In January 2018, after the Four Friends parted ways in San Francisco, the Vades jumped in a car and drove up the West Coast from San Francisco to Seattle. One of the highlights of the road trip was a quick 2 night stop in Portland Oregon.
Set on the border of Oregon and Washington, Portland is part of the Pacific Northwest region and is often referred to as the “City of Roses”. In the early 1900’s it was known as one of the world’s most dangerous port cities, mostly due to organized crime. Today Portland is known for its parks, farm to table dining, great coffee and some of the world’s finest ales and microbreweries.
Portland Day 1
We drove the winding 6 hours up the Oregon coast from California. Stopping off at the famous Redwood National Park and a couple of cute port towns. We arrived in downtown Portland in the early evening. After checking into The Nines Hotel, we knew that we couldn’t waste any time and headed out to explore the city. Portland is a very walkable city and the streets are easy to navigate. First stop was the Pearl District, which is full of converted warehouses and art galleries. This area is also home to some great craft breweries. Time to raise the wrist and taste some frothy delights at the Rogue Public House. This brewpub has been around since 1988 and they have also expanded in a distillery making Whiskey and Gin. They brew up some really interesting ales and lagers including collaborations in the past with the local doughnut house, Voodoo Doughnuts. They also have a dark ale that is mixed with Sriracha Hot sauce, not something you see at many microbreweries and a treat for a spice lover. No matter what your beer style is, they will definitely have something you like. Like many brewpubs, they offer beer flights which give you the opportunity to try a variety of different ales and stouts.
After a number of ales, it was time to continue the night and we didn’t have to travel far. Just around the corner, is another local brewpub, Deschutes. Also founded in 1988 and named after the Deschutes River that runs through the Cascades Range in Oregon, this brewery is focused on sustainability and water conservation, of course, they also make super tasty beers. We grabbed some more brews and some delicious food.
Portland Day 2
We arose early and headed out for breakfast. There was really only one option given the short amount of time we had in the city…doughnuts. One of the most popular tourist destinations in the city, Voodoo Doughnuts is a must visit. With over 40 different options including raised yeast, cake and even vegan choices, you will probably spend more time in line trying to decide which ones to get than spent eating them! The “Voodoo” is a safe bet and it is good to say you had their namesake doughnut. If we are honest, we might have had a couple too many doughnuts and everything we tried was delicious. We grabbed our pink box and a couple of coffees and enjoyed our morning munching down on the tasty treats! Voodoo does get very busy especially in Summer with long lines, so we recommend you head down early to get your fix.
We spent the rest of our day walking around the city and explored the Chinatown district, the views along the Willamette River and the Portland Building (as seen in the opening credits of the TV show, Portlandia). An afternoon rainstorm ended our walking tour, so it was back to the hotel to get ready for our final night.
Located on the rooftop of the hotel is a fantastic Asian fusion restaurant called Departure. This upscale restaurant features classic sushi and noodle dishes with a Pacific Northwest spin. Executive chef Gregory Gourdet of Food Network’s Top Chef fame, creates stunning and delicious dishes that stimulates the eye as much as the palette. It lived up to its reputation and rivals many highly rated international restaurants we have visited around the world. We selected the 10-course tasting menu that included Crab and avocado caviar sushi, grilled scallops and fried pork belly. Topped off with some delicious wines. Looking out over the city, soaking in the night vistas we came to the realisation that Portland is another city that has captivated our souls.
Other fun activities we have done in Portland include:
Portland’s International Rose Test Garden is the oldest official continuously operated public rose test garden in the United States. Unofficially known as the Portland Rose Garden, the space features more than 10,000 roses. Hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world enjoy its sights and scents annually. The garden also offers spectacular views of downtown and Mount Hood. Make sure you check with their website for the best time to visit. If you catch the garden after pruning season you won’t get to see any flowers.
A short walk from the Rose Test Garden you can visit the Portland Japanese Garden. It is is a haven of meticulously maintained, tranquil beauty. Proclaimed one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan, the 5.5-acre (2.2 ha) space includes an authentic Japanese tea house, meandering streams, intimate walkways and an unsurpassed view of Mount Hood. There has been a recent expansion, which was being built when we visited. If you stop through send us some pictures of the garden so we can see the update.
Take a Haunted Portland Tour. The Pacific Northwest is rife with spooky lore and tales of things that go bump in the night, and Halloween season is the prime time to check out Portland’s many mysterious spots and spirited walking tours. Goosebumps are all but guaranteed.
Like Coffee? In Portland, coffee is the new wine, baristas are akin to rock stars and only the most tricked-out espresso machines are trusted with unique house roasts. With breakout local successes like Stumptown Coffee Roasters, which now boasts satellites in Brooklyn and Seattle as well as a burgeoning line of bottled cold brews, the city seems poised to take over (or at least overcaffeinate) the nation.
Want to learn about the secret underground side to Portland? Take an educational tour of the infamous ‘Portland Underground’ that focus on the Shanghai trade in the City of Portland that survived from 1850-1941. Hear stories of white slavery, prohibition, and even the turn-of-the-century history of the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.) labour movement in the Northwest.
If you love public and street art like us you can walk or bike around inner Southeast Portland, you’re sure to stumble across stunning examples of street art. (No surprise in a city that’s home to nearly 2,000 pieces of public art, including many murals.) These include an enormous snake that winds its way across several walls and robots that ask, “What brings you joy?” There’s also the oft-Instagrammed arrow mural on Hawthorne. Many of these works are products of the annual Forest for the Trees Northwest festival.
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