Holiday travel: Escape from San Francisco to Portland for the Festival of Lights

The holiday season is now in full swing, and many U.S. cities are decked out with annual festivals of lights, elaborate tree displays and Christmas markets.

If you love the season’s carols as much as its evergreens and lights, you might be interested to know that Portland hosts the largest Christmas choral festival in the world.

The Christmas Festival of Lights fills the majestic fir trees of the Grotto, the city’s Catholic sanctuary and botanical garden. The event features over 170 indoor holiday concerts and soaring light displays, as well as puppet shows and a live petting zoo to please the whole family.

The festival runs through December 30, so there's still time to book some last-minute holiday travel. And of course, it's in close proximity to the rest of Portland’s quirky charm — the trending food cart, craft brewery and Scandinavian food scenes may hit the spot for a Pacific Northwest holiday getaway.

Whether you’re ready to book your trip now or just imagining what it might look like, take a look at these forthcoming flights between San Francisco and Portland, which we pulled from travel site Skyscanner.

We've also included top-rated hotels, restaurants, and attractions in Portland, to highlight the city's best for visitors headed there soon.

(Hoodline offers data-driven analysis of local happenings and trends across cities. Links included in the articles may earn Hoodline a commission on clicks and transactions. Prices and availability are subject to change.)

Flight deals to Portland

The cheapest flights between San Francisco and Portland are currently set to leave on December 10 and return from Oregon on December 17. Sun Country Airlines has roundtrip tickets for $87.

If you fly out of San Francisco on December 10 and return from Portland on December 14, Sun Country Airlines can also get you there and back for $87 roundtrip.

Top Portland hotels

To plan your accommodations, here are some of Portland’s top-rated hotels, selected from Skyscanner's listings based on price and customer satisfaction.

The Kimpton Hotel Vintage Portland (422 S.W. Broadway)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

For an all-around top recommendation, consider The Kimpton Hotel Vintage Portland. The hotel has a 4.9-star rating on Skyscanner, and rooms are currently available for $139.

Located in the heart of downtown Portland, Hotel Vintage Plaza is a charming European-style boutique hotel in a turn-of-the-century brick building that blends Old World hospitality with New World luxury. The hotel pays homage to the organic beauty of Portland and the lush neighboring vineyards, with each guest rooms named after one of Oregon’'s wineries. 

The Lion and the Rose Victorian B&B Inn (1810 N.E. 15th Ave.)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

If you're looking to splurge on a top-quality hotel, there's The Lion and the Rose Victorian B&B Inn. Rooms are currently set at $155/night.

The Lion and Rose has six rooms and a meeting/reception space that can accommodate up to 75 people. All rooms have TVs, telephones, air-conditioning and wifi. It's conveniently located in the historic Irvington neighborhood, near the Lloyd Center, the Oregon Convention Center and Downtown Portland.

Hotel deLuxe (729 S.W. 15th Ave.)

A third option is Hotel deLuxe. With a 4.5-star rating on Skyscanner, the hotel is one of the most luxurious in the city. Rooms are currently listed for $129/night. 

Hotel deLuxe is a glamorous downtown Portland hotel that pays homage to the Golden Era of Hollywood. All of the hotel'’s design and detailing is inspired by the architectural and decorative arts of the 1920s through the 1940s. 

Local restaurant picks

Don't miss Portland's food scene, with plenty of popular spots to get your fill of local cuisine. Here are a few of the top-rated eateries from Skyscanner's listings.

Voodoo Doughnut (22 S.W. Third Ave.)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

If you're looking for a treat, head to Voodoo Doughnut, which has an average of 4.1 stars out of 228 reviews on Skyscanner.

"Short line [and] easy service," wrote visitor Briana. "Remember this is cash only when you go. Would go again."

Food Carts All Over Portland (Portland)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

Another popular dining destination is Food Carts All Over Portland, with 4.6 stars from 85 reviews.

"You’ve got pretty much any kind of food you might want in a convenient location. I’ve tried many of these and have never been disappointed," wrote reviewer Barbara.

Pine State Biscuits (1100 S.E. Division, #100)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

Also worth considering is Pine State Biscuits, specializing in Southern fare like fried chicken biscuit sandwiches or biscuits and gravy.

Featured local attractions

Not sure what to do in Portland, besides eat and drink? Here are a few recommendations, provided by Skyscanner.

Powell's City of Books (1005 W. Burnside)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

First up is Powell's City of Books, a book lover's paradise and the largest used and new bookstore in the world. Located in downtown Portland and occupying an entire city block, the City stocks more than a million new and used books.

"It's a modern-day shrine to all things literature. If you're a book junkie, you can kill a week in there and find a hidden gem each time," wrote visitor Stephen.

Portland Japanese Garden (611 S.W. Kingston Ave.)

Photo: Trip by Skyscanner

Then, there's the Portland Japanese Garden, a favorite among both locals and tourists. Take a stroll through the five gardens, each distinct in its own style and beauty. Enjoy nature at its best as the serene and tranquil surroundings take you to a place of peace and harmony, with waterfalls whispering in the background and koi swimming and playing in the pond. 

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