For a city of its size (read: we’re smaller than you’ve been led to believe), Portland has a surprisingly comprehensive public transportation system. Trimet, the organization that runs the system, five light rail lines (known locally as the MAX), two street car lines that trundle through the inner urban core, and dozens of bus lines that’ll drop you just about anywhere. There aren’t a lot of places in Portland you can’t get to using one of these systems. It’s such a good system that I often recommend to visitors staying downtown not to bother with a car (you can take the MAX directly from the Airport to Downtown Portland). An all-day pass is just $5.00 ($2.50 for ages 7-17 and 65+, it’s free for children under 6), and it allows you unlimited access to the entire Trimet system. So if you’re planning a few days in our beloved Rose City, here are some cool suggestions of activities you can do (must-see Portland spots, if you will) while hitching a ride on Trimet.
First Things First: The Trimet Schedule App
Trimet has live updates of arrivals, and there are free apps for your smart phone that are invaluable to Trimet riders. If you’re an iPhone user, the best of the best is PDXBus. For Android users, I recommend Portland Bus 2. These apps will give you up-to-the-minute times of when to expect the next train or bus. This is a must-have for anybody riding Trimet.
Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI)
What it is: One of Portland’s coolest museums, OMSI has lots of great exhibits for the whole family to enjoy. Current exhibits include a history of the guitar, the Amazing Feats of Aging (watch your face age 25 years!), and Nanoland. Check out their calendar for the latest exhibit information.
General admission to OMSI is $13.50 for adults, and $9.75 for children and seniors.
How to get there from Downtown: Board the MAX Yellow/Orange line southbound toward Milwaukie/PSU and get off at the OMSI MAX Stop.
What it is: Portland is has a reputation as an amazing food town, and while there are good places to eat downtown, the real happening food scene goes on in Southeast Portland along Division Street. Food runs the gamut here. For the budget-minded, check out Tidbit Food Farm and Garden— the one-of-a-kind international food cart pod– at 29th Ave & Division. If you want to eat at Pok Pok, Portland’s world-famous Thai restaurant, why that’s at 32nd Ave (pro-tip: be prepared for a MASSIVE wait at Pok Pok, and I think it’s totally worth it. However, if you just want a sample of their amazing menu, just walk across the street to Whiskey Soda Lounge where you can get their famous fish sauce wings without the wait). For those looking for the “it” Portland dining experience, then snag a reservation at Ava Gene’s, one of the premiere Italian restaurants in town, located at 33rd Ave.
Oh, and there’s local favorites like Sunshine Tavern (31st Ave), The American Local (30th Ave), The Woodsman Tavern (45th Ave), Roman Candle Bakery (33rd Ave), oh and of course, you can finish of your meal with a scoop or two of ice cream from the Mad Ice Cream Scientists over at Salt & Straw (33rd Ave). And… and… and…
If you love food, Division Street can’t be missed.
How to get there from Downtown: Take the 4 Bus southbound toward Division Street. Get off just at 30th Ave. and the world is your oyster.
What it is: A revitalized section of town with fun curio shops, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, sweets and treats Mississippi Avenue in North Portland has a lot going on. Take in a live show at Mississippi Studios, one of the most intimate music venues in Portland. Want try try some real Portland beer? Ecliptic Brewing offers up iconic Northwestern ales to quench your thirst. Or maybe you want to check out The Meadow, Portland’s gourmet salt and chocolate shop (you read that right… gourmet salt and chocolate).
How to get there from Downtown: Take the 4 Bus northbound toward Fessenden, get off at Mississippi and Beech.
These examples just scratch the surface of the cool places you can get to on Trimet. Do you have any favorites or secret spots you like using public transit? Let us know in the comments!