Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Portland Travel Guide

By now, you've probably seen the Instagram posts and my Seattle post about the trip I took to the Pacific Northwest a couple of weeks ago. My husband and I were celebrating our *almost* five year anniversary and had a ridiculously good time exploring a part of the country we'd never been to. We did tons of research first, and tried to find the best places to check out in the short amount of time we were there. This is by no means an all-inclusive list, but here are some of our favorite places we experienced, ate, and drank in the Portland. Be sure to check out my Seattle Guide here

Salt & Straw

Salt & Straw is the one place that seemed to be on every list of "what to do in Portland." We aren't one to argue with every recommendation about ice cream, and holy cow, how right everyone was. Their salted caramel ice cream is basically legendary, and after trying a few flavors (which they highly encourage, and I highly appreciate), I had to go with it. It was basically a spiritual experience.

Enso Winery

We checked out this urban winery based on a recommendation from Lindsay of KC Wineworks. To try as much as we could, we got a rose/white flight and a red flight. The wine was delicious and had some flavor notes we've never really tasted before. It was a great stop before dinner!


After deciding we wanted to do one "fancy meal" on our trip, the consensus was that we had to check out Nostrana. They typically require reservations, but we showed up right at 5 pm when they open (there was already a good number of people waiting there), and we were able to snag a table outdoors. We went on gnocchi Thursday, so we obviously had to try that out. Between our bread basket, aperitifs, the gnocchi, the special of the evening, and the tiramisu, we were transported to Italy in the most delicious way possible.

Pittock Mansion

This historic mansion just outside of the city was a fun stop that's only $10 a ticket to check out. On the self-guided tour, there's a ton to learn about the history and economics of an early Portland and and interesting period in American history. The views from the mansion grounds include everything from the Portland skyline to mountains like Rainier and St. Helens. And, from there you can hike a trail down to the International Rose Test Garden...

International Rose Test Garden

This free stop is a really pretty and unique place in the City of Roses. There are a few different gardens together, one of which was spearheaded my Mrs. Pittock. A stroll through every color of rose makes for a super pretty place for a casual walk and any insta-background colored flora you could possibly need.


This sandwich shop was near our hotel and caught my eye on lists of best foodie spots in Portland. From the sandwiches to the side dishes, this food was just magical. The rosemary Parmesan fries were in the top fries I've ever had in my life, and the potato salad was like a straight up twice baked potato. My sandwich, the Pork Meatball Banh Mi was so good I almost cried when I got so full that I couldn't eat most of the other half.


This was a spot on our list I was really excited about checking out. We wanted to stop by for a quick breakfast, only to find that they don't open until 10:00. Luckily, Courier Coffee was located next door and we grabbed some java while we waited til 10. We were greeted with an extensive tea menu, a and case of pastries and cakes packed with lovely and interesting creations since we were still too early for the lunch menu. Everything here was so quirky and so well executed from the mismatched china to the rustic appearance of the food. And, man was the food well done. We may or may not have had a black pepper cheesecake for breakfast. We did.

Portland Underground Tour

After learning so much on our Seattle Underground Tour, we decided we wanted to check out the Portland Underbelly tour (most of which is not actually underground, more about the seedy past of the city). Walking around, we learned a lot about the city's history, from its early days as a port town to how it came to get the vibe it has today. It was a couple of hours long, but I'd definitely recommend checking it out if you have a free afternoon.

Photos copyright Hotel deLuxe

Hotel deLuxe

We had a great stay at our hotel, Hotel deLuxe, which had recently been remodeled and featured a black and white vintage movie star theme. From the grand lobby to the Driftwood Room Bar (featuring an abstract Driftwood sculpture that has been there since 1954), this hotel was a winner.

Cocktail sign photo copyright Punch

Pepe le Moko

After a long day, we had trouble deciding where to go for a small dinner and drinks, so we asked the bartender at our hotel in the Driftwood Room. He recommended Pepe le Moko, and we are so, so glad he did! From the outside, it isn't much, but you are immediately whisked down a flight of stairs into a cozy basement bar that is all about simple good food and drinks. Both of our cocktails were incredibly well done (my amaretto sour was made with egg whites and sour that definitely did not come out of a bottle). Their specialty is oysters, so we had to try those, and they knocked our socks off. The cheese plate was a thing of pure beauty. They may have a fairly small menu, but this is a must-stop for a before or after dinner drink and snack.

Photo copyright Villa Columbia

Hood River

Hood River is a small town outside of Portland, so it's not innnnn Portland, but definitely worth checking out if you have a few days in the area. We stayed in adorable tiny home cabin Airbnb here and were just delighted by this charming town. The population is only 7,000 people, but there are a dozen wineries and breweries each, great little restaurants and shops and the biggest destination for windsurfing in the US. You could definitely spend a couple of days here as a bookend to your Portland trip.

Multnomah Falls

Between Hood River and Portland is a series of waterfalls and trails. We had originally planned to hike some of the trails, but were pretty spent after hiking Mt. Rainier the day before. Luckily, there are at least a few points on the highway where you can see waterfalls without having to hit the trail. These were quick stops, but it made for an amazing drive to Portland.

Much like our days in Seattle, there were places we really wanted to hit but weren't able to due to traffic, reservations, and our schedule. Be sure to check these places out as well though and let me know how they are. We'll definitely have to check them out next time we're there!

Multnomah Whiskey Library
Pok Pok
Broder Nord
Cruzroom Tacos
Pine State Biscuits

What about you, what are your favorite spots in or near Portland?


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