You can feel the Portland vibe as soon as you take a look around you. Everyone has their own ways of presenting themselves and their own way of doing things. When I landed in PDX and walked out of the airport, I inhaled my first breath of fresh air. With Portland having a million trees, it may be one of the freshest breath of air you’ve ever had, if you’re coming from smog city, Los Angeles. Next, you’ll soon notice that people here are not caught up to the newest fashion trends, or have any sense of fashion at all. The way to best describe it would probably be “Hot Topic” fashion.
Places to See and Do
Admire Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in Oregon and the most popular natural attraction. You can view the waterfall from the parking lot or you can hike up to the bridge and view it from the top down. This place is CROWDED and packed with tourists, you might have trouble finding parking. Multnomah Falls is about 40 minutes from downtown so you would need a car to get there.
James Woodhill Park at Rocky Butte
Opened from 5 AM to midnight, this is a nice romantic place to view the city lights below.
Go Shopping at the Nike Factory Outlet
I came to Portland with the impression that the outlet stores will have major discounts but when I dropped by here, I was pretty disappointed. The prices were the same as any other Nike Outlet stores I’ve been to, the only positive thing is that there is no sales tax!
Ride the Brewcycle
Portland, Oregon has the largest brewery scene of any city in the world. With so many breweries and microbreweries, it is difficult to choose which ones you want to go to. I went on the Brewcycle, which is a fun way to tour the breweries and have means of transportation from place to place without the worry of driving. We went the Old Town route and had a great time, our guide was more than pleasant. All of the breweries we went to were fantastic. My favorite was Fat Head‘s Brewery where I got to try the Honey Blueberry Ale.
Go Brewery Hopping
If you love beer as much as I do, Portland would be beer heaven. One of the more popular breweries is Deschutes Brewery. I remember picking up a 6-pack at my local Bevmo that was brewed by Deschutes Brewery, so it was cool to actually be visiting it. In Pearl District, there is an abundance of breweries that you should check out. A couple of them are Hopworks Urban Brewery, Rogue Distillery and Public House, Cascade Brewing Barrel House, and Upright Brewing just to name a few. There are breweries spread out all over Portland, it’s just a matter of which district you would like to visit and brewery hop in.
Stop by Vista House at Crown Point
After your hike, make a stop to Vista House to catch a beautiful view of the Columbia River Gorge. There are restrooms here!
Hike to Wanchella Falls
If you’re anything like me, low risk, high reward hikes are my sort of thing. I will not hike 10 miles just to see a waterfall that I can hike 1 mile to see elsewhere. As you can guess, Wanchella falls is a short and easy hike (about 22 minutes) with a waterfall awaiting at the end. Best of all, nobody is around to bother you!
As the name should already describe it, Forest Park is a very LARGE and GREEN park filled with trees. Portland has a reputation for having trees all over and this park is no different from that. There is an abundance of hiking trails you can do but I thought the most interesting ones are Ridge Trail, Witch’s Castle and Wildwood Trail (which should be hiked in different parts).
Smell the Roses at the International Rose Test Garden
Portland is full of nature, it’s no surprise here. Aside from the trees and the waterfalls that Portland has to offer, Portland also contains a lot of roses. In fact, one of the nicknames is the “City of Roses”. Close to Forest Park, this garden is full of rose bushes you can walk around during the bloom months. It is free to the public and best of all, free admission. Worth checking out! I was amazed by how many roses and different varieties there are.What a site to see! After all, you should stop and smell the roses.
Lan Su Chinese Garden and Portland Japanese Garden
It doesn’t just stop at International Rose Test Garden for all of the gardens in Portland. No, there is a handful of them but they are not free admission. Lan Su Chinese Garden and Portland Japanese Garden are both near the International Rose Test Garden and cost $10 and $15 per adult respectively. If you are a student, there is a reduced student admission price.
Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade
School your friends in video games or play retro arcade games. Reminisce your days of growing up with pinball machines and throwback 70s-90s games. Do what you were not able to do as a child and knock back a few drinks while challenging your friends, as Ground Kontrol is a barcade.
Alongside breweries, Portland is known to have a crazy amount of strip clubs, the most per capita in the great country of the U.S. of A. It is arguably said that Portland even has the best strip clubs in America. There is literally a strip club for any types of people. Next door to Voodoo Donuts, I stumbled into Kit Kat Club. It wasn’t like anything that you normally see in Las Vegas or the like. They actually have a lot of talent and strength. It was more like a show than a sleazy strip club with perverted men. There are some strip clubs that you can have a steak dinner inside, such as Acropolis Club.
Places to Eat
The Waffle Window
Looking for a quick breakfast? Do you like waffles? Head over to The Waffle Window where you can choose savory or sweet options. Daily specials are also available aside from their main menu. There is indoor seating available or you can take your waffles to go. Opens at 8 AM daily.
Pine State Biscuits
If you don’t like waffles, maybe biscuits are more your thing. Pine State Biscuit is one of the popular breakfast joints in Portland, so expect to be waiting in a long line. They are serving up fluffy biscuits and gravy at 7 AM daily.
Very, very busy restaurant! I had this place on my itinerary but we were unable to wait for a table here. Word on the street is, this place has some BOMB chicken and waffles!
