“The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland.” – Portlandia.
As Scube and I sat in a neighborhood bar in the Nob Hill section of Portland, an eccentric British woman named Jenny asked us what made us come to Portland, and more importantly, how did we end up here, at Nobby Nobby Nobby? The latter, we needed a bathroom, the former, well, we had never been. And after a work trip to San Francisco, Portland was just a quick flight away, so why not?
What I had known of Portlandia going in was great food, an excessive liberal population, plenty of rain, and a diverse landscape. I was pumped, despite the awful weather report. On our itinerary, the beautiful Multnomah Falls and scenic drive, as well as Mount Hood and the Timberline Lodge (our first snow of the season!!), and finally two full days exploring the city. And Scube and I don’t just explore, we attack (metaphorically speaking).
Upon arrival, we were greeted with some of the best city public transportation I have ever seen. While the city is incredibly accessible on foot (we did that too), the public transportation was so smooth and easy to use. A day pass on the Max and Street Car will run you $5, whereas a one-way fare is $2.50, and good for 2.5 hours after purchasing. At all stops, we found that many of the tickets come out pre-validated, making it incredibly efficient to hop on and hop off. And I loooooove efficiency. I used to be a consultant after all.
In the city, here is a quick rundown of the must-see sites:
- Powell’s Book Store. Where brick and mortar bookstores have suffered in the age of Amazon, Powell’s is large, thriving, and a wonderful place to get lost and escape the cold drizzle.
- The Rose Garden. Even in November, there were still a few luscious looking roses to be found, as well as an incredible view of the city.
- The Brew Scene. Both coffee and beer, the city is littered with breweries (Deschutes, Bridgeport, to name a few) and artisan coffee shops.
- Food carts, food carts, food carts! Portland has a thriving food cart scene taking up parking lots and emanating the most enticing of food smells.
- The Art Museum. An architectural wonder filled with a collection of modern art to die for.
- Lady Portland. She is NOT Poseidon as I had actually thought.
- Farmer’s Markets. Literally one for every day.
- The forest. I love when you can escape a city in the city itself. Lush growth, mile high ferns, and dozens of trails await just a short walk from the street car.
- The shopping. From high end name brand store so small boho boutiques littered with birds, I could have shopped for days…if Scube would let me!
- The Salt & Straw. Incredible ice cream, though depending on timing you may have a long wait. What I loved, this organic, farm to table ice cream shop wasn’t too uppity for sprinkles (THANK GOD).
- Neon signage. Neon signs are everywhere and I ate them up. Right over the Burnside Bridge is the beautiful Portland Oregon neon sign greeting visitors in Old Town Portland, a stone’s throw from Voodoo Donuts.
- Voodoo vs. Blue Star Donuts. After sampling both, Voodoo Donuts was the ultimate winner for me and Scube. Bigger, badder, cheaper. We went twice, and both times, thanks to our east coast jetlag aka early wake-up time, we avoided the lines. Keep in mind Voodoo Donuts is open 24 hours, so whenever the mood for a light sugary treat hits, Voodoo will be waiting. But be careful, that area is not the most savory in the city.
- Rent a car and get outside the city (separate post to come)!
- Go see where Tonya Harding trained! Well this one might be just me, but as a figure skater growing up in the 80s and 90s, Tonya Harding was the tits, until of course she hired her ex-husband to take Nancy Kerrigan out with a tire iron. But, you can see where Tonay Harding trained, in the mall in Portland near the Convention Center. The must under served tourist attraction EVER, and the cherry on top of my Oregon visit.
Portland is a beautiful city with literally the nicest people I have ever met. I have never felt so welcomed by a city’s people than I did in Portland. But like any city, Portland is not without its faults and seedy neighborhoods. Be smart, ask where to go and not to go, and overall enjoy what the city has to offer, because it’s a lot. And remember, put a bird on it.