Surrounded by majestic forest and breath-taking mountain ranges, Portland Oregon is a city that embodies all the best that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. A student trip to Portland offers numerous outlets to showcase the highly progressive nature of this city, in many areas of interest. Portland boasts a thriving art and theater community, the title of America’s top-ranking Green Living City (#2 in the world), dozens of city parks and museums, as well as a picturesque downtown teeming with a vast array of shopping and dining options. The diversity of Portland’s attractions and educational opportunities make it the perfect destination for student travel.
Seeing Green: Portland Student Tours
There are a number of professional sightseeing tours available in Portland, all with accommodations for large groups. Columbia River Gorge Tours offers shuttle service from various locations in downtown Portland to the Columbia Gorge State Park. Snacks and water are also provided on this awe-inspiring three hour hiking tour that is customizable to the students’ level of expertise (martinsgorgetours.com). America’s Hub World Tours also has an outpost in Portland, and offers a variety of student tours. These range from strolling through the world famous Rose Gardens and Pittock Mansion, to shuttles to the Oregon Coast and Evergreen Aviation Museum, and naturally, an Eco-Friendly Walking tour that highlights Portland’s bustling downtown. (www.americashubworldtours.com)
Portland’s Creative Learning: the Perfect School Trip
In addition to its legendary natural wonders, Portland is also home to one of the most highly esteemed art museums in the country. The Portland Art Museum features one of the largest collections of artwork from the native people of North America, English Silver and an impressive collection of modern graphic arts. Although 90% of the space is devoted to its permanent collection, the Portland Art Museum also offers special exhibits and visiting collections year-round. Best of all, student group tours are offered free admission, with a reservation made in advance. (www.portlandartmuseum.org)
The infamous Oregon Zoo first made headlines in 1962 when Packy, America’s longest living celebrity elephant, was born. Packy still lives at the Oregon zoo, along with 25+ other exhibits. The zoo also offers school trip special events, such as zoo sleepovers, and after-hours private exhibit viewing. (www.oregonzoo.org)
In addition to these main Portland attractions, school trips may also want to experience Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. The OMSI boasts 200+ hands on, experimental exhibits, as well as an OMIMAX theater, laser light shows, and a planetarium. (www.omsi.org)
Student travelers can then round out their Portland experience with a visit to the World Forestry Center, in downtown Portland’s scenic Washington Park, which offers discounted admission rates for groups with more than 10 members. (www.worldforestry.org)
Portland Dining Designed for Student Group Travel
Experiencing all that Portland has to offer can certainly work up an appetite, which will give student tours the opportunity to sample any one of Portland’s many incredible restaurants. Besaw’s, a local favorite, serves traditional American fare, and is best known for their breakfast and brunch options. They can accommodate larger groups and boast large portions and small prices. (www.besaws.com).
Pizza is usually the one food that can bring a student group trip together and there is no better option for pizza in Portland than Old Town Pizza. With its split-level dining area and large, rough hewn tables, Old Town can seat any number of group members comfortably. With a menu of unique pasta, salad and pizza offerings, students are sure to find something that interests them. (www.oldtownpizza.com).
The Show Must Go On: Portland Venues for Youth Performance Travel
Student groups traveling to Portland for performances have two clear options for venues: The Oregon Children’s Theatre and the Northwest Children’s Theater.
The Oregon Children’s Theatre is a unique performance venue dedicated entirely to the education of children in the theatrical arts. (www.octc.org).
Northwest Children’s Theater offers many options for performances as well as educational tours and question-and-answer sessions with actors. (www.nwcts.org)
Year-Round Fun: Planning a School Trip to Portland
Any progressive, artistic city is bound to have fantastic annual festivals. Portland is no exception. The Northwest Film Center hosts three separate festivals each: The Reel Music Festival (January) The Portland International Film Festival (February) and the Northwest Film & Video Festival (November), giving school trips interested in theater, film, and the performing arts, ample opportunities to see the pros in action. (nwfilm.org)
Portland’s crown jewel of the festival season is certainly the Rose Festival. A three week celebration starting at the end of May and continuing through early June with numerous parades, rides, live music, food, exotic animal displays, and interactive educational exhibits, The Rose Festival highlights all that Portland has to offer in an enormous, fun-filled, experience. (www.rosefestival.org)
From film to food and everything in between, Portland proves itself to be one of the best choices as a destination for student group travel. Marcus Hibdon of Travel Portland sums up the city’s unique culture nicely: “Well known for being laid-back, casual, passionate about the environment, coffee-buzzed, quirky, wet and green, Portland has earned its reputation as the most sustainable city in the U.S.
In addition to its passion for sustainable living, the region has tax-free shopping, an obsession for fresh, organic foods, and a surprisingly broad arts scene. Thanks to all these elements, the city of Portland routinely racks up kudos in major national media outlets, including many adventure publications and websites.”