Hey guys and happy Monday! I can’t believe it’s been nearly a month since my Portland, OR trip but I wanted to share a quick Portland travel guide since a couple of you all had mentioned that you were planning a trip there soon too! This trip was actually a last-minute decision as Adrian ended up having a business trip out to Portland and mentioned he could extend his stay through the weekend if we wanted to make a mini vacation out of it. Of course I was all in and couldn’t wait to check out a city I had heard everyone say was similar to my hometown of Austin, TX (and spoiler alert: it is super quirky and hip just like Austin!). I got into town on Thursday night and left early on Sunday morning, so it was a quick 2.5-day jaunt to check out the city, but Adrian and I took advantage of our first trip without the kids and fit in all the activities!
Portland Travel Guide – Getting There / Getting Around
I flew direct via American Airlines from DFW to PDX and it was a semi-quick 4-hour flight. Thankfully I didn’t have any airport delays and made it in with a few minutes to spare. We decided to rent a car for our trip as we wanted the freedom to drive out to the mountains and explore. But, if you’re planning on staying mostly in the city, Portland has amazing transportation options available including lightrail, streetcar, buses, and even bikes all over town that you can rent!
Portland Travel Guide – Where To Stay
Top: Dot + Bo Wraparound Crop Top (also here, similar, similar)
Bottom: Zara Culottes (similar, similar)
Shoes: Just Fab White Pumps (old, similar – 20% off!)
Bag: Tory Burch ‘Fleming’
Earrings: Baublebar Disco Crispin Drops – on sale! (similar)
We decided to stay in downtown Portland where it was walking distance to many of the restaurants, museums, and shopping spots that I had on my list. If you’re looking for a boutique hotel option that gives you a taste of local Portland while having all the luxuries of an upscale hotel, be sure to check out my review of the Hi-Lo Hotel where we stayed. I seriously looked forward to going back to the hotel at the end of every day and there was no better feeling than sliding under the cool / cozy comforters to drift off to sleep.
Other hotels that I looked into included The Nines (5-star hotel with an acclaimed Departure restaurant), Hotel Lucia (they have a pillow menu!), as well as Hotel Monaco (complimentary daily “wine hour” tasting).
Portland Travel Guide – Things To Do
Cardigan: Gap (old, similar, similar)
Top: LOFT Bonfire Sweater – runs big / wearing XXSP, on sale!
Bottom: AG Step Hem Jeans – runs small / wearing 25
Shoes: Boots ‘Fannar’ (review)
Earrings: Baublebar ‘Gabriela’ Stud Tassel in yellow
Bag: Forever 21 Satchel (similar)
mural at Division and 31st St
If you love wall murals as much as I do, Portland will be a paradise for you. There were paintings on almost every block and they all tell such an interesting story. I looked up this #botjoy painting and came to realize that the artist, Gary Hirsch, actually painted 4 of these robots each with a different message all around Portland. This relationships one was such a cute find and a perfect photo opp for me and Adrian on our couple’s trip!
mural at 407 SE Pine St. Portland, Oregon
Cats, bunnies, rhinos — this wall is such a whimsical mix of different elements and such a fun backdrop! (I actually really wanted a picture with the bunny in the back since it was coming out of a teacup but unfortunately there was a car blocking it, but you have to go check it out!)
Our next stop was the Japanese Garden as we had been given recommendations by multiple people that this was a must-see! The gardens are a huge 5.5 acre lots and it is truly beautiful. It’s a combination of paved and unpaved roads and I loved trekking through seeing the koi pond, admiring the zen garden landscapes, and listening to the waterfall. So peaceful!
And we took a selfie outside the Japanese Garden gift shop. : )
Blazer: Topshop Ruffle Crop Jacket (similar – under $20! just ordered in white!)
Top: LOFT Wild Orchid Mixed Media Blouse – extra 40% off!
