I’ve visited Portland three times before this trip (at a variety of ages and for a mix of work and fun.) but hadn’t been in nearly 10 years. We tacked this stop on as a “day trip,” basically planning to stop for lunch on our way home from our road trip to Seattle, Vancouver, and Whistler. While we would have liked to spend a few days exploring the various neighborhoods as well as some of the great hiking options outside the city, we settled for a stopping for lunch which expanded into a few hours wandering the city and we're so glad we did.
Early September, 2016
Clear, sunny, temps in the low 70s
The compact downtown, it's walkability, great shops, lack of crowds, even downtown, beautiful large urban park.
Washington Park: This 400-acre park is just west of downtown. In fact, we left it to go downtown a different way than we came in and were surprised when we suddenly turned and found ourselves in the middle of downtown. There are a variety of attractions, both paid and free (Hoyt Arboretum, Oregon Zoo, Portland Children’s Museum, Portland Japanese Garden, World Forestry Center) but we only had an hour and so kept it simple with a visit to the International Rose Test Garden. Filled with beautiful flowers and plants, it was a great place for Jack to run around. Just down the hill from the Rose Test Garden was a great Children’s Playground.
We didn’t spend the night so I’m afraid any recommendations I have aren’t current. More coming soon, hopefully!
Walk along the Portland Waterfront: A pretty spot with a wide walkway, perfect for biking or strolling.
Eat at one of the city’s many many brewpubs: Portland is known as a city of breweries and brewpubs and the city is packed with multiple options.
Explore Washington Park: As mentioned above, we absolutely loved this huge park and are dying to go back to check out everything we missed,
Visit Pioneer Courthouse Square: In the center of Portland’s downtown, this urban park is really more of a plaza but a fun place to people-watch and there are often events and activities going on.
Deschutes Brewery: Based in Bend, Oregon, Deschutes produces some of our favorite beers so we were thrilled to see that they had opened a brewpub (they also have one in Bend) in Portland. We popped in for lunch and loved the rolling garage doors that created an open-air concept on one side of the restaurants. They were extremely accommodating to Jack and even found a nook near our table for us to tuck our stroller into so we could keep an eye on it. Great food and beer. If you’re minus the little ones, they have a large bar area where you can grab drinks.
Stumptown Coffee: While I didn’t have a chance to pop into one of their Portland cafes, Stumptown is a favorite coffee when I want something strong. I swear, their coffee has more caffeine than anything else I’ve tried so be sure you’re ready to be buzzed before drinking! Super tasty though.
Powell’s Books: An absolute dream if you’re a book lover. I sent Matt to walk Jack around a few city blocks while he napped in his stroller and spent a good 30 minutes wandering around Powell’s (which covers an entire large city block). Divided into 9 rooms, there are help desks to direct you to something specific. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular (yet still walked away with five new titles) after browsing their new and recommended sections by the entrances, their children’s section for Jack, travel, and business.
Bridge & Burn: I had seen their clothes mentioned on a few blogs and was curious to pop in. A nondescript storefront but a nicely laid out and not overwhelming boutique inside (they also carry select items from other brands). I tried on a few items and purchased a sweatshirt and t-shirt for myself (that so far I’ve been loving) and a t-shirt for my husband. Their clothes are soft and comfortable and I love finding things I like that are machine-washable, perfect for having a toddler around. The salesman was mellow and friendly. When I asked if they had a shirt in a different size, he offered that they did not but he could get me a different one just to get a sense of the sizing. He also said they could contact me when it was in if I wanted but he quickly added that he didn’t want to pressure me. As someone who hates pushy salespeople, I fell in love with the brand and their store right then and there (and ended up buying the shirt in a different color).
WM Goods: I hadn’t heard of this boutique specializing in independent designers previously but stumbled across it around the corner from Bridge & Burn. A beautiful light and airy space, it had a great, curated selection of mostly clothes but some accessories and household items as well. While I didn’t purchase anything, I could have easily spent a bundle (and left before I dropped a ton of money on a beautiful Jenni Kayne cashmere striped sweater.
Hanna Andersson: I love this Portland-based brand’s pajamas for Jack and stumbled across their downtown boutique completely by accident. While their clothing isn’t cheap, it’s beautifully made and we’ve been very pleased with the quality of everything we’ve purchased from them. I picked up a sweatshirt on sale and a few pairs of pants for Jack, which we hadn’t yet tried but were thrilled to discover that they fit his tall, skinny frame perfectly.
Layers, layers, layers. I feel like I say this for nearly every destination we go to but it’s so true. While we were lucky enough to have truly gorgeous, perfect weather the day we were there, I know Portland can get a decent amount of rain and therefore would definitely recommend layers for cooler weather and something waterproof to allow for drizzle.
Comfortable shoes. Again, something I always recommend no matter what but Portland is definitely best seen on foot and is also an extremely casual city.
Salt & Straw Ice Cream: I had this artisanal ice cream spot on my list and while they have three locations in Portland, none was extremely close to where we were. Feeling pressured to get on the road, we put it back on the list for next time.