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Portland, Oregon

An urban destination with convenient public transportation, good eats

The Willamette River and downtown Portland. Photo credit: Kristi Berry

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Portland is a fun weekend getaway two hours south of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Oregon's largest city, it sits on the Columbia and Willamette rivers and is known for its parks, bridges and museums.

The centrally located Embassy Suites by Hilton Downtown Portland is a good choice for families traveling with children. It's walking distance to the riverfront, restaurants and public transportation. Built in 1912, it retains its historic beauty yet offers updated rooms and modern amenities including a heated pool, hot tubs and a fitness center. Most rooms are suites with a separate bedroom and include a mini-fridge and microwave. Complimentary happy hour and breakfast are also included.  

Just a few blocks away is Pine Street Market, located in what was originally the Carriage & Baggage building (constructed in 1886). Dubbed Portland's first food hall, this casual dining spot is home to nine of Portland's best chefs. There's something for everyone here from pizza, burgers and hot dogs to Japanese ramen dishes and Korean-style street food. For dessert, indulge in soft-serve ice cream in freshly made waffle cones. The food is delicious and moderately priced.

Another food trend in Portland is gourmet donut shops. You might have heard of Voodoo Doughnut. This funky donut shop is known for its interesting selection of donuts with toppings such as M&M's, Oreo cookies, Fruit Loops and bacon. Look for the neon sign and a line. Yes, a line for donuts. While the donuts are average tasting, this trendy spot is worth checking out.

Part of Portland's allure is its easy-to-use public transportation including Portland Streetcars and the Metropolitan Area Express known as MAX Light Rail. Ticket kiosks are at each station. Two-and-a-half hour and full-day tickets are available with adult and youth pricing. Bright orange bikes are also for rent throughout the city to take advantage of the many bike paths.

Take a streetcar or MAX's orange line to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). A highlight of the ride is traveling over the Willamette River on Tilikum Crossing, the largest car-free bridge in the United States.

OMSI's 219,000-square-foot building is filled with brainy fun for all ages. More than 200 displays and hands-on exhibits bring science and technology to life. In the Planetarium Hallway, children crawl into a space shuttle pod. The Turbine Hall's Innovation Station lets them control giant robot arms, bounce on a suspension bridge and move crates on a port crane.  It's also home to design, chemistry and physics labs. In the chemistry lab, where safety goggles are required, patrons move around the room doing experiments. Kids get to play with fire and make slime. Little ones ages 6 and under splash, crawl and explore at the Science Playground, which features a water area, cave and sandbox. For an additional fee, you can see a planetarium show and tour the USS Blueback Submarine. OMSI offers a $2 military discount on general admission tickets.

This is only a small taste of all Portland has to offer. Other highlights include the Portland Aerial Tram, Washington Park, Oregon Zoo and Japanese Gardens. Longer stays could include day trips to Mount Hood, Cannon Beach, or the Columbia River Gorge.

Embassy Suites by Hilton Downtown Portland, daily, 319 SW Pine St., Portland, 503.279.9000, embassysuites3.hilton.comPine Street Market, daily, 126 SW 2nd Ave., Portland, pinestreetpdx.comVoodoo Doughnut, 24 hours daily, 22 SW 3rd Ave., Portland, voodoodoughnut.comOMSI, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday, 1945 SE Water Ave., Portland,

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