Portland Guidebooks: Oregon Writers Share Where to Go, Where to Eat

by Nancy Zaffaro
Portland guidebooks Portland skyline at night

If you’re looking for a city with vibrant urban energy, a fabulous food and drink scene, and accessible outdoor opulence, Portland, Oregon is the place to be. Take a look at three indispensable Portland guidebooks for both visitors and residents of the Rose City. Adam Sawyer, Teresa Bergen and Kim Cooper Findling have each written books well worth accompanying you on your adventures. Visiting Portland has never been more fun; take a look at the books and hear from these Oregon authors directly.

Three Portland Guidebooks For Visitors and Residents

Unique Eats and Eateries of Portland Adam SawyerAdam Sawyer’s Unique Eats and Eateries of Portland Oregon shares a foodie guide to Portland like no other. There’s a great representation of Portland’s food scene: international offerings, elevated comfort food, Pacific Northwest cuisine, and more. You’ll find food carts, casual neighborhood eateries and the best of Portland’s fine dining. You get the scoop on the best places to eat in Portland as well as entertaining chef and background stories in Adam’s “come along with me” prose and his ability to point out what’s really cool.

Adam Sawyer is the author of four outdoor guidebooks, including Hiking Waterfalls in Oregon, Best Outdoor Adventures Near Portland, and 25 Hikes on Oregon’s Tillamook Coast. He’s a contributing author to additional outdoors titles, and writes extensively for on travel, food, and drink for local and national magazines. Adam also hams it up as a tour guide and a regular guest on radio and television.

Kim Cooper Findling’s Day Trips from Portland Oregon is now in its Third Edition. Kim’s writing always conveys the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, while giving you a full list of what’s available to see and do. The book divides each day trip by region from Portland. Each trip includes regional and historical info, how to get there, and where to go, shop, and eat. Day Trips also shares where to stay and what to do if you decide to make it an overnight trip. A map for each trip keeps you oriented.  I still have my well-worn copy of the first edition, and look forward to breaking in this updated version.

Kim Cooper Findling is a 6th generation Oregonian.  Her career includes work as a freelance writer, teacher, magazine editor and publisher. She’s written four books, including two guidebooks, a memoir and a young adult novel she co-authored with daughter, Libby.

Teresa Bergen’s mission with Easy Portland Outdoors is clear: get folks outdoors, no über-athletic skills required. Her Portland guidebook shares outdoor activities and events, from the city’s top destinations to those you’ll won’t find on those Top 20 lists of things to do in Portland. There’s nothing like joining in on the Big Float on the Willamette River to feel like local and make your day memorable. As well as the activity description, each entry includes a sidebar with all the particulars: when to go (handy for seasonal outings), hours, cost, whether it’s kid- or pet-friendly, cost, notes on accessibility, and more. One of my favorite features is that each entry lists the distance from downtown Portland.

Teresa Bergen writes about local, regional and international travel, often focusing on health and fitness, including vegetarianism, spas and yoga. She’s also a yoga instructor. Easy Portland Outdoors is her first book.

Let’s Hear It From the Writers

Instead of Asking What Makes Portland Weird…

Nancy Zaffaro: What makes Portland unique?

Teresa Bergen: It’s an outdoorsy place where vegan ice cream is plentiful, and you always have the hope of glimpsing Sasquatch.

Kim Cooper Findling: Portland is ideally located to explore such diverse landscapes. Within an hour or two, day trippers can reach the coast, the high desert, the Columbia River Gorge, wine country, the Cascade Range. There is so much beauty, adventure and culture to explore in all directions.

Adam Sawyer: I think a lot of the things that make Portland unique culinarily, are the same things that many of us enjoy about living here – proximity to the ocean and the mountains, the growing regions of the Willamette Valley, a creative culture and a community that supports it, relative affordability compared to other west coast cities, a temperate climate, and oh so many ways to get artisanally hammered!

Portland Japanese Garden

The Portland Japanese Garden is a beautiful place for a walk year-round

Giving Readers What They Need

Nancy: What inspired your book and what did you most want to give your readers?

Teresa: I wanted to encourage people to pursue outdoor adventures, however small. You don’t have to be athletic or young or brave to have fun outdoors, nor do you have to travel far to find a fun outdoor activity around Portland.

Adam: Just how unique what we have here is. In addition to all the great hyper-local, hyper-seasonal, we have outstanding bar food, beer, wine, cider, distilleries, and of course, food carts. For those reasons and more, it’s truly a one of a kind place, and I wanted people to know how and why we got here.

Kim: My book is a series—Globe Pequot publishes Day Trips books from many American cities. I just got to be the lucky author to write the Portland, Oregon book. I want to give readers the encouragement, empowerment and information needed to get out and discover all of the amazing destinations surrounding the city.

Portland guidebooks oregon coast

Oregon offers 362 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline.

Portland Guidebooks for Both Visitors and Residents

Nancy: How do you see visitors to Portland best using your Portland guidebooks?

Adam: I think they can more or less use it as a source for dining recommendations that just so happens to have some interesting stories attached.

