When planning for a quick trip to Portland as a part of a wine weekend in Oregon (read more here!), I thought I was woefully short of knit caps and flannel to fit in with the aesthetic of the city made known by Portlandia. Turns out, hipster and cool Portland is super accessible to lil ole me.
Where to eat
Blue Star Donuts and Gluten Free Gem
Ok, I know, why didn’t I go to Voodoo donuts?! Well, it’s literally only because I went to Voodoo in Denver. But apparently, it’s super competitive in Portland between Voodoo and Blue Star. Spoiler: Both are great, What I might recommend more though… Gluten Free Gem. We hit up Blue Star and GF Gem because we have a GF gal in our group. Honestly though, the Gem’s broccoli quiche, parmesan pinwheel and cinnamon roll were all better than the donuts I had at Blue Star. Maybe I’m not a donut person? But I def am a tea latte person, and GF Gem’s take on a London Fog was perfect for a foggy Portland morning.
Tasty n Sons
Small plates! Tapas! We hit up Tasty’s before heading to PDX to fly back to Houston. It was a very efficient stop. We ordered 4 plates and split them amongst ourselves. Don’t skip the potatoes bravas or the skillet dishes.
Literally everyone and their cousin told us to go to Pok Pok, so we obeyed. You gotta do the wings, but full disclosure, they smell rank. IDK why but to me the smell was associated with something not great: The pet store I worked at in high school. Ew, I know. It’s the fish oil. BUT, once you get past that, they are delish. We also got (and split, though I could have eaten it on my own) some curry noodles. Highly recommend.
Portland City Grill
Portland City Grill is definitely known for its happy hour views, so aim to be here well before sunset to get a good spot. It’s all first-come, first-serve seating, which kind of almost sucked for us, but we found a place to post up as a couple was finishing eating. Happy hour prices are far from a steal, but worth the view! Recommend the fish and chips and the mac and cheese! Drinks were eh.
Shout out to Salt and Straw for huge scoops and vegan ice cream. I got a fall flavor (pumpkin squash) and it was incredible. I actually put that top scoop in a container BUT LEFT IT IN THE HOTEL FREEZER ON ACCIDENT. RIP to the yummiest fall ice cream in the world.
Where to drink
You go to Portland for the beer, I’m told. Only made it to Deschutes, but I’m also told that’s the best one! Less of a brewery and more of a tap room — full menu, hostesses seat you. We camped out at the bar and split a taster of 6 beers for around $15 or so.
OK, this bar was pretty cool and popping! It has an inside, a covered outside area and a noncovered area. I liked the covered area — it has its own bar and a ping pong table! Yes we very badly played ping pong, but we only accidentally hit the ball into the bar twice!
Oregon’s Mount Hood Territory’s Wine Trail
Take a day trip to Oregon’s Mount Hood Territory for some wine tasting! Read all about it here.
What to do
We heard mixed reviews about the tram in Portland. Some said it wasn’t really worth it, and others said it was a can’t-miss activity. I say: why not do it! It’s $4 round trip and you get some pretty spectacular views of the city. It’s not out of the way to go to and the trip is fast — less than 5 mins!
The tram goes up to a real-life hospital, so it’s actually some people’s daily commute to work! Pro tip: Wait until the top to take pix. The glass in the tram isn’t really clean, and you’ll probably be on a trip with a bunch of people.
Powell’s City of Books
Wow, I could spend 24 hours (and $2400) in Powell’s. It truly is a city full of books! Tons of books — old and new — and I failed to leave without a few — and a tote bag with cats on it. Of course.
Multnomah Falls is just about 30-40 minutes outside of Portland. It’s free to visit! You park, and then walk under the highway to get to the other side where the falls are. You can take a picture at the bottom (like this photo) and/or climb to the top along a .2 mile trail to see it up close from the bridge, which you can see in this photo.
We fell in LOVE with Liepold Farms! We did a corn made (it was a MAZE ing), launched apples, played in a pumpkin patch, did a hay ride, and drank cider. It was a great fall-filled day!
Wildwood Recreation Site and lunch at Koya Kitchen
Wildwood is about an hour outside of Portland, but highly recommend the trip, especially if you want to make a day of it. The fall foliage was beautiful! Follow the river sounds to the cutest little salmon river. We took no fewer than 1000 photos here. It was honestly so stunning. It’s $5 per car, and great for a picnic.
If you’re not picnicking, highly recommend a stop at the cutest place ever: Koya Kitchen. We snacked on sushi, fried rice, noodles and moochi and drink ciders and sake while playing cards against humanity! It was the most perfect afternoon respite.
We had a day driving around Oregon. We started in Portland, hit up Multnomah Falls, stopped at Jonsrud View Point, then Wildwood and then Liepold Farms before settling in the place we stayed for our wine day. It was a lot of driving, but it wasn’t bad when you break it all up!
Know before you go
- Rent a car. The added expense is well worth being able to drive 30 or so minutes out of town (for the falls or the park, for example.)
- Pack layers. Just like any other city that has seasons (what r those?!), Portland can get pretty chilly. Morning fogs don’t burn off until noon, and if it’s a sunny day, afternoons are HOT.
- Getting around. If you are carless, you can walk around pretty easy. Lyfts were super cheap for us too. Plus, they have a great public transportation system… which we did not figure out because we were walking and Lyfting so easily!
- Plan for a weekend trip. I know 24 hours is aggressive, but I don’t think you’d need longer than a weekend trip here. Of course, Portland is pretty awesome and I wouldn’t mind spending longer, but you can totally do the whole city in a couple days.