Travel Guide: Portland, Oregon
Portland is definitely weird - but when you live within a 4 hour drive of Asheville it wasn't a weird that I was not prepared for.
One of the things I loved the most about Portland was even though it's a big city it felt like a lot of little neighborhoods, traffic was never that terrible, and parking was pretty easy (even if they did have 1-2 hour limits)
If I had unlimited luggage space and unlimited money I could have spent a lot of time in this store. The amount of records in here was INSANE - just when I thought there wasn't any more records to look at I'd turn a corner and a new section would be waiting for me. They even had a New Wave section (I about lost it - even though I still haven't found a copy of New Order's - Power Corruption and Lies)
This is a little bit aways from everything else so it's a good pit stop after the airport or on your way to the airport (because can I just say Portland's airport security was super lax and it only look like 20 minutes to get through security)
Again - this place was also full of goodies that if I didn't have a 1 hour parking spot I would have stayed in forever. This is a clothing store where multiple vendors bring all their vintage to one place so make sure if you're looking for something specific look at all the vendors. There were SOOOO many pairs of vintage Levi's that I finally found a pair that fit (even though I didn't buy them because they were a little out of my price range)
But seriously this is a store you could spend all day at so try to take public transit into the area if you can.
Right across the street is Farmhouse. This is such a cute Thai restaurant with delicious eats. I was one of the only people in there so they gave me a free soup!
Yes! A million times yes! Blue Star Doughnuts is one of the best doughnut places I've ever eaten at (and I've eaten a lot of doughnuts) I chose the Mexican Hot Chocolate Doughnut that had just the right amount of spice. If I had been traveling with others I would have gotten a few so we could have shared but I limited myself to one of these babies.
Okay - I know I'm repeating myself but I think Portland just wants you to get lost in endless, never ending stores, with tons of stuff at a time because Powell's is another place you could lose 5-6 hours if you let yourself. This GIANT warehouse has ALL THE BOOKS. And I'm not kidding when I say that. One of my favorite things to do when I go to bookstores (especially those that cater to used books) is look for one of my favorite beat writers whose books aren't even produced anymore. I normally find 1-2 if any and THEY HAD A WHOLE SHELF DEDICATED TO HIM. I actually did spend WAY to much money and had to stop myself from scouring the entire store (again luggage space dwindling at this point)
But if there is a book you've been looking for or just need a place to chill for a bit - Powell's is the place to go.
Wildfang - like other Portland boutiques is definitely cool. It's a feminist based, gender neutral clothing store that also doubles as a bar (yeah there is a lot going on there) but unfortunately everything was out of my price range (I'm a bargain person and the clearance rack didn't have anything in my size) But definitely take a minute to check out all the boutiques to see if you find anything that you just can't live without.
As someone who is from the south I always get weary when people boast about their southern cuisine. But Lardo definitely hit the spot. Their classic, southern inspired options were quite large (for the $12 price tag and $5 for fries I opted not to get) but this was one of the best Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches I've ever eaten. Again I would suggest stopping here with friends and splitting some items.
Need a sweet treat? Salt & Straw is AWESOME! Their handmade ice cream comes in a variety of flavors (including a dairy free option for people like myself) and they even have dairy free dipping chocolate to dip your cone in YUM! Their toppings bar is also insane with CHUNKS of cookie dough, brownies bites, and more. I stopped here twice, once in the downtown area and again in the arts district. They have tons of locations so you never know where you might spot their logo.
If I could re-do anything about my trip it would be this place. I visited this super chill and cool vegetarian restaurant super late the night I arrived in Portland (I'm talking running off 23 hours of no sleep late) and was a little disoriented. I do remember this being delicious - I do remember only take a few bites before I was like MUST GO TO SLEEP NOW.
So if I ever go back to Portland I want to give this place a real chance!
I needed a caffeine fix and even though I had a lot of coffee shops on the list, I passed by this one and stopped in. The iced coffee hit the spot and they served Stumptown of course. One of the local Portland people I chatted with told me you can't go wrong with any coffee shop and from my experience they were right.
My Air BnB was directly behind this establishment and I resisted eating here every damn day! Their hazelnut milk was amazing, I even think I prefer it to almond, and they hand make their churros on the spot for freshness. You can choose to get chocolate covered, or cinnamon sugar - and they have a variety of dipping sauces such as lemon, chocolate, and more.
Definitely stop in and hang out. Luckily this is one of the places that I found that opens early (9am - it seems like most things in Portland don't open until 11) so it allowed me to hang out for a bit and decide what to do with my day.
One of my clients told me about this place and he was not wrong - it was great. Also right down the road from my Air BnB AND across the street from Hollywood Vintage (another vintage shop I was never around when it was open - did I mention things in Portland have weird hours)
My drink of choice (an old fashioned) is made each time with whiskey of the bartenders choice. They have an insane bar and are attached to a food market where you can get pizza by the slice, ramen, American classics, and vegetarian options.
My last meal before heading on the plane was brunch at the Hazel Room. Honestly what pulled me into this place was that it's hailed as a Tea House. And I'm a sucker for tea. The food was delicious (although usually their sandwiches are on cheddar biscuits but I had to opt for Rye Bread)
Definitely worth it for interesting brunch and it's right beside House of Vintage.
OUTSIDE OF PORTLAND
There are tons of things to do and see right outside the Portland area. I had some free time and wanted to see where all these West Coast photographers are always shooting at so I took a few hours and explored the coast.
This is part of the Mt Hood National Park System and there is a $5 fee to park (make sure you bring exact change)
This is a beautiful drive with tons of outlooks to take some great photos. Once you get to the lake (make sure you use the day site access not the campground access) it's a super easy stroll through the woods to the lake. On a clear day the mountain reflects on the lake, making for a great photo op. A lot of people were fishing, kayaking, and swimming so if you like water sports this might be the spot for you.
There was also tons of baby ducklings that come right up to you so that was quite adorable.
I know - looks familiar right? It's where they shot The Goonies! It's also one of the most visited places on the Oregon coast - and quite frankly so not worth the hype. I was there for about 10 minutes - (parked, got out, took a photo, and left)
I think it's probably more enjoyable on days where it isn't 80 degrees and gorgeous because the beach was packed, they were setting up for a wedding, and tourists were everywhere.
Personally I enjoyed the next spot WAY better and it was only 15 minutes away.
This was probably my favorite place I visited while at the coast. The beach was pretty quiet, a handful of tourists and surfers, there were amazing views, tons of cool vegetation, and the trail to the beach access was full of giant trees. Everything about it made it feel super West Coast. Parking was free and there was tons of it, and it was again a gorgeous drive. Highly recommend.
I stopped through Astoria on my way off the Coast and back into Portland because I like to check out some new cities if I can. This small town was alright - I stopped by Buoy Brewing (the beer was delicious - the customer service was lacking)
So if you want to stop by go ahead but I was only there for a few hours. Beautiful - but definitely not worth the pit stop if you have no interest.