Planning a trip to the great city of Portland, Oregon? Here are my Top 10 Tips for places to see, things to do, where to nosh etc!
Portland seamlessly blends culture and nature while maintaining an effortless cool vibe. My friend Keri and I only spent about 24 hours here (along our 15 day Western States road trip) – but even that was enough time for me to totally fall hard.
Feel free to comment below with any questions! 🙂
Portland, Oregon: Top 10 Tips
1. Local Gem: Powell’s Books (@powellsbooks)
Downtown Portland is home to Powell’s, a book-lover’s dream. If you have a soft spot for browsing row upon row of freshly bound beauties, coffee in hand – this mega-bookstore is the place for you.
Powell’s City of Books is the largest independent chain in the world. One may even need a store-provided map to navigate your way around this aptly named flagship.
In a world where most bookstores are failing, Powell’s is an oasis for the nerd inside us all. Besides books, there’s also fun merch including hand-made, local offerings. Let yourself soak up the nostalgia of finding a little nook and thumbing through some crisp pages.
2. Enjoy the Best Coffee: Heart Roasters (@heartroasters)
Thrillist has ranked Heart among the ‘The Top 10 Coffee Roasters in the Nation, as Voted by Super-Serious Coffee Nerds’ and placed them on the list of ‘The 21 Best Coffee Roasters in the Country’. How’s that for some Portland coffee?
Once upon a time I was a barista at a coffee shop in Astoria, NY (Kinship Coffee Cooperative) that featured Heart. Kinship had a particular affinity for the Stereo seasonal blend, but I have yet to try something of Heart’s that I do not like. Kick back at one of their locations and enjoy the clean, minimal surroundings while sipping on some quality brew.
3. Stock up on Groovy Outdoor Gear: Poler Flagship Store (@polerportland)
On a mission to find A+ hiking socks before hitting national park hiking trails, Poler had me covered. Upon entering the store we were greeted by a french bulldog on some sleeping bags in a tent by the doors. How’s that for the best security guard ever?
Quirky and totally lovable, the Poler flagship store is fun to browse even if you’re not searching for any gear in particular. Keri and I did end up getting two pairs each of hiking socks at reasonable prices. Plus, the staff is super friendly. One of the guys spotted my DSLR and recommended a fantastic place to catch photos at sunset (mentioned at the bottom of this list!).
4. Shop for Souvenirs + Handmade Goods: Tender Loving Empire (@tenderlovingempire)
Tender Loving Empire is one of those stores where you kind-of just want to look at and touch everything. For all things Portland-y, this little handmade crafts-centric store is a great find.
Look through their pins and postcards. I found one made out of real wood, how cool is that? Local music and jewelry are also staples at this little shop. Definitely a must if you’re looking for some quality souvenirs!
5. Eat: Alder Street Food Cart Pod – Rad Fare (@radfare)
If you’re a fan of food truck/cart culture, Alder street in Downtown Portland is where it’s at! CNN even declared Portland home to the world’s best street food. With over 600 of these small kitchens (and counting), this choice of fare is an absolute must-try for any visitor or local! Most Portland carts can be found in groups, or “pods,” making it totally easy to sample several types of cuisine at a time.
After browsing Powell’s and the shops listed above, walk over to Alder – one of the city’s largest pods. At first the options may seem pretty overwhelming! Make a lap around the block to scope out your pick – ours was Rad Fare.
As a plant-based eater, this menu totally caught my eye! Rad Fare has a creative variety (over 30 options!) of vegan and vegetarian eats.
They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner offering everything from burritos, wraps, and burgers to bowls and smoothies. Give the “Weiner Burger” a go. Made with vegan apple sage sausage, sauteed onions, kale, dijon and veganaise on a vegan ciabatta bun – this totally indulgent treat will definitely impress.
For desert Back to Eden Bakery (@backtoedenbakery)
A few hours of walking around in the summer sun would make anyone crave a refreshing desert. Back to Eden Bakery has you covered with refreshing vegan ice cream. Back to Eden takes nourishment seriously with the mantra “making a difference, one bite at a time.”
Proudly offering two dairy free ice cream options, their soft serve comes from Chicago Vegan Foods and traditional hard scoops are Coconut Bliss. Once you’ve decided on the ice cream you can choose from a selection of shakes, floats, sundaes or banana splits with our array of toppings and sauces. What a dream!
I went for a a few scoops of mint chip Coconut Bliss with their chocolate sauce and dark chocolate chips on top! Keri had the vanilla soft serve with dark chocolate chips. Needless to say, we were both in heaven. Back to Eden’s shop is rustic and homey, with outlets to recharge or get some work done.
6. Go for a Stroll: Tom McCall Waterfront Park, The Willamette River
Tom McCall Waterfront Park was once the site of a freeway and is now a downtown riverfront park. Take a moment to go for a jog, skate or stroll along the river taking in the bridges, boats and view of Mt. Hood in the distance. Or cool off in Salmon Street Springs, a fountain whose water patterns change with the city’s mood.
This 1.5-mile stretch of green along the Willamette River is home to many annual events and festivals. Enjoy walking in the shade of the trees while taking in the natural and urban beauty all around.
From the riverfront Keri and I found ourselves walking along cobblestone streets to take in more of the Portland scene. Check out this futuristic public transit shuttle.
7. Browse Vintage Finds: Artifact Creative Recycle (@artifactpdx)
Before sunset we found ourselves exploring the SE Division and came upon this super groovy store. Artifact is a sustainably driven design store – be it bohemian, rocker chic, or modern minimalist, they have curated a collection that will totally knock your socks off. Whether you’re hunting for a fun sequin-covered vintage top or a green velvet couch, this place has it all. They also buy, consign and trade.
8. Sip Local Brew: Wayfinder (@wayfinderbeer)
Portland is home to plenty of great breweries and micro-breweries and Wayfinder is one of their newest gems. The owners transformed 8,900 square feet of a century-old brick warehouse in Portland’s Central Eastside into a classic destination for beer and food lovers. There’s a massive tap hall and a even a deck with a fire pit!
Take a seat at their bar and sample some of their best brews. Try Wayfinder Zoiglhaus GSD – IPA, loads of Chinook, Cascade and Centennial hops.
9. Watch a Beautiful Sunset Pittock Mansion
Recommended to us by our friend at Poler, Pittock Mansion is the perfect place to catch a perfect Portland sunset. Drive up winding roads to a free parking lot and take a short walk behind the mansion to find 180 degree city views. The mansion itself is beautiful (I believe the offer tours of the interior throughout the day) and the surrounding gardens are also lovely.
At the viewpoint there are picnic tables and a paved sitting area. Watch the sky turn soft pink over this incredible view of downtown Portland and Mount Hood. Bring a snack, your camera, sit back and relax.
10. Take in Twilight: St. John’s Bridge, Cathedral Park
Consider wrapping up the day at Cathedral Park for stunning views of St. John’s Bridge. The Gothic Cathedral-like appearance of the bridge towers is not to be missed.
Set up your tripod and try snapping a few slow exposure photos. Street lamps illuminate the pathways of the park adding a touch of classic charm. Stroll along the riverfront or relax on one of the park benches to take in the tallest bridge in Portland.
That’s all for now! You’ll love this city. If you have any questions or comments please leave a note below.
Keep it busy,