August 21, 2016
Before I go back to school and my sister officially moves out (gulp), my mom wanted to take us on a mother-daughter trip. We centered on Portland, Oregon, because it's a very cool, 'up and coming' city with lots to do. The four days we spent there were filled with sightseeing and delicious food, which is a win-win situation for me.
A couple friends who live in the area recommended that we stay at the Ace Hotel to really get a flavor of Portland. The hotel is remodeled from an old, early 1900's hotel, so it still holds some of the charm of the early 20th century. With that, the rooms were a bit small and had some odd aspects, like the sink being in the room instead of in the bathroom. However, it had an adorable vintage photo booth in the lobby and a "1 1/2" floor that overlooked the lobby and had some extra seating. There was also a gorgeous painting of an owl and a quote on a wall in the room, in addition to a record player in the lobby. Stumptown Coffee also had a shop connecting to the hotel, which we enjoyed most mornings.
Upon arriving mid-afternoon on Friday we were pretty hungry and unsure what to do with ourselves, so we stopped at a place called Bamboo Sushi. It was simple and cute, but had good selection of rolls, my favorite being the shrimp tempura roll. Afterwards we checked out Powell's Books, which to my bookstore-loving heart (read: chicago bookstore tour) was a dream come true. It has three floors and around 10,000 rooms (jk), so it's safe to say it was pretty overwhelming. I did find the most adorable woodland creature chip clips that had me smiling a lot. We chilled at the hotel for a while following that, then got ready for dinner and headed to Mother's Bistro, where we shared delicious comfort food. I would recommend the sliders, chicken fried chicken, macaroni & cheese, and blueberry crisp. Finally, we walked over to Pioneer Courthouse Square, which was showing a movie.
We started Saturday morning by sipping on some coffee and then walking over to Blue Star Donuts, where we snacked on a blueberry bourbon basil, dulce de leche, and chocolate buttermilk, each of which were wonderful. After our successful breakfast we checked out the Portland Saturday Market, which is a fun collection of tents selling art and jewelry on the waterfront. We were hungry again after that, so headed back into the downtown to stop at a food cart, The Grilled Cheese Grill, that I had read about. I definitely recommend The Kelsey, which has pesto on it, but all of the options looked great. My mom isn't a fan of grilled cheese, so we stopped at Kenny & Zuke's Delicatessen for some other eats. I couldn't help it and treated myself to a slice of coconut cream pie, which was heavenly.
The afternoon was spent in Alberta, which is a neighborhood northeast of the downtown. It's full of lots of cute boutiques and shops that were fun to pop in and out of. We also stopped at a great cart that sold juices and smoothies called Sip, which was perfect for cooling off. That night we dined at Portland City Grill. Although it's a major tourist stop and rather expensive, I thought it was worth the 30th floor view of the city and Mount Hood, and the food was pretty great. Plus, I got to wear my new favorite Michael Kors Josephine Wedges. For dessert we walked around the downtown a bit and stumbled on Ruby Jewel Ice Cream, a great joint with rotating flavors. If you catch it on the right day, definitely try s'mores.
Sunday morning we stopped at Lovejoy Bakers for a delicious brunch. The breakfast potatoes were awesome, and they had great decor, including some cute quotes around the restaurant. We then headed up to Washington Park to see the International Rose Garden and Japanese Garden. Both were beautiful and offered great views of the city (+ Mount Hood). I loved wandering around the rows and rows of roses and seeing all the different shades that had been produced.
Our next stop was Pittock Mansion, a gorgeous house built by an early 1900's businessman for his family. This had amazing views of the entire city, Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier, and a couple other peaks of the Cascades. The house itself was beautiful, but definitely go for the views. We then drove over to Forest Park because we had read about an abandoned house that rested about a mile in from the opening of the park. The reason this gained popularity was because people believed that it was haunted due to an old folktale about witches and murders, but the story is not true and the house was actually built as a ranger stop and later abandoned. It's still a cool sight, but if you're looking for something nature-y, I'd recommend skipping this and spending more time at the Columbia River Gorge (which we did on Monday). The lunch choice of the day was Oven and Shaker, a great pizza place just a few blocks from our hotel. We did a bit of shopping after that and then rested before dinner at Meriwether's, a farm to table restaurant with an amazing grass fed filet. Definitely recommend!
Our last full day was spent getting breakfast at Kenny and Zuke's, and then driving about 30 miles east of the city to see the Columbia River Gorge. The Columbia River runs for a long time along the highway, and has multiple stops where there are stunning waterfalls and hikes. The most popular and biggest is Multnomah Falls, which has a very convienient stop right off the interstate. If you want a more scenic route, there's a narrow road that runs along the mountains and also has stops at each waterfall. Definitely try the 1 1/4 mile hike up to the top of Multnomah, it has an amazing view of the river and you get to see where the waterfall starts. Another fall to check out is Horsetail, and if you're up for a bit of a trek, Oneonta.
We stopped in the Mississippi area (another cute neighborhood) for the afternoon to get lunch and shop a bit. There were plenty of cute places, but we were tired from the hiking and opted to go back to the hotel and rest more. We then had a casual dinner at Deschutes Brewery, which had great gourmet burgers and fries. Our final stop was at the famed Voodoo Donuts, where we enjoyed a 'Marshall Mathers', cake donut with mini m&m's, 'Dirt Donut', vanilla frosting and oreos, and 'No Name', chocolate frosting, peanut butter, and rice krispies. If you're looking for an every day, gourmet donut, this is not your place. However, the novelty and craziness of these donuts was fun to experience one time, considering you're not going to find a donut with cereal on it in many places. Tip: try going later in the day, as there's a huge line in the morning and these aren't really breakfast donuts.
Our final day was spent sipping some joe at Heart Coffee, and then exploring Powell's Books one last time.
Overall I had a great time in the city, and would definitely recommend it for those who are looking for a hip and unique, but slightly smaller city to explore.
PS: there are tons of great murals hidden around the city, see if you can find them!
Have you been to Portland?
What is your favorite city?