Blue Star Donuts
If you eat donuts for breakfast, head on over to Blue Star Donuts to get artisan flavored donuts. Aside from the famous Voodoo Donuts, Blue Star Donuts is a Portland native that has made its way to Los Angeles and has multiple locations. Blueberry Bourbon Basil is one of the most interesting and popular donuts they have. If that doesn’t sound appetizing to you, there is a good variety for you to choose from. Be expected to pay about $3 a donut though. I went a bit crazy the first time I came here and thought the donuts were just “okay”. But I think I chose the wrong flavors.
Tasty n Sons
Tasty n Sons, another cool and hip restaurant to get your day started. They also are serving up dinner as well, since they are opened for over 12 hours of the day. The Burmese Red Pork Stew seems to be a popular pick amongst patrons.
Lunch / Dinner
If you haven’t heard of Pok Pok before, you haven’t done your research into the food scene of Portland. This Thai cuisine establishment was made popular through the fish sauce wings being “the best wings of Portland”. I had lunch here with my friends when I visited and we had quite a wait. Truthfully, we thought the only decent thing was the wings and even that, we thought was a bit too salty. Maybe we had it on an off day, maybe not but we weren’t too crazy for the food.
Pok Pok, another Portland native that tried to venture out to Los Angeles, unfortunately, did not translate well to the diners of Los Angeles and eventually closed.
Nong’s food cart
Food carts are all the rage in Portland. One of the more popular food carts is Nong’s Khao Man Gai, which is known for its Hainan chicken. There are multiple locations so it’s a greater chance that you will be nearby one to have for lunch. Also, check out neighboring food carts to get the food tasting tour experience.
Similar to the previous recommendation of Nong’s food cart, Cartlandia (8145 SE 82nd St.) is a place where food trucks meet. There is also a beer garden where you can sit and have a brew with the food you purchased. One of the interesting things there is the lobster mac and cheeseburger from Melt it! Aside from Cartlandia, there are a LOT of food carts to choose from in Portland. Check out this link for more.
Por Que No? Taqueria
I’m not sure how Mexican food tastes in Portland, but I would give Por Que No? Taqueria a try if I was craving some tacos. All taquerias should serve agua frescas and when they do, it’s a plus in my book. In addition to that, Por Que No? is serving up some tasty margaritas! There is also happy hour here from 3 – 6PM daily!
Bollywood Theater first sounds like somewhere I can watch some Bollywood, but no it’s an Indian restaurant serving up Portland’s Indian burrito called “Paneer cheese Kati roll”. THAT looks amazing, along with their other dishes.
Podnah’s Pit BBQ
Get your Frito pie here at Podnah’s Pit BBQ! If you’ve never had real BBQ before, Podnah’s would be a good beginner but I was no rookie to BBQ so I thought Podnah’s is, unfortunately, skippable. My friends and I were running around town finding a place to sit down and eat dinner as soon as possible. Podnah’s was the only place we didn’t have to wait 1 hour to be seated. The service was great and the Frito pie was alright.
Great place to grab a burger and a beer. TILT has a fun mechanic theme with shop towels instead of paper napkins to save trees. Don’t leave without grabbing a slice of their delicious pies.
Little Big Burger
Little Big Burger is a chain burger joint with multiple locations in Portland. The burgers are a small size, about 2-3 bites worth, but they are BIG in flavor. In order to be full, I think I would need to eat 3 burgers worth. Good to try, pretty tasty but can get expensive. Little Big Burger reminds me of In-N-Out due to its very simple menu and similar pricing. However, one thing different is the cheese is pepper jack instead of American cheese. If I had to pick though, I’d choose In-N-Out burgers any day. The truffle fries, on the other hand, beats In-N-Out fries. Be sure to give Little Big Burger a try and remember to get the truffle fries with catsup and fry sauce.
Cruzroom Taco Lab
Infused vodka flights?! COUNT ME IN! Happy hour is available every day of the week except Sundays.
Get your sandwich fix here! Lardo is a solid place in Portland for you to enjoy your choice of meat between two slices of bread. Be sure to pair it with some dirty fries, as they are a hit here at Lardo.
If tacos aren’t your thing, maybe some Spanish cuisine is? If so, check out Toro Bravo for dinner as it is a tapas bar! Small place so seating is extremely limited. My friends and I tried to get a seat here for dinner but the wait was extremely long and we were extremely hungry so we decided Toro Bravo would maybe be best for another time.
I have never met anyone that hated pizza, nor would I care to. At Apizza Scholls, you can build your own pizza or select one of the house pies they created. It is a New York style pizza joint with the best ingredients to make your pie a delicious one. So what are you waiting for? Head on over to share a pie with your friends.
Salt & Straw Ice Cream
Salt & Straw has been so widely popular that it began to open locations in Los Angeles. Nonetheless, still, a good place to try different flavors of ice cream.
If you want to go a different route for ice cream besides Salt & Straw, try Fifty Licks. This place has more of the original flavors as well as different, interesting flavors such as Lavender Mint Chip and Thai Rice!
In my opinion, Portland lacks a nightlife unless you are into Strip Clubs, so your best bet to having a night out is just hanging out at the bars. Perhaps catch some late night happy hour specials while you’re at it. Here are some happy hours I’ve noted while planning my itinerary:
Happy hour is available here from 10 to close.
Happy Hour is available here from 12 midnight to 2:30 AM
Happy hour is available here from 5 – 6 PM (daily) as well as 11 PM-Midnight (Tu-Sat)
Mother’s Bistro and Bar (212 SW Stark St.)
Happy Hour is available from 3 – 7 PM (Tu – Fri) with $3.95 plates when you purchase any beverage.
If you have any questions or believe that I missed something major, please leave it in the comments below!