When I was out in Portland with the SOREL team, I was determined to squeeze in some city adventures when I wasn't on set. While I will always be an East Coast girl a heart, I enjoyed the change of scenery and coastal vibes on the West Coast. Portland has never been at the top of my radar per say, but I'm glad I got to experience this trendy, progressive, and eclectic city.
Located about three hours south of Seattle, Portland is one of our country's most sustainable and innovative cities with a great public transportation system and even a city-wide ban on plastic bags (and no sales tax too!). Its got a small town feel to it, but is not lacking in trendiness with its abundance of coffee shops (the famous Stumptons started out here), food truck-lined streets, vintage thrift stores, and guys that seem to have a heard, are hipster, or both. One thing that Portland also prides itself on is its eclectic culture. An "artsy" city that supports local artisans and public art, Portland definitely has some unique quirks including a famous donut shop named Voodoo Donuts, a naked bike event, and even a museum dedicated to velvet paintings. The people of Portland wouldn't have it any other way though; in fact, their unofficial motto is "Keep Portland Weird", which I noticed was plastered on bumper stickers, wall art, and posters throughout the city.
Below are some of the highlights of my trip to Portland I enjoyed most!
Walk across the Burnside Bridge if you want to get a scope of the Portland skyline or a glimpse of the famous White Stag Sign, an iconic landmark in Portland. While its public transportation is quite good and far less expensive compared to Boston and NYC, the best way to see Portland is by foot. As with any city, traveling by foot is the best way to discover hidden gems, thrilling views, and on this trip, it had the added bonus of allowing me to stop at any given second to smell the endless amount of rose bushes (Portland isn't nicknamed the Rose City for nothing)!
Portland is well-known for it's masses of vintage thrift shops. The best area to go hunting for vintage treasures is in Nob Hill, which also has an amazing restaurant scene. Be sure to also stop by Salt and Straw for a scoop of ice cream, and the Manor for some preppy interior design goods.
Waterfalls & Hiking
If you have access to a car, I highly recommend driving forty minutes east of Portland towards Multnomah Falls and Punch Bowl Falls.
Multnomah Falls offers a lot of bang with no real hiking involved. The 611 foot waterfall is extraordinary but only a 5 minute walk from the 1-84 parking lot.
Punch Bowl Falls is only 15 mile ups east of Multnomah Falls and only about a three mile hike. The hiking paths are actually pretty clear and not tedious at all to get through (unlike my hiking in Cold Spring). The trails weren't difficult, but were narrow and steep at moments. I actually felt as if I was next to a giant IMax screen the entire time, everything was so picturesque. The best part though? Cliff jumping right into the
chilly freezing water.
Lan Su was built by Chinese artisans from Suzhou and is the most authentic Chinese garden outside of China. Tucked into the Old China Town District of Portland, the botanical garden is a true hidden gem in the middle of the city.
The oldest art museum in the pacific northwest, the Portland Art Museum was founded in 1892 and is actually the seventh oldest museum in the US. It has quite a variety of European, American, Asian, Native American, and Modern art by masters such as Monet, Fragonard, and Courbet.
I love visiting old estates, and knew I had to visit the Pittock Mansion to see the architecture and grounds, but also the sweeping views overlooking the city of Portland. I didn't have time to go on a tour of the house, but I did learn the Pittock family were very influential for the growth of Portland .
If you visit the Pittock Mansion in the middle of Forest Park, follow the signs and hike down part of the Wildwood Trail to get a glimpse of Portland's forests. The trail isn't difficult by any means, many people are running along the trails or taking their dogs out for a walk.
Who: Anyone and everyone
What: Art, culture, nature, shopping around Portland
Where: Portland, OR in the northwest
When: Any time of year, although summer s best for hiking.
Why: If you find a small-town city vibe and eclectic charm to be thrilling,
than Portland is the place for you.
Tyro Tidbit: Portland's beach is equidistant to the waterfalls in the east, allowing
Portland to offer the best of both words.