Why you should go to NATC Reason #9: The Airport #NATCPDX

The airport can be one of the most frustrating parts of flying.  Arriving early, navigating crowds, added fees, and overpriced food all contribute to travel headaches. Portland Airport (PDX) does a lot to reduce travel stress and make the airport an enjoyable place to wait for your next flight and pick up some last-minute omiyage.  Also... the carpet is iconic.

You can experience downtown Portland - even though you’re 30 minutes away. Here are 5 reasons to love PDX:

5. The Size

PDX has 60 gates in two terminals and covers 3000 acres. Though potentially daunting, the layout of the airport is easy to navigate. There is a single passenger terminal made up of 5 concourses, connected by the Concourse Connector (inside security) and Mezzanine (outside of security). Best of all are the treasures packed into this space.

PDX Mezzanine map

4. The Hollywood Theater

Flight delayed? No problem! Catch a flick at the Hollywood Theater micro-cinema located on Concourse C. The 17-seat theater regularly plays a consecutive loop of family-friendly short films that tell stories from the Pacific Northwest. You can check out what’s currently in rotation at the Hollywood Theater website.

pc: www.hollywoodtheater.org

3. The Shopping

In most cases, airports are not the ideal place to shop. PDX is the exception! At PDX, goods carry no airport surcharge and most retailers charge the same amount at the airport as they do in downtown Portland. The airport mezzanine area boasts a Made in Oregon store where you can find everything from organic honey and small batch coffee to trendy scarves and handbags. Nearby, legendary Powell’s City of Books maintains a collection of the latest best sellers and, in homage to Portland's Sloth Center, all the sloth gear you could want. Plan to wander through other Oregon-based retailers. Think Columbia and Nike. And remember -- best of all -- no sales tax in Oregon! #score

pc: www.portofportland.com

2. The Beverages

Most airports have coffee shops, convenience stores, and even a bar or two. PDX brings the drink game to a whole new level. They offer Portland staples such as Stumptown Coffee and Portland Roasting Coffee. The over-21 crowd can enjoy a wine tasting at Vino Volo or a whiskey-tasting at House Spirits Distillery. Taste something onsite, or pick up a bottle on your way to the gate. If beer is more your thing, PDX has options that include Oregon favorites: Deschutes BreweryHenry’s TavernHopworks Urban Brewery, and Laurelwood Brew Pub.

pc: www.stumptowncoffee.com

1. The FOOD

Here's the best of all! Too busy to nosh in downtown Portland? Make up for it at PDX where you find many of Portland's favorite eateries. Need omiyage? No problem! Pick up a dozen Blue Star Donuts. Forget what you thought you knew about donuts - Blue Star is where it’s at. Indulge in fresh-baked brioche donuts in flavors that range from classic sour cream cake to passion fruit with chocolate nibs, or 2015 NATC Conference Coordinator Elise Fujimoto's personal favorite, blueberry bourbon. Re-enact a trip to the Oregon Coast with a piece of marionberry pie. And it will be hard to miss renowned Mo’s Seafood and Chowder right in the middle of the airport. Portland is also home to some of the best vegan food in the country. No meat? No problem! Cafe Yum suits any dietary need with delicious vegetarian, vegan, gluten- and sugar-free, and whole foods focused meals. More of a sandwich eater? Then explore Flying Elephants or Kenny and Zuke’s amazing sandwiches and deli options.

pc: Eater (Pechluck Laskey)

Whether you’re arriving or departing, take some extra time at the Portland airport to truly appreciate the things Portland has to offer. And seriously… Eat a donut!