In early May, I took a weekend trip to Portland, Oregon. It seems like everyone mentions Portland and all really seem to love it. Personally, I would pick Seattle or Vancouver over Portland if I were planning another trip to the Pacific Northwest, but Portland definitely has its share of things to do and see (and eat!).
For my second city guide, here are some thoughts on what to do next time you're in Portland. Feel free to share any additional recommendations in the comments below!
Portland Japanese Garden
We honestly almost skipped the Portland Japanese Garden but I'm so glad we didn't. It was absolutely gorgeous! It was rainy and cloudy on the day we went, but it really just made the garden that much more beautiful. The foliage is absolutely gorgeous with so many colors and textures and it was surprisingly huge! There were a bunch of little areas throughout the garden with koi ponds, other water features, a pagoda and a zen garden. It was probably my favorite thing I saw in Portland and it's really not to be missed.
Portland Saturday Market
The Portland Saturday Market is a fun place to visit and, despite the name, is open on both Saturday and Sunday from March to early December. The Saturday Market is nestled along Portland's waterfront in the heart of downtown and is chock full of booths selling trinkets and foods as well as plenty of local brews. There's also entertainment and live music and the market is open rain or shine. When we visited, the weather alternated between pouring rain, sun shining, sprinkling rain, pouring rain, etc. Amazingly, we were only there for about an hour. I guess that's Portland weather for you?
A coworker told me about Multnomah Falls right before I left on my trip and boy am I glad he did. It is absolutely beautiful and it's fun to take a quick trip outside the city. If you get the chance, rent a car for the day and take the ~35 minute drive from downtown Portland to Multnomah Falls. The drive is beautiful and the falls are right off the highway. Unfortunately, when we went, there was construction being done on the bridge over the falls, which just killed my photos, but it was gorgeous nonetheless.
Powell's City of Books
Powell's is a Portland institution. It's a huge bookstore with sections for absolutely every subject you could imagine. The bookstore is truly a maze with different levels and spaces. Its easy to get lost inside the store and it's the perfect place to step out of the rain for a bit. Powell's has a pretty incredible section of new and used books and it's fascinating to look through some of the older books with personal inscriptions from Christmas in the 1920's or 1970's graduations.
Tasty n Sons
Tasty n Sons was recommended to me by one of my twitter followers and it was a great option for a hearty breakfast on our first dreary morning in Portland. We were quoted a 90 minute wait, which (sadly) didn't phase us since we're pretty used to that from San Francisco brunch spots. The key is to get there before you're actually hungry and grab a coffee while you wait (see next recommendation). Unable to resist, Chris and I got the same thing - a wonderful breakfast sandwich on a biscuit and we were not disappointed.
We happened upon Ristretto Roasters while we were waiting for a table at Tasty 'N Sons since it's just a few doors down. Portland seems to be synonymous with Stumptown Coffee, but in my opinion, Ristretto is a can't miss spot. I can't say enough about the mocha I drank at Ristretto. I think I will forever be searching for something just as good. Honestly, I can't even say what was so great about it, but I think it had something to do with the hint of orange in the coffee. Check it out.
Salt & Straw
Salt & Straw seems to be another go-to place in Portland. You really won't be disappointed with the incredibly unique flavors to be found at Salt & Straw. For example, I had "Wildflower Honey and Ricotta Walnut Lace Cookies" and the flavors change every season. If you see an incredibly long line, don't be discouraged - they seem to have quite the system down and the line really doesn't take that long.
The Picnic House
The Picnic House was a random Yelp find and it was seriously one of the food highlights of our trip. The restaurant is situated in an old theater and the atmosphere is incredibly intimate and romantic. Then there's the food. The food was so incredibly good and my mouth still waters when I think about the meal I ate there. I had cast iron chicken breast with roasted lemon and fresh thyme and it was just incredible. The chicken was perfectly cooked and had so much flavor. Plus, you get to eat it right out of the cast iron skillet. Chris was equally impressed with his maple-brined pork chop (the man cannot resist anything maple). Unfortunately, the photos I took didn't turn out since it was pretty dim in the restaurant, but do yourself a favor and check it out.
Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House
Portland is known for having tons of options when it comes to local beer and has quite a few breweries that you can visit while you're in town. Unfortunately, we only made it to Deschutes, but it was so great that we went twice. The beers are awesome and the food is really great too. Chris and I now have a strange obsession with the brewery pretzel served with creamy white cheese and Black Butte Porter stone ground mustard and it's really the whole reason why we went twice. If you make it to Deschutes, seriously don't forget the pretzel.
I hope you enjoy these recommendations and if you've spent any time in Portland, please feel free to add additional suggestions in the comments below.
Just a twenty-something with a full-time job and a full-time obsession with traveling. It's best to LiveTraveled.