Ultimate Travel Guide: Portland, Oregon, USA
Combining the weird, the unique and the great outdoors.
There are plenty of things Portland should be known for, from its craft beer, coffee, tax-free shopping and the great outdoors. But, we think the weird and unique atmosphere that permeates through the town is reason enough to visit.
Despite not having the luxury of restaurant-style-dining, food carts are a popular option for locals and tourists in Portland. The food centric focus of many Portlanders means food carts have become an important part of the city’s identity. There are over 600 food carts with a number of parking spaces hosting pods of eclectic food carts throughout the week for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. The largest pod is located on Alder Street which includes a number of different cuisines such as the Asian and Texan food options at Jook Joint, or the crowd favourite dumplings at Dump Truck. Quite often, the food served at the food carts is of higher quality than most restaurants, especially with carts like Gumba which serves fine Italian pasta or Gracie’s Apizza which makes wood fired pizza.
Ice-cream & Donuts
The long and winding snake of people which line outside the doors of Salt and Straw is a testament to the magic that awaits inside. The ice-cream served up at Salt and Straw is hands down, without a doubt, the best ice-cream we have ever tasted. The ice-creamery began as a food cart on Alberta Street in Portland and after an overwhelming success in its first three months, moved into a permanent shop-front location. Holding true to the unofficial slogan of the town ‘Keep Portland Weird’, Salt and Straw definitely stuns the crowd with its unusual yet oddly delicious flavour combinations. The almond brittle with salted ganache has your tastebuds dancing while the more experimental pear and blue cheese is definitely worth trying. The crew at Salt and Straw definitely know how to push flavour boundaries.
Why stop at Salt and Straw when you can supplement your ice-cream intake with a donut from Voodoo Doughnuts. Another Portland born desert shop, Voodoo Doughnuts are popular for their eclectic store decorations, pinks boxes and uniquely flavoured donuts. The Portland Cream donut is filled with Bavarian cream and frosted with chocolate and has become known as the Official City Donut for Portland. Other flavours include the Maple Bacon Bar and the Ring of Fire donut which is a chocolate donut covered in cinnamon sugar, cayenne pepper and is topped with a red chilli pepper. The donuts are definitely not for the faint-hearted, but it’s still worth the visit!
The city of Portland is home to over 75 breweries making it a world-renowned oasis for a wide variety of unique and high-quality craft beer. In fact, there are so many breweries which have mastered the science behind beer, that the town has been dubbed ‘Beervana’. The most iconic beer in the city is the India Pale Ale and the Breakside Brewery is known to serve up one of the finest blends. Each of their IPA’s are hazy and caramel coloured and have their signature fruity taste such as the ‘Tall Guy’ brew which has a mango, guava and citrus peel taste. There are also experimental breweries, especially the brews at Labrewatory located in North Portland. In the past, the brewery has experimented with truffles, juniper berries and peanut butter. There are also sour beers on offer at Great Notion Brewing or Cascade Brewing, locally sourced and organic beer at Hopworks Urban Brewery and a variety of traditional German beers, dark beers and lagers. There is definitely an overwhelming variety of breweries in Portland so an option is to take a tour with Brewvana or consider hiring a bike and cycling around. Either way, you can be assured that your favourite brew will be among the varieties on offer in Portland.
While Portland is a popular destination for its premium selection of beer and breweries, the town is also a hit with its diverse range of coffee and uber cool cafes. After a night exploring the breweries, there is nothing which can soothe the body and mind the next morning quite like a quality cup of coffee, despite the old school belief that a hangover can be treated by drinking more of what made you this way in the first place. For a taste of Australia in the heart of Portland, Proud Mary offers flat whites and vegemite toast on the menu which is all sourced from local farmers ensuring all produce is sustainable and fresh. The cafe is the first and only American outpost of this Melbourne based cafe. The other options for coffee are varied and depend on whether you enjoy experimenting with your brew or prefer a simple yet thoughtfully made cup of coffee. For a unique blend, heading to Case Study Coffee Roasters will expose you to a sea salt cappuccino or a hazelnut espresso which is definitely worth the shot. Barista or Coava Coffee Roasters serve a nice blend of coffee, or for a more exotic roast, consider Tov which incorporates an Egyptian blend into their roast and their mocha infused with a hint of rose is a favourite among the crowd. However, the best part about Portland is the freedom of walking down the beautiful streets and popping into one of their hip yet quaint cafes to find your favourite brew.
