After spending far too much behind the wheel, driving up the Pacific Coast, I was itching to hit Portland's hiking trails.
I whisked myself up to Washington Park, on the city centre's western fringe. This celestial woodsy oasis, fringed by neighbouring residential enclaves of historical mansions, is also home to the International Rose Test garden, established just over a century ago to rescue European rose hybrids from the ravages of the Great War.
Then there's Hoyt Arboretum, Portland's museum of living trees, showcasing several thousand species, creating a verdant and fragrant setting for hikers.
Visiting in autumn? Make a date with the fireworks-blaze of 56 species of maples. If you're feeling particularly virtuous, follow the Wildwood Trail, which inter-connects with neighbouring Forest Park, which is the largest wooded park in the US, brimming with birdlife, sword ferns and western red cedars. You'll also get great snatches of the cityscape below and the snow-clad peak of Mt Hood.
After my restorative parkland rambling, I headed back down the hill to take in the Portland Farmers Market, which is the largest and most-feted outdoor grocery store. On Saturdays, it's staged in South Park Blocks, by the State University.
This ebullient al fresco affair boasts more than 140 farmer and vendor stalls, bursting with hyper-local produce and edible artisan temptations.
Star specimens include Alma Chocolate toffee, Marshall's haute sauce and Olympia Provisions charcuterie. The stinging nettle tea — high in iron and a great anti-histamine — was surprisingly good. I grazed heartily from the free tastings and scoffed a salivating slice of deep-dish pizza from Via Chicago.
Suitably fortified, I wandered back up Park Ave, under a cathedral of trees, a leafy canopy of tall elms, to take in a dollop of Portland's cultural riches. Founded in 1892, the Portland Art Museum boasts a venerable trove of works.
I'm a big Ansel Adams fan, and the museum's Gilkey Centre for Graphic Arts features a dazzling range of artworks from Adams, Edward Weston, who have captured the natural grandeur of Oregon and the West so spectacularly. I could have spent all day there.
Across the road, the Oregon Historical Society does a fine job in whisking you through the state's backstory. Ambling on to Broadway, I was greeted by the ravishing exterior of Portland's Centre for the Performing Arts.
Further up the street, Pioneer Courthouse Square, routinely abuzz with live entertainment and flanked by upscale shopping destinations like Nike's flagship store, and luxury mainstays like Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co. Oregon happens to be one of only five states in the US that doesn't apply sales tax — so enjoy some retail therapy in the largest city in the country that has tax-free shopping! travelportland.com
Sleeping with Marilyn Monroe
Across the Willamette River, I stayed in the hip neighbourhood of East Burnside, home to the irrepressibly distinctive Jupiter Hotel.
Beginning life as a classic motor-lodge on the fringe of the inner city, the Jupiter has steadily evolved into a singular urban lifestyle hotel, channelling the creative verve of Portland.
The on-site gallery showcases emerging artists, with monthly art installation openings and acting a community incubator. Chalk-board doors encourage you to stamp your own creative touch on your room entrance.
Accentuating its designer stripes and quest for originality, custom hand-painted murals adorn each room — in my case, I went to bed with Marilyn Monroe every night, gracing my wall. But the starring feature is the Doug Fur Lounge & Restaurant, nestled in the corner of the property.
Acclaimed as one of the nation's finest small venues, it's the combination of lively dining and live music that makes it such a winning destination, with its futuristic log cabin décor.
Jupiter Next is an adjoining extension to the property, a purpose-built five storey ultra-contemporary boutique offering, with unedited views of the city skyline.
While you're in the neighbourhood, delve into the top-shelf vintage stores include Bombshell Vintage, Hattie's and Rock & Rose.
The supremely restored Laurelhurst Theatre is a local go-to for classic flicks, while you can get your vinyl fix at the magnificent store, Music Millennium.
Strike it lucky and you might just see a visiting band performing a short set in-store, before their evening concert. How very Portland.
Hawaiian Airlines offers one-stop flights between New Zealand and Portland, Oregon, via Honolulu. For just NZ$145 per person, per sector, Extra Comfort Seating is a great-value way to accentuate the experience, particularly on the haul between Auckland and Honolulu. Hawaiian Airlines has expanded its New Zealand schedule, now flying five times a week from Auckland. Bag a great fare and seat to suit. www.hawaiianairlines.co.nz