I must admit I feel ashamed that I haven’t gone to Portland before my most recent weekend trip. And, sadly I only went because I found a flight for $126 round trip. But, I am not afraid to admit when I am wrong, and boy, am I wrong. If you haven’t been to Portland you need to RUN, not walk to get there. Evidence #1 below…
The best way I can describe it is the best of Alaska, Ireland and the West Coast – beautiful views (forests, waterfalls, mountains, beaches…), amazing (and fresh and creative) local food in a completely unpretentious environment, oh and WINE…some of the best Pinot Noir if I do say so myself.
First of all, 2 days/3 nights was far too short to spend here, but that’s the hand we were dealt. We planned to make the most of it by spending 1 day in the Willamette Valley (wine tasting) and 1 day in the city of Portland. Though after being there, we ended up spending our 2nd day morning at the Coast and evening in the city. If you know Adam and I, nature rules so we had to squeeze that in.
But, enough talking. Time for photos!
First of all, Adam and I clearly dressed the part for Portlandia – unintentional flannel/converse twinning!
Once in the proper attire, we started our first day off at the Columbia Gorge which runs along the Columbia River (which divides Oregon and Washington as well). We did a quick hike through an amazingly lush forest to Bridal Veil Falls…
…And then went to check out Multnomah Falls (Oregon’s tallest waterfall). Lucky for you, I used the pano mode on my camera to capture the full effect 😉
Once we were sufficiently wet, we grabbed some fudge (sorry, not sorry) and hit the road for the Willamette Valley, home of the Oregon Pinot Noir.
We were fortunate to have met a nice couple on the rental car shuttle who were locals (though had spent 20 years in Chicago) so they gave us the low down on where to go and drew the appropriate comparison to Chicago references for us 🙂 On their recommendation, we started at Argyle which had amazing service, beautiful decor and delicious sparkling wine and pinot flights.
From there, popped over to the Red Hills Market for lunch (YUM!) and then over to Winderlea. If I could give a winery 10/10 it would be this one – such beautiful views from the tasting room, a donated tasting fee to help local wine workers and most importantly AMAZING PINOT. Seriously so good that I am still considering joining their $500/year wine club…eeeeeep.
We then went to Erath to round our tasting of the area, which was definitely good, but a bit more mass produced than the others.
We ended the day with a sake tasting (for $3pp!) from a local sake brewer (and the only in Oregon)
Even though we were exhausted, we had to take ourselves to a South American restaurant downtown called LeChon. While I don’t have any food pictures (who am I?) I can assure you that it was so amazingly flavorful and makes me even more excited about my upcoming trip to Chile & Brazil.
Even though it felt like that was our entire weekend, that was just Day 1. Day 2 started with a quick stop at VooDoo Doughnut. I would agree with many that it’s mostly about hype and the donuts weren’t the freshest, but they were definitely tasty and very creative. So points for that!
We then headed on a long, windy road to the Oregon Coast (really only 1.5 hours) to Cannon Beach. Like on Day 1, I found myself constantly saying “oh my gosh. this is so beautiful” but that was just tablestakes compared to what we were about to see.
Cannon beach is STUNNING. We went on a slightly rainy morning so there weren’t many people on the beach – and those who were there had amazingly adorable dogs playing in the water – so it was truly a happy place.
We then popped into a kite shop and then Tom’s Fish & Chips for some salmon fish & chips, cod fish tacos and clam chowder…mmmmmmm.
We had heard from all of the locals we talked to that it was necessary to go to Oswald West State Park – which was a quick 10 minute hike from the highway through what can only be described as a magical forest. We finally got to the beach, which is also a favorite surfing spot of many locals and it was true perfection.
Against my better judgement (because of how amazing the sunset would have been there), we left the beach and started the drive back. But, I got a chance to meet up with an old friend from my Birthright trip, so that was a wonderful end to the night! She also took us to explore Powell’s Bookstore, which is a sight itself and an awesome part of the local charm.
Even from my short time in and around Portland, it’s incredibly clear that the outdoors are treasured, the people are friendly (and happy), the food is plentiful/fresh/creative, the wine is spectacular and the culture makes you want to do nothing except be yourself. I cannot wait to return…and next time put a bird on it!