I consider myself lucky to have some of the best friends a girl could ask for. However, I’m unlucky in that all of my besties are spread across almost every corner of the country. Gathering everyone together for a celebration is near impossible, so instead, each year for my birthday I plan a solo trip and take myself on an adventure. It might actually be my favorite tradition and is something I look forward to every year.
This year’s adventure took me to Portland, and it was the perfect weekend full of nature, food, and inspiration.
Having quickly fallen in love with Seattle, I came to PDX thinking the city would be nearly identical in vibe and setting. Within an hour of being in Portland I discovered that while both Seattle and Portland get grouped together as Pacific Northwest destinations, the cities couldn’t be more different and each offer a unique experience to those visiting. Of course there was only so much I could fit into one weekend and there are so many more places I wish I could’ve visited. I hope you find a few new places to add to your Portland bucket list below!
Keep scrolling for an itinerary to fill a quick weekend getaway to the Rose City.
Where to Stay
Ace Hotel – Cool vibes, beautifully-curated decor, the epitome of a hipster hotel. They also have a Stumptown Coffee in the lobby for morning coffee paradise.
Woodlark Hotel – A gorgeous boutique hotel with amazing interiors and beautiful rooms. Chef Doug Adams is also serving up Texas favorites at the restaurant, Bullard, and even bringing kolaches to Good Coffee’s downtown outpost at the hotel.
The Hoxton Hotel – In the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood, this hotel has moody interiors, wide open space in the lobby, and amazingly designed rooms.
Where to Eat
Breakfast + Brunch
Maurice – Maybe my favorite cafe ever. Maurice serves Nordic-French fare that fills the menu with incredibly yummy bites that are perfect for fika – the Swedish concept of taking time with socialize and pause for the day, like a “coffee and cake” break. I had the radish and sheeps cheese tartine which was nothing short of incredible, and their pastries are absolutely divine.
Proud Mary Coffee – This place actually was not originally on my itinerary when I was planning out my weekend. On my way to Salt and Straws NW location, I passed by this cafe and found a line out the door. I quick searched on my phone to figure out what the hoopla was about and found a hip Aussie-inspired menu filled to the brim with fresh and delicious looking options.
The original location is actually in Melbourne, and the Portland spot is the first location here in the US. The menu has all the classics you would imagine would be on a cool Australian cafe menu like a good Flat White coffee, fresh breads, yogurts, and granolas, and incredibly inventive and beautiful plates like a colorful grain bowl and edible flower topped dishes. Their avocado toast is officially my favorite avocado toast I’ve ever had, and yes there was an entire avocado on the plate.
La Neta – On the ground floor of the Hoxton Hotel, La Neta is described as an all-day Mexican inspired eatery with cuisine rooted in the PNW. The interiors are gorgeous, and the vibe reminds me of Central Standard at the South Congress Hotel in Austin. Overall a solid spot for a yummy brunch.
Tusk – While I wasn’t able to visit Ava Gene’s, I did make a point to visit another one of Chef Joshua MacFadden’s restaurants while in town. Tusk highlights both fresh middle eastern flavors with the seasonal produce that Portland is known for. The hummus and flatbread is a must, but the most surprising thing I had was the dukka and olive topped toast. It might’ve been the best bite I had all weekend.
Prasad – The OG health food spot in Portland. The menu is filled to the brim with healthy and vegetarian options for you to try.
Lunch + Dinner
Bollywood Theatre – Growing up in an Indian household, I am incredibly skeptical of most Indian restaurants, especially when the restaurant is founded by someone not of Indian heritage. Turns out my skepticism was absolutely incorrect when coming to Bollywood Theatre. Troy Maclarty, yes the Chez Panisse alum, started Bollywood Theatre after missing the Indian food he was missing from his time in Berkeley. The restaurant is super casual with a counter service set up and the menu is filled with delicious options. This is definitely not the food you’ll find at some other Indian restaurants that is filled with cream and butter, the dal and sambar tasted exactly like my mom’s. I recommend the thali as you’ll get to sample a little bit of everything!
Ava Gene’s – Of course luck would have it that the weekend I was in Portland Ava Gene’s was closed for kitchen renovations, and although I wasn’t able to eat my share of pasta here, I would be remiss to not include it on the list after everyone I spoke to told me it was 100% worth the visit.
