**I’m updating this post as we go on more adventures & find fun, new things around the city and state … Last updated August 2012**
Now that we’ve been in Portland for the better part of the year, we’re going to claim we know all of the cool places in town! No, not really … but after 7 1/2 months, we are starting to get the hang of things. If you’re visiting, we thought this might be a fun little guide packed full of things to do & places to see.
Contrary to popular belief, it does NOT always rain in Portland. In fact, since we’ve been here, it’s been lovely outside more than it’s been rainy … and even when it rains, it’s not a day-ender. Here are our FAVORITE OUTDOOR SPOTS IN PORTLAND:
- Mt. Tabor – This is an actual volcano within the city limits … it’s dormant now, and is a great place to view the city. There’s great hiking there too.
- Rocky Butte – This is a lookout point with a 360 degree view of the city and surrounding areas. Also, it looks like a castle.
- Hoyt Arboretum – If you love trees & nature, the arboretum is a must! Right by the parking lot, you’ll find the Holly Trail … take that, and you’ll find a stunning view of all of the big mountains (on a sunny day). The trees at the arboretum are so huge. It’s a bit humbling.
- Washington Park – While you’re near the arboretum, you can swing by several attractions near Washington Park: the zoo, the test rose gardens, and the Vietnam Memorial are a few of our favorite spots to visit.
- Audubon Society – A fun little stop to see the birds who have been rescued & rehabilitated. We’ve seen several owls, eagles, hawks & awesome bird species up close & personal.
- Sauvie Island – Oh my goodness, we love Sauvie. Kruger Farms is a huge farm with a you-pick section. The market at the farm is packed with fresh fruits & veggies, and we always have to get Mexican Coke. We love watching the free-roaming chickens, and their giant pig, Matilda. The island is home to several beaches & is a great place to take a blanket and relax on the sand.
- The Waterfront – Technically, this is the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. We love the waterfront. It’s an AMAZING place for people watching. You can rent bikes to bike up & down the waterfront, and the grass is amazing for just lazing around. The path along the west side is a great place to bike, run & walk, and the Eastbank Esplanade takes you away from downtown to some of our favorite hikes & bike trails.
- Pittock Mansion – It’s a mansion … perched on a hill … looking over the city. What more do you need to know? It’s a great view & a fun place to visit.
- Weekend Fun – If you’re here over the weekend, be sure to check out the Saturday Market (on Sunday’s too). We take the street car/MAX over the waterfront & spend the day eating good food, shopping around the booths, and watching all of the street performers. For super fresh food & flowers, head to the PSU Farmer’s Market.
While we love the places above for some relaxing time outside, we also love to hike! Forgive us for the repeats, but some of the places above have awesome hiking too, and it’s worth noting! Here are our FAVORITE HIKES WITHIN PORTLAND:
- Council Crest – This one is a doozy! The hike starts at the Marquam Trailhead near OHSU. It’s about 4 miles there & back, and the view is epic. Council Crest is the highest point in Portland, so it’s wonderful once you get to the top. The trail takes you behind a ton of REALLY awesome houses in the hills, so it’s great to walk through nature and look at some cool architecture. Bring lots of water … it’s a pretty steep hike.
- Hoyt Arboretum – While the arboretum houses a ton of trees & nature, it’s also a great place to hike. There are miles of trails, and you can even walk through the arboretum and continue up to Pittock Mansion.
- Forest Park – We start our hike down at the Lower Macleay Park & hike up to the Audubon Society. It’s about an hour, and a nice little hike. SO much to look at along the way. There’s even a little cottage on the trail … but don’t be fooled! The little cottage is really just a decommissioned bathroom that was built a few decades ago. :)
- West Hills – We walk up Irving Street past 25th, and up into the hills. It’s a great evening walk with great views of the city. The streets are super steep, so it’s a great workout. It’s a great way to see all of the cool houses too.
