A peculiar migratory habit of Americans is that many of our adventurous and independently minded people move out west. The eclectic, non-conforming culture that thrives in Portland, Ore., continues to attract many of these “my way” pioneers, and the natural beauty of the area combined with the variety of activities available persuades many new residents that they wouldn't dream of living anywhere else.

Portlanders are fond of saying that they live two hours from everything. You can walk along a contemporary urban setting with high-rise buildings and then drive 15 minutes to find yourself smack dab in the middle of farmland. Or you can trek east through the lush mountain forests of the Columbia River Gorge and in a few hours arrive at a high desert landscape.

The increasingly celebrated Oregon wine country is 20 minutes from town. And if you continue west through the vineyards you'll discover the beautiful and still-pristine Oregon coast. Wide-open spaces with rugged lava fields, mountains, caves, and all manner of winter and summer recreation can be found in Central Oregon, an afternoon's drive southeast. And we mustn't forget the myriad of things to see and do at Portland's own private 11,249-foot snow park— Mt. Hood.

Portland's dining and entertainment opportunities will not leave you disappointed either. Typical Northwest cuisine focuses on regional ingredients, often including delicacies like fresh salmon, wild mushrooms, nuts, mountain berries, and seasonal fruit. Like most other big cities, however, Portland also offers a wide spectrum of dining establishments for all types of cuisine. There's even a floating restaurant on the waterfront.

The artistic orientation of the city means Portland is home to world-class opera and ballet companies and plays host to traveling Broadway shows and big performers passing through. Art galleries abound in Portland, as do the coffee shops where you can discuss art history and philosophy with Midwesterners that have come west to pursue their artistic careers.

Portland also has several one-of-a-kind attractions. Powell's City of Books looks deceptively small from its Burnside St. entrance until you realize that the bookstore consists of the entire city block—making it the largest new and used bookstore in the world.

True to its title as the “City of Roses,” Portland is also home to the world-famous International Rose Test Garden. Here, nearly every color and variety of rose can be found in a neatly organized setting that frames a stunning view of the city and Mt. Hood.   Portland also boasts the largest and most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan, as well as the beautiful Classical Chinese Garden, which consists of an entire city block within Portland's China Town.

It's true that Portland is a destination for those that march to their own drumbeat. People here enjoy a varied lifestyle with emphasis on urban living without sacrificing the appeals of nature. A visit to Portland certainly provides many beautiful and exciting things for you to see and experience—both natural and man-made.