I’ve had a love affair with Oregon since I was little. My dad grew up out west and I have spent many summers visiting family in the Beaver State. I’m thankful to have so many fond memories of camping in the mountains, hiking through old-grove forests and roadtripping down the Oregon coastline. The state is truly one of my favorite vacations spots.
When I was little, most of our trips revolved around outdoor activities, however as I got older, I started to spend more time in Portland. As Oregon’s most populous and dynamic city, Portland boasts incredible mountain views, a hip local food scene and numerous trendy boutiques. It’s also really easy to get around, thanks to Portland’s extensive public transportation system, which includes buses, streetcars and light rail.
For this year’s Memorial weekend, my husband and I decided to spend the holiday in Portland. He had never been there and I couldn’t wait to show him the state I seem to talk endlessly about (frankly I should get a job at the State’s tourism office!). Although our trip was short, I made sure to pull out all the stops. Here is a snapshot of our trip:
Foodies will not be disappointed with Portland’s eclectic eateries – which include restaurants featuring locally sourced ingredients, street food vendors (trucks, huts, you name it) gluten-free establishments and bars serving up craft cocktails. For someone like me who has a pretty specialized diet (I’m gluten-free, nearly vegetarian and I regularly juice), I had no problem finding something delicious and satisfying to eat. In addition to the restaurants featured above, we also ate at Smokehouse 21, Kenny and Zuke’s and Paragon, among others. There was one place we frequented nearly everyday – Kure Juice Bar. Their Lush Life green smoothie and acai bowls were a great way to start each day!
Portland boasts a number of great, reasonably priced boutique hotels. For our stay, we chose the Kimpton Vintage Plaza hotel located in an historic building right near Portland’s Pearl District, one of my favorite spots for shopping and dining. Another hotel I would recommend is Ace Hotel, which was recognized as one of the best boutique hotels in the country.
Although we only spent a long weekend in Portland, our schedule was really packed. Here are some of the items on our agenda:
Hiking: One of the best parts about Portland is its close proximity to outdoor activities. Wilderness is literally at your fingertips. Mount Tabor is a beautiful city park perched up on the hillside overlooking the city. It’s only a few minutes from Downtown and is a popular spot with runners, road bikers and dog walkers. The Columbia River gorge boasts some pretty spectacular scenery – in particular Multnomah Falls and Oneonta Gorge – both of which are just a 30 minute drive. If you have the time, the little town of Hood River (2 hour drive east) is really picturesque and boasts some great shops and restaurants. It’s situated right on the Columbia River and is a popular spot for kite surfers and paddle boarders. Another great destination is Silver Creek Falls (1 hour drive south). My husband loves waterfalls and this park blew him away – many of the waterfalls you can actually go behind.
Shopping – northwest 23rd street/Nob Hill: I love boutique shopping and Portland’s 23rd street/Nob Hill doesn’t disappoint. The tree-lined street is beautiful and the shops are all reasonably priced. I found a few great pieces, including a B&W stripped circle skirt from Sloan Boutique and a graphic peplum top from Three Monkeys.
Beer tasting: The state of Oregon is known for its pretty robust craft brew scene. Hop-heads will not be disappointed – most bars offer a long list of IPAs, including RPM, Hop Venom, Double Jack IPA and Hop Czar, among others. My husband is a huge beer snob and was in beer heaven the entire trip!
The coast: Portland is less than two hours away from the rocky coastline of the Pacific Ocean. If you love fresh seafood and breathtaking views, then the touristy town of Cannon Beach is worth the drive. Make sure to stop at Oswald West State Park and Escola State Park for some fantastic views and easy hiking.
One of the most surprising things about Portland (and Oregon in general) is how little the rest of the country seems to know about it. Hopefully my write-up has convinced you to add Oregon to your list of potential vacation spots.
P.S. Oregonian readers – can you recommend some of your favorite Portland (or Oregon) activities?