Every July, tens of thousands of people converge on Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland, OR, for the largest blues festival west of the Mississippi. But the best seat in the house might not be down in the park at all — it might just be from the windows of your nautical-inspired room in the adjacent RiverPlace Hotel.
Geographically blessed, RiverPlace is — as you might have guessed from the name — right by the Willamette River, within striking distance of all the best downtown has to offer but in its own peaceful pocket of the city. As we like to say, if you’re gonna park yourself somewhere on vacation, it might as well be next to a park. (OK, we’ve never said that before, but we really like the ring of it. And, hey, it’s true!)
As for parks, the Tom McCall Waterfront edition couldn’t be a better choice, with plenty of recreational opportunities, all against the backdrop of Mount Hood. (Tom McCall, by the way, was a politician and journalist who had a big impact on environmental cleanup, particularly of the Willamette River.) And if you time it right, you can be at the center of the action in one of the park’s annual summer events, including:
Waterfront Blues Festival, July 3–6: It’s hard to be blue when some of the best acts in the biz are all in one spot (and at a very reasonable price — entrance the first three days is a suggested donation of $10). At the country’s second-largest blues festival, tap your feet to the beat of artists such as Gregg Allman, Boz Scaggs, Los Lonely Boys, Maceo Parker, and Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas. Last year’s festival brought in more than $1.3 million and 78,198 pounds of food for charity. Will this year break even more records?
Oregon Brewers Festival, July 23–27: When this festival started in 1988, only four breweries called Portland home. Oh, how times have changed. Since then, not only has spandex gone out of style and then come back in a big way, but Brewvana (a.k.a. Portland) has earned its moniker, with 50-plus local microbrewers in the city. Celebrate all that is good about craft beer (starting with the deliciousness of it) by purchasing a souvenir glass that can be filled by more than 80 craft breweries from around the country, offering 20-something styles of suds. Live music, beer memorabilia displays, and home-brewing demonstrations round out the fun. Designated drivers and the under-21 set can fill up on free handcrafted root beer at the Crater Lake Root Beer Garden.
The Bite of Oregon, August 8–10: Taste the state (without having to go from the coast to the Cascades to the canyons) at this late-summer party dedicated to the culinary experience. Mix and match items from different vendors for a tasty meal, then bite to the beat of the tunes playing on two stages.
So head on over to RiverPlace and put it in park — you’re gonna be here for a while.