Kim: First-time visitors to Portland might never get out of the city, as there is so much to do within its borders. But my book can be aspirational—a way for visitors to be inspired to return to discover what else there is to do and see in the Pacific Northwest.

Teresa: Identifying a few things that especially appeal to them, whether that’s a garden or a ghost tour, visiting an alpaca farm or going zip-lining. Easy Portland Outdoors includes 100 activities, which is too many to do while visiting, but should be enough to find a few intriguing options.

Chef John Gorham

John Gorham is just one of the many Portland chefs who have been influential to our food scene.

Nancy: How about residents, both new to town and those who have lived in Portland for years?

Kim: What I hear from long-time residents is that they get caught up in life and forget to explore. This book is a reminder of how invigorating and refreshing it is to find new places and even revisit old-time favorite places. As for newcomers, they absolutely love this book—they moved here precisely because there is so much to see and enjoy around here, and they are itching to do it all!

Teresa: Most of the activities will be new to people who just moved here. Long-time Portlanders will know about all the obvious things, like the Rose Parade and the Saturday Market, but will probably discover at least a few obscure attractions.

Adam: I think a lot of people, even folks born and raised here, don’t necessarily realize everything that happened in order to build this bully that has become the Portland food scene. From the Missoula floods to the urban growth boundaries to the permissive zoning and liquor laws. I think the backstory is utterly fascinating.

Portland guidebooks oregon wildflowers

Spring hiking in the Columbia Gorge means wildflowers

We Live in a Beautiful Place

Nancy: What do enjoy most about Portland?

Teresa: The beauty of Mount Hood looming over our city on a clear day, the Willamette River separating Eastside from Westside, all the trees and flowers. April is my favorite month, when pink trees line the streets.

Kim: I live in Central Oregon, so for me, Portland is my city fix. I love to visit the Rose Gardens, wander city blocks, see some live music, and visit Powell’s Books, of course.

Adam: In addition to the food and drink, the outdoor recreation options in and out of the city are also world-class. And it’s the sort of place where a former Information Technology guy can quit and reinvent himself into a writer.

Jackrabbit Portland guidebooks

Jackrabbit, is one of the many restaurants Sawyer covers in his new book

Nancy: What do you love most about living in the Pacific Northwest?

Teresa: The forests and mountains.

Adam: Quality of life. For all the things I’ve mentioned in this interview and more. If you value the things that make life and living it worthwhile, then you will be quite comfortable in this corner of the world.

Kim: I’ve been in the Pacific Northwest my entire life. I was born in Seattle and moved to the Oregon Coast before my first birthday. I was there for 18 years, spent several years in the Willamette Valley and have been in Bend for 24 years. My travel writing career naturally developed in this incredible place, and I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

Nancy: Thank you all so much! 

Pacific NW writers Portland guidebooks

Portland guidebooks authors (L-R) Kim Cooper Findling, Teresa Bergen, and Adam Sawyer

Bonus Portland Guidebooks: The Portland Events Calendar

Portland events calendar

The annual Portland Events calendar lets you keep up with all that’s happening in Portland

Each year, Big Weekend Calendars publishes an annual Portland Events calendar. The 2019 calendar was edited by another favorite Portland writer, Carrie Uffindell.  The calendar places over 250 fabulous things to do in Portland in each month’s easy-to-read and easy-to-use double-page calendar spread. The top page provides a description of top events, with internet links for more. The bottom calendar page lists those events and many more on the date or dates each activity and event occurs. I like to circle events I’m interested in attending — and then do my best to get out there and enjoy.

For More:

  • Day Trips From Portland, Oregon: Getaway Ideas for the Local Traveler, Third Edition, by Kim Cooper Findling, Globe Pequot, 2019, 275 pages, direct from the publisher or via Amazon
  • Unique Eats and Eateries of Portland, Oregon, by Adam Sawyer, Reedy Press, LLC, 2018, 211 pages, direct from the publisher or via Amazon
  • Easy Portland Outdoors, Teresa Bergen, Reedy Press, 2018, 208 pages, direct from the publisher or via Amazon
  • Portland Events: 2019, Big Weekend Calendars, 2019, direct from the publisher or via Amazon
  • Or find them at our favorite Portland bookstore, Powell’s Books
  • On our site: More on Portland

-Just so you know: I know and love each of these writers. We’ve traveled the Pacific Northwest together, sharing meals, sites and experiences. And yes, that means we’ve sat around with a drink or two, talking not just travel and business, but life. They’re fabulous writers who know our home region well—and I know you’ll benefit from and enjoy their books.

-Book covers photos courtesy of the publishers. Photos by Nancy Zaffaro. Cover photo depicts Portland’s Tilikum Crossing Bridge.

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Wayne W Walls November 24, 2019 - 7:22 pm

I wanna be where the vegan ice cream is plentiful! I guess that is Portland!

Nancy Zaffaro November 24, 2019 - 7:33 pm

It sure is, Wayne. Little Bean is one that is completely dairy-free, offering chickpea-based ice cream. But other favorites with vegan selections is Salt and Straw, Fifty Licks, and Cloudy City. And there are plenty more!


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