My family has started to adopt this mentality that we can celebrate family and each other on made up holidays that are not the typical Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays. So this year, we decided to all experience a new city together as our family get-together. So we all packed up our bags from different locations and flew to Portland for a fun 4 day adventure. Here is the itinerary and all that we go to see, do, and of course yummy food that we ate.
D A Y 1 : A R R I V E & T H R I V E
We landed in Portland early to mid afternoon after having somewhat of an early flight. I highly recommend staying in the Pearl District/ Downtown as this is the most hip and walkable part of Portland and gave us the most exploratory vibes. From the airport depending on traffic, you can either take the public transportation metro or Uber. The goal of today was just to take it easy and survive the rest of the day experiencing Portland without overwhelming ourselves. After dropping off our bags, first things first, we stopped for some coffee at Sisters Coffee Company to just relax and settle in. It was so much fun to people watch here and get a feel for the Portland community and people.
Next we headed to Powell Bookstore. To be completely honest, I had read many suggestions online saying to go here, but I was always doubting "How could this bookstore be so special?" and "Am I just going to walk around and look at a bunch of books???". But my parent's Uber driver from the airport insisted on a trip so we went. And man was I glad! My entire family ended up splitting up and exploring books on their own. It was great because they had so many recommended books through every type of section or "room". I bought a nice beach read, Patrick bought a book about shoe design, my brother bought a highly recommended fiction novel, my dad bought a Bonsai book, and my mom bought the cutest inspirational quotes book for a coworker. It really has everything for everyone and was just a really cool place to explore.
And lastly, we ended the night with one of the best meals we had in Portland at the Mediterranean Exploration Company. This Mediterranean restaurant is mostly shareable, tapas style plates and community table style eating which was I think my favorite part. We got to order so many dishes to try and honestly, everything was so tasty! Highly recommend getting the Radicchio salad, Hummus with Spring Vegetables, and the Lamb Tartare Kibbeh. So yummy!
D A Y 2 : M U L T N O M A H F A L L S
I highly recommend taking at least one day to do something outdoorsy while in Portland because not only is it just a beautiful and lush place, it is part of the culture. But before we left on our day trip to explore the outdoors, we stopped at Nossa Familia Coffee to charge up and start the day. This little coffee shop has a beautiful large patio to enjoy your coffee, so plan to go on a sunny and dry morning! Also if you are super into coffee, they offer cuppings on Friday afternoons.
After coffee we went on a day trip to Multnomah Falls. The great thing about Portland was their metro system. We could take the metro to the Columbia Gorge Express bus to get to the falls. We packed a picnic sandwich for lunch, but there is a restaurant and snack bar at the bottom of the falls. The falls has 2 viewpoints and depending on your willingness to get active, that will decide which one you choose. The first is a very short and easy hike from the base of the falls to the bridge crossing the falls. This is such a great view and is the "standard falls photo".
If you want to go a bit further, there is a hiking trail that goes all the way to the top of the waterfall. Just a warning, it is fully uphill the entire way so will seem like a workout. But the top is pretty cool to look down from.
After hiking and visiting the falls, we headed back to Portland just in time to get ready before heading out to dinner and then to see the fireworks since today was the 4th of July for our trip. I made a reservation at Jack Rabbit for dinner which is a good American style restaurant. One of the things that I loved since I drink gin, is they had an entire list, multiple pages long, or different styles of gin. Needless to say I had a pretty damn good martini with an old world gin! Lastly, if you happen to be in Portland for the 4th of July, you can walk over to Hawthorne Bridge to view the show, or just take a nighttime stroll along the river back to the Pearl District.
D A Y 3 : G A R D E N S G A L O R E
Day 3 we took it a bit easier but still managed to enjoy the outdoors in Portland. I highly recommend visiting the gardens in Portland. This day was probably everyone's favorite of the trip! We started at the Portland Japanese Garden first. There are bonsai trees that are hundreds of years old, rock gardens, and so many water features. It was honestly really cool to peacefully walk through this garden and just take it all in.
