This year, my mom celebrated a milestone birthday, and we decided to take a trip together! Since Mom works in a school, summer is the easiest time to travel, so we made a list of places where neither of us had been that wouldn’t be too hot in the summer. We decided to spend a long weekend in Portland, Oregon, where it was, of course, unseasonably warm. But heat aside, we had a great time exploring this funky city, and I’m excited to share the details with you.
Although there were less expensive hotels in nationwide chains, we opted for a more unique option in a great location: Hotel Rose. This hotel is part of a smaller chain, and prides itself on bold decor and a focus on friendly hospitality.
On our first day, we had breakfast at The Original, a cute downtown spot with serious retro diner vibes. I had the Mexican omelette, and quite possibly the best biscuit I’ve ever eaten!
After breakfast, we walked around downtown, popped into some stores, and made a stop at Powell’s City of Books. Mom and I love to read. We’re both in book clubs, and trade recommendations often, so Powell’s was a no-brainer. It takes up an entire city block, and was honestly a bit overwhelming. We didn’t buy much, but spent time walking around and browsing the endless selection.
After Powell’s, we picked up our rental car and drove out to the Pittock Mansion. We’d read that the mansion has beautiful grounds and one of the best views of the city, and it did not disappoint. We opted not to do a tour of the inside, but the outside was gorgeous.
Our next stop was the International Rose Test Garden. This is where new breeds of roses are created, and it is absolutely beautiful! I took a million pictures, but here are a few favorites:
That night, we wanted a more low-key dinner, so we walked over to Pine Street Market, an eclectic food hall that reminded me of Urban Space in NYC. I had the tastiest chicken and roasted cauliflower from Pollo Bravo, and Mom had ramen from Marukin Ramen. Later that night, I begged Mom to take me for ice cream and she finally gave in. (I’m relentless in my pursuit of dessert! lol) We ended up at Ruby Jewel, an ice cream sandwich place with several locations around town. They make their own cookies and ice cream, and let me tell you, it was one of the best desserts I’ve ever eaten…which is really high praise because I’ve eaten a lot of them!
The following day, we got up on the early side and went to stand in line at Screen Door. We were there when it opened, and we still had to wait about half an hour, but so many people had recommended it that we figured it would be worth it. Their signature dish is chicken and waffles, but neither of us wanted that much food, so we chose more traditional options. My vanilla bean French Toast was very tasty, but I think I would have gotten more out of the experience if I had just gone for it and gotten the chicken and waffles.
That said, I was glad I saved some room because after some shopping, we had our best meal of the trip at ¿Por Qué No?. We were originally planning to go there as one of our dinners, but when we found ourselves in the neighborhood around lunchtime, we decided to switch it up. Mom had a salad with shrimp and I had something called a Bryan’s Bowl that was just too good for words. (I also had a passion fruit margarita, because #vacation!) Their guac was tasty too, and we loved the atmosphere.
From there, we drove about 45 minutes to the falls. Oregon is famous for its waterfalls, and there are a whole bunch of them under an hour from Portland. Our original plan was to see a few, but after hiking down to Bridal Veil Falls on a hot day, we decided one was enough. It was gorgeous though and totally worth it!
After that, we decided to see if there was a winery on our way back and stumbled upon Edgefield Winery, which is part of a whole complex that includes a hotel, distillery, restaurant and much more. We shared a cider flight and had a glass of wine, and then strolled around the grounds for a little bit. It was beautiful, and we enjoyed being out of the city for a while. (The blackberry cider was my favorite!)
That night, we went for dinner at Toro Bravo, a tapas place that was on our list. There was a wait, but it worked out well because a bar I wanted to try was right next door. Tapas can be difficult for me because I don’t eat pork or shellfish. The waitress was very helpful, and even marked off the things on the menu that I could eat. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication somewhere along the way, and they ended up bringing me something with bacon on it…and I didn’t know. I was pretty upset, but they dealt with it well and were very apologetic. My mom ordered paella, which she enjoyed, and once what I ordered (a burger) was remade without bacon, it was pretty tasty too.
To end the evening on a high note, we went to get some ice cream at Salt & Straw. We had to wait in line, but we expected that to happen. I had Cinnamon Snickerdoodle, which was good, and my mom had Coava Coffee & Cocanú Craque. We definitely enjoyed it, but if I had to go back to one dessert place, it would be Ruby Jewel.
On our last morning, we had brunch in the beautiful courtyard at Meriwether’s. We had read that we should make a reservation, especially if we wanted to eat in the garden, and we were glad we did. The restaurant is located in a fairly industrial neighborhood, but you totally forget about that once you’re inside. They have a farm 20 minutes away, and that’s where a large part of the menu comes from. I ordered the bread pudding French Toast and OMG it was amazing! Mom ordered the Chilaquiles, which was a lot of food, but really good too.
After that, we went back to our hotel and walked over to the Saturday Market (which actually happens on Saturdays and Sundays). There are tons of vendors selling art & crafts, and lots of local flair. We didn’t end up buying anything, but browsed for quite a while. After that, we went to stand in line at Voodoo Donuts. There’s a big debate in Portland between devotees of Voodoo and people who think Blue Star is best. I liked the flavor selection better at Voodoo, so we decided to go there. Their donuts were good, but not the best I’ve ever had.
We had to do some last minute searching for dinner our last night because we had been planning to go to ¿Por Qué No?. By that point, we didn’t have the car anymore, so we needed somewhere that was walkable. We ended up at Headwaters at the Heathman Hotel. Unfortunately, this was probably our most disappointing meal, but we were also pretty exhausted.
The next morning, we had breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant, checked out, and rode the light rail to the airport (super easy!) Overall, it was a great trip, and I’m so glad I can cross Portland off my list. I know I covered a lot here, so I’m sharing a round-up of favorites below. Let me know if you have any questions!
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