Portland Recap: Favorite Spots & Travel Tips

Happy New Year, my friends!  Wow, it’s been awhile since I’ve last updated my blog.. The last few months have been B U S YYYY!  If you follow me on Instagram, you know that Devin and I consistently went on trips since the beginning of July all the way until the end of August! Seriously, we only had about 3-5 days at home between each trip, and we were traveling for about 3 and a half weeks before we were finally all settled back home.  We had the time of our lives adventuring and getting to see more of the world together, and returned home ready & eager to begin our journeys at new jobs and internships for the both of us.  Those occupied most of our time before the holiday season, and now that the hustle & bustle of Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years is over, I thought it’d be the perfect time to update my blog–making sure to highlight some of the things we did over the summer!

The first place we went to visit on the string of summer escapades was Portland, Oregon, and omg we loved it!  From the really friendly people, to all the beautiful nature surrounding the city, to the perk of no sales tax (!!!!), there was so much to embrace about this beautiful city, and I wanted to share some of our favorite spots with all of you.  So without further ado, here’s a recap of our trip, along with some Things to Note for if you ever decide to visit!

Where We Ate

Mother’s Bistro & Bar
212 SW Stark St, Portland, OR 97204
Hours: Tues-Thurs 7AM – 9PM, Fri 7AM – 10PM, Sat 8AM – 10PM, Sun 8AM – 2:30PM

Ahhh, this was THEEE cutest breakfast spot I’ve ever been to!!  The vibe is vintage-y with a touch of elegance (I mean, look at those beautiful chandeliers!), and the customer service is top notch!  I’ve never felt so at home and taken care of at a restaurant before, so safe to say that we had a pleasant experience at this place.  As for the food, I would DEFINITELY come back (and that’s coming from someone who isn’t the biggest fan of breakfast foods!) 

*TIP: If you find yourself here, please do yourself a favor and get the potatoes–you won’t regret it.

Potbelly Sandwiches
802 SW 6th Ave, Portland, OR 97204
Hours: Mon-Fri 7AM – 8PM, Sat & Sun 10AM – 7PM

I think it’s safe to say that Devin and I always try to find some kind of sandwich spot anywhere that we travel–it’s convenient, delicious, not too harsh on your wallet, and filling in the way that doesn’t make you feel groggy for the rest of your day! What we liked about Potbelly was that they also offered yummy shakes, 100% fruit smoothies, hearty soups, and CRAFT-YOUR-OWN MAC AND CHEESE (with your choice of 2 premium toppings including bacon, chili, Potbelly hot peppers, mushrooms or roasted red peppers). Need I say more?!

Wailua Shave Ice
1022 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209
Hours: Mon – Thurs 12PM – 8PM, Fri – Sun 12PM – 9PM

You guys.. if you want a taste of the islands while in the Pacific Northwest, this is THE. SPOT. Wailua’s primary location is in Maui, so this stuff is the real deal! Devin and I visited this little shop two days in a row because we just couldn’t get enough of it. Their shaved ice has fresh fruit and real fruit juice, with no artificial flavors or high fructose corn syrup, so it’s super refreshing! Our favorite was the Wailua Sunrise, which had orange juice, pineapple juice, and pineapple orange fruit topping. Just typing about it is making my mouth water.

Pine State Biscuits*
2204 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211
Hours: 7AM – 3PM daily
*various locations

Devin and I became O B S E S S E D with biscuits and gravy ever since we tried Biscuit Bitch in Seattle, so we had to try this place out! Anyone who has ever visited Portland will always recommend Pine State Biscuits, and after having their hashbrowns, moist biscuits, and hearty gravy (not to mention their perfectly cooked eggs on top!), it’s easy to see why. Their outdoor patio allows for more spacious seating, and although it was quite busy when we went, our food came out pretty quickly.

*TIP: When you’re done eating, make sure to visit the nursery out back that’s filled with beautiful greenery!

The Cookie Dough Cafe
120 NW 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97209
Hours: Sun-Tues 12PM – 9PM, Wed & Thurs 12PM – 10PM, Fri & Sat 12PM – 11PM

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t eat raw cookie dough every time I make cookies at home.. So visiting this EDIBLE cookie dough cafe was a must for me on this trip!! What makes their cookie dough edible is that their ingredients do NOT contain eggs, hydrogenated oils, or trans fats! There are a bunch of different flavors to choose from, but if I’m being honest, a whole scoop of this stuff was way too much for me. The cookie dough itself is pretty sweet, so after a couple of bites I got a little tired of it.

