Most Travel-Inspiring TV Show of 2011: ‘Portlandia’

Last year it was a no-brainer when we named Hawaii 5-0 as our Most Travel-Inspiring TV Show of 2010, and this year we were looking for a show that met the same requirements:  a series that was set in the city where it was filmed, captured the essence of said city, and, most importantly, made us want to visit!

So, luckily for us we recently re-watched the IFC series Portlandia on Netflix which made us realize the show meets all of our criteria. It is set and filmed in Portland, Oregon, it definitely captures the essence of the city, and it has us dying to visit, after all, who doesn’t want to go to the place where the dream of the 90’s is still alive.

The sketch show’s stars and creators, Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen, have said that Portland is like the “third, most stable, character in series”. They have also made a point to shoot the show entirely on location, so there is no soundstage housing sets for their popular sketches, like the “Women and Women First Bookstore” on the show, which is actually Portland’s In Other Words Feminist Community Center.

The show’s on location shoots have also become a fantastic travel guide for those who are paying attention. We can’t wait to have a drink at The Gilt Club Restaurant, where Carrie and Fred interrogate the waitress about the organic chicken, or the authentic Fish and Chips serve up by The Frying Scotsman whose food truck made a brief appearance in season one, yum!

And it looks like the food envy will continue in season two. In the first clip we watched from the second season (which debuts on Jan.6) we got a glimpse of The Waffle Window, which serves Blueberry Cheesecake Waffles, Peanut Butter Chocolate Dipped Waffles, and a Hot Apple Pie Waffle, yes please!

Carrie recently talked about how the show has been received by the rest of the country, saying:

I’m also interested in the way not even the show, but Portland, has entered people’s imagination as this kind of ideal city (exemplifying) progressivism, optimism, idealism. But it’s weird having (this image) that, in a way, is not even accurate. Portland still has a gritty, seedy underbelly to it. It’s a regular city, and the parts that people talk about are highly ideal. “Portlandia” (reflects) the dreamlike nature of any city, or places that we make sentimental, and romanticize.

No matter how the rest of the world perceives Portland, the city seems to be loving their role in the comedy series, even if it pokes fun at its namesake from time to time. Portland’s Mayor, Sam Adams, has even appeared in Portlandia as the show’s fictional mayor’s assistant!

Though the show received mixed ratings for its first six episodes, it has developed a cult following of loyal fans, exemplified by Fred and Carrie’s 7 city tour which is now completely sold out.

Check out clips from the show and get more information at or by “liking” Portlandia on Facbook.


  1. I visit Portland often (I live 2 hours away). Business and pleasure. I actually know the city pretty well and watching this show just ‘Makes Me Smile’. I love it!

  2. I’m DYING to go to Portland because of this show. I know the city is not perfect; I live in nyc so I know what it’s like to see your city greatly exaggerated on tv. Even still, I love how the Portland on tv looks and I just wanna have my own experience there.


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