Wife to my high school sweetheart, boy mama to sweet baby boy Macrae, and two fur babies Shiloh and Milo, a full time high school history teacher, and overall enthusiast for life. Avid podcast listener, iced coffee drinker, and organized chaos manager. My passion is to encourage and inspire. To cultivate an intentional life, a life full of joy and an abundance of grace.
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This is going to be fun!
That was my initial thought going into our trip to the Pacific Northwest and those are my same exact thoughts as I prepare to type out and write this blog post all about Portland, Oregon. Now, real quick disclaimer.. my husband and I are quite the fans of the original Portland; Portland, Maine and have traveled there twice in the last year, so we were very excited to check out the other, much more celebrated and bragged upon Portland on the west coast. And sure enough, the trip did not disappoint. So as usual, I have organized the recap of our trip into another round of Wanderlust Ten featuring the Top Ten things to see and do while traveling to Portland, Oregon. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have enjoyed typing this!
2. Hike to some marvelous waterfalls. Portland is truly a heaven of both an outdoor paradise AND a foodie capital of the world. Less than a twenty-five minute drive from downtown are some of the most beautiful hikes to some of the most serene waterfalls. If you are traveling to Portland, definitely add at least a half day to take in these iconic beauties. On our way to the waterfalls we took the Historic Columbia River Highway and enjoyed the winding roads and beautiful views along the way, especially at Portland Women’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint and at the Vista House. We first stopped at Latourell Falls and enjoyed a brief hike to view the falls. There were additional hiking trails that you could have traveled on to see different parts of the falls, we stuck to the main trail as we were ambitiously trying to see both the waterfalls and the Oregon Coast in the same day. After Latourell Falls, we continued driving along the Historic Columbia Highway and stopped at Bridal Veil Falls, before driving to the iconic Multnomah Falls. If you have the time, I definitely would slow down your day to truly enjoy and appreciate nature showing off throughout the Columbia River Gorge area.
3. Taste the food trucks. Food. Trucks. Do I really need to say any more? Portland is known for their food pods, basically a little neighborhood of food trucks offering so many different options to chow down on. In fact, the very first thing we did when we got off the train from Seattle (of course, after checking in to our hotel) was to go check out the Food Trucks and grab a bite to eat. There are so many different options to choose from (hard decision truthfully because everything smelled so good) but being a girl obsessed with cheese, I had to go with the Grilled Cheese Grill and I don’t regret that decision one bit.
4. Enjoy Oregon wine country. Just a short 45 minute drive south of Portland is one of the most underrated wine regions in the country, the Willamette Valley, boasting of the region’s very best Pinot Noir. Now, again we did not have time to make a day out of visiting the actual wineries, but we were very well pleased with the tasting room we went to in downtown Portland, Fullerton Wines. Located in Nob Hill, this winery truly stands out and we were blown away by the service and the quality of wines that we tried at Fullerton Wines. The wine maker at Fullerton Wines truly has a gift and we very much enjoyed tasting their creations. So for those traveling to Portland, Oregon, if you have the time I would strongly encourage you to head south and enjoy a few of the actual wineries, but if your schedule calls for you staying close to the city, then you most definitely will want to head to Fullerton Wines and enjoy a tasting or a glass of some of the best wine I have tasted.
5. Check out the Oregon Craft Beer Scene. If you haven’t already figured out by my Wanderlust Series (and I haven’t even gotten to the East coast yet) my husband and I have a love affair with craft beer. And to be completely honest, this passion we both share for craft beer has the tendency to turning us both into real craft beer snobs. Especially when our travel has taken us to some of the very best breweries in the country that can produce a stand-out IPA (quick shout out to Treehouse, Trillium, Bissell Brothers, the Alchemist) . we can have some issues while traveling and tasting beer because our standard is pretty darn high. Anyways, Portland, Oregon has quite the beer scene and you could spend a lot of your time in the city just trying different beer, but that would only lead to headaches and long-winded naps. For us, probably the very best brewery we visited absolutely had to be Great Notion Brewery off of Alberta Street. First off, the ambiance of this brewery/restaurant is completely on point. They have such a cute outdoor patio that was perfect to sit in despite the rain. And they have quite the list of stand-out IPAs, including a special Orange Creamsicle which was absolutely delicious. Other breweries that we went to included the more commonly heard of Deschutes Brewery and Breakside Brewery. Both of these breweries are also full-service restaurants with excellent menus to pair food with your beer. And as always, please make sure that you drink responsibly.