Next, we headed right across the street to the International Rose Test Garden. This garden is free and much smaller than the Japanese garden, but was fascinating none the less. This is where over 10,000 roses are blooming with different colors, shapes, and event scents. It was great to just walk up and down the rows and smell all the amazing roses! There are also spectacular views to downtown and Mt Hood.
After visiting both gardens, we were starving for lunch! So we headed over to Lardo to have some amazing sandwiches. Patrick and I split a sandwich and fries and also got the crispy pig ears for the table! The sandwiches are huge, so I highly recommend splitting with someone. Then we ended the night at 10 Barrel Brewing Company and just hung out in the Airbnb since we were all pretty exhausted ha!
D A Y 4 : C O F F E E C R A W L
If you know my brother or husband, you had to see this day coming somewhere on our itinerary. We visited about 4 coffee shops on day 4 (ha how fitting) and really got to just explore the city of Portland without really going anywhere. This was such a fun day for me as well since we had been so outdoorsy and adventurous our previous days. The first stop on our coffee crawl was Water Avenue on the east side of the river. We then went to Blue Star Donuts and then to Dapper & Wise Roasters. If you are not big coffee fans, then I would suggest to head to Blue Star Donuts to begin your morning on the east side of Portland.
Then we slowly started using all that energy to make our way north and walk through these neighborhoods exploring the houses, landscapes, and just seeing how the Portland people live. It was a really pretty walk (and if you have watched the show Life Unexpected on Netflix, these houses look exactly whats on the show ha!). We passed Sewallcrest Park and took a left on Hawthorne Blvd and stumbled across a really cool vintage shop with furniture, knick knacks, and clothing called Vintage Pink! After exploring some of the neighborhoods we rented the orange Nike bikes and rode up the river walkway path, crossed over at Hawthorne bridge, and continued up to Pearl District to visit the famous Saturday Market. We walked around to see all the vendors and tents and then enjoyed lunch while listening to live music.
After the market, we headed home for a quick little regroup before needing some more coffee to get through the day. On a side note, you may be thinking that a) we drank too much coffee this trip or b) why is Portland so fascinated with coffee. The answer is the weather! Portland is gloomy then sunny, cold then hot, sometimes slightly humid, and can never make up its mind. Being from LA, the gloomy days in Portland, especially today, was hard to not get tired. Coffee was much needed!! We headed further west of the Pearl district to see a new neighborhood set up and went to Good Coffee - Slabtown. This part of Portland was completely new with brand new apartments, grocery stores, and restaurants all built to be its own little community. We then rented scooters (my dad's favorite thing to do!) and scooted around the neighborhoods for a bit before settling down for a good beer-cocktail at Breakside Brewery - NW Slabtown.
Lastly we went to the famous Pok Pok - NW for dinner. There are two major locations and one takes reservations while the other one does not. We didn't want to risk the chance and we were already on this side of town, so we scooter-ed to dinner and made a reservation. Man was Pok Pok amazing! It is shareable dishes as well so was great to order a few items and all share. We got the famous Fish Sauce Wings, Da Chom's Laap Meuang (spicy), Muu Kham Waan pork, and the special for the night was a fish dish.
photo by Yaroslav Shuraev
I've got the travel bug and I can't help but wish and dream of where I want to go to next. So as I sit back to think about what's my next big trip, there are some important questions to ask yourself. Take this quiz to see where you should go next!
