Portland has my heart.
I have traveled to a lot of different cities and have been lucky to experience a lot of different things, but there is something I find SO endearing about Portland that I cannot stop recommending this city to everyone I talk to. It’s the artisanship that goes into the food, beer, and crafts that has me falling in love with the quirky city of ‘Portlandia‘, made even more popular by the TV show of the same name.
Portland is an easy city navigate on foot or by bike. The backdrop of Mount Hood, the turning colour of the trees and the soft mist of rain made the city seem even more romantic to me. Haven’t been to Portland? Go! Go! Go! Here are the things I got up to during my first getaway weekend and I just updated it from my recent (second) getaway!
Getting There – The TriMet Max Train will take you directly from Portland International Airport into downtown for a mere $2.50! You’ll not only breeze past traffic, but you’ll enjoy a pretty view of Mount Hood during this 40-minute train ride to downtown Portland.
Portland Saturday Market – The absolute shopping highlight of my trip was a walk through the Portland Saturday Market (which also runs on Sunday). It’s like etsy come to life. This open-air market is full of local artisans and I picked up two art pieces for my kitchen, a knitted hat, a wooden spoon, a silk screened tank top and a baby rattle for a friend. Do not miss this!
Where To Shop – The state of Oregon also offers tax-free shopping, so if you’re planning a big laptop, smartphone or shoe purchase – Portland is the place to do it! I found a bunch of unique local shops in The West End including the oh-so-hip Ace Hotel, Stumptown Coffee (a hometown favourite), Poler for Camping Stuff, WILL Leather Goods and Quin Candy (for all-natural lollipops & caramels).
If you’re looking for the ultimate Portlandian souvenir, stop by Pendleton Woolen Mills for a wool blanket (above) made in the USA from this Oregon-based company. The Pearl District is a former warehouse area that features a few of my favourite shops like Anthropologie, Splendid, Lululemon and local independent book store, Powell’s Books. It’s also a great shopping area.
Food Carts – The food carts of Portland are a little different from a food truck, these are stationary stands that line the outer edges of the many parking lots around Portland. The biggest ‘pod’ of food carts is at Southwest 10th and Alder where I spotted food from Thailand, Iran, Georgia and even Scotland. Portland boasts 475+ food pods and counting!
Brunch it Out – Portlandians LOVE to brunch and the best little brunch village is Tasty n Alder with an all-day, everyday gourmet brunch menu. The selections are fusion-inspired and I got a serious kick out of my eggs + bacon bibimbap.
Enjoy Oysters – Save some time to slurp local oysters from the Pacific Northwest at Block + Tackle, a new casual seafood restaurant on SE Division Street. We enjoyed a delicious spread of fish & chips, Crab Louie, fried calamari, deviled eggs and of course, fresh oysters. Everything was easy to share and the staff were all very friendly. The Happy Hour runs from 4-6 pm W-F and features a selection of oysters and $3 well drinks.
Dinner with a View – Departure Restaurant sits atop The Nines Hotel with pretty views of Portland at night. Every single dish that came out from the kitchen blew us away. The menu is Asian-inspired with dim sum, grilled skewers and wok-fried dishes.
Drink the Beer! – There are 60 breweries inside Portland’s city limits and we made it to Deschutes Brewery where we were delighted by the beer flights and homemade pizzas. The atmosphere is lively and the decor makes you feel like you’re at a friend’s cabin.
Another great brewery to check out in The Pearl District is Bridgeport Brewing – the oldest craft brewery in Oregon. I had this delicious sampler for only $9! The food is also pub food at its finest – I definitley recommend eating here as well.
Voodoo Doughnut – This 24-hour donut joint always has a line-up out front, even when we scored our sweet boxes at 10:30 PM at night. Imagine Willy Wonka-esque flavours with bacon, maple glaze, mango filling, cream cheese icing, Cap’n Crunch, Oreo cookies and Cocoa Puffs. This is the MOST inventive donut place I have ever been to. Voodoo Doughnuts is a must-stop on every tour to Portland.
Where To Stay – When I mentioned to my friends from Portland that I was staying at Hotel Monaco (a Kimpton property), they exclaimed it was one of the best hotels in town. I definitely agree. The location was less than five minutes from the bustling Pioneer Square and Mall.
I had no problems walking anywhere in the Downtown core, to the Pearl District and West End and the transit options around the hotel were endless. What I loved most about Hotel Monaco were the quirky furnishings, the complimentary bike rentals, nightly wine hour and the thoughtful small touches of a boutique hotel chain.
On my most recent visit, I had the chance to stay at another Kimpton property – the newly renovated Hotel Vintage. This wine-themed hotel pays hommage to Oregon wine country and also hosts a daily wine hour. Read more from my stay + photos from Hotel Vintage.
Visit the Museum – It’s likely that it will rain during your visit, so book a date into The Portland Art Musem and check out classic and contemporary art while staying dry!
I only did scratch the surface of what Portland has to offer – a weekend truly isn’t long enough. I plan a return visit in the spring and hope to share with you more of what Portland has to offer. Until then, I whole-heartedly encourage a trip to this wonderful city – just make sure to wear your stretchy pants for all the delicious food, beer, coffee and sweet treats in Portland.
To learn more or to plan your visit, go to Travel Portland.
Have you been to Portland? Any suggestions on places to eat, drink and be merry?