Obviously all of this moving is going to make you hungry! Here are a few of OUR FAVORITE PLACES TO EAT:
- The food carts – There are SO many food carts in Portland, and we love when we stumble on a new pod of them. Our very favorites are Native Bowl (yummy vegan bowls in NE Portland), and BroDogs (AMAZING hotdogs … vegan options too in downtown).
- Vita Cafe – Hands down … my favorite restaurant as of late. They serve all diets, however, they have a huge selection of vegan dishes … Like a buffalo tofu wrap. SO BOMB! I’ve had lunch there, and had a lovely date night as well. The staff is great & the food is TASTY!
- Pok Pok – This is a must if you’re visiting. They serve food from Southeast Asian … mainly Taiwan. They have great veggie options, and our favorite is sharing things family style. Jimmy LOVES their wings (and they’re quite famous for them). While you wait, be sure to visit their whisky lounge. Best whiskey sour I’ve ever had!
- Skyline Restaurant - Trust us, this place is not fancy (but I think that’s what we love most about it). They’re are no bells & whistles … just GREAT burgers, fries & milk shakes. They have two options veggie burger options, and an endless combo of topping choices. We always take friends & family when visiting. Cash only (they have an ATM inside the restaurant).
- Mellow Mushroom – We love pizza, and we really love walking here to enjoy it. Located downtown (right in NW PDX), this is a great place to enjoy beer & share pizza with friends. It’s a bit pricey (we typically spend about $60), so if you’re looking for cheap pizza, this isn’t the place.
- Grilled Cheese Grill – Do you want to eat on a school bus? I already know the answer. We love this spot, and they can make a mean grilled cheese sandwich. Great customer service!!
- Cha Cha Cha – Super cheap, but AMAZING Mexican food. There are several around Portland … we’ve gone to a lot of them, and loved it each time.
- Blossoming Lotus – This is an all VEGAN restaurant, and trust me, you’d never know it. They have so many amazing food options to satisfy what you’re craving. I’d say it’s american food with a slight asian twist, but last time we were there, I had a BBQ ‘pulled pork’ like sandwich made me soy curls. It was THE BOMB.
- Fire On The Mountain – Amazing wing place. They even have a ton of great veggie & vegan options. They have the best wing sauces I’ve ever tasted. So so so good.
- Hopworks Urban Brewery – Great food. Amazing beer. We love their pretzel sticks. Great place to visit with friends/family.
- JAM on Hawthorne – Our very favorite breakfast place. So many veggie/vegan options. Great staff there as well … it’s mostly why we love it so much.
- Blue Moon – It’s our Friday night date spot. There’s only 1 veggie option (a veggie burger), but it’s really good. Their beer menu changes a lot, which we love. During the summer, the windows & doors are open. We love sitting in the warm air enjoying the people watching at 21st & Glisan.
- Por Que No – Super good, fresh Mexican food. We love their outside seating.
- Papa Haydn – Just a few steps from our door in NW Portland. We’ve only gone here for drinks & dessert, but it was so so so good. Their staff is super knowledgeable and attentive. Best martini I’ve ever had. Their desserts were to die for.
- Worth Mentioning – We go to the places above quite often as they’re our favorites … these places are pretty good too: Bridgeport Brewing Company, Dicks Kitchen, The Rams Head, Ken’s Artisan Pizza & Bakery, Deschutes Public House, and Pastini.
- Sweet Treats – In the mood for froyo or ice cream? We love SkinniDip for frozen yogurt and Salt & Straw for ice cream. Both are in NW Portland, but S&S has a location in SE PDX as well. And, no Portland post would be complete without mentioning Voodoo Donuts. Seriously good donuts. Don’t expect a smile from the people who work there … I think it’s their ‘thing’, but their bad attitudes are worth it once you eat the donuts. Cash only! Lastly, my favorite PDX indulgence: Saint Cupcake. They’re exquisite.
