I have spent a fair amount of time on the west coast, however no city has left a mark on me (and my GI track) quite like Portland, Oregon. This city is known for their quirky bike loving people, food trucks, and delicious coffee. The vast majority of the weekend was a culinary adventure of sorts. Aside from a short bike ride and walking tour, we stuffed donuts down our throats, washing them down with beer. Looking to take a trip and keep Portland weird, please read on.
Activities That Don’t Require an Antacid
If you want to do what the Portlandians do, I’d recommend renting a bicycle. Just to give fair warning: if you aren’t interested in conducting an outdoor version of spin class, learn from our rookie mistakes and consult a map. We rented bicycles with the intention of riding to Washington Park. Most of the journey was spent walking the bikes up a series of steep hills. The cardio workout turned out to be fruitful, both the rose garden and Japanese garden should not be missed.
No trip to Portland is complete without roaming the aisles of the world’s largest independent bookstore Powell’s. My luggage definitely arrived back in Boston a few pounds heavier. Powell’s is a true gem of the city.
Coffee or Coffee?
Once you’ve picked up your novel of choice, head over to Stumptown Coffee to try out the Hair Bender brew. This coffee company was founded in 1999 and has recently expanded nationwide. Even if you live in Seattle or Chicago, I’d still recommend taking some time to enjoy a cup a joe right where it started.
If you are more of an espresso person, then venture over to Heart. My group of friends may have been a bit too boisterous for this minimalist spot, but the affogato is the perfect afternoon pick me up. I mean who doesn’t like a scoop of ice cream in their coffee? Don’t believe me? This place comes recommended by Thrillist.
My personal favorite of is Case Study. I was in desperate need of caffeine after the bike tour, a latte was just what the doctor ordered.
Biscuits versus Donuts
Enough with the drinks let’s eat! Whether you crave savory or sweet in the morning hours, Portland has no shortage places to satisfy your stomach! If savory is your scene, look no further than Pine State Biscuits. The founders are North Carolina natives who banded together, bringing the best of the south to the North West. We visited the South East Division location, the line was around the block. I must say that it’s well worth the wait. The fried chicken in the reggie sandwich is to die for!
If you are more of a sweet tooth, stroll on over to Voodoo Doughnut and hop in line there. This Portland staple includes a ‘colorful’ variety including Tex-Ass Challenge, Dirty Snowballs, and the Rapper’s Delight. Your custom made ‘pink box’ can be enjoyed first thing in the morning or after you have enjoyed a few beers.
Looking for the most delicious donuts in town? Blue Star is the right move for you. This donut maker focuses on quality over quantity, using a technique similar to what is used to bake brioche. The result: light, grease free treats that a variety of flavors.
Beer Versus Wine
Arguably Portland can be considered the ‘beer capital’ of the United States. It is home to over 200 breweries and brew pubs. I myself am more of a wino, however no trip to Portland is complete with without throwing back a cold one. Deschutes Brewery is in the heart of old town and is a great spot to share a flight with friends. If you are looking for a little more adventure, try out one of the many BrewCycle tours offered throughout the city. We found pedaling a twelve seat bicycle while blasting tunes to the likes of Beyonce and Lady Gaga to be one of the highlights of our trip.
If you do not want to be labeled as another tourist, then by all means, DO NOT follow my advice. I found Travel Portland to be very useful tool for planning our trip, and it looks like they have covered the beer scene quite well on their site.
Now onto the wine. Hop in a car and take a leisurely drive to the countryside. Located twenty miles outside of Portland, Willamette Valley is known for world class Pinot Noir. We took a day to discover the region, and taste some of the best wine the west coast has to offer. My personal favorite is Rex Hill. I found the staff to be very warm, inviting and informative. I also must say they are great sales people, my suitcase gained another few pounds after our visit to this winery.
Whether you fancy biscuits or beer, Portland, Oregon is sure to have something for everyone in your group. If you are looking for a unique weekend, then be sure to KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD.