Portland, OR is a city that I hold in my heart. Though I only spent about a week there on vacation with Garrett over a year in September, I have never felt more at home in my life and I can’t wait until the day when I go back to permanently live there.
Garrett and I decided to take a trip out West since we had been talking about moving and places to relocate to. Portland offers everything that we were looking for. It isn’t as populated and crowded like NYC (Garrett hates crowds), no harsh winters like Syracuse, it’s very easy to maintain a clean lifestyle, you can bike to get around or take the street cars, and there’s always something happening. It doesn’t hurt that great craft beer, great food, and locally roasted coffee shops are found everywhere.
I have to say, Portland exceeded any expectations we had and I fell even more in love with the city (I was ready to pack my things and move before heading out). What Garrett and I loved the most was the people in Portland. Everyone always seems so happy to see you when you walk into a store or café and greets you like an old friend. I also like that each neighborhood has its own character and vibe. Austin may have started Keep It Weird, however this is fully embraced by the city and something I love and miss. Since there is lots to see and explore I decided to make a travel guide of sorts to share with others on some of the places Garrett and I visited and loved.
Where we stayed: We ended up booking a place through Airbnb in the Alberta Arts District. The Abode was great and I don’t think I could have picked a better place for our first trip. NE Alberta street is lined with a number of cafes ,bars and restaurants and was only just a few blocks away. We were happily surprised it was very quiet area at night. We never felt uncomfortable walking the few blocks back from NE Alberta back to the abode late at night or in the early am hours. The host was great and I loved the décor of the place. I would definitely stay here again.
Getting Around: Garrett and I talked about renting a car, but decided against it. We took the bus to get to different areas around the city and walked everywhere. There were times I wish we had a car since it would have been quicker to get to some places, but it was nice with not having to worry about parking.
Food/Drink: Portland is a great city for Foodies and Gourmands . Great food can be found at every price point and you can find every kind of cuisine imaginable. Everything we ate always tasted super fresh and the hardest decisions we had to make was deciding which place to try.
Pine State Biscuits– This place has been featured on the travel channel and food network and there is always a line to get in. It is worth it. The Reggie Deluxe is one of the best sandwiches I have ever had. A perfect fluffy biscuit topped with a piece of fried chicken, smothered in melted cheese and sausage gravy and topped with bacon and an egg. We made a few trips during out stay.
Salt & Straw– It was love at first bite. Every ice cream I have had since gets compared to Salt & Straw and nothing comes close. Garrett stuck to the sea salted caramel, while I wanted to try as many different flavors as possible(honey lavender was my favorite). Not only is the ice cream the best, but the service at their shops is always on point, despite lines being out the door and around the block.*They ship their ice cream and also have an ice cream of the month club.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters– Probably one the most recognized coffee roaster in Portland. Their coffee is served everywhere throughout the city. I ordered Stumptown cold brew wherever it was available. Their cold brew is available at Whole Foods and they have locations in a few different cities.
Voodoo Doughnuts– You can’t mention food without mentioning this place. Garrett and I ended up heading to their location late at night(they are open 24 hours)so there wasn’t a very big line. While there are other options for doughnuts in the city, it is worth checking out at least once. They have every flavor imaginable and it can be a little overwhelming trying to make a selection. One of their most popular is the maple bacon donut which I recommend.
Zilla Sake House– Before leaving, Garrett and I deciding to get some sushi for dinner. We were on the West coast after all .I’m glad we did since you can definitely taste the freshness. Not only is the sushi delicious they have a very extensive sake menu featuring local sake. If you love sake with your sushi, I recommend going here and getting a tasting flight.
The Imp and Nada– Garrett’s friend from Seattle stopped down to visit us and he wanted to grab a bite to eat .We ended up at a small food pod on NE Alberta street and ended up at this food truck. Aside from Salt & Straw ice cream, this was my favorite thing I ate in Portland. I can’t wait to go back to Portland so I can eat these everyday. I recommend getting one of every empanada and an order of the chimichurri sauce. You won’t be sorry.
The Bollywood Theater– Known for having authentic Indian street food. Feeling hungry, we quickly glanced at the menu and both ordering the curry chicken . It’s a good way to taste a few different sides. I plan on going back and being a bit more adventurous
The Brunch Box – I couldn’t leave Portland without stopping here and getting a YouCanHasCheeseburger. A cheeseburger with all the toppings and instead of a bun, it’s sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwiches. I figured I would eat about half before having to tag Garrett to finish for me. Good thing we did a lot of walking in Portland because he only got one bite out of it. No regrets.
Alberta Co-op– Garrett and I frequented this place during our stay. We mostly stopped here to get water, but ended up picking up some goodies and snacks. They have kombucha on tap you could purchase by the growler, Stumptown coldbrew, and delicious homemade guacamole and carried a pretty good selection of beers and hard ciders.
Waffle Window – They serve and assortment of both sweet and savory waffles. The waffles by themselves are delicious and have a perfect crunch when you bit into them. I had the Three B’s and it was delicious. I usually am not a fan of brie cheese, but loved it paired with basil and bacon and the apricot jam.
Pok Pok– Serving Thai cuisine, but you won’t find any Pad Thai served here. One of their most famous dishes here are the chicken wings, which are the best I have ever had. if you want to give them a try and don’t live near a location, you can try making them yourself using their recipe.
