Portland had been on my US bucket list for a really long time and I finally made my way to the Pacific Northwest! (Photo above: 3158 W Burnside St) My best friend, Dina, and I booked a last minute trip to Portland on a whim. We justified it by saying it was our last hoorah before the beginning of the school year (we’re both teachers) and since I was gone most of the summer it was perfect for us to catch up. The cheap flights also encouraged us to finally go. I’m so glad that we did because we both had so much fun and we can’t wait to go back because there is just so much to see and do.
On this trip I still had my boot on so I missed out on all the adventure stuff (i.e. waterfalls and hiking) but I will do those next time. Below are what we did, saw, ate and drank for three days in Portland. We tried to maximize all of our days, but we still wanted to relax. I think we accomplished just that. If you have any recommendations for next time I go, let me know in the comments or send me an email 🙂 And YES, Portland is so weird, but so amazing.
WHERE TO STAY:
We stayed at Hotel Lucia (400 SW Broadway) in Downtown Portland. We used Hotwire and got really really lucky with our hotel. We even got upgraded and our room had two bathrooms – so luxurious! The location was actually perfect because we were in the middle of everywhere we wanted to go. Hotel Lucia is also like an art museum. We didn’t have time to go to a museum but I felt like the museum came to us via Hotel Lucia. Art was everywhere and I was in heaven.
WHERE TO DRINK COFFEE:
Right by Hotel Lucia is the coffee shop Public Domain. Great lattes, cappuccinos and decor. We went there every morning. And the expression is very true, “But first coffee.” Dina and I know that we both need our coffee before we become our chatty selves and are ready to explore, so thank you PD for making us happy in the morning.
WHERE TO EAT DINNER:
The Pearl District was formally the industrial part of Portland, but now occupies great restaurants. We stumbled upon Brix Tavern and they had an awesome happy hour-all day long special along. So good. I have to say that all the food I ate in Portland was great. I didn’t think Portland had a food scene, but I was proved wrong. Not pictured, and also a great place to eat, is Imperial; not just because it was attached to Hotel Lucia but because all the food was scrumptious. Again, you won’t be disappointed.
WHERE TO EAT TREATS:
On the same street as Public Domain, there is the cutest French bakery, St. Honoré Boulangerie. That’s where I got my chocolate croissant fix. That also made me very happy.
There’s no picture of what I’m going to describe to you right now because it quickly disappeared. If you’re willing to stand in a 45 minute line, Salt & Straw is definitely worth the wait. They have such unique flavors of ice cream, but I devoured my sea salt and caramel ice cream in a freshly made cone in record timing. Some helpful tips: If you don’t want to wait in a line, you can by pass everybody and go straight to the freezers. You can pick up a pint of your favorite flavor. Also, if you stay at Hotel Lucia, they can deliver you pints of ice cream. I don’t think it can get better than that!
If you still have sweet cravings, Voodoo Donuts will probably fill that void in your life. I’ve eaten some crazy donuts in Colorado from Voodoo, but we didn’t want to wait in the long line because walking around with the boot got tiresome. I realized that waiting in lines for tasty treats is a thing in Portland, but the treats make you forget about all that.
WHERE TO READ:
Every book worm’s dreams exist at Powell’s Books, the world’s largest independent book store. I think we were there for several hours because we lost track of the time and there were just sooo many books. I repeat, sooo many books. You need a map to get around the store because it takes up a whole city block. I repeat, a whole city block of books!!! I’d go back to Portland just for the books, honestly.
WHERE TO FIND ARTISTS:
We were lucky to stumble upon the Portland Saturday Market. This an arts & crafts market with entertainment, food and drinks. It’s open to the public by the waterfront and is runs on weekends March through Christmas Eve. If you like shopping local and you like one-of-a-kind pieces or just enjoy people watching, then that’s a place for you to go. Portland has so many bridges and you can see them next to the PSM. P.S. I ate an amazing polenta at the Market – find the cart.
WHERE TO FIND NATURE:
Obviously, nature is all around Portland. But you can find tranquility at the Japanese Garden (admission fee) and then hop on over to the International Rose Test Garden. This is where they test different types of roses because Portland has ideal growing climate for roses. Photographs don’t do it justice because it’s so beautiful and it smells heavenly. I was amazed at all the beauty! Definitely one of the best parts of the trip and there’s no admission!
WHERE TO FIND ADVENTURE:
If you want to explore out of the city then rent a car or buy a bus ticket and go to Cannon Beach. This was also another highlight from the trip. We decided to take the bus to Cannon Beach which was about an hour and a half each way. We left early in the morning and came back in the evening. Just enough time to explore the beach and the town. At first look, I think I lost my breath because Haystack Hill and the surrounding beach were so pretty. I had seen lots of photos before arriving and it was equally magical in real life. We spent a few hours taking photos and reading and being chased by a seagull. Then we ate the best lobster mac n’ cheese at Wayfarer Restaurant with Haystack Hill as our background and then we drank homemade root beer at Pelican Brewing. Make sure to visit both parts of the town to be fully immersed in the town life. We walked around looking at the cute shops and before we knew it, it was time to head back to Portland. You could stay overnight, but I think a day trip would suffice.
WHERE TO BRUNCH:
Hands down, the best brunch in Portland is at Mother’s Bistro. Not only was the food delicious, but I loved all the decor details. The French pressed coffee was heavenly and so was my omelette, but seriously everything on the menu seemed amazing. It even reminded me to call my mother just to tell her hello 😉
WHERE TO WINE:
Dina is definitely the one who makes plans ahead of trips unlike me where I look up some stuff before, but then I wait to get there and go with the flow. Well I’m glad she’s the planner because she booked us an amazing wine tour through Viator. Portland is now booming with wineries; especially pinot noir wine. It turned out that we were the only people on the tour that day and what were the odds that our guide was part Greek! Niko was awesome! He knew so much about Oregon and about wine. We had a fantastic time and seriously, email him if you’re going to Portland (firstname.lastname@example.org) I can’t recommend him enough!
The first winery we went to was the Durant Vineyard. I think frolicking among the vines might be one of my favorite activities. All the wines we tasted were wonderful. I know I’m Greek and it’s probably mandatory that I love olive oil, but I have a confession – I don’t really like it. I know, it’s a shocker but I did try some of the olive oil from this vineyard’s trees and it was tasty. I think the tour could’ve ended there, but we had no idea how the other wineries were just as excellent.
The second winery we went to was Erath Winery. Another great one with stunning views. It was so peaceful there and I loved just hanging out, drinking wine and eating cheese. It was really amazing. I’d give anything right now to go back. I feel like I keep writing how amazing everything was, but it truly was!!
The last winery we went to was Zerba’s Cellars. Zerba’s also had wonderful wine and chocolate! At that point on our tour, the chocolate tasted like the best chocolate I’ve ever had. Everybody was so nice and we found out one of the guy’s who run the cellar is married to Everclear’s lead singer older sister who also happens to be Greek. What a small world.
You were weird in a sense that you had so much to offer. I loved every moment of this trip! I hope this guide was helpful. Again, this is just what Dina and I did on our trip even though there are so many things to see and do – we wish we had more time, but I have a feeling we shall return one day Portland.