What a trip this was last summer! Meredith and I had been wanting to venture out west together – specifically to the Pacific Northwest – for quite awhile, and when our friends Alex and Danny asked her to shoot their wedding (and me to attend), it presented the perfect opportunity to explore “the other Portland” and its gorgeous surroundings. We began our trip to Oregon with a few days in Portland, followed by the wedding on Mt. Hood, and then a trip through the Columbia River Gorge to Cannon Beach and Astoria – not a shabby way to spend a week.
As the story goes, Portland, OR was named by a coin toss between Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy. Francis was from Portland, ME, and Asa from Boston. Francis won, and one of the coolest ways to name a city went down in the books. Located on the Columbia river, this Portland is much bigger than its namesake (and all of Maine for that matter), and has developed into a great city, known for its food, drink, people, and lifestyle. The city is one of America’s greenest, and I’d throw in foodiest and brewiest to boot. Although we seemingly only scratched the surface of what Portland has to offer, we spent a few days exploring as much as possible, and had the opportunity to see some amazing things.
A hotel that lives up to its name, The Nines is a well-executed mashup of style, comfort, and a little bit of flair. View photos and read more about The Nines here.
The other meals in Portland were great, but Clyde Common will forever hold a special place in our hearts. We will most definitely be returning the next time we’re in the ‘other Portland’. View photos and read more about Clyde Common here.
A mindful experience that leads you to take great care and thought in the actual process of making tea – a habit that could be beneficially applied to virtually all other aspects of our lives. View photos and read more about the Lan Su Chinese Gardens here.
Doughnuts? I’m there. I’m an anxious person by nature and get a little fidgety standing waiting around, but the line for Voodoo Doughnut that went out the door wrapped around the block, was more than worth it in my book. View photos and read more about Voodoo Doughnut here.
Getting lost in a book – or stack of books – is a definite possibility as this gargantuan Portland staple.
Food Carts – Whole Bowl, A Little Bit of Smoke Carolina BBQ
Portland is nothing if not the land of Food Carts. If they didn’t originate here, they were perfected here, and with hundreds to chose from, there will be no shortage on options for every taste and desire. If you’re looking for recommendations, I think that Meredith would gladly point you in the direction of The Whole Bowl, and I’d be remise to not recommend A Little Bit of Smoke.
One might think we’d be ‘gardened’ out after a delightful morning spent at the Lan Su Chinese Garden, but that didn’t stop us from heading out of downtown to the International Rose Test Garden in nearby Washington Park – a decision we couldn’t possibly regret. View photos and read more about the International Rose Test Garden here.
Salt & Straw
The ice cream at Salt & Straw passed our resident ice cream expert’s (Meredith) test with a resounding ‘yum!’. Try it.
Washington Park and Forest Park Hiking Trails
Washington Park has over 400 acres of trees, gardens, attractions and playgrounds and 15 miles of trails – more things to do than anyone could hope for in a single trip. It pales in comparison however, to the neighboring Forest Park, where we tried one of the looping, forested trails and found ourselves completely awestruck at the natural beauty and stunning vistas offered while still inside Portland’s city limits.
Calling this area picturesque is almost an understatement – the views driving up the mountain, from the lodge and of the lodge seemed like they were right out of a movie. View photos and read more about Mt. Hood and the Timberline Lodge here.
Multnomah Falls and the Columbia River Gorge
Wow. I mean, WOW. There are some absolutely stunning places in this world, but few have surprised me more than the drive we took along the Colombia River in the Colombia River Gorge. When we were told to take the ‘scenic route’ from Mt. Hood to Cannon Beach, I had no idea that we were in for one of the most beautiful drives I’ve ever taken (remember, I’m from the land of the Blue Ridge Parkway). The number of times I thought “we should stop and take a picture” are innumerable and the sheer cliffs, falls, overlooks, and forestry of the gorge will leave you breathless for the entire trip. One ‘must-stop’ is the Multnomah Falls – which seem to come straight from an enchanted fairytale. This drive is worth every mile and minute.
