You might have seen the hit TV show ‘Portlandia’ and assumed that Portland, Oregon, is just a city of hippies and tree-huggers. And sure, this is basically true, but the so-called ‘hippie’ culture in Portland is part of what makes the city such a welcoming and friendly community, where diversity is always appreciated. And there’s so much more to P-Town than just the stereotypes on this show!
If you’re thinking about studying abroad for a semester in this hip American city — which is home to many educational institutions large and small — keep this list handy for four fun things to do while you’re there.
1. Visit Powell’s City of Books
Avid readers absolutely must visit Powell’s City of Books, which wins the title of finest bookstore in America hands down. With the popularity of e-readers and audiobooks, finding a bricks-and-mortar bookstore isn’t always easy. Powell’s stretches across an entire city block and features several levels offering everything from current best-sellers to ‘Oh my God I can’t believe you actually have this’ obscure 19th-century novellas.
2. Commune with Nature at State Parks
You can’t live in Portland and not spend some time just wandering through the woods and being all “outdoorsy.” There are plenty of places to escape city life at Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks, which trace the famous expedition of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. Portland’s contribution to the path includes Ecola State Park. This beautiful park features several miles of hiking trails, multiple beaches and awe-inspiring landmarks like Haystack Rock and the Needles.
3. Experience the Magic of Aladdin Theater
Are all the locals praising musicians you’ve never heard of? Immerse yourself in the music scene at Aladdin Theater for some of the best live music of the times. This quirky entertainment joint began as a vaudeville house in the late 1920s, evolved into a family movie theater in the 1930s, took a new angle as an adult movie theater in the 1970s and 1980s and now hosts top musicians, from The Psychedelic Furs to Ryan Adams. With a maximum capacity of 620 screaming fans, Aladdin Theater offers an intimate setting unlike traditional, colossal music venues.
4. Take a Wild Ride at Oaks Amusement Park
It’s nowhere near the size of Disneyland, but Oaks Amusement Park is just as much fun but without the long lines. Take that, Mickey Mouse! Just a few miles south of downtown Portland, this retro-esque amusement park features midway games, a year-round skating rink, picnic grounds and nearly two dozen rides operating seasonally. Work up the courage to ride the Looping Thunder roller coaster and enjoy a romantic view of the city from the top of the Rock-O-Plane Ferris wheel.
Portland is just about one of the safest and lowest-key cities in the country, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t come prepared. An international student health insurance policy keeps you covered in case of any accident — whether it’s a serious illness or an injury from a more adventurous expedition. You can’t truly understand all of the many dimensions of the U.S. without experiencing the dynamic culture of Portland, so consider this happening city for your overseas study abroad destination.