Planning a West Coast road trip up with my wife this coming fall. What neighborhoods in Portland and Seattle should we check out? Which hotels should we look at staying in? We primarily enjoy exploring new cities (in the more walkable cities, we usually clock in 15-30 miles per day) just sampling any food or drink that looks inviting along the way. Getting a true local feel of each new neighborhood and city we visit tends to be our favorite experience. I've been researching and reading blogs and guidebooks all over the place, but thought I'd reach out for recommendations here. (New member and all.)
I know that some major cities' downtowns tend to be indistinguishable from a lot of other major cities... Portland looks like it's got a cool mix of everything going on downtown, but how is Seattle's? Part of my research so far gives me the feeling that it might just be a somewhat generic central business district with some touristy/market/shopping areas, and we might have more fun getting out into the neighborhoods or even further out of the city than we think. Can you guys chime in and let me know if I'm off here, or if I should be looking for anything specific?
Seattle and Portland are both great walking towns! My wife and I both enjoy exploring downtowns by foot. On a first trip we will usually take a Segway tour which is a great way to see a downtown and most of the time you learn some interesting trivia from the guide. (Portland has the world's smallest public park, down along the river front) My first criteria when visiting a downtown is to have good public transportation from the airport to downtown. Seattle and Portland both have light rail systems that fit the bill. If you want to get a skyscraper view of Seattle, skip the Space Needle and go to the Bank of America building. The cost is much less and the base of the BoA building is higher than the top of the Space Needle. If you can afford it, the Seattle Marriot Waterfront is worth it. (I think they have the best clam chowder on the waterfront) The Portland Downtown Marriott is in a great location for walking to the many neighborhoods. Whole parking lots ringed with food trucks/food trailers in downtown Portland. Other great walking towns: San Francisco, Austin, Denver, Boston, Manhattan Island NY.
Portland walking city for sure. Mostly a flat downtown area with excellent food and drinks pretty much all over the place. Our favorite hotel is the Downtown Portland Boutique Hotels | Portland Marriott City Center as it is just about right in the middle of town with the rail system located only a couple of blocks away. You can walk to the Waterfront in probably 15 minutes and The Pearl District is less than 10 minutes where you will find more wonderful dining and bars. If you don't rent a car you can use the rail system to the airport in 30 minutes, but you must rent a vehicle for a day trip to Mt. Hood, the Columbia River Gorge and maybe even a day trip to the coast to places like Haystack Rock on Canon Beach, Lincoln City and Newport to see the beautiful coastline and enjoy some fresh seafood up and down the coast. I face that could be a couple of days on the coast! We visit the Lincoln City area every year and love it in the fall, it is about a two hour drive from Portland. The Oregon Coast is tough to beat for sure.
Mt. Hood Memorial Day weekend a few years ago.
And then you have Seattle, another wonderful spot and curiousone is so very right about the Downtown Seattle Hotels | Hotels Near Pike Place Market as it is a splendid hotel with excellent customer service located right on Elliott Bay and just below Pike Place Market. Seattle is a bit like San Francisco as there are plenty of hills to walk up and down, yet a very walk-able city with awesome restaurants, bars and shopping close to the hotel. Belltown is a very fun area and you are a few blocks away for the Washington State Ferry terminal for trips to Bainbridge Island and other places in the Sound. Also a few blocks away you can catch the ferry to West Seattle to find some gorgeous sunsets looking back on Seattle from a few bars/restaurants. The surrounding area has much to offer such as Snoqualmie Falls/Pass, Victoria Islands, Vashon Island, Mt. Rainer and much much more.
You cannot go wrong with either location as they are both fun, exciting, friendly people and more. I'm sure some other Insiders will chime in so please ask questions and hope we are all able to help.
Great to hear that you'll be visiting the Pacific NW, matthewd! It will not disappoint. Check out this post that Melissaerb post on things to do in Portland. Lots of great ideas there!
I live in the Buckman neighborhood in Portland, and recommend it if you're looking for laid-back coffee shops, quirky vintage shops and great restaurants. Hawthorne St. in particular will have lots of great options.
Hope you have a wonderful time!
would definitely in Seattle stay at Marriott on waterfront. Walking distance to pikes market, aquarium , and ferries is you want to go to islands. I would also go to old town and take the underground tour it is a fascinating view of the origins of Seattle( it is also walking distance form the hotel )