Bottom: Articles of Society ‘Sarah’ Jeans (similar)
Shoes: Sam Edelman ‘Raisa’
If you’re in Portland on a Saturday, you have to stop by the Portland Saturday Market! As it was described to us, it’s basically an “in-person Etsy market” and there’s really no better way of describing it! The market sits right next to the waterfront and it’s stall after stall of unique hand-crafted items such as artwork, dolls, and musical instruments. Dahlia flowers were also in season and I was happy as a clam just eyeing the beautiful blooms! We did end up walking away with a bag full of handmade bath bombs, a 3D astronaut painting for my space-loving Dylan, and a stuffed cat necklace for my cat-lady Mei.
For our last day in Portland, we wanted to venture out to the mountains and made the drive to Mt. Hood looking for trails to hike. Unfortunately there were fires that were still being put out so almost all of the trails that we could find off were closed. Nonetheless, we drove down the Mt. Hood scenic byway and found ourselves a scenic lookout point where we were able to appreciate the beautiful Hood River Valley.
Portland Travel Guide – Food To Eat
Shoes: Vince ‘Blair’ Sneakers
carrying a half-dozen donuts from Blue Star:
real maple bacon, chocolate almond ganache, mexican hot chocolate
pb&j, raspberry rosemary buttermilk, the o.g. (orxata glaze)
I’m not a big donut fan but you can’t leave Portland without trying one of their famous donut shops. Voodoo Donuts and Blue Star Donuts are the most well known and both have unique creations such as The Homer and Voodoo Bubble donuts from Voodoo Donuts and Raspberry Rosemary Buttermilk and Real Maple Bacon from Blue Star. The line was consistently out the door for Voodoo Donuts (even at 10:30pm on a Friday night!) so we opted for Blue Star — the donuts are definitely such a unique mix of flavors although I will say it was just a touch too sweet for me. #lightweight
Pok Pok was next on our list and as someone who loves Thai food, I was especially excited for this one! We were lucky and arrived around 11ish on a Friday and didn’t end up waiting at all for table! Everyone recommended the wings as the “thing to get” so we happily obliged. In the end, Adrian and I actually didn’t think Pok Pok was so special in their food lineup. I would personally recommend skipping them if you have other restaurants on your list!
Tusk, easily the most instagrammable place that we went to eat (just look at all the colors, perfect lighting, and gorgeous variety of food and color!). We made reservations for this spot and ate out on the patio (super cute and recommend, btw!). I love the farm-to-table food trend that’s happening at the moment, and Tusk is a restaurant that sources all vegetables and most flours directly from local Portland farms. Their menu changes with whatever is in season. We chose the “Magic Carpet Ride” menu option for our table of 3 (we met up with an old college friend) and I cannot recommend it enough! Essentially you leave the food selection up to the chef and it’s a great way to sample a little of everything from the menu!
For our last lunch, we stopped at Bollywood Theater as we were exploring the historic Alberta Arts District. If you want good Indian food, this place is a must! I ordered the dal and coconut curry (I can never pass up lentils!) while Adrian ordered the pork vindaloo. Both were absolutely delicious and I loved the chill, laid-back vibe of the restaurant.
On our last evening, we decided to splurge at Tasty n Alder, a steakhouse run by renowned world traveler Chef Gorham. Unlike other fancy restaurants, Tasty n Alder doesn’t take reservations so we were able to walk in and put our name down. While we were told there would be an hour wait, they were able to let us stand at a counter next to the bar. Waiters were happy to take orders for us while we were waiting and we ended up just having our dinner at the stand-up counter since everyone was so gracious and more than accommodating. Our favorites from the menu were the NY Bulgogi (highly recommend!) as well as the Wagyu Skirt Steak (that chimichurri sauce was amaze!).
And finally, we ended our vacation with a trip to the ice cream parlor! We stopped at Ruby Jewel Scoops as it was just a few doors down from Tasty n Alder and while I was tempted to try some of their unique flavors such as Maple Pecan and Coconut Cream Pie, I stuck with my tried-and-true favorite of Cookies n’ Cream. So yum and it was the perfect way to close out a great trip!
I hope this travel guide helps entice you to check Portland and the rest of the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I know we’re already planning our next trip out there!
Have you ever visited Portland? What are your must-see / do places?
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