As I’ve mentioned before here on the blog, Ben and I always love exploring Portland. Continue reading
Last weekend Ben, Kai and I took a quick overnight trip to Portland, OR. We stayed at a pet-friendly Airbnb and picked activities that we could do with Kai, like breakfast at the Tin Shed & Garden Cafe, walking along the waterfront, and the Portland Saturday Market. Thankfully we had a day of nice sunny warm-ish weather that made sitting at sidewalk tables for lunch and coffee a possibility, which is easier with a dog along. I think Kai had a great time.
In the afternoon we popped into a few shops along N. Mississippi Ave (sometimes with Kai along, sometimes one us kept him outside). I loved exploring the shops in this neighborhood. I think the neighborhoods in Portland have more personality than downtown.
I can’t forget to mention that I got ice cream at the famous Salt & Straw. I put a lot of thought into my flavor choice while waiting in line, and ended up–after sampling a few–with Cocanu’s Coffee & Craque, which is chocolate, coffee and caramel. I don’t imagine you could pick a bad flavor.
Portland is quickly stealing my heart as a favorite weekend destination. This trip was the second time Ben and I visited Portland (first trip here), and we loved it even more! On this trip we were able to park our car by our airbnb place and walk and bus all over the city. (BTW…three cheers for another great cheap airbnb experience!)
Walking and figuring out public transportation really helps me get my bearings and get the feeling of a place, don’t you agree? There’s only so much you can tell from inside a car.
^A bus full of vintage dresses. Isn’t this the coolest??! Spend some time browsing the website when you get a chance. I loved reading the story behind the bus.^
^We took a scenic detour on the drive home and saw some of the Columbia River Gorge^
On this trip we really got it right with our itinerary and had the perfect combination of adventure + relaxation. Here are a few ideas for planning a fun getaway weekend in a new city:
1) Start by choosing 2-3 destinations you really want to visit.
Shops, parks, landmarks…that kind of thing. Figure out ahead of time the best time of day to see each thing so you don’t end up arriving after closing time or when it’s the most crowded. Case in point, we were hoping to visit popular Oregon destination Multnomah Falls this weekend on the way back to Seattle, but didn’t consider the crowds that might be there on a beautiful sunny Saturday early afternoon. We drove around for quite some time and no parking became available, and eventually we gave up and continued on our way to Seattle.
2) Pick restaurants in advance.
The worst thing to do is end up eating somewhere like Subway because you were starving and thought you’d just “find somewhere to eat.” I learned this lesson long ago.
3) Have an itinerary document you can access on the trip with addresses to all the places you plan to visit.
It’s always a good idea to look up addresses ahead of time, and it might help you group activities and restaurants that are close together to save time.
Itineraries may not be the most spontaneous, but it has always helped us have a better travel experience, and we’ve agreed that planning is a big part of the fun. We’ve been making itineraries even for day-trips since back in our college days, and that little bit of extra planning has played a major role in allowing us to see a lot in a short amount of time.
You know how Portland is one of those cities you’ve known about forever, and wonder if what everyone says is true? (More specifically, you wonder if the ever-hilarious Portlandia is telling it like it is?)
We decided to go to Portland yesterday and see for ourselves. Our spontaneous trip was mostly centered around food, and let me tell you it was a day of good eating: we started with Thai lunch at Pok Pok, then got coffee at the original Stumptown, waited in line at Voodoo Doughnuts (worth the wait, in my humble opinion!), and ended with dinner at ¿Por Que No? Taqueira.
Our very last stop was to grab a take-out cup of Stumptown French Press from one of the awesomest coffee shops we stumbled upon, Albina Press Coffee…our only regret was having to head back home and not spend an hour sitting in the coffee shop at the end of the day.
So what did I see in my short time in Portland? Bikes, beards, converse, bikes, glasses, dogs, plaid shirts, bikes, rivers, graffiti, cute craftsman houses, tattoos, amazing artwork, bright lipstick, bikes, and rain. Did I mention how bike-friendly it is?
We only scratched the surface in our explorations of Portland so we’ll have to plan a trip back soon! Also since it was rainy most of the day we have a lot of outdoor things to do…next time we need to rent bikes.
A special comparison for my friends from back home: Portland felt a lot like Asheville, NC, except bigger.