Cannon Beach/Haystack Rock
It would be a disservice to ourselves to travel all the way to Oregon without visting the Pacific (only my second time), and as a child of the 80’s what better way to do that than to visit Cannon Beach and Haystack rock – two popular filming locations for The Goonies. Even without the movie, this cute beach town and astounding geologic attraction are more than worth the trek.
When we were unable to find a hotel in Cannon Beach, we expanded our search and stumbled onto this hidden gem of a town. View photos and read more about Astoria, OR here.
A hotel that lives up to its name, The Nines is a well-executed mashup of style, comfort, and a little bit of flair. The layout is based around the central atrium area that contains the tasty and fun Urban Farmer ‘modern steakhouse’ and bar, where we spent more than a couple of hours enjoying cocktails, beers, and munchies (and I spent more than a couple of hours staring aimlessly at the gigantic space around me). The club level lounge was stocked with tasty treats seemingly all day, and true to Portland’s reputation, there was a great selection of local craft brews in the fridge. The rooms were spacious and comfortable, and I’m willing to bet the turquoise theme of the decor was a major drawing point for Meredith when she was on the hunt for places to stay. I’m glad she found it, and would definitely recommend The Nines to anyone looking for a fun place to stay in the area.
Prior to our trip to Oregon I began researching restaurants in the city and came up with a list of possibilities for us – a Google doc I shared with Michael, and even with our friend Alex, a Portland-area expert! I remember finding a link to Clyde Common from a bakery who supplies their bread, and immediately moved it to the top of the list because I was impressed by their website’s branding. (Being in creative industries, Michael and I are happy to admit that we are suckers for good branding, which has many times in the past led us in the right direction in choosing places to stay or eat, and things to do.) In fact, it was our very first stop, just hours after we landed in Portland, hungry from our cross-country adventure!
Upon walking in, I remember feeling a distinctly giddy excitement. The building was full of beautiful, late summer evening natural light. The design was clean and modern, with a comfortable, friendly feel. We took a seat at a long communal table and in just a few moments we were deep in conversation with a sweet couple from Chicago. As we swapped stories about the food scene in our respective cities, Michael sipped a local Portland beer, and I enjoyed the delicious daily punch, of a hibiscus variety. After seeing the size of our new friends’ bowl of seasoned popcorn, we decided to start the meal by sharing panzanella-esque appetizer. I kept people watching as the long wooden tables began to fill up, all the while squeezing Michael’s leg, whispering to him how much I loved Clyde Common!
When our meals arrived, quail for Michael and a summer tomato tagliatelle pasta for me, we practically ceased conversation. Everything was perfect – the vegetables were fresh, the food was full of flavor, and Michael and I were as happy as we could possibly be. Naturally we were too full from dinner to order dessert, but we walked home and joked of returning for lunch the next day! Our very first meal in Portland, a city of amazing restaurants, absolutely spoiled us. The following meals were great, but Clyde Common will forever hold a special place in our hearts. We will most definitely be returning the next time we’re in the ‘other Portland’.
Meredith asked me to write this post, although it was quite possibly her favorite place of the trip, because she was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to do the Lan Su Chinese Garden justice with words. Now that I’ve begun typing, I’m afraid of the exact same thing. To me, one of the most fascinating parts of the gardens was how, in some mysterious way, stepping through the door made you forget all about the gigantic bustling city in the middle of which it is set. Tranquility is key here, and although it’s hardly a city block in size, the pace at which you’ll find yourself meandering along the paths, taking in the plants, rooms, walls, ponds, and buildings, trying not to miss a single piece, will have you occupied for hours. We’d highly recommend a ceremonial tea at the Tea House, where we discovered the rare experience of a traditional tea, led by the extremely knowledgeable and helpful staff. It’s a mindful experience that leads you to take great care and thought in the actual process of making tea – a habit that could be beneficially applied to virtually all other aspects of our lives.
