GOING OUR WAY
Portland, Ore.: A town where you can eat and drink ... and walk it all off
Who: Gladys and Howard Sommers, 58 and 57, respectively, of East Brunswick, N.J.
Where: Portland, Ore.
Why: Urban getaway
When: September for a week
"We like city activities -- walking tours, museums, theater, dining at good restaurants."
"One of America's best walking towns" (Walking magazine). "So green you could serve it as a side dish" (Outside). "Cool, quirky style surprisingly affordable" (Budget Travel). "One of the top 10 cat-friendly cities in America" (CATalyst Council).
Okay, so the accolades are getting a little wacky. But you get the idea. Portland, Ore., is a much-loved city, celebrated for its locally sourced food and wine scene, its vibrant downtown, its walkable neighborhoods and outdoorsy, laid-back vibe. It's an ideal vacation choice for Gladys and Howard Sommers, who like to explore smallish U.S. cities and experience the unique flavor of each.
And in a city frequently referred to as foodie heaven, "flavor" is the operative word.
Getting there: As always, sign up now for e-mail fare alerts from such sites as SmarterTravel.com and FareCompare.com. Otherwise, expect to pay about $400 per person this fall for a round-trip flight from a New York area airport. For D.C. travelers, fares should be about $100 less. (Tip: When checking airfares, remember to search Southwest Airlines separately, since it doesn't appear on most aggregator and booking sites.)
Staying there: Check the city's tourism site, TravelPortland.com, for deals. The Sommerses have frequent-stay plans with Marriott and Hilton hotels, so let's take a look at a Marriott. A six-night stay for two at the Courtyard by Marriott Portland City Center in mid-September would cost $1,001, including taxes, if booked through the hotel. If you book through TravelPortland, the total is $1,073, but you also get free daily breakfasts, free parking and a discount coupon book.
Packages: Remember that you can sometimes save hundreds of dollars by buying an air-hotel package from an Internet bundler. For example, for mid-September travel, Hotwire.com is charging $728 per person double ($1,455 per couple) for a round-trip flight from JFK and a six-night stay at the downtown Hotel Fifty, including all fees and taxes. Purchased separately, airfare for two would be about $800 and the hotel $864. Savings: about $210. For Washington travelers, the same package runs $669 per person ($1,338 per couple), for a savings of about $125.