Portland is a city well-known for its weirdness and uniqueness. It had long been a city that we both wanted to visit, so when we got the chance to travel and spend 4 day in Portland, we were thrilled. Luckily, Portland lived up to our hype! There are tons of delicious places to eat, breweries to drink at, and lots of things to do. If you haven’t been before, Portland is worth the visit and differs from Seattle, another popular Pacific Northwest city.
Where we stayed:
Like most of our trips, we stayed at an Airbnb in Southeast Portland in the Richmond neighborhood. It was called Adventureland and was home to an artist and musician. He was an amazing host and was able to answer all our questions and gave us plenty of tips for things to do in Portland. The Airbnb, Adventureland, also hosts live music concerts most weekends, so it’s a great place to see a free show and meet cool people!
If you’ve never used Airbnb before we highly recommend it! Here’s a code for first-time users where you can get $30 in travel credit when you book a place.
What we did:
Portland has a lot of really unique neighborhoods, and they’re all within walking distance from each other. Make sure you venture outside of just the west side of Portland and explore more than downtown. Downtown is a really cool area and is really green compared to a lot of other downtowns across the US.
Powell’s City of Books – Powell’s City of Books claims to be the world’s largest independent bookstore. It’s a Portland landmark and is a gigantic bookstore. We wandered through the store for a little just to see what it was all about but didn’t buy anything. There’s a huge selection, plus a cafe. You could certainly spend more than a few hours getting lost in Powell’s.
Nike Factory Store – Nike’s headquarters are based in Beaverton, Oregon, just outside of Portland, so it has a heavy influence on the city. The Nike Factory Store was worth a visit as they have lots of Nike products at cheap prices. It’s worth a visit if you’re on that side of Portland. However, if you’re just too enraged with Nike after the recent Kaepernick ad to bring yourself to go to the store, then please….ummmm….go educate yourself.
Willamette River and Portland Waterfront – Slicing through Portland is the Willamette River. It creates an interesting division in the city. Portland has built up a friendly waterfront that’s filled with a big park. Take a walk along the waterfront and soak in some nature in the city.
Dispensaries – Oregon, like many other states in the US, has legalized marijuana. Throughout Portland, there are plenty of dispensaries where you can stop in and see what they’re all about. The employees are generally happy to answer any questions you may have. Whether you choose to partake or not is your call.
Cathedral Park – On the northern edge of Portland and across the Willamette River is Cathedral Park. It’s a quick drive and offers great views of the St. Johns Bridge. The bridge’s arches are shaped like those in a Gothic cathedral, giving the park its name.
Breweries on Breweries on Breweries – Portland has, to put it mildly, a shit-ton of breweries. They’re all over the city and all seem to serve up healthy-sized beer flights. We visited quite a few, which you’ll see listed under the where we ate and drank section of this post. If you don’t believe us that Portland has plenty of breweries, check out this map:
Hiking! – With all the natural beauty surrounding Portland, and in the Pacific Northwest in general, we wanted to get out and explore it. Luckily, our friends were able to drive us to a trailhead outside of Portland called Tom, Dick, and Harry Mountain. From the top of Tom, Dick, and Harry you’re able to clearly see Mt. Hood. All in all, the hike took about 4 hours total with a few stops and lots of photos at the top. It wasn’t too strenuous, but the final ascent up to the top was a little steeper. The views were well worth it, and we were so happy to get out of the city and experience some nature.
Food Carts – Another thing Portland is well-known for is its abundance of food carts. The city boasts over 500 different food carts. With that many options, you’re bound to find at least one you like! We tried out a few different ones during our four days in Portland. At least you know that you’ll never get hungry walking around the city with so many places to grab a quick bite. Here’s a map of the hundreds of food carts in Portland:
Where we ate and drank:
Kati Portland – Our first night in Portland, we were walking around the neighborhood our Airbnb was in and stumbled upon this Kati Portland, a Thai restaurant. We both opted for the Pad Thai, and it was delicious!
Blackbird Pizza – We stopped in at this local pizza joint when we were craving some pizza—we’re sure you know the feeling. We got their vegan pizza which was more than enough to satisfy our hunger. Aside from the great pizza, Blackbird Pizza had great service and an cool atmosphere.
Sizzle Pie – Yes, another pizza place. However, this time we ordered the pizza as a late night snack after some time at the bars. While the wait in the line was long, Sizzle Pie offered a large variety of pizzas-by-the-slice, including many vegan and vegetarian options. The pizza was good, and the slices were big. We’d stop here again but would be aware of the possible long wait. There’s also one located in Seattle too! If you’re curious, check out our post about what we did in Seattle!
