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Portland, Oregon

powells city of books rare book roomThere's no sales tax in Oregon, so a visit to Portland is a guilt-free opportunity to make that big splurge you've been considering -- or simply to do a little browsing through the city's many unique shops and galleries. There are stores here you simply won't find anywhere else (such as Powell's City of Books, the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world), and the city's various outdoor markets are perfect for finding that one-of-a-kind local art. Of course, there are plenty of big-name chains here too, particularly downtown.

The World's Weirdest Museums

For true bibliophiles, Powell's City of Books is enough of a reason to visit Portland. Occupying three stories and an entire city block, Powell's offers over a million new and used tomes arranged in color-coded rooms (on our visit, we checked out cookbooks in the red room, travel memoirs in the orange room, and poetry and Pulitzer Prize winners in the blue room). The flagship store on West Burnside is open daily till late; there are a number of other locations around town.

Despite its name, the Portland Saturday Market is held on Saturdays and Sundays (from March through December). Showcased at the market are hundreds of local artisans, offering everything from jewelry and pottery to musical instruments and handmade wooden clocks. Another open-air market worth checking out is Skidmore Market, which also operates on weekends between March and December; offerings include beauty products, clothing, jewelry, toys and more.

Portland's premier downtown shopping area is the Pioneer Place Mall, where you'll find well-known names like American Eagle, Coach, Apple and Kate Spade. If you need a break from shopping, there's a movie theater here too.

Head to the neighborhood of Nob Hill, along Northwest 21st and 23rd Avenues, for clothing, high-end shoes, housewares and other unique items. There are plenty of coffee shops in the area where you can refuel and watch the world go by.

For a funkier shopping experience, try Hawthorne Boulevard, particularly the area east of 30th Avenue; here you can catch a glimpse of Portland's counterculture in the neighborhood's many bookstores, coffee houses and hippie clothing stores.

Once an industrial neighborhood full of warehouses, the up-and-coming Pearl District is now home to some of the city's best art galleries, as well as plenty of boutiques and home design stores.

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