This long weekend trip is brought to you by expiring personal leave and features special guest (and college roommate) Sydney! About a month ago, I threw out the idea of heading up to Portland—and much to my pleasant surprise—she was totally down.
DAY 1: Downtown, Powell’s, Zoo Lights
We got an early flight out of SJC and landed in PDX around 10am. We took the MAX Lightrail to our Airbnb, dropped off our stuff, and then walked over to Fuller’s Coffee Shop in the Pearl District for brunch. I had one of the best Monte Cristo sandwiches I’ve ever had in my life, and Sydney got an incredibly large hot beef sandwich. Great quality and quantity for the money, I’d definitely go back.
We then went to Powell’s City of Books and walked around for several hours. We both left with some goodies—I got a really neat 1890’s map of Amsterdam, a book of short stories with English and German translations on pages across from one another, and a super dope unicorn pin.
We then walked around the downtown area and ended up at the Pine Street Market. We shared some Korean pulled pork “sliders” from Kim Jong Smokehouse. I had a local IPA, both of which were very tasty and affordable thanks to generous happy hour pricing.
It started to get pretty dark when we emerged from the market, so we opted to Lyft back to our Airbnb. Our Lyft driver was super friendly and recommended that we go up to the Portland Zoo to see the seasonal Zoo Lights. After donning a few more layers to accommodate for the quickly dropping temperatures, we took the Lightrail up to the zoo and wandered around til closing time.
We made a quick stop at Salt & Straw (dangerously close to our AirBnb) and tried all of their new holiday flavors. I opted for scoops of their roasted peach & sage cornbread stuffing and peppermint bark cocoa.
DAY 2: Washington Park, Portland Japanese Garden, Deschutes Brewery
Soon after waking up, we were out the door and grabbed some pastries from Ken’s Artisan Bakery before taking the Lightrail up to Washington Park to see the Portland Japanese Garden. We’d planned on taking a shuttle from the zoo to the garden, but when we got there the next shuttle was estimated to arrive in an hour so we decided to hike through the arboretum and saw some lovely sights along the way.
We eventually made it to the garden after several detours, and I got discounted admission for continuing to carry my college student ID. We arrived at the top just in time to tag on to a 1.5 hr guided tour, and I’m super glad we did.
The guide was very knowledgable and helped us identify and appreciate all of the intentional details for the different spaces. The garden is absolutely beautiful on its own, but the tour really helped elevate the experience and I highly recommend it if you’ve got the time.
There’s also an amazing view of Mt. Hood just behind the Pavilion Gallery!
I got super cold during the tour (even after layering two puffy jackets!), so we opted for a Lyft back into town. We decided to get lunch at Thai Bloom! which was very tasty and reasonably priced—I really enjoyed the green curry tofu!
We then took a bus to the downtown area to sample some beers at the famous Deschutes Brewery. Sydney doesn’t drink, but she decided to be a really good sport and help me find creative adjectives for the beers presented in the Brewer’s Choice flight.
We then made our way over to the Portland Museum of Art for discounted tickets ($5 after 5PM) and walked around til closing. Saw some really neat pieces and exhibits, I wish we had a bit more time.
We ended the night at Papa Haydn, a cute upscale restaurant known for their desserts. I got a slice of English Toffee Cheesecake and a spiked warm apple cider, and Sydney got their Maple Gingerbread Cake and a fancy tea.
DAY 3: Chai, Multnomah Falls, Shopping
We got a pretty early start on the day knowing that our chances to visit Multnomah Falls via public transit were pretty slim. We took the light rail and a bus over to eastern Portland to try Pip’s Original Doughnuts & Chai—a very instagram friendly establishment known for their (you guessed it) chai and donuts.
We waited in line for about 30 minutes and split a flight of chai (6 good sized mugs of each of their signature chai flavors) and one of each of their mini donuts. My personal favorites were their Smoky Robinson chai and their “Dirty Wu” donut (cinnamon/sugar drizzled with raw honey and Nutella, & dusted with sea salt).
We then took a Lyft over to the Gateway Transit Center where you can take a shuttle via the Columbia Gorge Express to Multnomah Falls for $5 round trip!
The falls were absolutely beautiful and I feel like we had just the right amount of time there given the weather conditions (very cold & drizzly—note the ice all around the falls!).
Once we shuttled back to the transit center, we took the light rail back into town and decided to walk around the Portland Saturday Market. We got lots of tasty snacks and I picked up a couple really neat pairs of handmade silver earrings for gifts. We then made our way over to a Pendleton store where I got another gift and a siiiiick flannel marked down over 50%—walked out of there having saved well over $100. I could truly get used to not having sales tax.
We then headed over to 10 Barrel Brewery where I had a really nice IPA and we shared some pastrami fries. An overly confident Canadian man came over and sat with us for a while and made one too many racially insensitive/intrusive comments before I called him a douchebag and we left.
We then went to Nong’s Khao Man Gai for dinner, a Thai restaurant that came highly recommended to us from one of our Lyft drivers. They specialize in one dish which is comprised of boiled chicken, rice, a light soup, and a super flavorful ginger sauce. I also got a pint of their home-brewed dark beer which was Very tasty and affordable, would definitely recommend.