Salt and Straw – If you’re into ice cream and enjoy lots of free samples, first of all, you can be our friend, and secondly, you will love Salt and Straw. They have a huge variety of rotating flavors of ice cream, and they let you sample as many as you want! How can you beat that?! Because it’s so popular, the line might be long, but it’s totally worth it. Even though you can now find Salt and Straw’s in other cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle, it was fun to check out where it had originated.
Portland Breweries, Bars, and Cider:
Schilling Hard Cider – Yes, this first one isn’t a brewery, but they do make their own cider. Plus, it was Oregon Cider Week when we visited. We got a flight of ciders and were able to vote on our favorite ones. We didn’t check back to see which one won, but they were all really tasty. Schilling Cider has a huge cider selection and is in an awesome place with a fairly big outdoor patio.
Rogue Brewery – Rouge Brewery is located just a block away from Schilling Cider. The beer was good, and they had a cool outdoor area with fire pits and bags.
Deschutes Brewery – Deschutes Brewery is one of the more famous and well-known breweries in Portland. Be ready for a potential wait, especially during peak times, because it’s a popular spot with good beer and food. We had a healthy flight of beer and a yummy pretzel with cheese.
Breakside Brewery – Breakside Brewery was a rather new brewery located in Slabtown, a pretty cool part of Portland where a lot of older warehouses have been converted into multi-use buildings. We ate lunch here and had a few beers as well as caught the tail end of a World Cup game. Overall, it’s a pretty cool atmosphere.
10 Barrel Brewery – 10 Barrel Brewery was originally out of Bend, Oregon, but has since exploded and is located in numerous cities, including Bend, Portland, San Diego, Boise, and Denver. 10 Barrel was also recently bought by Anheuser-Busch making it less of a small, hometown micro-brewery. The purchase by a bigger brewery has received mixed reviews from 10 Barrel fans and beer connoisseurs. In our opinion, the beer was alright, and the building itself was pretty cool. We still prefer to support the local breweries instead and didn’t actually know about all this until after we had stopped in.
Ex Novo Brewery – This was another brewery where we sampled the beer and food. We order the sweet potato hush puppies and the fish fry. Ex Novo has really good beer, but was located a bit away from most of the sights in Portland. However, it is close to the Nike Factory Store, so if you’re stopping by there, Ex Novo Brewery would be a good place to go to for a beer and food.
Wayfinder Brewery – Wayfinder had amazing beer and delicious food. Plus, it had the coolest logo, in Mike’s opinion anyway.
McMenamins – McMenamins is something unique to the Pacific Northwest, with locations only in Oregon and Washington. They take historic places, like the Crystal Hotel location we visited, and turn them into music venues, restaurants, and bars. It’s definitely a unique atmosphere and an interesting place to check out.
Pops and Bounce – Pops and Bounce is a ping pong bar. If you haven’t been to one before and like ping pong, then this is for place is for you. You pay to rent a ping pong table and get to drink while playing. There are quite a few tables, so they might be full when you go. Luckily, we were able to get a table right away.
Departure – Departure is an awesome rooftop bar in Portland! We recommend going right away when happy hour starts because it can get busy. We were there right when it opened, and it quickly filled up. If you go to Departure during happy hour, it’s also cheaper which will help your travel budget! The view of Downtown from the rooftop is really cool too!
Portland is kind of synonymous with donuts. The big three are Blue Star, Pips Donuts, and Voodoo Doughnuts. We typically don’t eat refined sugar, but we splurge when we’re on vacation and/or there’s a special dessert from that place. We didn’t make it to Voodoo, but even though they’re based in Portland, they also have locations in Eugene, Austin, Denver, Los Angeles, and Orlando. We hope to try it eventually.
Blue Star Donuts – Blue Star Donuts was our first donut stop. They had a pretty big selection of donuts. The actual donuts looked rather “normal”, but they had a huge variety of unique flavors. We picked out three different ones to share; Lemon Poppy, Chocolate Almond Ganache and Raspberry Rosemary Buttermilk. Our favorite was the Lemon Poppy!
Pips Donuts – Pips Donuts is famous for their mini-donuts. We ordered a sampler of 6 donuts—one of each! While they were all made in a seemingly similar fashion, each donut was uniquely delicious!
You’ll have to try each of Portland’s famous donut places to see which one you like best!