Had enough of “staycations”? Want a travel destination that won’t break the piggy bank? Portland, Oregon is more than recycling, kale chips and polar fleece. This pacific northwest city is alive with quirky culture.
There’s a couple of mandatory details to discuss first.
One: Watch at least one episode of “Portlandia” to understand this Berkeley-er-than-thou city.
Two: It may seem counter-intuitive, but leave the umbrella at home. I’ll explain later.
First stop into a Portland parallel universe should be something called a book store. Yep, it’s made of brick and the inventory is so immense they’ve grown out of the original store. I’m talking Powells in case you didn’t guess. This shrine to book love probably has whatever you can think up. Plan on half a day to wander the rooms and floors.
Find that obscure first edition you’ve been looking for at
1005 W Burnside St
Portland, OR 97209
most expensive, it’s the financial district of Portland,
you’ll see the most chic understated practical clothing there.
Great place to walk around.
Good food everywhere, just ask someone.
Andina is a superb Peruvian restaurant but my local foodie friend says it’s no longer on the top of their list.
Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House
210 NW 11th Ave.
Portland, OR 97209
Mon-Fri 4pm to 6pm
this is the best quirky arty area based along
Alberta Street (NW)
full of galleries, weird coffee shops, boutiques, bars, restaurants, live music and assorted oddballs
showcasing their own fashion statements. I still marvel at one cafe that had not one, but two middle age hipster men knitting in opposite corners.
Skews youngish, lots of shopping, eating, drinking on NW 21st Ave.
Prices reasonable, got a fantastic vintage fringe leather jacket for $40.
Stroll up and down N. Mississippi Ave.
There’s so many “only in Portland” moments.
My all time fav is the store that sells salt.
3731 N Mississippi Ave.
Portland, OR 97227
Not a joke! There are stacks of pink Himilayan
salt bricks you can cook a fish on top of. Would make an
amazing gift for a gourmet friend. They also sell wine and chocolate. Forget swiss water process blah blah blah, Portland tops foodanistas with a wall of chocolate sourced by eco-fabulous standards. There’s one bar sporting a drawing of the guy who picked the beans to make the chocolate. I’m not making this up.
Portland is probably only second to Seattle in their love of the caffeinated swirly goodness of roasted organic, fair trade, politically correct, crazy named cup of coffee.
Another store along Mississippi carries all the supplies you would need to roast your own coffee beans or make your own skin care products.
The only area that I thought was creepy at night was the NW Industrial area and Lloyd neighborhood.
I wasn’t thrilled with the sights driving from the airport to my friends house on Killingsworth. The closer to the river you get, hipness appears in little pockets.
Art Galleries in the Pearl:
If you’re in town for this… make sure to do
the First Thursday walk thru downtown
300 NW 13th Ave
Elizabeth Leach Gallery
417 NW 9th
24 Hour Church of Elvis
“The World’s First Coin-Operated Art Gallery”
say no more…..
408 NW Couch St
BRICK AND MORTOR KITSCH:
Velveteria: The Museum of Velvet Paintings.
unfortunately closed in 2010. The town is still waiting for the owners to come back from Los Angeles and bring back the velvet. Velvet is the new polarfleece?
back to the classics……..
903 NW Davis St
pricey, standard white walls, tres chic
original Picasso, Dali…
The Dapper Frog
915 NW Davis
glass jelly fish and octopus made by the Frog Man.
Find your price range, starting at $300 for emerging local and international artists.
Prices zoom up incrementally to the thousands.
PDX Contemporary Art
925 NW Flanders St
The gallery has a few artists they signed before they were
“discovered” by the Whitney Biennial.
Their artists work is seen at Art Basil Miami, as PDX gallery has extensive global curator relationships.
YOU CAN PICKLE THAT:
West of the River:
Little Bird, never been there, but it’s all the buzz right now
Bamboo Sushi NW
Higgins Restaurant & Bar
Irving Street Kitchen
Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen
Oven and Shaker
(NE – up and coming biz district)
I really liked
711 N.E. Dekum St.
(in an old firehouse,
complete with jars of pickled produce.)
You can’t possibly appreciate the hipster,
foody sight jokes unless you see at least one
episone of Portlandia.
In fact, I consider viewing at least one episode
mandatory before your travels.
“Portlandia, the place where young people go to retire.”
Last season’s obsession was “you can put a bird on it”, referring to popular arts/ crafts.
Now the saying is “you can pickle that”, and
it’s oh so very true. Everywhere we went there was
pickling going on.
The Country Cat
HA & VL
Ken’s Artisan Pizza
The Kingdom of Roosevelt
Por Que No Taqueria
Portobello Vegan Trattoria
Wong’s King Seafood
The Woodsman Tavern
NORTHEAST PORTLAND RESTAURANTS:
Grain & Gristle
VooDoo Doughnuts is incredibly popular, I would only go there for the graphics on the box, way too sweet for me.
Chinatown/Old Town –
Donuts, Desserts/Ice Cream, Coffee
22 SW 3rd Ave
Voodoo Doughnut Too
Donuts, Desserts/Ice Cream, Coffee
1501 NE Davis St
STREETS OF PORTLAND:
187-acre ridge top garden above the Oregon Zoo.
easy walks, native and exotic trees, 12 miles of trails.
JAMISON SQUARE FOUNTAIN
Thanks to Target i’ve become a big fan of architect Michael Graves. His Portlandia sculpture above the entrance to his Portland Building is the second-largest copper repousse (hammered copper) statue in the US, after the Statue of Liberty.
