Portland, Oregon, lies on the northern border of the state at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Despite explosive growth in recent years, this area of the northwest has not wavered in its support of environmentalism.

Portland is referred to, justifiably, as one of the greenest cities in the U.S. Though it no longer has the most LEED-certified buildings (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, an environmental rating) per capita in the nation, Portland was named the first-ever Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Community. Portland's bike-friendly development sense has led to a varied lane and trail network that connects all parts of the city, and it is the first city in the U.S. with a program that provides free bicycles, safety training, helmets, pumps, toolkits, rain gear, locks and maps to low-income residents.

The local food scene also supports ecofriendly practices—the fertile Willamette Valley provides many of the ingredients for area restaurants, from fast food to fine dining. The most prominent landmark in the area is Mount Hood, on the city's eastern horizon.

Portland residents and visitors have access to beautiful parks, unique neighborhoods, theaters, brewpubs and coffeehouses, and what is very possibly the best bookstore in the world (Powell's). You can also dine at restaurants that really know how to prepare fresh seafood, and you can hike up to 70 mi/113 km of nature trails—all within the Portland city limits.

While the city might not be for everyone—its slogan is "keep Portland weird"—but it isn't just offbeat shops and events. Portland features on most lists of "best places to live" in the U.S. because of its friendly atmosphere, its proximity to the coast and the mountains, and its temperate climate. It has one of the best public-transit systems in the country (100% bike- and wheelchair-accessible), and strict building codes have kept its historical architecture mostly intact.

Portland's careful urban planning has also set aside plenty of parkland, including a huge urban forest that dwarfs New York City's Central Park. With its progressive attitude and thriving cultural-arts scene, Portland attracts so many frequent visitors that more than a few decide to make it their home.

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