We spent a fair amount of our recent four-day trip in Portland hanging out with family, which made for a bit of an erratic schedule. In lieu of a complete itinerary, we’ve boiled down the City of Roses into a checklist of 10 must-see/do activities if you visit. Without further ado…
1. Run/walk/bike the Governor Tom McCall waterfront.
You’ll find fantastic views of the city’s many bridges. The backdrop also makes a great setting for a picnic.
2. Visit the Portland Saturday Market.
Located by the Waterfront Park and Ankeny Plaza, the Saturday Market is a bit of a misnomer, because it’s open on both Saturday AND Sunday. A wide variety of arts, crafts, and food vendors can be found. The Skidmore Market is also located adjacent to the Saturday Market, so plan on spending a few hours perusing all of the goodies!
3. Grab a doughnut at Voodoo.
As they say, “The magic is in the hole.” The line extends across the block on weekends, but a bite of the Maple Bacon doughnut and Butterfingering (shown above) will make the wait worthwhile.
4. Wash it down at Stumptown Coffee Roasters.
Quality roasts, great people watching, fair prices. They’ve expanded to NYC and Seattle in recent years, but this is where it all began. The cold brew comes in cool bottles, too.
5. Visit the International Rose Test Garden.
It’s free and picturesque for all you budding photographers out there. The garden serves as a testing ground for new rose varieties, so expect a dazzling array of colors, shapes, and sizes. If you have extra time, the Japanese Garden is right next door and spans 5.5 acres of tranquility. Admission to the Japanese garden costs $9.50 ($7.75 with College ID).
6. Drink a beer (or six).
Portland boasts a staggering amount of local breweries, with a beer for every palate under the sun (or clouds, since we are talking about the Pacific Northwest). We checked out Deschutes Brewery in the Pearl District and McMenamins Pub by PSU (they are located throughout the city) and were impressed with both. Liquid diets reign here- food is optional!
7. Read a book at Powell’s.
Or, if you are like me, oogle the journals, papercrafts, and other goodies strewn throughout the store. Powell’s is the world’s largest independent used and new bookstore in the world, and if you don’t pick up one of their color coded store maps, you might find yourself lost in a world of Dante, Kafka, or trashy magazine. Take your pick.
8. Eat from a food cart.
There are many to choose from, and unlike DC food carts, they taste good and are actually cheap. Sadly, the only photos we captured were from this disappointing cup of bubble tea from Taste of Fiji (but it looks yummy, right?), but we also grabbed dinner from E-san Thai and it.was.delicious.
9. Shop…tax free.
While I wouldn’t consider Portland a fashion mecca, there’s enough variety to keep even the most discerning of fashionistas entertained. Upscale department stores, independent boutiques, thrift shops- take your pick and Portland most likely has it. I found the bad boys in the photo above at the Columbia outlet in Sellwood for a whopping $24.99. They will travel with us to Peru at the end of this summer.
10. Take a Daytrip to Multnomah Falls.
I don’t know if this counts as cheating since Multnomah Falls is actually in Bridal Veil, Oregon, but I don’t care. You’ll need a car to get to Multnomah, but it is well worth the 45 minute drive. From downtown, take I-84 east to exit 35. The website says exit 31, which puts you at a random parking lot in the middle of the highway, from which you will need to walk through the underpass. Exit 35 spits you out at the base of the falls, and you’ll pass through Horsetail Falls on the way. More on Multnomah in a future post.
Readers, have you visited Portland? What else would you add to the list?