Brandon and I had the chance to drive (yes, drive!) up to Oregon over Memorial Day weekend, and we had a great time. We rented a car through Enterprise, and thanks to my California Teachers’ Association discount, we got a great deal on a rental car.
If you’re planning a trip to Portland, here are a few things you should know before you go:
1. Use Pinterest–As soon as Brandon made the decision about our trip, I hopped on Pinterest and searched for things to do.
2. Use hashtags–Most people have zero idea how and why hashtags work. I’m not talking about the lame hashtags people (guilty) use to be funny (#omgyummyinmytummyyay). I always figure out what a city’s hashtag is before I visit (#SF #SanFrancisco #SFO, #NYC #JFK #NewYork), and I use those hashtags to discover new things. Thanks to Portland hashtags (#PDX #Portland) I found a great vintage store and suggestions for brunch, annnnnd I found out that Portland’s water tested positive for E. Coli on Friday (we bought several gallons of water with us for the trip). While Facebook is now optimized for hashtags, I tend to use hashtags for Instagram and Twitter.
3. Use Yelp–I’m a Yelp user. I write reviews and read reviews to figure out what establishments are like before I visit them. Yelp helped us find a hole-in-the-wall fish ‘n chips joint as we traveled down the coast and it let me know that Voodoo Doughnut is not the best donut spot in Portland.
“The Farm” from Waffle Window
We were only in town from Saturday morning to Monday morning; we didn’t eat at too many spots, but here are the places we decided on.
Saturday Brunch: Pine State Biscuits: Yummy biscuit sammiches! We split the Reggie Deluxe (fried chicken, bacon & cheese topped with gravy and an egg) and a plate of crazy hashbrowns (known as hashups on their menu). We visited the Alberta location and walked up and down the area post-food coma.
Saturday Dinner: Alexis: This Greek joint was all kinds of delicious. It is both highly rated and reviewed, and if you’re in town EAT HERE. It’s right next to VooDoo Doughnut/Downtown. I played it safe and got a lamb gyro, while Brandon dined on kalamarakia (deep fried squid).
Saturday Dessert: Voodoo Doughnut: Yes, we waited in line for nearly 45 minutes. I ended up getting the dirt donut and Brandon got the Memphis Mafia donut. Okay. Voodoo stands out because their donuts are insanely crazy. I’m not an insanely crazy donut eater. Give me a maple bar or a cake donut with pink frosting and sprinkles, and I’m gooood! Were the donuts to-die-for-AMAZING? Nooo, but you can’t go to Portland without trying Voodoo.
Sunday Brunch: Waffle Window: The Waffle Window offers sweet and savory waffles. If you thought waffles were just for breakfast and could only be topped with syrup, think again. I got the spicy bacon cheddar jalapeño waffle (say that three times), and Brandon ate the whole farm. I liked his better than mine!
Sunday Brunch Dessert: Blue Star Donuts: We purchased donuts from Blue Star because we heard that they were the best. We didn’t eat them until late in the afternoon (well, I did. Brandon saved his for Monday!), and they were GREAT. Yes, they were better than Voodoo. I’d describe these donuts as being more gourmet. Like Voodoo, they have a long wait, but totally worth it. I forgot what I ate, but B had the Blueberry Bourbon Basil donut.
Sunday Dinner: Bamboo Sushi: Before I dated Brandon I’d never eaten sushi, or even held a pair of chopsticks. Thanks to him I’ve tried a variety of things, and sushi is basically my favorite food now. Not only is Brandon a coffee and tech snob, he’s a sushi snob. This guy is very particular about his sushi! He chose Bamboo because of its high ratings. They had top notch customer service (our waiter Billy was awesome!) and great sushi. We ate at the sushi bar, and enjoyed tempura shrimp and crab gyoza to start. Sadly, I cannot for the life of me remember what roll we had! Bamboo is the the world’s first certified-sustainable sushi restaurant.
Sunday Dessert: Salt & Straw: Wow. My words can’t do this place justice. When we parked to go eat dinner we saw a line of about 40 people wrapped around the block. People were standing in the rain for, wait for it, ice cream! While we were eating our sushi the smell of waffle cones kept wafting through the walls! We couldn’t resist hopping in line for Salt & Straw. The wait was long, but man, was their ice cream amazing. They make their waffle cones right before your very eyes, and the smell is enough to make you drool all over yourself. You can sample as many flavors as you want, so I tasted almond brittle with salted ganache, sea salt caramel with caramel ribbon, and pear with blue cheese (YES…I KNOW!). Everything I sampled tasted so rich and fresh, and it was hard to make a decision. I ended up getting almond brittle with salted ganache.
The great thing about shopping in Portland? No sales tax! Yay! I don’t like to shop at stores I can visit at home, so I always visit thrift and vintage stores in new cities.
Portland has a host of thrift stores, and you can find them on Yelp. I had the most success at Buffalo Exchange (I usually hate BE) off Burnside. As far as vintage goes, Portland is chock full of vintage stores, but I liked Red Fox Vintage, Magpie, Red Light Clothing Exchange, and Hollywood Vintage the best.
I’m also learning how to sew, so I’ve been snapping up great fabric. I found some great fabric at Bolt on Alberta.
Things to Do:
- Walk around the Pearl District
- Walk up/around NW 23rd Street
- Look up Foodcarts; this can be listed under eats, but we didn’t eat at any foodcarts this time around. Portland has several pods of Foodcarts. Look ’em up here.
- Meander around Downtown (our hotel was here)
- If you have a rental car drive to Bridal Veil, OR; Multnomah Falls is there!
- Rent a bike and ride around the waterfront (I wanted to do this, but we didn’t have time)
- Visit Pittock Mansion for AMAZING views of Portland; plus, the mansion is just awesome!
- Hike some trails; I didn’t pack the right shoes for hiking. Otherwise we would have hiked up Multnomah and hiked around Pittock Mansion.
- We didn’t have time to visit the parks and gardens, and that was a bummer! We were going to try and squeeze in the rose garden on Sunday afternoon, but we missed it. Check out this site.
- Visit a few of these bridges for great views of the city. This is a photography site, but it’s still helpful.
Where to Stay:
- We stayed at Hotel Rose in Downtown Portland, otherwise we would have done what we usually do–rent a house via Air BnB.
- Brandon reserved the hotel via Hotel Tonight
- Be sure to check around to see if there are any festivals happening during your stay. The Rose Festival was in full swing when we arrived, so driving around downtown was a nightmare. Roads were closed off and it was crazy trying to park in valet parking and self parking.
- We took the long way home and drove down the coastline; I think the coast is about an hour away from Portland.
- We made stops at Seaside, Cannon Beach, and Lincoln. These are all cute little beach towns. I’m sure locals will have suggestions about which area is best and less touristy.
- We stopped an had breakfast in Seaside. You MUST try Fireside Grill; delicious comfort food
I hope to visit Portland again (next time via flight), so be sure to let me know if you have suggestions!