Shopping: If you like to shop, Portland is a great place to visit since there is no sales tax ! Buying local doesn’t just apply to food out in Portland. There are a number of cool boutique stores that carry locally made items. If malls and upscale shopping is more your thing there are a few malls and shopping strips to check out.
Powell’s Bookstore– One of the largest independent bookstores in the U.S. You could spend an entire getting lost in the maze of bookshelves here and it’s hard to imagine them not having a book for you to enjoy.
Pioneer Place -Located in downtown Portland, it’s a mix of regular stores you find in most malls(gap, Victoria’s Secret, and H&M) and some upscale shopping(Tory Burch, Tiffany, and Louis Vuitton). Garrett and I made a few trips here during our stay. Made In Oregon-This store is great for picking up some souvenirs to bring back home. They have everything from t-shirts to beers and wines all made in Oregon.
Nordstrom– One of my favorite places to shop. All of my favorites lines and labels under one roof. They were working on remodeling the downtown store when we visited, but I still spent enough time browsing around to cause Garrett to drag his feet behind me.
Bridge City Comics– Garrett and I spent some time exploring N Mississippi Ave and ended up stopping in after grabbing a quick bite. I liked the layout of the store. It’s not overly cluttered like some comic bookstore and according to Garrett, had a good selection of comic series.
Digs– A very eclectic store. They are an interior design/gardening shop with lots of knick knacks in between. When we first walked in, we were offered an espresso while we browsed(This made Garrett pretty happy).This is where I discovered my favorite scented candle, Tomato Vine by Rosy Rings.
Mario’s– If I was to describe Mario’s, I would say it’s like the Barneys of the Pacific Northwest. They have a carefully edited selection of high end labels and accessories.
Animal Traffic-The store has a western influence when you first walk in. Animal Traffic sells vintage clothes ,new shoes and accessories from local labels. I didn’t end up buying anything from here, but had fun browsing through the racks of clothes.
Places to Visit: Though Garrett and I spent most of our trip aimlessly walking around the city, we did take a trip and visit a few places.
Portland Japanese Garden– Said to be one of the most authentic Japanese Gardens found outside of Japan. Getting up to the actual gardens was a bit of a hike itself. Despite there being some areas where it was a bit crowded, it was very tranquil and serene. Garrett and I spent enjoyed strolling through the gardens in a peaceful atmosphere.
The Grotto– Garrett and I are not religious people, but I still was interested in taking a visit to the Grotto. You could opt to pay and tour the upper level , but Garrett and I just explored the ground level. Like the Japanese Garden, it was very tranquil and serene walking around. It is definitely a unique experience to walk through trails in the trees and see the stations of the cross. I can definitely see why this would be a popular place for people to get married.
The Portland Farmers Market– The market is located on the campus of Portland State University every Saturday and easily puts the farmers markets in Upstate New York to shame. I have never seen since vibrant colored produce in my life. All of the fresh veggies, fruit, and other goods are locally grown/produced and mostly organic. Garrett loves spicy food(the hotter the better) and was happy to find some locally grown organic ghost peppers. Since we were at Portland State University, Garrett and I walked around the grounds of the school.At the time, I was interested in going back to school for Environmental Studies or Environmental Engineering and I could definitely see myself being happy walking around the campus and taking classes. Not too far from downtown or the quaint area of Goose Hollow, I can’t see how anyone could be bored with any downtown time between classes or doing work.
More Recommendations- These are a few of the places Garrett and I didn’t get to visit, but plan on checking out on our next trip.
Tasty n’ Sons– This spot is known for their southern style meals and on weekends, this place is packed with people trying to get a table for brunch.
Blue Star Donuts– Portland seems to love their donut shops. Here you will find donuts that look as pretty as they do delicious. One of their signature flavors is a blueberry basil and I can’t wait to give it a try.
Coava– We didn’t get a chance to stop here, however this is probably one of the first places we will check out. We’ve ordered coffee online from them a few times and definitely some of the best we have had.
Woodblock Chocolate– My sister and brother-in-law were nice enough to gift me with a box of chocolates from here this Christmas. Artisan chocolate that is made from cocoa beans they roast them selves. If you’re a fan of dark chocolates, I highly recommend.
Clyde Common– The fact this place is located in the very cool Ace Hotel should tell you that this place is pretty hip(ster). This spot is known for their communal tables and serving up some local fare with artisan made cocktails to wash it down.
Bridge&Burn– I love their Pacific Northwest themed graphic t’s and the flannels. They also stock items perfect to take with you camping or walking around the city of Portland.
2nd Avenue Records- Known for their wide range of music genres they offer in the forms of vinyl, cds, and even cassettes, the store seems more like digging through boxes in someone’s attic or garage which can make the hunt searching for a record that much more exciting.
Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade – Being able to enjoy a beer while playing classic video arcade games. According to Garrett, this is a winning combination and I have a feeling our next trip will include a late night date at this barcade.
The Oregon Coast– On my next visit, Garrett and I plan on renting a car and heading to one of the towns on the coast for a day or two.It seems almost unreal to see the sandy shores of the Ocean with a forest of green trees in the background .