One day a friend told me that he wanted to get his first tattoo to remind him of Portland, Oregon – the city he’d visited many times and fell in love with. As weird as it may sound, the famous kitsch pattern on the carpet at the PDX airport is what he wanted forever inked on his arm. True story.

I kid you not, the carpet is so famous its has its own hashtag #PDXcarpet on Instagram. It shouldn’t come as a surprise though because “Keeping Portland Weird” is a popular slogan, originally intended to promote local businesses, and has since evolved to bring independence, nonconformity, creativity and all things bizarre to the Rose City. Not knowing what to expect, I visited Portland with an open mind and discovered all the hot spots and hidden gems that keep Portland weird. Expedia’s Aussie travellers spend 2-3 nights in Portland – so that’s plenty of time to tick a few things off my list:

What to see

You don’t need to be a bookworm to appreciate a good book. I guarantee you’ll find a tome you’ll love at Powell’s City of Books. The largest independent new and used bookstore in the world, this place covers an entire city block, and is so massive maps are provided for visitors to find their way around. There are nine colour-coded rooms that house more than one million books. The cookbook section alone is every food lover’s dream.

Portland is often awarded “Greenest City in America”, and you’ll understand why when you take a walk or hike at Forest Park on the west side of the city. Just a short 10 minutes drive from downtown, this urban forest stretches over 13km along hillsides overlooking Willamette River. There are many trails you can explore, expect to forget you’re still in the middle of the city.

If hiking is not your thing, then you might like to slow down the pace and smell the roses at the International Rose Test Garden. Local government established the garden during World War I in an attempt to preserve species of European roses that may have been decimated by the bombings. The best time to visit is during June blooming season, where you can wander amongst the colourful roses and feel like Alice in Wonderland. Next to the Rose Test Garden is the tranquil Portland Japanese Garden which is well worth a visit too (admission fee applies).