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Originally published June 21, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified June 21, 2009 at 6:07 AM

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Portland's a summer delight on a budget

For a quick getaway, the Portland, Ore., offers festivals, food, art and bargains.

Seattle Times travel staff

Why go now: You've escaped the megacrowds of the Rose Festival (just concluded), but Portland knows how to do a good summer festival (and great beer): Coming soon are the North American Organic Brewers Festival (June 26-28, www.naobf.org) followed by the Oregon Brewers Festival (July 23-26, www.oregonbrewfest.com). There's also the Waterfront Blues Festival, which brings performers such as Etta James and Johnny Winter to the Willamette riverfront July 2-5 (www.waterfrontbluesfest.com). This summer, too, Portland Art Museum spotlights the geometric eye candy of M.C. Escher (www.portlandartmuseum.org).

Getting there: Here's a trip Amtrak does better than anybody. Get there by train in 3 ½ hours from Seattle for as little as $56 round-trip (www.amtrak.com) and there are discounts for children and seniors.

Hotels and packages: Book lodging through the Portland Perks program (www.travelportland.com) and you'll get free parking (regularly $20 or more at downtown hotels), free continental breakfast for two, plus a coupon book with shopping deals such as 20 percent off any purchase at the flagship store of Portland-based Columbia Sportswear. (And there's no sales tax in Oregon.)

• Book the "Escape: Family Package" for $184 plus tax per night in mid-July (two-night minimum) at the Marriott Courtyard Lloyd Center (www.marriott.com) and get passes for a family of four to Portland's top family attractions: Oregon Museum of Science & Industry and the Oregon Zoo (a $76 value).

• The value-oriented Mark Spencer Hotel's Portland Art Museum package includes two museum tickets ($20 value), plus breakfast, parking, afternoon tea and cookies, starting at $137 plus tax in mid-July.

Budget tips: If you go by train, you don't need a car once you're there. Portland's transportation system includes light rail, streetcars, buses — even an aerial tramway. MAX light rail will whisk you into the city from the airport or up the hill to the zoo. Plus, with city blocks about half the normal size, it's a very walkable downtown.

What's new: Portland's food-cart scene just keeps growing. Sure, you see them around Seattle at festivals and weekly markets, but Portland has semi-permanent blocks of low-cost food carts of every ethnicity you can name — from Bosnian pitas to Korean tacos. There are more than 50 downtown (with a concentration at Southwest 10th and Alder), plus outposts around town, such as 12th and Hawthorne, that are perfect for late-night snack attacks. See http://foodcartsportland.com.

Tourism information: Book lodging through Portland Perks, and find detailed visitor info of all kinds, at www.travelportland.com, or call 800-962-3700.

Brian J. Cantwell: 206-748-5724 or bcantwell@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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