If it’s rainy, or you just feel like being indoors, there are a ton of places to go! Here are our FAVORITE INDOOR PLACES & ACTIVITIES IN PORTLAND:
- OMSI – We’re nerdy & we love science. This museum is great. We visited when the Bodies exibit was there, but now, there’s an exhibit about natural disasters. It’s super interactive and a great way to spend an afternoon. You can even tour an old submarine that’s floating out on the Willamette.
- Laurelhurst Theatre – Truly a spot for dinner & a movie. You can grab pizza (or other food) and great beer & wine and enjoy your movie while you eat. Plus, movies here are $4.00 … So cheap! We love that place.
- Oregon Historical Society – Another place we LOVE to nerd out. This is a huge museum chronicling the history of Oregon. There are so many halls & exhibits … it’s a huge collection of Portland. We loved going up to the storage library to check out old photos & documents about our neighborhood when it was first established. The museum is free for Moultnomah County residents.
- Powells – Get your read on! This is a HUGE bookstore. We love that they sell new & used books. It’s nice to just get lost in the rows for an hour or two.
- Shopping – Head over to Hawthorne for some great shopping! So many little gift shops. Our favorite vintage shops are there too: Sorel Vintages, Vintage Pink, and Lounge Lizard. In NW Portland, you can stroll down 21st & 23rd streets for more great shops. Downtown, you’ll find one of my favorite shops, Cargo. They sell amazing, antique Asian furniture & home goods. They also have a big assortment of fun gifts.
If you still have time (and energy), be sure to find a way to head outside of the city for a bit. While Portland houses SO much to do, there’s even more … a ton more all within an hour or so of the city. Here are our FAVORITE ADVENTURES OUTSIDE THE CITY OF PORTLAND:
- The Columbia River Gorge – Home to breathtaking views, and so many awesome waterfalls, we absolutely love the gorge. It’s only about 45 minutes from Portland, and it’s a super easy drive. We love visiting Moultnomah Falls, Vista House, hiking up to Angel’s Rest, and stopping at the other falls along the way. The hikes are awesome, the views are even better. If you’re going to leave the city, we suggest heading to the gorge first! **Update: We just bought this book about hiking in the gorge. It’s REALLY great & I suggest you pick up a copy before going.**
- The Coast – The west coast is magical. I never feel as free as the days we’re at the coast … Looking out into the endless Pacific Ocean makes my heart do a little pitter patter. Our favorite stops are Cannon Beach, Cape Lookout State Park (great hiking too), Rockaway Beach, and Lincoln City. Each beach town has it’s own little culture of shops & restaurants. Each has it’s own unique landscape too.
- Mt. Hood – We love going up to Mount Hood! We’ve visited several times now … It’s fun in the winter & in the summer.
- Eagle Creek Trail to Punchbowl Falls – This was a great hike. Honestly, a little scary at times. I would definitely not take children. There are some seriously steep drop-offs that made me really nervous, but it is a lovely view once you make it to the falls.
- Silver Falls State Park – We absolutely love this place. It’s home to 10 majestic waterfalls and amazing hiking trails. Last time, we went over 6.5 miles and it was great. You’ll want your camera on this trip for sure. Dogs are NOT allowed on the trails here, so be sure to leave them behind.
- Aurora – Love antiquing? This is the place to do it. The entire town was turned into a row of antique shops & stores. There are cute little restaurants too.
- Wine Country – Oregon is really good at making wine!! Our dear friends are members of a few wine clubs, and they’ve introduced us to the AMAZING wine in Oregon. Our favorite wineries/vineyards are Willamette Valley Vineyards & St. Innocent Winery. Be sure to take tours of both places (if available that day). It’s totally worth it!
My goodness! I know we’ve only scratched the surface, and we’ll continue to update this post as we explore more & learn about this amazing city?
Do you live in Portland? … Have you visited? What are your favorite spots & stops? Be sure to comment below!!