To a bibliophile, the best reason to go to Portland is Powell's Books, a huge, three-story building that covers a city block with stack upon stack of books new and used, famous and obscure, trendy and idiosyncratic. To avoid the paralysis that such abundance can cause, I had each kid choose a room to start in (from the store map we had from a previous trip); but I forgot to choose a room myself. We spent some time in the rare book room, admiring the odd options, before wandering through the nearby stacks. One of my sons chose Mein Kampf, probably for the shock value as much as curiosity, and I managed to find some intriguing books that I didn't know existed.
On the way out, I availed myself of another big-city experience and bought a street paper, written from the perspective of homeless people and sold by them as a way to make some money. The papers give me a glimpse into how people deal with challenging circumstances; I find them much more interesting to read than the magazines sold in the grocery store check-out lines.