1. What does your ideal vacation involve?
A. Nature & Adventure
B. Discovering restaurants in a hustle & bustle city
C. Visiting museums and discovering historic landmarks
D. Sitting on a beach with a drink in your hand
E. Being immersed in a foreign culture
2. Do you consider yourself an indoor or outdoor person?
A. Hiking, Camping/Glamping, Climbing, yes bring it on!
B. Does strolling through the park count?
C. I love picnics and wine, that's outside!
D. Sand, sand, and more sand
E. City exploring and a day trip to find your inner journey
3. Your ideal food for vacation is?
A. Food is not my number one concern when vacationing, there's much more to see & do!
B. Small and cozy restaurants, and oh yeah street dogs & pizza!
C. Fine dining, charcuterie, and lots of wine!
D. I love seafood!
E. Adventurous Asian food. I'm up for trying new things!
4. How do you plan your vacation?
A. I love taking things day by day and enjoying an adventure.
B. I like to have some things planned and divide out my days by neighborhood to explore
C. Jumping from landmark to landmark while walking through the cobblestone streets
D. No plans except for relaxing at a beach and good food
E. Planning the best way to soak up as much culture as possible
5. What do you like to do at nights on vacation?
A. Sitting by the fire roasting smores with an ice cold beer
B. Small and cozy live jazz music and drinks
C. Sipping on champagne while admiring the glistening Eiffel Tower at night
D. Dinner and drinks overlooking the ocean
E. A rooftop bar overlooking the city
6. What is your preferred climate?
A. Warm weather and desert climate
B. It doesn't matter as long as I'm in a city
C. Clear to explore an old city but some cities are prettiest in the rain
D. All I want is the sun shining and feeling that sea breeze
E. Sunny and hot but excited to experience everything new
7. What would the locals be like?
A. Super friendly and small town feel
B. City people always on the go to eat at that new restaurant
C. Upscale chic taking coffee breaks at the cafe for hours to just chat
D. Beach town locals
E. New culture and crowded streets
8. What's your main purpose of vacationing?
A. See as much of nature's beauty as possible
B. Spending time exploring a new place without being too far from home
C. Experiencing a romantic city with my love
D. Escape your day to day life and responsibilities to just relax
E. See an entirely new part of the world that is completely foreign
If you're mostly A's:
N A T U R E A D V E N T U R E - It seems like your ideal vacation is taking in all of nature's beauty and going on a hiking and/or camping extravaganza is it. I love being surrounded by nature and getting in some good exercise along the way through the hiking and adventures. Leave all the fashion and beauty at home because this trip is all about hanging with friends or family and just being real around the campfire drinking a beer at night. A nature adventure is also great for lower budgets and not as many days off, could work as a 3 day weekend trip.
If you're mostly B's:
C I T Y C H I C G E T A W A Y - Sometimes you want to get away to experience a city that's different from yours. Exploring the exciting hustle and bustle of NYC or LA can be a fun trip in itself. And not to mention the yummy restaurants, cool bars, and unique experiences that can only happen at those places. So just pick a fun and bustling city in the USA and go explore as if you were a local whether its a quick weekend trip or an entire week.
If you're mostly C's:
P A R I S I S F O R L O V E R S - In need of that ultimate couples getaway?? Paris will solve all of your problems. My husband and I are obsessed with traveling to Paris and fall in love with the city and each other more every time we go. Paris gives you that European and cultural experience to walk down the cobblestone streets, enjoy a lovely chat over a mid day rose and charcuterie, and explore the historical landmarks. I highly recommend taking at least 4-6 days to fully immerse yourself in the Parisian culture to unwind and enjoy this way of life. Paris is both relaxing and luxurious all at the same time.
If you're mostly D's:
T R O P I C A L P A R A D I S E- A little vitamin C could never hurt, especially when it's overlooking a gorgeous beach sunset with a drink in your hand. Now that sounds like a vacation I need more than once a year ha! If you need to just relax and unwind, this is such a hassle free and great way to escape. The great thing about a tropical paradise is you can make it as cheap or as luxurious as you want by picking a local beach nearby or flying to a tropical paradise on some island. It's all up to you on what you want your vacation to be and probably takes the least planning of all of the vacations I have been on. Basically just get there and wander to find some good food and views.
If you're mostly E's:
C U L T U R A L E X P E R I E N C E- Exploring a new culture can be so exciting, especially if you go somewhere you have no clue about! Whether it's a large city in China or small town in Thailand, there is literally so much to be seen. You are up for adventure and are not afraid to be outside your comfort zone to learn so much. Going to a foreign country with friends or family really brings you all together and leaves you with memories you will never forget. These types of trips will need the most time spent since the flights may be long, most money to explore and see everything you want, and most time to plan beforehand. These can seem daunting but trust me they are worth it.
A born and raised Southern girl who's wanting to inspire every women through style and beauty while living in the big city of Los Angeles.