Portland, Oregon: A Travel Guide
In June, I took the plunge and booked an airplane ticket to Oregon. After months and months of obsessing over pictures of the Oregon coast and its many mountains on Tumblr, I finally decided to make the trip. I shot all of these images on my iPhone 6, but I hope the pictures translate the emotions I felt during my time in Portland. It is hands down my favorite city that I’ve ever visited, so much so that I hope in the near future I return. I definitely left my heart in Portland, though my life’s in New York.
Where I stayed: This also doubles as a travel tip but I planned my vacation around the flights. I used SouthWest’s monthly low fare calendar to determine which days were the most inexpensive to fly and though I had to adhere to some inconvenient wake up times, I’d say it was worth it. But planning my trip this way meant the Airbnb I chose was unavailable the first night. So for one day, I stayed at the Mark Spencer Hotel in downtown Portland. It was a great location — in the center of everything and mere blocks away from Powell’s Book Store — which offered free parking, a continental breakfast, and luxurious rooms with a muted and classic aesthetic. The rest of the week, I stayed in an Airbnb studio apartment. I can’t say enough positive things about my first stay in an Airbnb. The hosts I encountered were thoughtful, helpful, and provided an incomparable compendium of all things Portland, which I treated as the Bible during my stay.
Places I ate: The first thing to note is that Portland is an incredibly friendly environment for vegetarians and vegans alike. One of the things I’ve missed the most since making the transition to a vegetarian lifestyle is buffalo wings — hence the buffalo cauliflower recipe I immensely rely on to get me my fill — and Portland had wings in abundance. One of our first stops was Rogue Ales Public House & Distillery, where I tried my first flight plan of beer (loved it!). Another great spot is Killer Burger, where I found a pineapple cider and a delicious veggie burger. I gave in to the mass recommendations online and waited in line at Voodoo Doughnut, a wait which I definitely deemed worthy. Again, lots of delicious vegan donut options at Voodoo! There is a great gluten-free slice at Sizzle Pie (which was convenient on the walk back to the Airbnb from a night out at the distilleries) and I scored a deliciously refreshing chai latte at Heart Coffee Roasters the next a.m. when I was feeling the morning-after effects of the previous night’s alcohol. Brunch at Screen Door is a must-do, as it offers authentic southern eats and something amazing called the “traditional blowout brunch” from 9am to 2:30pm on the weekends. (I got the vegetable frittata.) The most important eatery on the trip, that I truly can’t say enough amazing things about, is the ice cream shop Salt + Straw. The line was out the door and around the corner but the minute my strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper cone hit my lips, those 20 minutes standing impatiently in line seemed fickle. If you take away anything from this travel guide, GO TO SALT + STRAW. More bars I loved were Bar Bar (which has a great patio out back with limited seating so that you’re forced to mingle and make friends!) and Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade. The arcade was super awesome because it required a $20 cover, but then all of the games in the arcade are free to play. The Airbnb hosts actually took me here my last night and it was so awesome to get to know them better over beers and Pacman!
Things I did: If you’re an experienced hiker (I’m talking ice axe and ropes!) then Mount Hood, the mountain visible from town will be yours to conquer. Or, if you’re more of a open-eyed wanderer and less of a traditional hiker (like moi), then Forest Park’s Wildwood Trail is the ideal option for you. I think it was a 9-mile loop all the way around. You can’t beat the views; it’s unimaginably lush and green in the Oregon forest. Another great option if you’re looking for an outdoor activity but maybe not into the whole hiking thing is the International Rose Test Garden. The redolent smell of roses is overpoweringly sweet and you’ll probably score some sunshine weaving in and out of the gardens. There are also often shows put on in the amphitheater. My one regret from my trip was missing out on the Aerial Tram.
Exploring outside of Portland: Portland is about two hours from the Oregon coast, so renting a car and driving out there is a well-worth it idea for a day trip. I headed down to Depoe Bay and spent the afternoon whale watching. I sighted mostly gray whales, as the whalers in town told me the transient orcas had already made their way up to Vancouver and the San Juan Islands. Bring a rain jacket and a sweatshirt because even if it is super warm in Portland, it will NOT be by the coast!
Like I said, I definitely plan to return and spend more time in Oregon, so hopefully I can expand on this travel guide one day. If you’ve ever been to Portland, I’d love to hear about your time there.
One more thing: I wanted to include the playlist that I listened to both leading up to and during the trip. I can’t listen to these songs and not think about my time there and what this city (and state!) means to me. Hope you enjoy!
What are your favorite must-see spots in Portland or in Oregon? Comment below! And if you like these kinds of travel guides, please let me know in the comments and I’ll be sure to do more of them!