Sunny Lake Oswego

Visit a new shopping district in this Portland suburb

Karl Samson

Lake Oswego, Oregon, could have been the Pittsburgh of the West. That was what some early area settlers were hoping when they built the first pig-iron smelter west of the Rockies. But when the industrial age faded, Lake Oswego instead became a posh Portland suburb.

Until recently, visitors got only fleeting glimpses of the lake for which the town is named. That changed in 1999 with the opening of Millennium Plaza Park, at the south, end of First Street. Ponder the watery view while shopping for fresh asparagus and spring greens at the park's Lake Oswego Farmers' Market (9-2 Sat, May 15-Oct 9; First St. at Evergreen Ave.; 503/675-3983) .

Last fall the opening of Lakeview Village, a shopping and dining center adjacent to the park, gave the downtown a new look. With its gabled roof lines and mix of brick and stone fa├žades, the complex conjures up an English village. Shop for chic kitchen accessories at Sur La Table (390 N. State St.; 503/636-2181), or seek out unique plant pots and vases at Ravenna Gardens (315 First; 503/636-4484). And at Urbane Zen (385 First; 503/697-5229), you'll find colorful pajamas and luscious bath salts.

Also in Lakeview Village, Manzana Rotisserie Grill ($$; 305 First; 503/675-3322)serves filling comfort food from its perch above Lakewood Bay. Nearby on Oswego Lake, you can rub shoulders with the vintage-motorboat crowd while chowing down on house-smoked pork loin at Blinn's Boathouse ($$$; closed Mon; 40 N. State; 503/636-4561). At Tucci ($$$; 220 A Ave.; 503/697-3383), sip cocktails made from house-infused liquors and sup on modern Italian fare.

Across the street from Lakeview Village, catch the Willamette Shore Trolley (call for schedule; $10 round trip; 311 N. State; 503/697-7436). From May through September, vintage trolleys rattle 6 miles north to Portland along a scenic stretch of the Willamette River. In 1914, when this trolley line was first electrified, it became easier for commuters to get to Portland, which helped define the town as a bona fide suburb. True, it's a far cry from the Pittsburgh of the West, but these days most people love Lake Oswego just the way it is.

Hello, L.O.

Lake Oswego is 6 miles south of Portland on State 43. For more information, contact the