The states that stretch along the Pacific Ocean have everything to offer travelers a great escape, beautiful sunsets, laid-back beach days, vibrant city life, and trendy up and coming shops and nightlife. At some point in their life, every traveler dreams of doing a West Coast trip. Often times, however, these West Coast amenities come with an equally famous West Coast price tag that makes traveling to the coast an expensive, and often costly endeavor.
From world class beautiful airports that don’t have airport tax or raised food prices to cheap gas prices and plenty of free things to do, Portland truly offers up the quintessential West Coast city experience for about half the cost as visiting other cities that dot the Pacific.
Think a West Coast trip is out of reach? Read on to find out just how affordable Portland makes itself for travelers, and see how you, too, can afford a trip out West!
If you’re going to visit the West Coast, there are plenty of great big cities to travel to, from Seattle to and San Diego. But out of all these options, Portland remains by far the most affordable of the big West Coast cities to travel to, giving travelers plenty of coastal living experiences and big city amenities without the infamous California or British Columbia price tags.
The cheapest West Coast city has often been voted the most livable city in the West Coast, and in international rankings is often times the only US city listed for a high yet desirable livability factor.
If you’re heading to the West Coast and looking to save your money, stick with Portland and skip out on the sunny skies of California, there’s just as much unique urban hipster style up North, and both of California’s two biggest cities, San Francisco and Los Angeles, have been rated to be some of the country’s worst cities to save money in.
We’ve all been on those trips where the traveling alone was so expensive that you arrive home with zero mementos from your travels, other than a handful of airline ticket stubs, because the sheer price of traveling took maxed out the budget. However, Portland’s awesome no sales tax means that buying that cool T Shirt, book or other souvenir from your trip suddenly gets a whole lot more affordable. And what traveloholic doesn’t like loading up on souvenirs to decorate their tiny apartment back home?
Ever traveled someplace and never wanted to leave? In Portland, it’s actually an affordable option to at extend your travels indefinitely. Monthly rent isn’t the cheapest you’ll find in the world, but it makes a long term stay in the West Coast a lot more attainable. For instance, try finding a place to stay in San Francisco for a month, and you’re looking at, on average, at least a $4k bill just on accommodation alone for a simple 1 bedroom apartment; one local SF resident rents out a tent on his deck with no amenities on for over $900 a month! You can find a $900 per month apartment in Los Angeles, but chances are you’ll be in the very rough side of town miles away from any attraction and advised to carry a gun for personal safety. On the other hand, the average cost of a one bedroom apartment in Portland is just over a grand, minutes to everything, and with your own bathroom. If you’re willing to room share, you can usually find a place right around $500-600 dollars a month, including utilities.
Destination weddings were invented by travelaholics; after all, if you’re going to be spending money on anything, doesn’t it make sense to get some travel out of it as well? If you’ve been dreaming of a destination wedding that combines your love of travel with your special day, than Portland is the cheapest way to afford the best of both worlds. The city is beautiful, has plenty of cheap but stunning exotic venues in the surrounding area and right in the heart of the city, offers plenty of cheap accommodation, and enough beer to keep any wedding guest happy. The city has been ranked several times over as the cheapest city for destination weddings, making it much more affordable than flying Grandma to Paris.
For budget travelers, the expenses you spend on food or other necessities in the airport can quickly overwhelm your budget. Except, that is, in Portland. Not only is the city’s airport literally one of the most beautiful airports in the world, there is no airport tax in any of the stores. All of the shops and restaurants serve food at the same prices they do outside of the airport, which means that a burger and fries at the airport will cost you the exact same amount as going down the street. No more need to navigate the airport on an empty stomach and try to figure out the cheapest place to eat before you’ve even gotten a feel of the place! That right there is enough to win over any seasoned budget traveler.
If you like the freedom of traveling on your own without having to rely on the public transportation system, you can still afford to in Portland. Gas prices are typically cheaper by anywhere from .10 to .80 cents a gallon compared to other major West Coast cities. If you’re road tripping, those nickels and dimes add up quickly, and can quickly increase the affordability of taking your own vehicle or renting a car while in Portland.
