Portland, Oregon is a sleepy, smaller version of Seattle – it’s just a 3-hour drive away. It’s dreary and damp most of the year, but there are plenty of hipsters and classy cool places to keep you enticed and wanted to come back again and again. Here are my recs and to-do list:
What to See
- Powell’s Bookstore: A major tourist attraction because it’s huge and has been so in tune with Portland since 1971. As an independent bookseller, Powell’s hosts many literary events and is worth a peek inside if you’re not going to stay the whole time to read a book.
- Portland Farmers Market: Sometimes, it feels like all farmers markets in the US are the same, but alas, that is not true. Check this one out to find out why!
- Washington Park: Beautiful park with gorgeous amphitheatre regardless of season. One of the oldest parks in Portland that includes a zoo, forestry museum, arboretum, children’s museum, rose garden, Japanese garden, amphitheatre, memorials, picnic areas, playgrounds, public art, and acres of wild forest with miles of trails.
- International Test Rose Garden: Part of Washington Park, the rose garden is a sight to behold when it’s the summer (think June) but it’s still worth a trip off-season. Just breathe the clean, crisp air and imagine. Acquired by the city in 1917, the garden has a fountain, paved paths, nice art and viewpoints, guided tours, and parking; it can be used for weddings too.
What to Eat Sweet
- Blue Star Donuts: Delicious brioche donuts cooked in rice oil that are based off a French recipe with cage free eggs, whole milk, and European-style butter. The photogenic donuts’ dough takes 18 hours to make and is made daily. Selections change daily and sell out quickly! Grab your gorgeous donut while you’re down there.
- Voodoo Donuts: Featured on so many US television shows and having unique presentations and shapes of donuts, this famous (or infamous if you consider their donut names) joint will have you waiting outside the door. I got the tame but nice lemon chiffon crueller doughnut but the selection is there to find your dirty favorite. 😉 Note that my foodie friends like Blue Star over Voodoo.
- Ruby Jewel: I had my first Ruby Jewel at a student food shop at UC Berkeley and it was amazing. Two chocolate chip cookies with vanilla bean ice cream inside. It was one of the most amazing desserts I’ve had in my life, let alone a freezer case. They have tons of classic and very inventive, beautiful flavors like honey lavender ice cream on lemon cookies. I wrote fan mail and they featured me on their site. Love you Ruby Jewel!
- Rimsky-Korsakoffee House: One of Portland’s oldest coffeehouses. It has it’s own Wiki! Recommended by my previous manager. Thanks! 🙂 on my to-do list.
What to Eat Savory
- Mother’s Bistro & Bar: Great for brunch, homey and delightful but there may be a brunch wait. Mother’s aims for “mom’s cooking” like slow-cooked foods that take hours to prepare—hand-made dumplings, stews, roasts and braised dishes, but it also yummy french toast and eggs too.
- Food trucks: Unlike other cities’ mobile food trucks, most Portland food trucks and carts stay put in groups dubbed “pods,” making it easy for tourists (and locals) to sample several cool street foods at a time. These street food settlements are all over Portland and some are quite immobile.
- Andina Restaurant: Upscale Novoperuvian cuisine. Expect Peruvian tapas & entrees, plus regional cocktails, presented in a warm, bustling room – check out their Happy Hour menu.
- Toro Bravo: Spanish-inspired tapas bar with a rotating menu of inventive small plates, wines, and a tasting menu.
- Bamboo Sushi: Claims to be the first certified, sustainable sushi restaurant in the world, offering the best fish, meats, and produce, it’s going to be super fresh fish.
- Le Pigeon: Named a top 101 restaurant by The Daily Meal. On my to-do list.
- Pok Pok: Named a top 101 restaurant by The Daily Meal. On my to-do list.
- Beast ($$$$, French): If you need a fancy restaurant in Portland. Oregon.
Anything in italics is a recommendation I’m going to try.
2-day Weekend Itinerary
- 6:00pm: Leave Seattle
- 9:00pm: Arrive in Portland and check-in to the Benson hotel
- 10:00pm: Walk to The Green Room bar
- 9am: Breakfast at Blue Star donuts or Maurice (opens at 10am)
- 10am: Walk to Powell City Books
- 11am: Walk to Keep Portland Weird mural photo opp
- 11:30am: Walk to White Stag sign neon sign photo opp
- Noon: Walk to PSU Farmer’s market and buy lunch and shop around the craft fair
- 2pm: Walk back to hotel and drive 35min to Multnomah Falls: Open. Expect crowds, bumper to bumper traffic on weekends, and limited parking.
- 4pm: Leave Multnomah Falls.
- 4:30pm: Pick up a small snack at Tabor Bread (closes at 6pm)
- 5:00pm: Drive around Mt. Tabor Park
- 6:00pm: Drive to Nong’s Khao Man Gai
- 6:30pm: Nong’s Khao Man Gai for dinner (11am-9pm): Must be 609 SE Ankeny St Suite C Portland, OR 97214 location
- 8:00pm: Go back to hotel and rest and change
- 10pm: Drive to the really pretty Victoria bar and potentially walk around to Interurban saloon-style bar and Quaintrelle bar
- Midnight: Strip club – Mary’s club
- 9am: Check-out and put luggage in storage
- 9:30am: Breakfast at Voodoo Doughnuts or Maurice (opens at 10am)
- 11am: Explore Pittock Mansion or International Test Rose Garden
- 1pm: Lunch and on-the-road snacks at Pine Street Market (food hall) or Alder St. Food Pod (food trucks)
- 2pm: Pick-up luggage, drive to Adidas shoes for photo opp
- 2:30pm: Drive to Cathedral Park
- 4:00pm: Leave Portland
- 7pm: Arrive back in Seattle
Click here for the JoYo Portland Guide map.