Portland, Oregon has been high on our list of foodie travel destinations for quite some time now. Surprisingly, we were more awed by the beautiful views in this Pacific Northwest travel destination than the food. That being said, we did have a great time and would definitely recommend Portland as a destination for all of you nature lovers!
We got lucky on our trip to Portland because we enjoyed 5 days of sunshine and beautiful mid 70 degree weather! We broke up most of our days by doing adventure/nature things in the morning and walking around the Eastside until our little bellies felt like they’d burst before our usual bedtime of 9pm 🙂
Downtown area accessible…
- International Rose Test Garden – Sadly since we were visiting in early May, there were no roses to be seen!! But, a quick Instagram location search convinces me that it would definitely be gorgeous during peak bloom.
- Portland Japanese Garden- $15/per adult. It was very peaceful, green and tranquil. We spent about an hour walking around admiring the view and breathing in the crisp Pacific Northwest air.
- Pittock Mansion- $10/per adult to tour the mansion. I am not much for mansion tours, but I especially enjoyed this one. The different rooms in the mansion were really interesting to walk through and the view outdoors is just amazing. Since we love getting in our exercise, we decided to walk to Pittock mansion from our air bnb in the Downtown area. The walk is primarily vertical and my feet and legs were aching by the time we reached the top. But, the walk is very serene and peaceful! In the distance you could see the snow capped mountains and the winding streets had many beautiful flowering bushes.
Out on the open road with a car…
(Side note: we rented a car for two days from Dollar Rental and our sales person Sue was great!!)
- Multnomah Falls – A beautiful drive along I-84 East had us chasing waterfalls (anyone else humming some TLC right now??). The Multnomah Falls are awe inspiring. As soon as you get out of the car, and start walking toward the falls, you can hear the crashing sound of water and see the mist from the wind. For the perfect photo op, take one at the base of the falls and then a quick 0.2mile climb will get you to the bridge! The falls reminded me how very small we are in this world!!
- Skamania Lodge – located in Stevenson, Wa. Scott and I have gone zip lining one other time (at Loon Mountain), but thought it would be fun to zip line through the trees in the PNW! A bit pricey ($100/person) but we LOVED IT!!!! It is such an exhilarating feeling to zip through the foliage, hear the rustling of animals in the distance, and feel the sun beating on your helmet covered head. Our tour guides were both so friendly and energetic and made sure we had a blast!
- Beacon Rock State Park – Also located in Washington. This was a place recommended to us by our zip line tour guide at Skamania. Beacon rock is an 848 foot tall rock that is said to have been created by a volcano. Not too sure the origins of the rock, but we LOVED hiking to the tip top. The hike is only a mile long, and even though it is completely vertical, the path felt very nice and sturdy. We stopped and picked up sandwiches before we started our hike and it was the best picnic lunch + view I’ve ever had (and probably ever will have!). We even saw a bald eagle in the distance!!
- Haystack Rock – 1.5 hour drive from downtown. We took I-101 South and the trip took us through good ole’ Oregon farmland. Traffic seems to be an issue in Oregon so I would suggest heading out early when doing these trips. Haystack rock is located on Cannon Beach.
- Oregon Coast – Since we had no other plans for the day, we decided to continue aimlessly along 101 South and I am so glad we did! After passing Arch Cape (which we did not stop at) we came to a lookout that offered one of the most stunning sights I have ever seen! Crisp blue water below us and the shadow of the mountains in the distance. I have filed it away in my memory as one of the most beautiful spectacles of nature’s beauty.
and now everyone’s favorite section:
FOOD FOOD FOOD
As I mentioned before, we loved Portland more for its beauty than for the food scene. But no travel destination review is complete without a quick overview of local eats so here goes!
- Voodoo Doughnuts: I would recommend going bright and early in the morning as the line seems to get quick long by midday. I got the Portland cream and Scott got a double chocolate. Scott enjoyed the Portland oream more than I did, but I think that might be because Holy Donut (located in Portland, ME) has ruined donuts for me! Nothing comes even close in flavor and texture.
