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Traveling to Portland for a Shopping Trip

It may seem odd to suggest that people already in Hawaii leave the beautiful islands, but anyone who’s tried going shopping in Hawaii quickly learns that it requires more money than you might be comfortable parting with. The logical solution, then, is to take a trip to the mainland with an empty suitcase and come back with all kinds of goodies.

As fate would have it, you can get cheap flights to Portland from Hawaii – and since Oregon has no sales tax, it’s the ideal place to come for a shopping visit. Portland has a great mix of shops to choose from, too, including big national brands that you’ll find pretty much anywhere in the country (but typically with lower prices) and small local boutiques that you won’t find anywhere else. The quirky style of some of those great shops bleeds over into accommodation in the city, too, and even some of the best places to stay also fall into the category of cheap hotels in Portland.

I won’t try to sell you on the idea of packing your suitcase with coffee to bring back to Hawaii (Portland does coffee well, but you’ve probably got them beat on that front), but a few shopping highlights that aren’t to be missed are:

  • Powell’s Books – The nation’s largest independent bookstore sells both new & used books and takes up an entire city block (with several floors). It’s called the “City of Books” for a reason. Plan to spend a long time there. And because Portland is on the tech-happy side of things, you’ll find fun gadgets and even iPad accessories for sale there, too (check the gear in the travel books section).
  • Northwest Portland – 21st and 23rd street up in the northwest section of downtown have long been known for having a great selection of small local shops and restaurants, including clothing, books, and home accessories.
  • Pearl District – “The Pearl,” as it’s called, is a newer area of the city for shopping, and this is where you’ll find a mix of national brands (Anthropologie, Lulu Lemon, etc.) and some small boutique stores. It’s a high-rent neighborhood, though, so the small boutiques tend to be elsewhere in the city.

Have you been to Portland? Do you like the shopping there? What’s your favorite shopping area of the city?

photo by Jami Dwyer