Exploring Portland at #WCET14

Published by: WCET Frontiers | 11/18/2014

Tags: Practice

November 18, 2014

Another Portlandite, Jim Friscia, gives us a look into the fun Portland has to offer to compliment the learning at #WCET14.  Who knows, perhaps the next big thing in e-learning will come from a walk in the Japanese Garden, a conversation over a pint at Deschutes Brewery, or an inspirational sugar high at Voodoo Donuts.

In September, Loraine Schmitt of Portland Community College wrote an excellent post about Portland, the site of WCET’s annual meeting this week. It is chock full of great recommendation of places to eat, drink, shop, and relax. As another long-time resident and promoter of our beautiful city, I can’t help but chime in with some additional ideas for exploring in your free time. (BTW, I do hope some of you are planning to arrive early or stay through the weekend.)

Pioneer by CamKnows
Signs on Pioneer Square by CamKnows

Though you’ll be staying downtown, Portland is a city of neighborhoods, each with its distinct personality and options for exploring. Loraine mentioned the Pearl District and NW 23rd Avenue, but easy public transit options can take you to the Hawthorne District and nearby Division Street on the east side of the river. Division Street has recently become the hottest restaurant destination in our very foodie town. Or, head northeast to the Alberta Arts District and north to Boise-Eliot/Historic Mississippi Avenue, two of the hippest neighborhoods in the city (though you might be interested in learning more about Portland’s gentrification history that affected both of these areas).

We have amazing opportunities to walk, run, and hike in the city. If you’re a morning (or anytime) walker or runner, from the Marriott just cross the street and head north along Waterfront Park to the Steel Bridge. Cross the bridge and head south along the river’s Eastbank Esplanade path, crossing back to downtown on the Hawthorne Bridge. Another easy walk from the hotel is to head south along Waterfront Park and into the South Waterfront neighborhood. Here’s a link to more fabulous walks around the city. And, of course, we are a city of bridges that are fascinating to explore.

Speaking of walks, there are opportunities to join guided group walks that provide perspectives on Portland architecture, culture, and history. Here are two – one of downtown architecture on Friday afternoon, and of Portland’s Old Town/Chinatown district on Saturday morning.

japanese garden michael matti
Japanese Garden by Michael Matti

Are you a hiker? There are over 70 miles of trails in Portland’s Forest Park. This is a jewel of a wild urban park in Northwest Portland that you can easily get to via public transportation. Connected to Forest Park just to the west of downtown is Washington Park, where you can find the Oregon Zoo, the International Rose Test Garden, and the Japanese Garden. The Portland Japanese Garden is one of the most authentic outside of Japan, and the fall colors are beautiful.

Like to explore museums? Just a short walk from the hotel you can find the Portland Art Museum, the Oregon Historical Society, and OMSI (across the river from the hotel).

Enjoy heading out to live music? Portland has a wealth of options and if you want some recommendations, ask me or check out my occasional blog, Jim’s Music Notes.

There are so many tasty places to eat in Portland, from cheap to very expensive, and in virtually every neighborhood. To sort out many of the mindboggling choices, check out the Willamette Week’s current guide to the best restaurants in town. Both Urbanspoon and Yelp also have pages devoted to great places to eat, too. Have a favorite Portland chef? We currently have six James Beard award-winners and a host of notable nominees with restaurants in Portland. You can spend weeks eating here!

And if you’d like to know more about what has shaped the current state of the Portland and why young people “come here to retire,” check out this episode of public radio’s State of the Re:Union.

See you in Portland!

webJFrisciaJim Friscia
Director of Online Education & Learning Technologies
University of Western States
Integrating Health and Science

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