It should come as no surprise that I absolutely loved Portland and would move there immediately if my life wasn’t so established in Wisconsin. The food, the nature, the people ( I’m talking about these kids ), the weirdness—everything is right up my alley in the City of Roses. I was planning to do a full photo blog post and travel guide for the trip, but then I arrived and decided to enjoy a week-long vacation without my DSLR camera weighing me down.
But I couldn’t go on vacation and not come back with at least a few recommendations! So here are my top five Portland favorites with a little photography help from my iPhone:
( 01 )
We stayed at a cozy AirBNB in the Northeast neighborhood, and loved our location. Our friends informed us that it is, indeed, the up-and-coming area of Portland. We know, we’re pretty damn hip. We ate breakfast at Bushel and Peck Bakeshop nearly every day ( best breakfast sandwich ), and devoured the farm-to-table pizzas + homemade malted milk ball ice cream at Lovely’s 50-50. Ink and Peat is a lovely home + floral store on Williams Street that’s also worth checking out.
( 02 )
Giving the entirety of downtown Portland one spot on this list is overtly broad. Let’s go with it though, because one of my favorite parts about this city is its walkability. You can cover serious ground in just one day.
Start on the PSU campus at the Saturday farmer’s market, preferably with a cardamom latte from the central coffee stand. When you’re done browsing, head north towards Pioneer Square to find a litany of food trucks. Stop for some grub, and head west up Alder Street to stop at Canoe and Alder + Co.—two impeccably curated stores. Cross 12th Street to Heart Roasters if you need another java hit. It’s the most beautiful coffee shop.
Here’s where you can choose your own adventure: ( 1 ) walk north on 12th Street then cut east on Burnside to visit Powell Books, the largest independent new + used bookstore in the world. A good place to get lost in for a few hours. ( 2 ) Keep walking north on 12th to arrive in the Pearl District, the land of shops, restaurants and general cuteness. ( 3 ) Head north on 12th, then west up Burnside for a massive glute workout and arrival at the International Rose Test Garden and Japanese Garden. Both are a nice reprieve from the city.
If your legs aren’t tired yet, circle back east for a late day stroll along the riverfront. Here, you’re guaranteed to spot homeless vagabonds and random weird things. Portland at its finest.
( 03 )
Confession: I wanted to eat at Pok Pok because Anthony Bourdain is friends with the chef. And whoever Anthony Bourdain says is cool, is cool. While we waited for a table, we ordered Thai chili peanuts and pumpkin fries in a curry batter with peanut sauce at the Whiskey Soda Lounge—the Pok Pok-owned bar across the street. At Pok Pok, we ordered the vegetable curry and larb ( one of my favorite Thai dishes ). Everything was delicious. Surprisingly though, my favorite part of the meal was my multiple tamarind whiskey sours. Holy hell, so good.
( 04 )
Since we ate a lot in Portland, it was only right we balanced it with some activity. My favorite of the entire trip was venturing into the Oneonta Gorge. It’s less than 1/2 mile hike, but the trek along the way is hilarious. First, you have to traverse a 20-foot-long log jam by crawling over a jungle gym of fallen logs. Next, prepare to wade through water upwards of waist high ( warning: the temperature is dangerously close to freezing ) before arriving at the falls. When you arrive, you’ll have to yell YOLO to a bunch of 13-year-old girls as you cliff jump into the freezing water to solidify the fact that you’re definitely much older than you feel.
( 05 )
Located more than an hour outside Portland, Mount Hood is a must see. We rented a car for the day and stopped at Multnomah Falls, Oneonta Gorge ( see above ) and Hood River before driving to Mount Hood. The entire area is stunning and offers a multitude of hikes, walks, swims and lookouts to enjoy the gorgeous views. We drove to the Timberline Lodge, a national historic landmark and working mountain lodge that sits about halfway up Mount Hood ( at an elevation of almost 6,000 feet! ) for a few beverages with a view. Next time, we’re definitely staying longer than one day.