72 HOURS IN PORTLAND, OREGON
Portland is one of those cities that everyone needs to experience at some point in their life, in my opinion. I had been there once as a teenager, but didn’t really get to see or do much. It was more of a stopover than a visit. At the beginning of May this year, my husband was traveling along the West Coast for his job for several weeks and we decided it would be a great idea for me to meet up with him in Portland! We used his Southwest Airlines points to fly me out there and my Hotels.com points on our fabulous hotel. It was a fairly cheap and wonderful mini-vacay!
I was there for a little over 72 hours and Kyle was only able to spend half of that time with me, but we made the most of it! We had an afternoon, an evening, and a morning together to explore Downtown Portland before he went back to work that second night. The next day he and his crew went on up to Seattle and I stayed an extra day in Portland to wander and explore by myself.
There’s so much to do there and it obviously wasn’t a long visit, but I have to share a few of my favorites with you!
In case you haven’t heard, Portland is a foodie Mecca. People travel there just to eat, not even kidding. I didn’t understand why until I experienced it myself, and now I totally get it. Portland is home to my favorite coffee and wine companies!
FOR THE FOODIES
Multnomah Whiskey Library – Featured on one of his favorite shows, Best Bars in America, this was definitely my husband’s highlight of our discoveries. I enjoyed it as well though and I’ve never seen anything else like it! With three giant walls stocked top to bottom with hundreds of bottles – it is quite literally a whiskey library. You don’t have to look the part to go inside this prestigious speak-easy themed bar, however you would be wise to make a reservation. We got lucky and walked right in on a week night, but there was only an hour space available for us. That was plenty of time for us to enjoy ourselves, but if you’re making a night of it then I recommend reserving a table or a spot at the bar so you don’t miss out. Prices range quite a bit and they have whiskey cocktails for $15 and for $150 depending on what you want to try and how much you’re willing to spend for a taste of a rare whiskey. Wine and other spirits are also available. It’s a pretty amazing place, if fancy bars are your scene and you like to indulge in the finer things occasionally. A big “pinkies up” from us on this one.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters – My first experience with Stumptown was their bottled cold brew that you can find in grocery stores, but being able to visit one of their shops and enjoy their coffee on site was something special for me. It’s my absolute favorite cold brew! We wanted to serve it at our wedding, but ended up cutting that expense, sadly. But, in a perfect world I would have had that stuff on tap at our Sunday brunch reception… Anyway, there was a Stumptown shop right across the street from our hotel, so you can guess where we started every single morning of the trip. And I brought home a bag of whole beans to keep the coffee bliss alive a little bit longer.
Blue Star Donuts – I’m a huge donut fan, and I was actually looking forward to trying Voodoo Donuts until I got some advice from a local gal I know who told me that Blue Star Donuts is WAY better. I trusted her foodie wisdom, and I’m so happy I did because the very short time I spent inhaling the Maple Bacon was the most magical donut moment I’ve ever had. I also tried their Blueberry Bourbon Basil and OMG…
Heart Coffee – Heart was around the corner from our hotel and we had heard great things about it, so we stopped by for an afternoon coffee treat. It was pretty fantastic! I don’t remember exactly what I had, but it was some kind of local honey and cardamom latte I think. Kyle got a cold brew and I stole a sip… So good. I do recommend trying both Stumptown and Heart to decide what you like more if you are a coffee connoisseur, because they are both top notch.
Underwood Wine by Union Wine Company – I’m a Pinot Noir girl at heart, and when I found canned Underwood Pinot Noir and Rosé Bubbles at Whole Foods during one of my work trips… It was love at first sip. I’d never seen it anywhere else, and I was stoked to find something that would be way easier than getting a whole bottle while I was just out of town for one night. You might think, “eh, canned wine sounds gross.” Not this canned wine! It tastes amazing, and I dare say you won’t find a better tasting Pinot in the same price range (which is crazy low for how great it tastes). It’s also available in bottles, but I love the convenience of the cans. They are located in Tualatin, OR (near Portland) which was a little too far for us to venture without a car, but their wines are sold locally just about everywhere so it was super easy to grab some to take back to our hotel room. Also, if I found the cans at a Whole Foods in Knoxville, TN then it’s likely you can find them in select stores near you too!
Kenny & Zukes Delicatessen – This amazing deli was located directly across from our hotel and just next to Stumptown. We had some lunch sandwiches there and they were fabulous. They are also famous for they bagels and brunch, which we unfortunately didn’t get a chance to experience. Just looking at their Instagram feed is likely enough to convince you to give them a try. Bonus: They have an airport location and their Cuban sandwich (my go-to sandwich anywhere it’s available) is one of the best I’ve ever had.
Lardo – So much more than just a sandwich shop. Named after a certain way of cooking and preparing pork, this restaurant takes sandwiches to a whole new level, and we LOVED the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich. A little more on the spicy side than I’m used to, but still so delicious. They also have an amazing selection of craft beer on tap.
Sizzle Pie – With pies named 6 DEGREES OF KEVIN BACON and GOOD LUCK IN JAIL, this is exactly the kind of pizza joint that you’d expect to find in Portland – weird, but in a really good way. We went to the location on Burnside near Powell’s Bookstore, but there are several other locations in the Portland area, one in Eugene, and one in Seattle. Bonus: They sell canned wine!
Mark Spencer Hotel – I LOVED this hotel. Known as Portland’s Hotel to the Arts, this charming home-away-from-home is such a steal. I stay in a lot of hotels (around 60-80 nights a year), and this is on my list of favorites hands down. Everything from the location, the price, and the vibes – it was perfect. I couldn’t have found a better value. The staff was amazing, the room was clean and uniquely designed with both vintage and modern decor. It has a boutique hotel feel, but more spacious and comfortable. We were able to walk everywhere we wanted to go in Downtown Portland, and when we needed to leave the area, it was only a 5 minute walk to a MAX light rail stop. If you are traveling to Portland on a budget and you want to “stay like a local” downtown in a safe, clean, and affordable hotel – I found it for you!!
Powell’s City of Books: The World’s Largest Independent Bookstore – You could literally get lost in this city block of a bookstore housing over a million new and used books. Kyle and I spent a good hour in there and barely brushed the surface. So much fun if you’re into books even just a little bit! If you’re a book nerd, you might want to just plan on spending an entire day there…
Pioneer Courthouse Square – At the very center of Downtown Portland is Pioneer Courthouse Square, also known as “Portland’s Living Room.” All of the MAX light rail train lines intersect here and you can hop off or on here for a cheap fare and be on your way to almost anywhere in the Greater Portland Area. Also located nearby is a galleria mall and a handful of the best food trucks on the West Coast.
Made In Oregon Store – Where I found my Heart In Oregon Stickers, magnet, and t-shirt. Also where you can find some of the best local goodies and souvenirs to take home and remember your awesome Portland vacay. There are several locations around town and at PDX, but I went to the one in the Pioneer Galleria.
The one amazing place that I got to see on my first trip to Portland about 15 years ago that I didn’t get to see this time was Multnomah Falls. I remember thinking it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen at that point in my life, and even still it ranks pretty high on my list. I regret not being able to go this time, but hopefully I’ll get another chance someday! It’s a photographer’s dream and when I was 16 I wasn’t much of a photographer yet… All that to say, if you have a chance to go, YOU HAVE TO GO.