Weird PDX

Some of you might have seen a bumper sticker around the USA that reads “Keep Portland Weird! If not, you might have heard or seen the show Portlandia. Either way, you may wonder what is so weird about Portland? Well, it does not take very long to realize that many things are weird about our city, but in a good way! Portland is a city that prides itself on expressing people’s individuality, expression of all kinds, atypical lifestyles, choices, unique businesses, and ideas.

Whether it’s Darth Vader in a kilt riding a unicycle playing his bagpipes or a couple taking their goat on a walk down the street, on a daily basis you are guaranteed to see something bizarre, that most Portlanders take for granted. If you are lucky, you might spot one of the many art cars that are festooned with thousands of toys, devices, and objects to create a colorful (in multiple meanings) sculpture on wheels. And while the tv show Portlandia (named after a famous downtown statue) lampooned the “true” Portlanders who insist on knowing where and how the chicken they are ordering at a restaurant grew up, reality is not far from that portrait.

From the largest forested natural area within city limits in the US to the smallest park in the world, Portland runs the gamut of extremes because it doesn’t need a reason to conform. Call it weird, different, independent, crazy, it’s just Portland. The weird aspects of Portland alone makes this city one of the top destinations to check out in the United States.

 

Naked Bike Rides are now in other cities around the world, but Portland’s is believed to be the largest as close to 10,000 naked (or semi-naked) bike riders cycle through the city each summer to promote alternative means of transportation.

On each Last Thursday of the month from May- September Alberta Street is taken over by artists, performers, creatives and musicians for the largest art event in Portland. The street is shut down to cars and fills up with 10-15,000 people to enjoy the art, life, food and culture of the city.

While bookstores are getting harder and harder to find Powell’s Books has thrived in Portland as the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world. The store takes up an entire city block and has over 1.6 acres of floor space. It’s amazing to just get lost and wander through the sections and be surrounded by so many books.

The Stumptown SantaCon is an adult’s only festive celebration of people dressed up as Santa who pub crawl throughout the city. It’s all about dressing up with your friends, meeting new people, and having a good time during the holidays.

One of the more popular and weird Portland traditions for tourists is a visit to Voodoo Donuts, an independent and quirky establishment that sells unusual flavored and decorated donuts in an iconic pink box. You can find donuts with grape flavored tang, maple-bacon, Captain Crunch, unfortunately the NyQuil glazed donut was frowned upon by local health regulators.

In the Old Town part of the city, legend has it that the elaborate systems of tunnels underneath the city were used for the practice of shanghaiing people (the capture and sale of men to sea captains in need of crewmen). You can now tour the Shanghai Tunnels and find out for yourself if this is truth or myth.

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