Insiders’ Guide to Portland for Business Travelers

512px-Portland_Oregon_sign_Old_Town_2012

Portland is a pretty cool place. Now that it has worked its way out of the shadows of Seattle and San Francisco, Portland is gaining a reputation for its craft beers, its food, and its ultra-environmental-and-just-general friendliness. The city is laid back (that guy with the full sleeve tattoo may be your keynote speaker), very safe, and easy to navigate on foot, by bike, or via public transportation. Best of all, because Portland is a small city whose companies tends more toward startups than multinationals, and because Oregon has no sales tax, business travelers can enjoy world-class restaurants and accommodations at an affordable price.

photo from pacificnwelectric.com

Here are some suggestions for where to eat, drink, and stay while traveling to the City of Roses for business:

How to Get There

The Portland airport is located just east of the city and the MAX light rail ($2.50), which runs generally every 15 minutes, will have you downtown in about 38 minutes. Depending on the time of day, the drive can take 20 to 30 minutes. Unless you rent a car, you have two main options: Blue Star’s Downtown Airport Express shuttle costs $14 and runs every 30 minutes; cab fare averages about $35 before tip.

Where to Stay

There are many hotels located within easy distance of the Oregon Convention Center and downtown offices. Business travelers looking for a little luxury should check out the Nines, located in the central business district. This LEED-certified hotel at the top of a historic building has crossover reward points with both SPG and Delta SkyMiles. Hotel Modera is the city’s newest boutique hotel and is angling to be a major player in the business travel market. Members of the Preferred Corporate Program receive discounts, free wifi, wine and hazelnuts, fitness passes, and crossover miles with several airlines. Travelers looking to stay closer to the convention center can choose from the usual suspects: Courtyard by Marriott, Crowne Plaza, and Doubletree are all within a few blocks.

photo from starwoodhotels.com

Where to Drink

After taking off your socks and shoes and making fists with your toes, slip into something more comfortable and make your way to one of Portland’s fine drinking establishments. “Bridgetown” (11 bridges cross the Willamette River) is decidedly casual, so take whatever you would wear out in New York and dial it back about three notches.

You are in the microbrew capital of the country (there are more than 30 breweries in Portland alone), so extensive beer lists are mandatory at all restaurants and bars, and you really can’t go wrong. Beer lovers will enjoy the more than 1200 bottles and cans at Belmont Station. Tech industry folks should check out Bailey’s Taproom, which after about 3 p.m. is filled with programming types from nearby offices.

If beer isn’t your thing, take a walk down Distillery Row to sample local spirits or head over to Vault Martini Lounge. Oregon is also known for its spectacular pinot noirs, so don’t miss the opportunity to taste some local wines.

Where to Eat

Ask any native what you should do while you’re in Portland and you’ll get the same one-word answer: Eat. Portland’s foodie culture runs the gamut from food truck to fine dining, with everything in between.

Here, coffee is a work of art. Start your morning by walking right past Starbucks and into one of the many local roasters. Stumptown, which recently won Portland Food and Drink’s 2013 Reader Survey for Best Coffee Roaster in Portland, has five locations around the city. Coming in second is perennial favorite Ristretto, which has a new branch near the convention center.

After your morning session, head to Pioneer Square for the country’s best food trucks. There are more than 500 food trucks operating in Portland at any given time, and you can find authentic street snacks and tasty treats from around the world.

In Portland, food is like coffee and beer—it’s all good. For dinner, take a walk to the Nob Hill district. 23Hoyt serves sophisticated food made with local ingredients. Look for seasonal takes on lamb, quail, and pork dishes, or just order up the best burger in town. Paley’s Place is a Portland establishment with a Northwest meets French flair. Start with the charcuterie and then move on to a local albacore tuna dish. Finish the evening at Salt & Straw ice cream parlor—one bite and you will understand why the line snakes around the block.

Start planning your business trip to Portland today.

Featured image by Another Believer [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons