts.
- Bartenders $1 to $2 per drink, or 15% of the bill. Note: good tippers get stronger drinks.
- Bellhops $2 per bag, plus $5 to $10 extra for special service.
- Concierges Nothing for simple information like directions; $2 to $20 for securing restaurant reservations or concert tickets, or for above-and-beyond service.
- Housekeeping staff $2 to $5 daily, left on the pillow each day; more if you're messy.
- Parking valets $2; extra for special service.
- Restaurant servers 15% to 20% of the pretax bill.
- Taxis and rideshares 10% to 15% of the metered fare.
The following hours are a general guide – check individual listings for specifics.
Restaurants Breakfast 7am–11:30am, lunch 11:30am–2pm, dinner 5–9pm
Shops 9am–5pm (malls to 9pm) Monday to Friday; sometimes more limited hours on weekends
Banks 9am or 10am–5pm or 6pm weekdays; some also 10am–2pm Saturday
Supermarkets 7am–10pm; sometimes 24 hours
Visit the US Postal Service (www.usps.com) website for up-to-date information about postage prices and branch locations throughout the city.
New Year’s Day January 1
Martin Luther King Jr Day Third Monday in January
Presidents’ Day Third Monday in February
Memorial Day Last Monday in May
LGBTQ+ Pride Third weekend following Memorial Day
Independence Day (Fourth of July) July 4
Labor Day First Monday in September
Indigenous People's Day Second Monday in October
Halloween October 31
Veterans’ Day November 11
Thanksgiving Day Fourth Thursday in November
Christmas Day December 25
New Year’s Eve December 31
- Smoking Oregon state law prohibits prohibits smoking or vaping in public places except in designated areas. Smoking is not permitted within 10ft of the entrance, windows or ventilators of any public places.
Taxes & Refunds
There is no sales tax in the State of Oregon. Hotel tax is 11.5%.
The US country code is 1. Portland's city/area code is 503.
To place an international call, dial 011 + country code + city code + number (make sure to drop the 0 that precedes foreign city codes or your call won't go through). When calling Canada, there's no need to dial the international access code (011). When dialing from a landline, you must precede any area code by 1 for direct dialing, 0 for collect calls and operator assistance (both expensive); from cell phones, dial only the area code and number.
The US uses CDMA-800 and GSM-1900 bands. SIM cards are relatively easy to obtain.
Toilets are easy to find in Portland – shops and restaurants usually require a purchase and often have a lock that's accessible by a code, which may be printed on your receipt.
Inside the Travel Portland visitor center at Pioneer Courthouse Square is an 11-stall, all-gender, ADA-accessible restroom, where an attendant stands watch to thwart any potential funny business.
In 2008 the city of Portland installed a $250,000 state-of-the-art, stand-alone public toilet in Old Town-Chinatown in an attempt to address some of the problems that come with them. The solar-powered stalls feature anti-graffiti wall paneling, easy-to-clean coating, open grating, motion sensors, and blue light that supposedly makes it difficult to shoot up. There are now 11 loos throughout the city, and the design has been exported to several other locations across the US and Canada.
Travel with Children
Portland is fantastic for families. Kids will enjoy the city's countless parks and outdoor spaces and noshing on food-cart treats. A zoo and an amusement park add to the thrills, while museums offer exhibitions and hands-on activities that educate and entertain curious minds of all ages.
- Portland Children's Museum
Hands-on learning and exploration are encouraged at this museum with a clay studio, pet hospital, maze and more.
- Oregon Museum of Science & Industry
Kids will love spending a day at this science center, which has a planetarium, big-screen theater, 'discovery lab' and playground.
- World Forestry Center
Kids can learn about the earth's forests and environmental sustainability at this center with two floors of interactive exhibits.
- Oregon Historical Society
The hands-on, interactive exhibits at this museum include a canoe-building exercise and historical role-playing games.
- Portland Art Museum
Take advantage of free admission and family tour days, including one for caregivers with babies, at this wonderful art museum.
- Stark's Vacuum Museum
This quirky collection of 300 antique vacuum machines may help kids take an interest in chores.
Parks & Attractions
- Washington Park
This sprawling public park with massive trees, picnic tables and a playground is also home to top attractions, including the Oregon Zoo and the Portland Children's Museum.
- Oregon Zoo
This zoo has more than 2500 animals, a fun train that does a one-mile loop around the grounds, and regular kid-friendly events and summer concerts.
- Oaks Park
Opened in 1905, this small amusement park has several kiddie rides with height requirements from 34in tall, plus a skating rink, mini golf and arcade games.
- Lan Su Chinese Garden
Fortune-telling, koi ponds, a plant scavenger hunt and a story-time program are fun for kids at this peaceful oasis in the middle of the city.
- Japanese Garden
Tranquil garden with tea ceremonies, koto harp performances and bonsai tree demonstrations helps kids learn about Japanese culture while practicing their indoor voices.
- Portland Aerial Tram
Kids will love seeing Portland from up high on the aerial tram, which ascends 500ft from the South Waterfront to Marquam Hill.
On a hot day, little ones will rejoice as they zip through the jets of fountains and splash pads, found in many Portland parks.
Portland showers are typically gentle and short lived, but if your plans get rain-checked, give these indoor activities a try.
- Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade
This arcade bar with two floors of classic video games and pinball machines is open to all ages from noon to 5pm daily.
- PlayDate PDX
Castle-themed indoor playground with bounce houses, slides, ball cannons, climbing walls, dance floors and obstacle courses. Admission is free after 5pm on Monday.
- Powell's City of Books
With more than a million books across 3500 sections, this massive independent bookstore – which covers an entire city block – is a great place to while away the day, rain or shine. There's a kids' story time every Saturday at 11am.
- Pittock Mansion
Kids can explore 22 rooms filled with 1900s period furniture at this stately mansion in Portland's West Hills.
- Movie Theaters
Portland has loads of independent theaters, including Kennedy School Theater in an old school building, which has 'crybaby matinees' – infants are welcomed during the first matinee of the day from Tuesday to Thursday each week.
Scattered throughout the city and often clustered together in pods, Portland's famous stationary food carts are a great way to sample and share lots of different dishes, or cater to various palates and levels of pickiness. There's a cart for just about every cuisine, delicacy or dietary restriction imaginable.
A great place for food carts is the Portland Saturday Market in Old Town. Open Saturday and Sunday from March to December, it's the largest continually running, open-air craft market in the US. There are plenty of local vendors selling unique kids' clothing and toys, plus a 'Kids Korner' with special entertainment and educational events.
If they can tolerate standing in the notoriously long line, kids will be rewarded at Voodoo Doughnut, Portland's hallowed home of deep-fried, doughy goodness. Doughnuts are adorned with sparkle dust, candies, sugary cereal, cookie crumbles and more. The Voodoo Doll doughnut, complete with a pretzel stake to the heart, is an especially fun selection.
With the exception of upscale, prix-fixe menu establishments, restaurants in Portland are very kid-friendly.
Need to Know
- Transport Kids under six ride public transport for free when traveling with an adult; see www.trimet.org.
- Resources Check out PDX Parent (www.pdxparent.com) magazine, both online and in print.
- Emergencies Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center is conveniently located to downtown.
- Changing facilities Restrooms in larger stores and venues typically have changing tables.