After a fantastic day in Willamette Valley, we made the short drive north to Portland, Oregon. Portland is a cosmopolitan city, and one that is easily walkable, with its short blocks and central downtown area. Portland is known for its abundant outdoor activities, beer and coffee enthusiasm, and food carts, all of which contribute to its unofficial slogan of “Keep Portland Weird.” Perhaps most important, however, is the fact that the city also boasts tax-free shopping, making it a worthy destination in its own right.
After eliciting hotel recommendations, we decided to stay at The Nines, a Luxury Collection Hotel located in the heart of Portland, and within walking distance of everything that we wanted to see and do. The Nines is located within a historic hotel, but boasts contemporary design, harkening to its department store past.
During our first evening in Portland, we dined at an incredible restaurant called Imperial – a dark and industrial feeling restaurant, that is still warm and welcoming. Its wood fired grill and rotisserie are center stage, and the restaurant focuses on healthy and uncomplicated preparations of Pacific Northwest cuisine. We enjoyed everything we ordered at Imperial, including the fresh oysters, plump and buttery Porter House rolls, seared and stuffed eggplant, Kauai prawns, and roasted half chicken. I highly recommend a visit to Imperial during your trip to Portland.
Everyone that visits Portland has heard of Voodoo Donuts. Luckily, however, I was tipped off before our trip to avoid the tourist trap, and to instead head to Blue Star Donuts for a true donut experience. I am not kidding when I say that these donuts are legit. So legit, in fact, that we returned the following day for more because we could not get enough. All of Blue Star’s donuts are made on site, and they close when they run out. Blue Star uses local and organic products in all of its donuts, which make a vast difference in the quality and taste. After trying a few various donuts, my favorite was the Buttermilk Old Fashioned. The Lemon Poppy was a close second.
After our donut excursion, we made our way to the world famous Powell’s Books, the largest used and new independent bookstore in the world, where we saw some of the world’s most unique and rare books, including one made out of human hair. Umm, no thank you!
We then visited Portland’s Saturday Market, which is the largest continually operated outdoor market in the United States. We found some of the most beautiful flowers at the market, as well as some unique gift ideas.
For lunch, we stopped in at Jake’s Famous Crawfish, which is now owned by McCormick & Schmick’s. Jake’s has been a downtown Portland destination for over 110 years, and its dining room harkens back to its origins. The menu is quite large, but we all opted for the lunch special of blackened Coho salmon, served with vegetables and a cup of soup. To me, it was okay, but nothing special. I much preferred our other meals.
In addition to finding the world’s best donuts at Blue Star, we also found the world’s best coffee there – Stumptown Coffee Roasters. I am not even a coffee drinker and I thought the house blend was fantastic and extremely smooth. So, when we passed a Stumptown Coffee shop, we always stopped in.
After doing some tax-free shopping at the fantastic boutiques in the Pearl District of Portland, we dined at Andina, a phenomenal Peruvian restaurant boasting two levels of dining and live music in the bar. I enjoyed a tasty pisco sour, and the grilled octopus that we ordered was absolutely phenomenal – perfectly cooked, meaty, and flavorful. So, too, were the light and flavorful cebiche, crab stuffed avocado, and beef tenders. I highly recommend a visit to Andina.
After enjoying more Blue Star Donuts the next morning, and before heading to the airport, we made our way to Multnomah Falls, the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon and the second tallest year-round waterfall in the United States. The waterfall was absolutely breathtaking, with photographs not doing it the justice it deserves.
Overall, our trip to Oregon was spectacular and we had such a great time. It really is like no where else I have ever been, between the lush natural beauty of the woods, to the beautiful ocean coastline, to the mountains, to the friendly and manageable city of Portland. I am eager to return to explore more of that beautiful area of our country, and look forward to doing so soon.