*TIP: Opt for the individual bite-size scoops! They are the perfect amount of cookie dough that won’t overpower your tastebuds.

Yama Sushi & Sake Bar
926 NW 10th Ave, Portland, OR 97209
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:30AM – 2:30PM & 5PM – 10PM

What a fortunate stroke of serendipity finding this place was.. We came across it by accident and ended up eating here TWICE because it was THAT good!! (Okay, also because there’s literally HUNDREDS of places to eat in Portland that at times it was overwhelming to choose, but, like, you can’t go wrong with sushi). The ambiance at Yama was very trendy & quiet, with low-lit accents for that “first date” type of vibe. The fish here was incredibly fresh, and we had the most refreshing & tasteful salmon sashimi here. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the rolls.. *insert drooling emoji* I have four words for you: deep fried lobster roll.

Pok Pok NW
1639 NW Marshall St, Portland, OR 97209
Hours: 11:30AM – 10PM daily

Before I get to the MOUTHWATERING food, let me just say that the outdoor seating of this place has such a cute vibe!! Luscious green vines grow over the fence for a nice touch of nature, and there are colored lights strung throughout the wooden-paneled ceilings. It felt very homey here, and the food tasted very authentic. Let me just tell you: If you leave Portland without trying the Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings, you are playing yourself!!! They were quite possibly the best chicken wings I’ve ever had in my entire life. The crunch was PERFECT, the marinade on the chicken was out-of-this-world flavorful, and both Devin and I said “…Ohhh my Goddddd..” after the first bite.

*TIP: The portions here are pretty generous and our waiter mentioned that the plates are all family-style, so I recommend sharing your entree!

Places We Visited

International Rose Test Garden
400 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205
Hours: 7:30AM – 9PM daily

Portland is known as The City of Roses, so it’s only right to spend some time at the beautiful rose garden located in Washington Park. This place is SO BEAUTIFUL!! And huge!! It has over 10,000 (!!!) rose bushes, with over 650 varieties, so you can spend a good amount of time wandering around and literally smelling the roses. There’s also a huge amphitheater that’s a nice spot to have lunch since it’s all covered in grass. Washington Park itself is amazing, and so big that there are shuttles to take you to the various places throughout the park, including the Portland’s Children Museum, Portland Japanese Garden, Hoyt Arboretum, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, World Forestry Center, Oregon Zoo, Holocaust Memorial, and even an archery range!

*TIP: The roses are in bloom from April to October, but they peak in June, so definitely time your visit accordingly!

Vista House at Crown Point
40700 E Historic Columbia River Hwy, Corbett, OR 97014
Hours: 9AM – 6PM daily

Devin and I made a quick stop here on our way to Multnomah Falls, and WOW, this 100-year-old building had the most breathtaking views!! It gives a 180˚ view of the Columbia Gorge with rolling hills, rivers, and clear blue skies. Simply stunning. There is a small gift shop to visit inside the Vista House as well, so definitely stop inside to admire the marble & vintage interior and spiraling staircase (and air conditioning of course!).

Multnomah Falls
50000 E Historic Columbia River Hwy, Bridal Veil, OR 97010

Is it really a trip to Portland if you don’t visit Multnomah Falls? When Devin and I visited, the hiking trail to the falls was closed off, so we took the Columbia Gorge Express shuttle from Rooster Rock State Park! Parking at Rooster Rock is $5, but the shuttle is free and operates every 20-30 minutes. You can also drive straight to the falls and park in that parking lot as well. Multnomah Falls itself is such a sight to see. You can stay at the bottom of the falls, or walk a ways upward and stand on the bridge. The whole atmosphere is so calming and relaxing, even though it can get busy with tourists. From the bridge, you can stand over and watch where the fall drops off, and it’s such a surreal experience.

Punch Bowl Social
340 SW Morrison St, Portland, OR 97204
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11AM – 11PM, Fri 11AM – 1AM, Sat 10AM – 1AM,
Sun 10AM – 11PM

A bar with 8 bowling lanes, private karaoke rooms, darts, giant Scrabble, giant Jenga, ping pong, billiards, foosball, board games, card games, AND a vintage arcade?! Such a dope concept!! It’s located inside of a mall, but the vibe inside Punch Bowl Social is super casual. Definitely a cool place to have drinks and play some games, and if it’s too busy inside, you can enjoy your cocktail outside on their cute little patio that has comfy couches and string lights!