Palomar – A beautifully designed Cuban eatery and cocktail spot, perfect for happy hour.
Grassa – A casual pasta eatery in downtown. Grassa is a no-frills casual counter service spot that is serving up incredibly fresh and delicious pasta. The best part is, you can even take home fresh packaged pasta to make for yourself.
Luce Bistro – Another great pasta spot in Portland! The cafe is incredibly cute and the staff was so kind. The onion focaccia is still something I’m dreaming about.
Marukin Ramen – A brand originally based in Japan, Marukin brings its first location to the US at the Pine Street Market in Portland. Their signature Ramen is made with local ingredients and handmade noodles, the perfect pick me up for a cold or rainy Portland day.
Coffee + Sweets
Good Coffee – Their seasonal drinks and coffees are amazing.
Heart Coffee – Super cute little coffee shop that is perfect for a classic latte to have in hand while exploring.
Woodblock Chocolate – A bean to bar shop that makes delicious chocolate treats and a good cup of coffee.
Salt and Straw – It’s worth the hype.
WizBang Bar – Salt and Straw’s soft serve concept at the Pine Street Market in downtown. In case you don’t get your ice cream fix elsewhere, this is definitely the place to stop. The matcha blood orange soft serve was so good.
Eb and Bean – If you’re looking for a dairy free ice cream alternative, this little ice creamery is serving up unique flavors with even more playful toppings that feature local makers. The cacao nib and sea salt sprinkles are my new favorite combo to top off any ice cream.
Blue Star Donuts – Y’all I am officially taking a stance and saying that I think Blue Star is the place to go for donuts in Portland. The flavors are so amazing, I had the Blueberry Basil and Lemon Poppyseed and both were outstanding, and they of course have seasonal and vegan options.
Things to Do
Portland Japanese Garden – I will be the first to admit that I am not someone who prioritizes the list of “touristy” things to do when visiting a new city, but if you do just one when visiting Portland, I highly recommend the Japanese Gardens. This might be one of my new favorite places ever. The garden is an incredibly zen escape into nature in the most beautiful setting while still only being a 10 minute drive from downtown.
The grounds include several different types of traditional Japanese gardens, a koi pond, and even a tea house that serves delicious and authentic matcha and Japanese treats. I left the garden feeling like I was on cloud nine! Plus, it’s just across the street from the International Rose Test Garden and a 10 minute drive to the Oregon Zoo and Children’s Museum if you’re traveling with kids.
Pittock Mansion – A little further west from the Japanese Gardens, the Pittock Mansion lends itself to one of the best views of the city and on clear days of Mount Hood. I do recommend driving or hailing an Uber to get here though as it is not accessible by just walking.
Portland Saturday Market – I walked through the Saturday Market while I was out and about my second morning in Portland, and it is quite the collection of arts and crafts to peruse through and foods to try.
Powell’s Bookshop – If you’re into books, this is the ultimate book haven. I had no idea what I was in for when I stopped by this shop thinking it was just like any other book store. Powell’s is a multi-story bookshop and was packed with people perusing the rows upon rows of books. You could easily spend an hour or two here just looking at all the different options.
Where to Shop
Solabee Flowers – For the avid plant lover, this is a super cute plant shop to peruse for your new favorite succulent or floor plant.
Appetite – Another plant shop that is right next door to Luce. They have a cute selection of plants, macrame pieces, pillows, and fun vintage items to shop.
Backtalk – Vintage clothing and handcrafted jewelry, the shop is filled with beautiful pieces that would add something special to any wardrobe.
Woonwinkel – This spot was a really cool shop filled with modern goods that would brighten up any space. They focus on independent designers and goods that would make the perfect gift for someone else or yourself!
Tender Loving Empire – My favorite shop that I stumbled upon, they have the most fun collection of Portland focused goods, gifts, and foods.
Urbanite – The most fun antique store to wander around, they have a great collection of old pieces and new designers work to shop from.
Spartan Shop – I hadn’t realized Spartan actually used to be in Austin, so it was fun to happen upon a store that had a connection to home. They have a beautiful collection of modern home goods and furniture in a gorgeous store front.
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