1120 SW 5th Ave
KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD:
Hard to believe that The Oregonian newspaper only ranks Portland 11th on it’s “weird” scale. The most “normal cities in the US were in the Midwest (shows what they know, I grew up in America’s Dairyland, home to serial killers who make lamps out of their victims lamps), but I digress……
According to Lonely Planet’s Becky Ohlsen, “Something about how cheap and isolated Portland is, allows oddballs to explore odd behavior without being squished by economics or the harsh judgment of fashion people.”
CRAFTY KNIT HACKERS AND YARN BOMBERS:
According to Walkscore.com, Portland is the 12th most walkable and bikable large city in the US. As you move about, note the preponderance of public bike racks, statues, and assorted public edifices sporting their own custom knit cozy. Best not to fall asleep outside a Portland cafe or you might wake up bedazzled.
EMBRACE YOUR INNER IDIOT:
Why bother trucking all the way up to the Alaska Iditarod when there’s the Portland Idiotarod. Show up to cheer on the five “idiot” teams racing shopping carts through several major city streets. Yes, there’s costumes and floats, but the real fun is
watching the sabotage via marbles, unusual objects and route misinformation.
Blue Sky Gallery, exhibits and archives for local and national photographers
Klickitat Street, home of fictional characters Henry Huggins, Ramona Quimby and Beatrice “Beezus” Quimby in the children’s book series by Beverley Cleary;
a sculpture garden is on NE 37th
Museum of Contemporary Craft, oldest continuously-running craft institution in the U.S. exhibiting local and international artists’ work
Northwest Film Center, film and video exhibition, film making arts education, and public information programs; sponsors the Portland International Film Festival, Northwest Filmmakers’ Festival, Reel Music Film Festival, Portland Jewish Film Festival, and the Young People’s Film Festival.
Portland Art Museum, oldest art museum on the West Coast, seventh oldest in the United States, more than 42,000 permanent works of art, and at least one major traveling exhibition, Native American art, Northwest art, modern and contemporary art, Asian art, and an outdoor public sculpture garden. I was there twently years ago and all I can remember is totem polls, lots of totem polls. meh.
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, contemporary performance and visual arts programming, including the Time-Based Art Festival each September
Powell’s City of Books, claims to be the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world at 68,000 square feet (6,300 m2), about 1.6 acres of retail floor space
Voodoo Doughnut, unusual doughnuts, eclectic decor, iconic pink boxes with drawings of voodoo priests, legal wedding services with catered receptions
DRIVING TO WASHINGTON STATE:
Rent an electric car and head over the border to Multnomah Falls. The trail leading to the overlook bridge is photo-op heaven. After your arduous five minute hike, reward yourself further up the highway with an hour or a weekend at Booneville Hot Springs Resort and Hotel. Hang in the glorious lobby that’s all fireplace, grab a hot chocolate while you wait for your massage or book a weekend with your BFFs.
Portland is one of three land-locked US states with
extinct volcanoes in city limits.
Mount Tabor Park has view galore.
Then there’s Ends Park, the world’s smallest park, a two feet in diameter circle.
International Rose Test Garden
If you’re lucky you might catch the Rose Bud and Thorn Pageant.
Another only in Portland……
HP Lovecraft Film Festival
HP Lovecraft was regarded as one of the most influential horror writers of the 20th century.
Several of his books were adapted into films, plays and games.
RAIN, LIKE WHATEVER:
Don’t forget to check the weather report. It’s probably raining unless you visit between August and October. A side note here, there’s a reason you can’t find an umbrella for sale anywhere along your tour. Locals say “it’s just water.” Apparently it’s a badge of pride to pretend it’s business as usual, just get out the hooded Patagonia fleece lined water resistant jacket. Portland prefers you buy local, so proudly rock your REI or Columbia Sportswear.
The summer can be perfection as Portland built itself 70-some miles from the ocean, so don’t be surprised if it’s 100 degrees fahrenheit in August. The lowest temps recorded was around 56 degrees, your basic San Francisco temp you will experience every day, maybe at high noon, maybe when the sun goes down. I know, I keep mentioning San Francisco. I guess it’s because everyone I talk to
in Portland used to live in San Francisco.
Ta Da……. The Vacuum Museum!
Stark’s Vacuum Cleaner Sales & Service in downtown Portland curates this 300 plus collection of vintage Hoovers and space age Electro-Lux cleaners.
Hard to believe people wanted the Busy-Bee which required one guy to pump and another (wife/ maid) to vacuum. Looking for a prop for your Death of a Salesman costume? How about the Duntley Pneumatic. Back in the day of door to door salesmen, the trick was to turn this “sucker” on and attach it to the ceiling. After a chin-up or two you were convinced this thing sucked. Sorry, couldn’t help it.
The Vacuum Museum
107 NE Grand Ave.
M-F 8a-7p and Sat 9a-4p
REAL ESTATE ENVY:
Resist the urge to pop into a real estate office. You might end up buying one of those 1983 priced completely renovated adorable three bedroom, two story homes with full basement for a studio, large yard and two car side by side garage with an 90% walkable score. sigh
So visit already, unless you’re some ex-New Yorker guy from Match.com who claims he would rather poke out his eyes.
meh….. next profile please.
Fashion wise I like to blend in when stopping at Plaid Pantry.
The Portland Airport, aka PDX has flights coming and going by Alaska Airlines, Delta, Horizon Air, Southwest, United, US Airways, AirCanada, JetBlue Airways, and Continental.