6. Farmers Markets. Every Saturday year round, Portland State University hosts a very thorough and fantastic farmers’ markets with hundreds of vendors. The whole town comes to life on the heart of Portland States campus with so many different foods to try, fresh berries, and absolutely gorgeous bouquets of flowers. Definitely worth a morning walking through and taking in the local culture and checking out and supporting local businesses.
7. Donuts. Did you even go to Portland, Oregon if you did not have a donut (or two OR three?) Now, automatically you are probably thinking Voodoo, and yes I will say when in Portland definitely go to Voodoo Doughnuts because it is a staple, but there are also a few more doughnut places I strongly recommend trying. First, you must go to Blue Star Donuts – so many unique, but very delicious flavors. Also, Pip’s Doughnuts is notorious for their small donut bites and I strongly recommend checking them out. And if you can’t make it to the actual store, then find their doughnut cart around time and enjoy your bite that way. It was actually national Donut Day while we were in Portland, so you can bet that we celebrated.
8. Ice Cream. Something else that Portland has figured out. Ice Cream. Most travel guides/lists will tell you to go visit Salt & Straw and I definitely think that you should, but another favorite (especially among the locals) is Ruby Jewel. Salt & Straw is the most famous ice cream shop in Portland, rightly so as its flavor choices are truly something else and the waffle cones are absolutely delicious (now, I used to work in an ice cream shop for four years while in high school & summers of college so I feel like I know what I am talking about when it comes to ice cream & waffle cones) and Salt & Straw definitely has it figured out. What I really liked about Ruby Jewel though were the ice cream sandwiches. Basically you pick your choice of cookie and ice cream flavor and the scooper creates for you your very own, custom (and so very delicious) ice cream sandwich. So YES, this is permission from me.. when in Portland, you most definitely need to try out both ice cream shops ~ that is an absolute must!
9. Explore Powell’s Bookstore. I love everything about bookstores. In fact, I could easily spend an entire day in a bookstore, reading a book in an aisle, sipping on some coffee, getting lost in a world written in words. Ah that sounds so magical. And for a book lover like myself, walking through the many, many aisles of Powell’s Bookstore truly was a dream. So of course, I picked up some new books to read (my husband stopped me at three.. I would have kept going) So, YES, absolutely.. you must stop by Powell’s Bookstore when in Portland, it is definitely a must!
10. Walk along Alberta Street or another artsy, eclectic neighborhood. We accidentally discovered this without even realizing it. In the guidebook a friend had allowed me to borrow leading up to our trip to Portland there was a list of 12 things that one must do in Portland, and one of them included spending a Last Thursday on Alberta Street. Well sure enough, without even realizing it or meaning to, we spent the last Thursday of May on Alberta Street. As mentioned earlier, we headed to Alberta Street to enjoy Great Notion Brewery. And soon discovered one of our favorite parts about Portland, the sweet little neighborhoods that have so much culture and spunk to their name. From the little garden shops, to the tasteful food trucks, to the local pet store, bottle shop, graffiti-mural art to the live music and vendors. Alberta Street truly came alive and we absolutely loved exploring it. Definitely worth checking out while in Portland, Oregon.
Bonus #11: Food in general. Portland, Oregon has completely crushed the food scene. It actually was quite overwhelming to be honest. There were so many fantastic restaurants with insane reviews that we had to spend a whole lot of time thinking through where we wanted to go on our three night, four day adventure.
Brunch: Yes.. you have to… you may want to make reservations in advance or wait for first-come-first-serve at the bar… BUT.. Tasty n Alder is an absolute must for brunch. Their menu seriously is to die for…. from excellent libations, to stellar small plates… Tasty n Alder has figured it out and you must visit for a meal that will leave you satisfied for awhile. Other great brunch options include, Jam, Pine State Biscuits and Mother’s Bistro & Bar.
Coffee: Most definitely Stumptown. Were you even in Portland if you didn’t have a cup of coffee from Stumptown?!
Bonus #12: Other great sites to see. We really enjoyed walking through the International Rose Garden and the Japanese Garden. Additionally, there are so many other great parks located within the downtown area.