Are you planning a trip to Portland, Oregon anytime soon? Well here’s my travel guide on all the best spots and must see’s! Roger and I finallyyy took an adults only trip, which has been long over due. It’s been such a struggle trying to find time between our two busy schedules and coping with the idea of being away from the girls for more than a night. But we did it and it was a blast! I think it was much needed and well deserved and we can’t wait to go back and take more trips in the future. Portland was the perfect destination for us because my two sisters live there along with a couple of my best friends from home. It was so great seeing them all and experiencing a new city and environment. We couldn’t of picked a more perfect time of the year to visit (June), though I honestly wouldn’t mind going during the colder months mainly just for the experience of real weather. We missed the girls greatly and towards the end we just couldn’t wait to get back home, but our time there was still a blast!
1. A brewery
Pick a brewery, any brewery! Portland is one of the top cities for breweries and you honestly can’t go wrong with any that you pick (IMO). We were able to go to 3 different ones: Rogue, 10 Barrel, and Fat Head – and they were all pretty good! If you’re a beer lover and like to try different brews, my tip is to always get a flight. You’ll get to try a variety and customize your picks.
Rogue Distillery and Public House – Rogue originated in Oregon so for us, it was a must! It has a very “local” vibe. It’s not a fancy place by any means, but we don’t care about that. This was the one place we actually didn’t get a flight, but that was only because we’ve already tried a variety of Rogue beers, available at our local BevMo. We got their wings for an appetizer and they were great!
10 Barrel Brewing – Located in the trendy Pearl District, this brewpub is definitely just as trendy inside. It has a huge rooftop patio with nice views of the city. We got the steak nachos, it’s not your traditional nachos. The chips are actually chips, but nonetheless they were yummy. Kudos to our server, who was really great, and brave for taking on a table of 17 people and multiple tabs lol the last round of drinks were on him!
Fat Head – This was my favorite brewery out of the bunch. They have a huge brew pub with a fun casual atmosphere. Their brew selection is IPA heavy, which is not surprising cuz IPA’s are all the rage right now. My favorites at the moment are fruit infused brews and they had a blueberry beer that was hands down my favorite beer EVER! It was soooo good that we contemplated buying a growler to bring back to San Diego with us. We got lunch and their food did not disappoint as well. I got a salami mozzarella pizza with arugula. SO YUMMY!!
2. International Rose Test Garden
I highly recommend going to the rose garden, but the only downside is that there’s only a very specific time frame for when the flowers are in bloom. We were luck to be there just at the perfect timing. The best time is in June. It’s the perfect spot for a romantic date and gorgeous pictures. The best part is that it’s absolutely free! Right across the street is the Japanese Garden, which we didn’t go to. There’s an entrance fee for this garden. This is definitely on my list for our next visit.
3. Multnomah Falls
This is one of the top tourist locations in Portland. The drive up there in itself (other than a little bit of traffic we hit leaving the city), is such a serene and calming drive. Especially once you get to the site and start driving up the mountain and through the forest. It might not seem like much, but for a beach city girl from San Diego it was just gorgeous and so different. I think there’s a couple different hiking trails as you drive up the mountain, but we were just going for the falls. We got there and there was a good amount of people. At the bottom of the hill there’s actually a restaurant, a gift shop, and snack stands. There were lots of people taking pictures at the bottom landing and a good amount of people actually going for the one mile hike up. We only made it half way up because we were strapped for time and needed to get back to the city. But the hike is an easy one and I’m sure the view from the top is unlike anything else. Wish we made it to the top, but I’d love to try again next time!
4. Dutch Bro’s
If you are a coffee lover and addict like I am, you cannot miss going to Dutch Bros! I would seriously move to Oregon just to be able to have Dutch Bros every day! So so so so good! The have a TON of flavor, and not just coffee but shakes and slushy drinks as well. The people that work there are amazingly nice and have great customer service! The first time we went, we asked what they recommend and told them it was our first time and we were from out of town, and they gave us our drinks for free! Thanks bro!!
5. Voodoo Doughnuts
This is a no brainer for anyone that is taking a trip to Portland. A little over-rated? Yes. But it’s still a MUST. If you didn’t go to Voodoo Doughnuts, did you really even go to Portland? We went in the late afternoon and it was the perfect timing because the line was only about a five minute wait. I hear the line is usually insane, so we were blessed. It’s a cash only establishment, so be prepared. Donuts are obviously a little overpriced. Pretty basic “donut shop” donuts. But they look cute as heck! You can buy a dozen or get them a la carte which is what we ended up doing. We got the Voodoo Doll, which is a given, and I got the Portland Cream, which was actually pretty darn good! I love cream or jelly filled donuts. I can’t remember what Roger got, but it was something basic like a maple bar. The main downtown shop is walking distance to all the other cool spots in downtown Portland.
