Oregon: one vastly under-rated state ... Porter adds Boston/Chicago flights
Folks from all over Canada know California.
Many of us, especially those in British Columbia, are familiar with Washington state, B.C.'s neighbour to the south.
Oregon? Not as much. This is a state that gets sandwiched between two bigger west coastAmerican brothers and probably doesn't get the visitation it deserves. It's a bit far for a day trip from B.C. and it's a hundreds of miles north of San Francisco.
But if you don't check it out you're missing a huge treat; a wildly diverse state that has just about everything you could want in a relative compact package: endless, beautiful beaches; towering mountains; alpine lakes; gorgeous and trendy cities with fabulous food and pubs, a vast desert area with world-class golf and adventure and a deeply green valley that grows some of the best wines in the world; especially Pinot Noir.
Oregon officials pride themselves especially on their food and drink scenes and on adventure travel. Because they have the Willamette Valley, they can grow darn near anything in a climate that's cooler than California but warmer than B.C., for the most part.
They didn't invent farm-to-table cuisine, one official told me over coffee this week, they just live it. Portland has an amazing food scene, with tons of fresh seafood and Oregon beef and inventive, cosmopolitan dishes. It's also one of the leading brewpub cities of the world.
Portland likes to be different. There's a large (and popular) wall in town that says "Keep Portland Weird."
The traditional downtown (for tourists anyway) on the west side of the river has been a lively spot for years, but now the neighbourhoods on the east side are becoming just as hip, with new distilleries hawking homemade gin, vodka and whisky. I'm told you can take a $20 pedicab tour and check out several distilleries, all the while admiring traditional neighbourhoods and cool architecture.
It's only 45 minutes to the Columbia River Gorge from Portland, 30 minutes to the Willamette Valley and 90 to the Pacific Ocean. The state has 580 km of oceanfront property,and it's all open to the public. Some of it is rocky and looks like Big Sur in California, while other parts offer broad, sweeping beaches and cute fishing villages. You also can check out some of the best golf on the planet at Bandon Dunes, a true links course where they have several options, including a par-3 course. Some of the sand dunes nearby are open for folks to try sandboarding; like snowboarding but without the ice. And the cold. Mind you, with the Cascade Mountains you can try real skiing or snowboarding for large stretches of the year, too.
The area around Bend, in the centre of the state, is famous for its low humidity and beautiful river canyons. Lots of rafting and watersports and hiking and golf and biking in the area.
Further west and north is Pendleton, home of the famous Western shirts. This is cowboy country, with rolling hills and endless ranches and a real western feel.
Toss in some good university towns and natural spots such as Crater Lake National Park and you've got perhaps one of the most diverse states in the U.S.
And there's no sales tax, even on your food and drink purchases. So it's great for shopping.
The best way to get there for now is through Calgary or Vancouver but Oregon officials are hoping to someday soon land a direct flight from Portland to Toronto.
PORTER ADDS OPTIONS
Porter Airlines today announced added weekend flights from the Toronto Island Airport to both Boston and Chicago, effective immediately. They're also adding another weekday flight from the island (Billy Bishop Airport) to Chicago's Midway airport from June 24 to Aug. 30.
This has increased the number of weekly options to as many as 43 roundtrips, for both Boston and Chicago, including eight weekend roundtrips to both cities, officials said.
“Boston and Chicago have always been popular markets, but with the launch of Porter Escapes, our new packaged vacations platform, we are seeing even higher demand for leisure travel to these two cities,” said Robert Deluce, president and CEO of Porter Airlines. “The additional Saturday flights allow greater flexibility for weekend travel, providing convenient options for any schedule.”