Portland; For One
One thing that has kept my travel addiction in full swing all the while having a full time job, is that fact that weekends can be the perfect amount of time to explore a new place.
Living in Vancouver means it’s only a few hours to the American border, so this spring armed with my passport & a need to escape the familiar I headed down into Oregon to…PORTLAND. A fantastic place for solo travelers & groups alike! And now here I am to give you the low down on a solo long weekend (Friday-Sunday)in Portland, OR.
Portland seems to be one of those places that has enough to do for the outdoorsy type & the more low key types. Whether you’re into hiking & trail or shopping & good food there is so much on offer than after 2 days you’ll be itching to go back again real soon (at least I am).
During my weekend away I managed to fit in a little bit of each category to get the full Portland experience with the little time I did have, so in a little less than 5 hours from Vancouver, BC I was right in the heart of the city armed with my camera and one destination in mind – Multnomah Falls! About a 30 minute drive from downtown Portland along the sweeping view of the Columbia River Gorge, sits sits Falls. This stunning 600 + foot waterfall can be heard from the parking lot, and once out of the car can be seen with in minutes of the visitor’s center. Now, there’s a legend about Multnomah falls that they were created to win the heart of a Native American princess because she wanted a secret place to bathe (come on who wouldn’t want this place as their personal bath?). The main viewing platform is at the base of the falls, but you can walk a little ways upwards to a secondary viewing bridge that sits about midway up the falls themselves. I was happy enough to stand at the base and take it all in, the sound of the rushing water, the spray of the falls- nothing was better than that moment. The remainder of that first afternoon was spent driving along some incredible stretches of highway through beautiful forests & through parts of the city until it was time for something I had been told not to miss out on – Happy Hour! To say that Portlandian’s are nuts about their happy hour would be an understatement. I mean Oregon is home to some of the best beers & wines I’ve had so it really makes sense.
First stop was The Hub, it’s located in East Portland so a car or bus will be needed to get there but it’s well worth it! Boasting a kick ass selection of craft beers (one major thing the city is known for) and a cool bike rack bar this spot has something that I’ve yet to see in any pub before. Something I ended up nicknaming “Beer Roulette”. Basically a very large tester fleet of about 15 beers they have on tap. They bring it out on a tray that’s base is made to look like a roulette wheel and is numbered, the numbers go with a sheet they bring out to you telling you what beer is what, alcohol content, ect. The roulette bit of it is once you start to taste a few “less savory” brews (maybe my beer drinking palette isn’t up to par) and you get rid of the list taking chances on different ones in the hopes you’ll remember which ones weren’t your favorite tasting beers. I had met up with a a friend living in Oregon for the night so she & I seemed to do pretty well on this, but maybe not something to attempt as a solo endevour. They do have the regular 3 fleet style to give you a good idea of craft brews though!
Saturday’s in Portland are for Markets! But not before getting your caffeine on at one of the many Stumptown coffee roaster locations in the city. By far one of the best coffees I’ve ever had and a great way to start the morning off. From there head on down to the Naito Parkway along the waterfront to check out some good food & great local crafters. Old Town is a cool little spot with a lot to take in including this cool neon sign letting you know just where you are!
Also a good location to pick up the MAX (public transit) out to the Japanese Gardens & Rose Gardens up near the Portland Zoo. During my visit there was a Bonsai tree exhibit which had me flabberghasted when I saw, not the tiny desk sized adorable bonsai trees I expected to see, but fairly large (2-4 ft tall) ones. Turns out these guys can grow off of other larger trees and although the tiny versions exist these larger versions are much older and can be found deep in forests in remote areas or even on mountain sides (thanks Mr. Guideman for teaching me something new). Down from there is the International Rose Test Garden, where Portland grows international roses not native to the area to see if they will hack in in the Pacific North West. I’m a sucker for flowers, and these beauties absolutely did not disappoint. Colours that I had never seen, rivaled closely by roses that were taller than I am (and I’m 5’6). Once you’ve had your fill of flowers & the view out of the city, hop back on the MAX to the city & get yourself a happy hour cocktail at Portland City Grill. There may be a line up (the views are pretty wicked from the top) to get up to the restaurant on the 37th floor, but if you get there just before it opens you’ll most likely get a spot by the window to soak up the view.
How do you like to spend your Sunday’s? Do you like to use the time to relax and soak up the last of the weekend? I know I like to do that from time to time and that’s just how Sunday’s in Portland seem to be spent. You could test out another coffee spot, or just another location of Stumptown and be sure to stop by Portland BagelWorks to grab one of the 3 dozen flavors of bagels (coconut, cinnamon toast crunch, garlic, the works!) for breakfast before heading over to Powell’s City of Books;The largest independent retailer of new & used books in the world, this place is UNREAL. I mean seriously I didn’t believe what people told me about the sheer size of the place, but after getting lost several times in a 15 minute period I started to believe it. This place is a mecca for book lovers, divided up in different sections by colour, Powells has more books than I have ever seen in any library before and a fair amount of book related trinkets and the like for anyone to enjoy.
With only a short time left in Portland to consume food I decided to check out a city hot spot –BoxerRamen conveniently across from the Powells on Burnside and indulged in some excellent Ramen before doing my usual wanders through the city to check out some shops & take in the waterfront once more before leaving. my last must see for Portland is of course a food stop –Salt & Straw. This spot will be a haven to any ice cream lover, boasting made to order waffle cones & flavors that you can only dream of, it’s definitely a good spot to enjoy the Pearl District & do a little people watching. And there you have it, my must sees, do’s & eats for Portland. Just because you don’t have a travel buddy doesn’t mean you have to miss out on trips like this. Sometimes a weekend on your own doing what you please is what you need!
Guest post published by Laura from – shewhowanderstheworld.com