Experience Nature: The Mountains, Forest and Coast
Portland is definitely a triple threat and an adventurer’s paradise especially with its long stretch of coastline to explore, an abundant of hiking trails, majestic waterfalls in the forest as well as the mountains to climb and ski down. Open year-round and home to six ski areas, the snowy peak of Mt Hood in the Cascades Mountain Range is by far the most notable in the area, standing at 3429 metres tall. Despite the excitement of snow, the foot of the mountain is also known as the ‘Fruit Loop’ as lavender and wildflowers fill the valley throughout the spring and summer. For a more in-depth nature feel, the Multnomah Falls, located just a 30-minute drive outside of Portland, will stun visitors with its two-tiered, cascading waterfall. Opt viewing Multnomah Falls from the Benson Bridge – built so visitors could stand amongst the mist and spray. This is a beautiful spot to gain a greater sense of the magnitude of nature. Heading out towards the coast, Cannon Beach is a popular yet beautiful spot to wade through the tide pools and take in the iconic Haystack Rock.
The Pittock Mansion was built in 1914 by Henry Pittock who was the owner and publisher of The Oregonian, a daily newspaper which is still published today. Henry Pittock began planning the 23-room mansion in the early 1900’s as a place to house his eight family members and wife, Georgiana. It was built in the hills of Portland with panoramic views of the surrounding town, the Willamette River and the Cascade Mountains. The mansion is now an icon in the Portland area and is open to the public as a historic house museum. The grounds of the mansion are filled with roses, cherry trees and rhododendrons which blossom and fill the area with pops of pink, white and purple. While the grounds of the mansion are beautiful to explore, purchasing a guided tour to explore inside the mansion is worth every penny!
Pittock Mansion – 3229 NW Pittock Dr, Portland, OR 97210
Portland and the entire state of Oregon is free from paying sales tax which means all locals and visitors can enjoy their shopping experience without the stress of the added cost at the checkout. While this shouldn’t be the reason to splurge your life savings, it is definitely enough motivation to explore the shopping districts and hubs within Portland. There is the perfect balance of high-end, luxury shopping located in the Downtown region as well as boutique and independent maker stores scattered throughout the neighbourhood areas. The most notable places to shop are Pioneer Place, Union Way and the Pearl District.
The Nines Hotel
Central to the lively Pearl District and Pioneer Courthouse Square, The Nines Hotel was once the home to Portland’s premier store. Since then, the shopping haven was transformed into the now luxury hotel. Considered the most popular accommodation in Downtown Portland, guests will be amazed by its fashionable room styling, the original exterior and the seven-story atrium in the lobby which filters an abundance of natural light. Guests will be pleased to know that on site there are two restaurants including the Urban Table or the Departure Restaurant which focusses heavily on Asian cuisine. Regardless, we can assure you that your stay in The Nines Hotel will be exceptional, luxurious and endless – all whilst in the hustle and bustle of Portland.
The Nines Hotel – 525 SW Morrison St, Portland, OR 97204
Portland certainly knows how to revive old and historic buildings into luxurious and aesthetically pleasing hotels. The Woodlark Hotel in Downtown Portland is no exception. The original building was once known as the Woodlark Building before it was joined on to the adjacent Cornelius Hotel in 2015 to become the sophisticated, 150 room hotel it is today. The lobby space has floor to ceiling windows and the rooms have eclectic styling with pops of blue leather, aged brass, raw wood furnishings and natural, green plants. Opening its doors in December of 2018, the Woodlark Hotel should not be underestimated as being the new hotel on the block – we are certain this hotel will become a buzzing social hotspot and a modern place to stay, with a touch of history.
Woodlark Hotel – 813 SW Alder St, Portland, OR 97205
The Ace Hotel is the epitome of hip and young, with a definite popularity amongst millennials who are looking for a minimal, but affordable hotel to stay in. The hotel is perfectly located close to bars, boutique shopping, the Pearl District and a haven of restaurants. Consider visiting Clyde Common, a restaurant and bar known widely for its locally sourced fresh produce and cocktails. There are also bikes which visitors can use to cycle around the Downtown Portland area. Each room within the hotel has murals painted by local artists and very minimal styling, with some rooms furnished with vintage record players and vinyls to listen to. This hotel leans away from being luxurious, but it is the perfect place to stay for those looking for a communal and artsy place where all the young tourists and Portlanders like to hang.
Ace Hotel – 1022 SW Harvey Milk St, Portland, OR 97205