Pittock Mansion
3229 NW Pittock Dr, Portland, OR 97210
Hours: the mansion itself is open 10AM – 4PM daily, but the grounds are open until 9PM

All I can say is: wow. This estate and the grounds it sits on are GORGEOUS. We only explored the grounds when we visited since we got there after the mansion itself closed, but we got there just in time to watch the sunset! And it was the perfect place to do so. There are beds of shrubs and flowers all around the mansion, and the viewpoint overlooks Portland’s skyline from 1,000 feet up! For my local Californians, Devin and I thought that the view from this place was something like a combination of San Francisco x Santa Cruz because you have the city view right in front of you and a whole mountain of beautiful trees below you to your right. If you’re looking for a nice place to relax or somewhere to watch the sunset/look at city lights, this is it. (P.S. On clear days, you can see Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, Mount Rainer, and Mount Jefferson from the Pittock Mansion!)

Mt. St. Helens Ape Cave Lava Tube
located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in Lewis County, WA

When Devin and I had first planned our Portland trip, we had the intentions of doing lots of outdoorsy, adventurous, nature-y things. Spelunking in this lava tube was definitely the most adventurous of them all! We rented a car and drove north to Washington, and oh my LORDT the scenery on the drive was breathtaking!! Once we got to the Ape Caves, we hiked a little bit through the forest and made our way down into the lava tube — its passageway is the longest continuous lava tube in the United States! It was about 80˚ degrees outside on the day that we went, but once we got into the caves.. holy moly was it FREEZING. It was wet and WINDY and something like 42˚ inside!! The trek through was so cold that my hands started feeling frostbitten and my ears started hurting. But it was such a cool experience nonetheless! There are two trails you can take: a lower trail (which we took) that’s on the easier side and more of a stroll but has little tunnels to crawl under, and a higher trail (that we weren’t at all prepared for) that’s on the more treacherous side and calls for you to scale an 8-foot wall with no rope. I highly recommend coming here for an out-of-the-ordinary experience, especially if you’re into hiking and exploring like we are!

*TIP: Come prepared with layered clothes (it’s colder in there than you think), comfortable hiking shoes, and a source of light. If you are hiking through the lower cave, the light from your cell phone will suffice, but if you are hiking the higher cave, you will need your hands to climb, so I suggest bringing a headlamp! The higher cave just requires more gear in general, so plan for that accordingly.

Other Things to Note

  • Take advantage of no sales tax!! On food, drinks, clothes — get ALL your shopping done here, especially any major purchases you want to make so you get the best deal!
  • When it comes to transportation, the MAX Light Rail is incredibly efficient because it takes you EVERYWHERE. Devin and I saved sooo much money riding the MAX because it has five lines (my fellow Bay Area peeps, think Portland’s version of BART, but just for the whole city!), and we were able to get to all the places we wanted to go! Saved us a grip on time as well since we weren’t trying to find parking anywhere.
  • Alder Street Food Cart Pod is the largest downtown collection of Portland’s food carts, located between Southwest Alder and Washington streets, from Southwest Ninth to Southwest Tenth avenues. Seriously there are SO. MANY. You can find any type of food you want there!
  • Recreational marijuana is legal, so, ya know.
  • People here are INCREDIBLY friendly!! Portlandians often freely gave recommendations, helped with directions, and just enjoyed having casual conversation. Devin and I were kind of mind-blown because everyone that we encountered was so nice!
  • Some recommendations that we received but did not get around to included: Pips Original Doughnuts, Departure & Portland City Grill (both rooftop bars), Forest Park to visit Witch’s Castle, Lardo (sandwich shop that has a pho sandwich!), Waffle Window, Spirit of 77 (bar), Grassa (Italian restaurant that specializes in made-in-house pasta), Afuri Ramen & Dumplings, and Little Griddle (breakfast spot).

Portland was such a nice getaway and the best way to start our string of summer trips. Nothing beats the beautiful scenery all around and the crisp, fresh air. Plus, there is so much to see and do there, so you’ll never be bored and will always find a way to occupy your time! 10/10 would recommend and 10/10 would definitely go back to eat my way through the whole city 😛

1 Comment

  1. January 13, 2019 / 10:37 pm

    Really loved this post! I’ve never been to Portland but I’ve heard & now read amazing things! I definitely would love to make the trip out there! I also really love your photography, your blog is really beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

    -Madi xo | http://www.everydaywithmadirae.com

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