6. The Saturday Market
Pretty much what the name entails, The Saturday Market is a v popular outdoor arts and crafts market. It’s the largest outdoor market in the United States. Cool location nestled right in between the city and the river. Obviously, they have a ton of artsy-fartsy booths, mostly over-priced, but still cool stuff nonetheless. I was really really looking to buy something, but I didn’t fall in love with anything in particular. There are a bunch of food trucks lined up and we chose this Hawaiian/Asian type truck that had fried noodles (yakisoba), the line was pretty decently long, so we figured it was a popular choice. We were greatly disappointed with our food. Noodles were suuuuper salty and there wasn’t anything special to it: noodles and chicken. The end. There were breakdancers, and drummers, and giant bubbles, oh my! Fun little daytime activity to keep you busy for a couple hours.
7. Powell’s City of Books
Powell’s is a Portland landmark and staple. It’s probably not your first choice to go to a book store on vacation, but I figured why not? Of course it’s in downtown and we were already in the area anyways. Whether you are a book worm or not, they totally have something here for everyone. This place is HUGE! The multi-level store house’s every piece of literature you can think of, as well as other neat gifts and random artsy things. We mainly came here to find a couple gifts for the girls. The best thing about this store is that they mix in brand new and used books, so if you don’t feel like shelling out the cash, just opt for the same exact version in a used book. The used prices were super affordable and they actually had an amazing sale section too. We picked out so many cute and classic books for the girls we actually had to narrow down our selection because we knew we couldn’t pack all of them in our luggage.
8. Thirsty Lion
One of the nights, we were looking for a late night restaurant in the burbs where we could get a couple drinks. It was a weeknight so our selection was slim. We couldn’t go to a bar because we were with someone who wasn’t 21. It was more of a chill family dinner. I found the Thirsty Lion on Yelp and so we just went with it. It was a good choice! Nothing super fancy or really special about this place, just your usual American style bar & restaurant. (Reminded me exactly of a BJ’s for all the San Diegans reading this right now) It was perfect because we got there during late night happy hour so all the appetizers were dirt cheap, and we got beer flights, of course! We definitely grubbed. Good place for family’s, they had sports and music videos playing on tv’s throughout. Would totally come again for the food and drinks.
9. Top Golf
Ok so this is only on my list because I’ve been wanting to go here and oddly enough there isn’t one in San Diego (which there needs to be!). I’ve seen a bunch of friends that have been the Vegas location and it looked like a lot of fun! Mind you, I don’t play golf and I pretty much suck at it. But who can pass up sports, and games, and food, and alcohol?! It’s practically a recipe for F-U-N. The place was packed. It’s a fairly new establishment in the burbs of Portland. There was a bit of a wait, but we got food and drinks to kill time. They have tv’s everywhere with all the sports channels, pool, shuffleboard, etc – so you won’t be bored. It was definitely fun and if we stayed an hour or two longer I probably would of started to actually get better lol. We were all amateurs though so I didn’t feel too bad. They had music and a DJ going too, so that was cool.
10. Pok Pok
Last and probably also the least (not gonna lie), Pok Pok is a Thai street food place that everyone raves about. It first gained popularity as a food truck and branched out into a handful of restaurants scattered throughout the city. Disclaimer: every single blog, Pinterest post, website that I visited prior to going to Portland talked and raved and ranted about this place, mainly about their chicken wings. This was at the top of our to-do list because duh, we LOVE chicken wings. I mean, who doesn’t? Seriously though, the biggest disappoint in all of 2017. I am so sad. Their wings were absolutely disgusting (I’m sorry). Their wings are marinated in fish sauce, which I didn’t really think twice about in the beginning. But geez, they were pungent and just not my thing at all. I feel terrible having a bad review and I’m definitely not giving them a recommendation. But I’m still talking about it because it totally was on our list, and we tried it and hated it. But if this is up your alley, I guess, check them out. We went to their casual quick diner that only had a handful of their menu items. I wish we went to one of their full service restaurants instead with a bigger variety of dishes. Maybe that would of been much better?
All together, I felt like we did a perfect variety of activities on our trip! In a matter of less than 4 days it wasn’t bad at all. We didn’t feel pressed on time but we felt like we still did a bunch! Obviously, I’m sure there were other things that we didn’t know about that are a must in Portland. But as a “tourist”, we did all the basics. Keep in mind, my sisters and a bunch of friends live in Portland, which was another reason for our visit, so we spent a good amount of time with them too <3.
(BONUS: probably the biggest highlight of our trip was going into both the Nike and Adidas Employee Stores!!! I didn’t want to include it in my count only because not just anyone and everyone can get in. You obviously need to know someone that works there, but if you do and can get passes – GO!!! Roger is a sneaker head and I just love shoes, obvi – so safe to say, we went pretty ham at both stores. Literally everything 50% off, so now I’m that girl that wears workout gear every day yet doesn’t work out. Who cares.)