- Blue Star Donut: We visited the location on SW Washington street and made sure to arrive when they opened at 7:30am. I enjoyed a maple bacon and Scott enjoyed a buttermilk chocolate. I prefer my donuts to be warm so I was a bit sad about that, but all in all a good no frills donut.
- Pok Pok: Known for their famous Fish Sauce wings. Scott and I both actually did not like these at alls. They were way too salty and my tongue was crying out for water after just a few bites. The inside of the restaurant is pretty small so I see how they get crazy long lines!
- Bijou Cafe- OMG!! This place definitely knows how to do breakfast! Scott got the farmer omelette, I got the cauliflower kale hash, and we shared a buttermilk griddle cake. My stomach felt like it would explode, but in a happy, I ate a delicious breakfast kinda way. Even the organic coffee was delicious!!!
- Tasty N Alder- the line builds before opening Monday- Sunday so definitely come early! We really enjoyed this family style brunch and would recommend it to others visiting. We shared the steak and cheddar eggs dish and corned beef hash. Both were delicious and the inside of the restaurant has a nice cozy feel.
- Cheryl’s on 12th- if the line/wait at Tasty n Alder seems ridiculous, just go across the street! The corned beef hash was nice and crispy and came with the most perfectly poached egg.
- Fuller’s Restaurant- My personal favorite corned beef hash of all the spots I tried during this vacation. The portion size was just perfect and the hash came with diced up onions and bell pepper which I really liked. Also, they bake some of their own bread! Cash only, but they do have an atm!
- Byway’s Cafe- Seen on Diner’s Drive-In’s and Dive’s. I felt the portions were too large and the food was pretty standard
- Zell’s Cafe- another spot that I felt was overhyped. My corned beef hash had nice flavor but the shredded potatoes were woefully underdone. They did have a nice cozy feel and the service was stellar though!
- Le Pigeon- voted the best burger in Portland by Eater. I wouldn’t go that far as the burger is more of a gourmet burger. I did enjoy the flavor profile of the meat combined with a crunch Cole slaw and smoky mustard, but my bun was too burnt and my husband felt the meat was too charred. I do admit that the other food coming out of the kitchen looked delightful and I especially wish I had tried their fried chicken dish!
- Tilt- Our personal favorite burger in Portland. A no frills spot serving up good ole fashioned burgers and fries!
- Uno Mas Taqueria – $2.50 a taco is my kinda place!! The service was far from friendly, but the tacos were amazing! They also have a selection of salsa’s that are a great addition. They also have a taco happy hour on Monday nights that include dollar tacos! Uno mas taco por favor!!!
- Stella Taco- Disappointing compared to uno mas, but we both enjoyed their vegan mole taco as well as the fried avocado one.
- Mi Mero Mole- Their style of taco is not for me, so I actually didn’t even eat any of the taco we ordered
- Pyro Pizza Cart – Pretty standard wood fired pizza. Scott felt the sauce was lacking in flavor, but I enjoyed the flavor profile
- Potato Champion- I ordered the chili cheese fries and I enjoyed it more than expected. The chili had the perfect after-kick of heat and the fries were nice and crispy!
- Chicken n Guns- a Peruvian gem! I loved the melding of flavors which included crispy potatoes, chicken, picked red onions and green sauce. I would recommend stopping here for a quick bite!
- Salt and Straw – Definitely my favorite ice cream spot in Portland. Actually let me take that back, this might be my favorite ice cream spot EVER!!! The line seems to get outrageous pretty quickly, but the wait is worth it! The coffee ice cream was creamy and oh so delicious. If I could have, I would have had this every single night.
- Ruby Jewel- I’m more of a traditionalist when it comes to ice cream so I did not enjoy this spot as much. We ordered an ice cream flight, but I only really enjoyed the traditional flavors of cookies n cream and coffee. They do seem to be known for their ice cream cookie sandwiches so maybe I just ordered the wrong thing.
- Alotto Gelato- I ordered the hazelnut gelato and it was perfect! Nice and creamy and great customer service to boot!
Oregon, you truly are beautiful! I can’t wait to visit your shores again