Last week I was able to spend three days in Portland, OR and once again I fell in love with another city. Because the job hunting situation and other things got particularly crazy right before the trip, I didn’t do as much research and planning as I’d typically do beforehand. I ended up winging this trip a bit more than I normally would. Visiting a US city and having a smartphone makes winging things a piece of cake, so I’m never too worried about doing that within a major US city.
Some things I’d recommend in Portland…
- Rent a bike and explore the city – especially along the river. I biked up and down the Willamette river and absolutely loved it. Portland is a really bike friendly city, so I never had any issues even when I was in the middle of the city. Don’t get the idea that it would be fun to bike around Washington Park however, because I can tell you that it’s a bad idea. Oh those hills.
- Shop at the cute local shops. There are tons of them there, so I didn’t waste any time shopping at chain stores. 23rd Ave is where I’d recommend. However, if you’re looking to make a big purchase (like an iPad or something), Portland doesn’t have sales tax, so it would be worth it to make those purchases there.
- Skip Voodoo Donuts. Everything I read about Portland made it sound like Voodoo Donuts was the coolest place ever. The donuts were unique, I’ll give it that, but they weren’t worth it to me. The neighborhood was terrible and it was the only time I felt unsafe the entire time I was there.
- Spend some time in Powell’s – I love bookstores, and this is an amazing store to give yourself some quality time in. They have a mix of new and used books, and it’s like having a Barnes & Noble except with Amazon’s stock.
- Go to the Living Room theater – This theater is right across the street from Powell’s, so it’s easy enough to find once you orient yourself to the city. It’s the kind of theater where they have big couch like seats and they deliver food to you in the theater. They have mostly documentaries and indie films, and I really enjoyed seeing something that I typically wouldn’t have thought to go see.
- Try cute coffee shops & bakeries. I went to a different coffee shop every morning I was there. My favorite by far is Lovejoy Bakers. Both the pastries and the coffee were amazing, and bakery itself and the little strip of shops nearby are seriously cute.
- Go to the Saturday market (which is also open on Sunday) – It’s a must do thing when in Portland and I had a lot of fun walking around all the booths. I ended up with some jam from a farm near Portland and a cute handmade necklace.
- Eat at food carts – Portland is kind of becoming famous for them after all. I actually only ended up eating at one of them, but it was so amazing that I went there again on my last day before leaving for the airport.
I tried something for the first time on this trip. I used AirBnB instead of a hotel or hostel for finding my lodging. I rented a detached studio apartment from a couple who live in the Pearl District. It was the same price as a hotel room, in a better neighborhood, and larger than a hotel room. The couple who rent the place were absolutely fantastic. They had a six page guide to the best places they recommend near their home, and they were available for any and all questions I had. They also picked me up from the light rail stop so that I didn’t have to wait for the streetcar because it runs less frequently at the time of night I was getting in. They seriously went above and beyond what I could ever have hoped for with the experience, so I’m not sure any other AirBnB experience I have will ever be able to live up to it.
Oh and did I mention they left me treats? =D
I realized on this trip that I love seeing cities as Christmas. I realllly want to go visit some cities in Europe around Christmastime someday.
This was my first trip with my new camera, but unfortunately the foggy weather wasn’t always the best for photo taking. I’m pretty excited about learning how to use my new toy though.
The best part about this trip? I used up the last big chunk of my Southwest rewards to book the flight, so it was free. I also used up most of my accrued reward points on my credit card to pay for my lodging, so that was also free. I only paid for food, the shopping I did, and a tiny amount for public transit. It made for an incredibly cheap getaway. One that I’m thrilled I was able to take. I highly recommend Portland to anyone looking for a fun city to check out. My new goal is to make it back someday during the Fall.