Fashion trends that you thought died long ago are alive and well in Portland. That terrible middle school trend that you thought was the hottest thing back in the day? Someone is rockin' that look on the streets of Portland. Right. Now. I guarantee it.
But Portland is a total gem. People do their own thing, and the city is more colorful and vibrant because of it.
Stevie and I took off for a weekend adventure with our friends Creigh and Jessy without much of an agenda. On Friday afternoon, we packed our bags and meandered down evergreen-lined byways and crystal clear lakes from Seattle to PDX. We rented the cutest tiny house on Airbnb. It was nestled in the backyard of a Portland transplant, and the nearby chicken coop really rounded things out. Straight outta Portlandia.
We dropped our bags on our lofted beds (Yes, this tiny house sleeps 4 grown humans!) before heading to the Division neighborhood to explore and grab dinner. We wandered through local shops, ordered an ambitious Thai meal at the James Beard Award winner Pok Pok, and finished the evening with a sugar rush courtesy of Salt & Straw. The ice creamery is packed with both tourists and exotic flavor combinations—like Stumptown coffee and Burnside bourbon or pear and blue cheese—but despite the line, our cones packed with lactose perfection were worth the wait.
Blue Star Donuts & Multnomah Falls
I don't know if I'm proud or embarrassed about this fact, but we hit up THREE donut shops in one weekend. Yep, that's right. Priorities.
If flavors like pina colada, blueberry bourbon basil and lemon poppyseed don't get you in the door, I don't know what will. We grabbed our coffee and donuts to go and set out about 30 minutes outside PDX to the picturesque Multnomah Falls. I've seen this stunning waterfall grace my Instagram feed for years, but seeing it in person changed the game. The pacific northwest is breathtaking in every way.
After soaking in Oregon's natural wonders, we ventured back to the concrete jungle for good food, miles of books, and spontaneous coffee breaks. We wandered the Portland Saturday Market until we worked up an appetite for lunch. It's easy to find a meal that can please everyone at one of the many "pods" of food carts scattered throughout the city. Who knew that Portland has 500 food carts available any time of day? From Ethiopian street food to organic smoothies to grilled cheese specialists, these neighborhood eateries on wheels can curb just about any craving.
I think Stevie's lunch wins best name. Meet "the Baby Cheesus."
Powell's books & The ace hotel
We spent much of our afternoon browsing the endless rows at Powell's City of Books, which takes up a whole city block and houses more than one million books. Be still my English major heart! If you stumble upon this literary paradise, be sure to get a free pass to access the rare book room. Incredible first editions. Worth exploring if just to see the price tags on these beauties. A book worth more than my annual salary? Oh yes.
From there, we stopped for a caffeine boost at the iconic Ace Hotel across the street. We kicked back on an emerald green sofa and sipped Stumptown lattes while a vinyl record purred in the background.
Rose Test Garden
Ok, Portland wins at public parks.
Case in point: the Rose Test Garden, which bursts with 7,000 rose bushes and is completely freeeeee. Say what? We meandered down petal-lined pathways and snapped photos of each other as the sun set over the city.
On Sunday morning, it was back to Seattle. But before skirting the city limits, we had to see what Voodoo Doughnuts was all about. Given the rumors of Nyquil-filled doughnuts and shotgun weddings, I prepped myself for the worst. Voodoo is definitely more shock than substance, but my "Homer Simpson" doughnut was simple and satisfying.
So here's my shorthand PDX doughnut guide:
- Blue Star if you're looking for unique, gourmet flavored delicacies.
- Annie's if you're on the hunt for a great old fashioned doughnut without the frills.
- Voodoo if you want a good story and don't mind elbowing some tourists to claim your Cap'n Crunch covered doughnut.
Real talk: I fell in love with Portland in just a few short days. The quirk, the eclectic neighborhoods, the amazing local shops and restaurants, and the beautiful stretches of greenery, lakes and waterfalls that sit waiting just beyond the city limits come together in a stunning combination.
But, of course, the best part of it all is seeing new parts of the world with old friends. So thankful to cross paths with sweet souls like Creigh and Jessy. Hold tightly to the people that lift you up and cheer you on to write a better story with your life. Those relationships are rare and worth the fight!