There are some places, no matter how many time you’ve been, that you keep finding your way back to. Portland, Oregon just happens to be one of those places for me, even if it just means a brief visit.
A typical trip for me usually consists of four things:
- Good food, especially Gluten Free!
- Good drinks-alcoholic and virgin. The coffee is strong and will keep you going throughout the day.
- Tax free shopping- why not save 7%+ when purchasing items you need you need (or in most cases want).
- Walking/Using public transportation to get around and explore the cities sites.
While this trip was no different, I was finally able to visit parts of the city that kept putting off way to long, as well as revisit some favorites.
Friday Night- Travel Day
After ~7.5 hours traveling from the Midwest, I was able to make in to PDX on one of the last flights of the night and catch the last trams into downtown. While Uber/Lyft and taxis are all options if you don’t have a car, the Max Red Line, provides a very economical and realitively quick ride into downtown. Plus, it will only set you back $2.50 for a single ride, or $5 for a full day pass.
Saturday- A typical rainy Portland Day
Portland is located in the Pacific Northwest, so if you are unfamiliar with the area, one thing you should expect is rain during the winter, even if for just a brief mist. During days where it’s not stop showers, staying indoors where it’s warm is the way to go.
Shopping: Depending upon what you’re looking for, will dictate which mall/area you will need to make your way to.
- Lloyd Center – What was once a typical mall, now is more of a visual representation of what are happening to the typical malls across the country. Many of the stores have been shuttered and what is left, is hit and miss on the selection. During the winter, this place gets packed near due to the indoor ice skating rink.
- Cascade Shops – While this is technically right next to the airport, this strip mall shopping area has a Best Buy, DSW, Petsmart, some women’s stores, chain restaurants, and more. If you are looking at trying to not break the bank, this area might be of interest.
- Pioneer Place Mall and Surrounding Stores- Is more of the upscale mall that has a variety of shop and restaurants. On nicer days, Pioneer Courthouse Square (the “living room”) is a great place to people watch at. There is a Starbucks and a few food carts right off the square to grab a quick drink/snack at.
- Powell’s Bookstore- Bibliophiles mecca!! Seriously, you could get lost in perusing the shelves.
- Lan Su Chinese Garden- A little slice of heaven in a giant concrete jungle that offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Even on rainy days, the gardens is a great place to visit. The crowds are diminished and getting a table at the tea house can be much easier.
- Saturday Eats
- Lunch at El Pilón . This Colombian food cart is not to be missed. Every item on the menu is gluten free. They had me at empanadas.
- Dinner- at Saucebox. This Asian fusion restaurant offers a number of gluten free options, including dumplings!
Sunday- A relaxing day exploring Washington Park
Washington Park is a large urban park that offers a variety of activities, some free and some for a fee. It’s close to downtown and easily accessible via public transportation. In during Spring – late fall, a shuttle is offered between different areas of interest. Just a note, depending upon where in the park you are going, the bus might be a better option that the light rail if the shuttle isn’t running.
- Japanese Gardens (fee)- Whether it be wandering or sitting to take in your surroundings, the gardens offer a serene experience.
- The International Rose Test Garden (free) – Stroll the rows of roses and take in the scents. Even on cool winter days, the garden offers a few signs of life with a bit of color; though, the view of downtown is what will most likely catch your eye.
- Tip: The grounds could be a bit muddy, so make sure to avoid walking on the main path or wear appropriate shoes
- Holocaust Memorial (free) – This small but poignant memorial is not to be missed. The quotes on the wall should not be ignored and are short and rousing memories of a horrible genocide.
- Tip: Make sure to look at down as you enter the memorial’s brick walkway. You will find bronzed possessions that represent items that were left behind and never to be reunited with their owners who were murdered.
- Sunday Eats
- Urban Farmer – A farm to table steakhouse inside of the Nine’s hotel that offers a variety of gluten free options on their brunch menu
- Olympia Provisions- A restaurant for meat lover. They have a nice selection of charcuterie boards, and their menu is full of protein. They were able toaccommodate modifications for gluten.
Monday – An early morning travel back to the Midwest
While two days maybe enough for some people to cram all of the sights in, for me, it’s enough to just satisfy my impending absence. In time, I will return once to explore the ever changing food scene, as well expand out to other parts of Oregon.