Doughnuts? I’m there. I’m an anxious person by nature and get a little fidgety standing waiting around, but the line for Voodoo Doughnut that went out the door wrapped around the block, was more than worth it in my book. If I lived or worked anywhere near this delicious treat, you could guarantee that my waist would be quite a bit larger and my blood sugar quite a bit higher. These aren’t your Granny’s doughnuts, with names like the Old Dirty Bastard (which I can personally vouch for), pentagram and voodoo doll decorations, and toppings like Fruit Loops and M&M’s, but if they’re all as good as the ones we had, you simply can’t go wrong.
One might think we’d be ‘gardened’ out after a delightful morning spent at the Lan Su Chinese Garden, but that didn’t stop us from heading out of downtown to the International Rose Test Garden in nearby Washington Park. And once we arrived, we were so thankful that we decided to visit two gardens on our first full day in Portland. It was our afternoon spent roaming through the rose garden that inspired us to think about turning a neglected side garden at our home into our own rose garden. (We haven’t made any tangible progress with this project, but we have begun to research the possibilities and feasibilities of such an endeavor!)
With over ten thousand types of roses on display in just four and a half acres, the garden is used as a testing ground for newly developed types of roses. As we walked, Michael & I made a mental list of our favorite varieties and colors, and kept going back to the ones we’d earmarked as such. It was the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon in Portland. I more than recommend swinging by!
The wedding that was the impetus for this adventure took place on Mount Hood, at the Timberline Lodge. Calling this area picturesque is almost an understatement – the views driving up the mountain, from the lodge and of the lodge seemed like they were right out of a movie. They were in fact, and if you ignore the whole crazy-axe-murderer part of The Shining (pretty much just the first ten minutes), you’ll get a glimpse of what I mean, as Mount Hood and the Timberline Lodge were used for the exterior shots in the movie. From there however, the similarities to the movie stop and the Timberline lodge begins. Built by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression (Americans built some amazing stuff during that time period – we should make a category), the lodge is a sprawling exhibit of local resources and craftsmanship. Everywhere you look, artists and craftsmen of the time were given the opportunity to create reliefs and carvings that have made the lodge into a working museum of sorts. I feel like one could easily get lost in the winding halls and floors, but as a history geek, it’d make for some great adventure.
When planning our trip to Oregon, we knew we wanted to allow a few days in the city of Portland, allot two days for the wedding on Mt. Hood, and then, because we don’t make it to the west coast very often, we wanted to see the Pacific! Seeing Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach was high on the list, but I couldn’t quite find the right hotel in the area, so I expanded my search. Thankfully my research directed me to the Cannery Pier Hotel in Astoria, Oregon! Built on a pier that formerly housed a fish packing facility, the hotel seemed right up our alley, and a perfect gateway to experience an entirely different part of Oregon we might not otherwise visit.
After an afternoon spent on Cannon beach, less than an hour south of Astoria, we checked into our hotel room that overlooked the mouth of the Columbia River, with a perfect view of the Astoria-Megler Bridge. We promptly hopped on the hotel’s colorful cruiser bikes and began riding along the coastal greenway path, in the direction of the most famous house in Astoria – The Goonies House. We took a few pictures of Mikey’s house and reminisced about being children of the 80s, and then continued our bicycle tour of Astoria, which included an unexpected serenade by fifty or so seals on a local dock.
That evening we walked over to the restaurant across the pier from our hotel, the BRIDGEwater Bistro, and enjoyed a delicious meal (strawberry gorgonzola salad for me and a seafood pasta dish for Michael) as we looked out at the Columbia River. After we finished up, we walked back across the pier to our delightful hotel – the very place that inspired us to come to Astoria, Oregon a place we now consider to be an absolute hidden gem! Our experience in Astoria will always bring a smile to our face, and we happily recommend that anyone stay at the Cannery Pier Hotel on their next visit to the Oregon coast!