Portland adventure or boring nightmare?
August 6, 2007 1:49 PM   Subscribe

I'll be flying into Portland (PDX) this Friday morning. I'm staying in Vancouver but no one will be available to pick me up until late afternoon. Is it feasible for me to spend the day exploring Portland using public transport or am I stuck at the airport?
posted by Mamapotomus to Travel & Transportation around Portland, OR (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: You can take the light rail MAX
from the airport to downtown and if your ride is coming from Vancouver, you could save them a bit of a drive and take the line up to the Expo Center just across the river from Vancouver(the I-5 bridge, not the 205)
posted by Jazz Hands at 2:00 PM on August 6, 2007

Your luggage may (or may not) be a problem, but other than that it'll be easy. Portland public transit is quite good, or at least it was a couple of years ago when I lived there.

Unless you're carting around staggering volumes/weight in bags, I'd say no problem at all.
posted by aramaic at 2:01 PM on August 6, 2007

Best answer: Yes. The Red line goes from the airport all the way to Beaverton, but you can certainly hop off downtown. The buses all run on 3rd and 4th downtown right now as they are redoing the bus mall. From there, you can just hang around downtown or hop the bus to some where else.
posted by chrisroberts at 2:01 PM on August 6, 2007

Best answer: Not a portland native, but I've visited and it has good public transport and a very nice walkable downtown (with free transit within the core area). You should just be able to take the red line of the MAX light rail system from the airport to downtown, and then spend the day exploring. See the MAX schedule.
posted by Emanuel at 2:02 PM on August 6, 2007

Best answer: www.trimet.org
BTW, It looks like an all day pass is only $4.25
posted by Jazz Hands at 2:04 PM on August 6, 2007

If you don't have a lot of luggage, I'd also suggest taking the MAX downtown and explore. You might want to set up an easy place to meet downtown for your ride to Vancouver. Powell's coffeeshop would be one option.

I once had the same experience going into Minneapolis and found a friendly business that let me store my luggage while I explored.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 2:05 PM on August 6, 2007

It's about a 35 minute trip from downtown to the airport, so be sure and factor that in when you decide whether to do it. Downtown is, as mentioned, all kinds of torn up right now as they add new train service in downtown, but it's easy to get there on the train from the airport.
posted by pdb at 2:06 PM on August 6, 2007

Best answer: You might want to set up an easy place to meet downtown for your ride to Vancouver. Powell's coffeeshop would be one option.

During rush hour, with all the construction going on, there is NO easy place to meet downtown if you're trying to get to Vancouver. Depending on what time you're meeting with your friends, you may want to just do your day in Portland, and max back to the airport and meet them there - do your friends a favor and don't make them go from downtown to Vancouver on a Friday afternoon if they don't have to.
posted by pdb at 2:10 PM on August 6, 2007

Oh, and it's mandatory to plug Powell's Books whenever there is a Portland, OR thread.
posted by Jazz Hands at 2:10 PM on August 6, 2007

About a year ago I got off a plane, my wife couldn't pick me up for a few hours, so I took the MAX into the city and we met up that night near Powells. The thing that amazed me was the fare was only something like $1.75 to go something like 30 miles on the train. I guess I'm used to NYC and SF charging $7+ each way to the airport (which is still much cheaper than a cab ride).

Anyway, yeah, just train downtown and explore for a while. And pack lightly so you don't have to lug anything around aside from a small backpack.
posted by mathowie at 2:15 PM on August 6, 2007

Frankly, if your luggage *is* an issue, PDX is a pretty awesome airport. While in the terminal, you can follow the course of the Columbia river, inlaid in brass on the floor, checking out the intricate representations of fish another other ephemera as you walk.

Pretty tasty coffee shops and a couple of good bookstores- Powell's even has an outlet in the airport. Apart from Hong Kong's amazing city of an airport, PDX is definitely the best airport I've had the pleasure to fly through.

Second taking the Max downtown and hanging out- Portland has a fun downtown, even if all you do is hang out at Powell's. Powell's has a parking structure, so your family could even come down and meet you there. Enjoy!
posted by arnicae at 2:16 PM on August 6, 2007

If the luggage is a problem, a lot of major conference hotels offer a bag check service for conference participants who have already checked out of their rooms. (Yes, even post-9/11.) I've done this in major cities (though not Portland) many times, and I've never been asked if I was registered at the hotel or at the conference.

Check ahead of time for a name-brand hotel -- Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott -- with a conference center, and call ahead.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:36 PM on August 6, 2007

Response by poster: Awesome- thanks so much everyone!
I can't tell you how much I appreciate the links and traffic info for the city.
posted by Mamapotomus at 2:39 PM on August 6, 2007

Best answer: Not only can you use Portland public transportation, but Google Transit can help! no affiliation; just jealousy that it doesn't work in Boston yet
posted by zachxman at 4:04 PM on August 6, 2007

No Portland trip is complete without a trip to Voodoo Doughnut.
posted by knowles at 5:46 PM on August 6, 2007

Response by poster: Holy cow zachxman, Google Transit is the greatest thing ever! Forget Vancouver, I'm just going to plot out places to go in Portland for the next week :-)
posted by Mamapotomus at 6:46 AM on August 7, 2007

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