There’s something to be said for going off grid and going places no one has been before, but it’s nice to visit places that know how to accommodate the tourism industry; a city that has plenty of options for travelers from all different walks of life, and with plenty to offer by way of entertainment, resources, discounts for out of towners, nightlife, and other elements that make for a great destination city. Based on a study that came out earlier this year, Portland is the #1 city in the United States for the best tourism industry, beating out other famous and much more lucrative destination cities like New York City and Maui, Hawaii. Not only is Portland much more affordable, it has more to do and knows how to make travelers feel at home. It’s official; Portland is the best city in the country for travelers.
Portland is infamous as a bike friendly city, but it’s also just as easy to explore the city on foot as well, so even if you can’t spring a few dollars for a bike rental you can still get around the city for free. Last year the ranked the best streets in America based on a variety of standards, including everything from environmental practices to layout and architecture. Out of the top 10 streets in America, two of them belong to Portland. If you do have a few extra dollars to spend, there are plenty of bike rentals around the city that rent out bikes, and often include complimentary locks, helmets, and even lights for night biking. The city is ranked as the most bike friendly city in the nation, and on a coast known for being bike friendly, that’s saying something. Either way, it’s hard to find cities that are easy to navigate without a car. Portland has it all; the big and exuberant lifestyle of an American city, with the walk ability of an old European city.
Portland may be famous for its breweries (and no traveler should pass up on trying a few of the local craft breweries), but you can sip away without the guilt or worry of going home with a new found beer belly, no matter how many local pubs brews you sample. The city ranks top in the nation in several studies for healthiest cities, best cities with access to outdoor activities, and most athletic and fit cities in the West Coast. Despite the grey skies, the people of Portland are, on average, more fit than their West Coast counterparts in San Diego who live under sunny skies year round. There are plenty of free outdoor activities to enjoy during your stay in Portland, and keep in shape while you travel. You may even come back home fitter than when you left! If you think New York’s Central Park is impressive, try Portland’s Forest Park, the largest urban park in the country, or head just outside the city for some mountain climbing and hiking at Mt. Hood. You can burn off extra calories biking around the country’s most bike friendly city, and the city’s community centers (there are over 15) offer plenty of free fitness classes and cheap gyms with day passes that are perfect for temporary stays in the city.
If you’re traveling on a budget, finding free things to do other than people watch can be the biggest challenge when it comes to traveling on the cheap. Portland is a great city that has a lot of options for things to do while in town that are free and open to the general public, including people traveling through town. There’s plenty of parks to enjoy hiking through or playing a pickup game of basketball, and the city’s Saturday and Farmer’s Markets are great places to window shop and experience the culture of Portland, even if you don’t buy a thing. During the summer months, there are plenty of outdoor concerts, events, and festivals in the center of the city at Pioneer Square. You can enjoy the natural beauty of both the Rose Garden and the Hoyt Arboretum for free, or take a free tour of one of the city’s many breweries. You can watch a Shakespearean play in the park, visit the Holocaust Memorial at Washington Park, take an art walk, or climb the city’s Rock Climbing Wall, all for free!
As much off the grid as you might get, traveling with consistent internet connection can really streamline the entire logistical side of traveling. Especially with increased usage and dependency on , running out of bars means risking losing confirmation numbers, addresses, itineraries, and much more! Never fear losing the ability to find free Wi-Fi in Portland; the city’s plethora of coffee shops should have you covered, and if not, the city has been voted to have the best hotel WiFi for travelers in the country. No worries about having to scramble around to stay in touch or Instagram that unique coffee shop mural; Portland will always have your back.
Not many of us can afford oceanfront vistas while we travel. The great part of Portland is it’s affordability doesn’t mean visitors are stuck inland; a short hour drive out of town takes you right to the coast with some of the best sunset views the Pacific Ocean has to offer. Cannon Beach is about a 45 minute drive out of the city, and has one of the most beautiful, long stretches of sandy beach the Oregon coast offers.
The beach is always clean, and there’s plenty of parking, which doesn’t detract from the beauty but helps make it accessible for everyone, no matter what time of day you choose to visit. Cannon Beach is pure West Coast beauty minus the crowds, and all less than an hour drive from the heart of downtown Portland.
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