7 Reasons Planners Won't Want to Leave Portland, Oregon

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Portland, Oregon, has its quirks. It’s in one of only two U.S. states where drivers legally can’t pump their own gas (New Jersey is the other); it has so many food carts, you could chow down at a different cart every day for two years and never eat at the same one twice; and it lays claim to the world’s smallest dedicated park at only 24 inches across. My recent travels to the American Copy Editors Society conference brought me 2,500 miles across the country from Atlanta to this eclectic (OK, odd) Pacific Northwest city, and I left with a hole in my heart and a profound desire to book a trip back ASAP. If you’re a meeting professional planning an event in Portland, here are seven reasons you may not want to return home after your site visit—or may at least consider extending your stay. Photo credit: Jamie Francis-Blue Chalk Media/Travel Portland 1. The Evergreen and Loyal Legion In Portland's Buckman neighborhood (across the river from downtown) sits The Evergreen, an event venue that opened in September 2015 with room for 550. The space is expansive and airy, and the natural light flooding in illuminates historic details like exposed brick walls and an original maple wood floor from 1908. Just beneath and easily accessible from The Evergreen is Loyal Legion, a cozy beer hall with an old-school vibe and (literally) 99 beers on the wall—all of which are local to Oregon. Buy out the dynamic duo, which together accommodate up to 770 guests. Photo credit: A Lovely Day Photography 2. Trifecta Tavern I (thankfully) popped into this restaurant/bakery/bar hybrid by James Beard Award-winning Ken Forkish after a local recommended it. Trifecta serves up a fantastic burger smothered in authentic pimento cheese—and as a Southerner, I feel confident making that statement. If you’re feeling adventurous, belly up to the bar and order a bone marrow Manhattan. Bar Manager Colin Carroll infuses bourbon with wood-fire grill charred marrow for a perfectly Portland (read: unusual) drink. Look for its offshoot, Trifecta Annex, beginning May 1 in Pine Street Market, the city’s first food hall, for all the gluten: made-from-scratch croissants and pizzas, and… wait for it… a toast bar. Photo credit: Alan Weiner 3. Powell’s City of Books Be forewarned, bookworms: Powell’s will lure you in and hold you hostage. This mammoth bookstore is a bibliophile's haven, not to mention a Portland institution and a centerpiece of the city. As the world’s largest independently owned new and used bookstore, it takes up an entire block and its shelves house more than 1 million books. Pro tip: Check out the carefully curated rare book room on the top floor. Photo credit: Jamie Francis-Blue Chalk Media/Travel Portland 4. Clyde Common at Ace Hotel Portland The menu at Clyde Common emphasizes simplicity over complexity, but manages to master both in one fell swoop. I experienced a short wait for lunch here—but my meal (a grilled chicken leg with Yukon Gold potatoes, rhubarb, olives and mint) was well worth it. The restaurant/bar is located directly off of the lobby of historic Ace Hotel Portland, which has 1,200 square feet of event space. Pop in to take a snap of its Instagram-worthy sign or grab a hot one from Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Photo credit: Travel Portland 5. Forktown Food Tours You may notice a theme as to why Portland is so alluring: Its food scene is hard to skip. While difficult to define Rose City's cuisine, it’s clearly been influenced by a number of global tastes. Forktown Food Tours explores these myriad flavors by taking small walking groups around a specific Portland area (my group of eight explored downtown and the Pearl District) to eat and drink—not merely to sample—at a selection of restaurants. Highlights included a crispy chicken wing smothered in a sweet/spicy Korean sauce at food cart Food Koma, a pork meatball banh mi at Lardo and uber-rich drinking chocolate (hot cocoa’s sophisticated big sister) at Cacao, which also accommodates private tastings for small groups. Photo credit: Jamie Francis-Blue Chalk Media/Travel Portland 6. Oregon Convention Center As one of only two LEED Platinum-certified convention centers in the country, Oregon Convention Center takes pride in its commitment to sustainability—much like Portland itself, which excels at public transportation, water conservation and other green-minded initiatives. For example: The convention center is easily accessible via the city’s MAX Light Rail service and has extensive recycling and composting programs in place. The facility has 255,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space, 50 meeting rooms, two grand ballrooms and a fully landscaped, 30,000-sq.-ft. plaza for alfresco receptions. Photo credit: Travel Portland 7. Blue Star Donuts Voodoo Doughnut may get most of the buzz from out-of-towners visiting Portland, but Blue Star Donuts, with four Portland locations (plus two in Japan and one in Los Angeles), has a straightforward, unfussy menu. Its dough takes 18 hours to make from scratch every day—talk about doughnut dedication!—and its glazes and fillings are made fresh daily too. The blueberry bourbon basil and O.G. (original glazed) were equally #delicious and called for multiple social media posts. Photo credit: Susie Wyshak