On a recent visit to Portland, I’ve come to feel it’s become almost like a 2nd home. I normally visit around three-to-four times a year to visit friends, local chefs and attend events. Even though I have my go-to staples like Blue Star Donuts and Pine State Biscuits, I try my best to visit a new restaurant or two, along with stretching my legs and getting out of the city for some of the most beautiful scenery the state has to offer.
On my most recent visit my best friend Jessi, and I partnered with Travel Portland and Travel Oregon to several key spots to get a taste of some of the most iconic flavors and beautiful destinations the state and the city have to offer.
Surrounded by the spectacular backdrop of the surrounding scenery of Oregon, the city of Portland offers visitors a creative journey through its vibrant culinary scene, paired with an incredible scene environment for eclectic arts, music, and outdoor scenes. With so many unique eateries and creative destinations driven by a thriving maker community, Portland offers a unique urban buzz that makes the city one of the most attractive destinations in the Pacific Northwest.
Where To Stay
100 – 110 NE MLK Blvd. | KEX, is a “social hotel” from Reykjavik, Iceland, opened its first Portland location in 2019, in a renovated apartment building that was built in 1911. The hotel’s accommodations are similar to a hostel, boasting a mix of private rooms and communal bunk rooms. Full amenities include a rooftop deck/bar, ground-floor bar, and restaurant Vivian that includes a space for live performances. Both the restaurant and rooftop bar is led by Ólafur Ágústsson, food and beverage director of both the original KEX location and Dill, Iceland’s only Michelin-starred restaurant.
Airbnb in PDX
If you’re daydreaming about careening downtown or stepping away from the noise in one of the city’s buzzy suburban neighborhoods, Portland has some of the most intriguing Airbnb options in the Pacific Northwest. Similar to Austin, Portland’s hot real estate scene has seen a surge of growth for the last decade with hundreds of thousands of newly built and remodeled homes being added to the area. This has also led to a surge in homeowners placing their property on Airbnb. Nearly every corner of Portland is easy to access by metro rail or by walking. If you’re looking for a unique way to experience the city, you’ll find a spot that’s suitable for nearly any group or solo traveler.
Dining & Drinking
4 locations | With several locations in the city, Blue Star Donuts has become one of the most popular destinations in Portland for artisan donuts. You’ll find a rotating menu that changes daily along with stapled flavors that are always a big hit with locals.
Four Locations in Portland | As one of the biggest staples in Portland for the last several years, Pine State Biscuits will make any possible fantasy you’ve ever had of buttery biscuits come true. Those looking for gram-worth food porn and a healthy appetite should be mindful to wear stretchy pants as their selection of biscuit sandwiches and breakfast-style specials will not help maintain your beach body figure.
Ever since its founding in 2009, Smith Tea Co. has paved the way for Portland’s passion for the unique flavors of tea. With two locations in Portland, Smith Tea offers tea lovers a tasting and educational experience highlighting premium quality blends. Founded by the late Portland native, Steven Smith, and wife Kim DeMent Smith, Smith Tea focuses on a small-batch mentality with offerings that include black, green, and white teas to herbal infusions. Some of their signature blends include Masala Chai, Lord Bergamot, White Petal, and Meadow (Egyptian chamomile, hyssop blossoms with rooibos, rose petals, and linden flowers).
529 NW 13th Ave | Known to locals as “The Cheers of Portland”, River Pig Saloon is one of the city’s most popular bars located in the Pearl District. The bar has become a great spot for refreshing cocktails, delicious pub food, and a great vibe while you watch sports. The most popular time to visit is during the summer season when you can dine outdoors.
5736 NE 33rd Ave | Imagine being able to on a beer or cocktail in your old elementary school classroom without having to go to the principal’s office. This historic Northeast Portland property was once a popular elementary school that originally opened in 1915. Today, the McMenamins hospitality brand has transformed the building and renovated it to become Portland’s most unique hotel and bar destination. The “school” offers 57 comfy guestrooms along with private baths, a restaurant, multiple small bars placed in former classrooms each with its own theme, some featuring chalkboards and artwork that highlights an “educational” experience. You’ll also find a movie theater, pool, gift shop, and a basement brewery. The Kennedy School is one of the most unique destinations in Portland that will likely bring back a lot of memories from your years in grade school!
2032 Southeast Clinton Street | This newly renovated, North Mississippi Avenue restaurant offers a curated menu of elegant dishes made using seasonal and local ingredients. Chef Ryley Eckersley creates vegetable-favored dishes to enjoy inside or out on the patio. Local faves include fried young squash blossoms, sheep cheese dumplings and cauliflower with spicy mustard greens. Other delicious plates include duck “ham” with pickles, flatiron steak with garlic marrow bread and olive oil cake covered in tayberries and lemon curd.
3004 E Burnside St | Flying Fish Co serves a menu of fresh fish that is received from daily seafood shipments that are never more than 48 hours from being caught. From ceviche to poke, fish sandwiches, fish and chips, seared scallops, and oysters on-the-half-shell, the menu includes healthy, and sustainable seafood dishes served in on their spacious outdoor patio.
102 NE Russell St | If you’re a fan of Japanese fare, Izakaya Kichinto is a neighborhood Japanese food pub offering a blend of modern and traditional Japanese dishes. Their extensive menu features delicious bowls of hot and cold ramen made with housemade noodles as well as various offerings of sushi, yakimono (grilled) skewers, and refreshing craft cocktails.
FOUR Locations | Believe it or not, Portland is a hot pizza destination. In fact, Bloomberg News recently named the city as the Best Pizza City in America for 2021. One of our favorites is Pizza Jerk, which serves over-the-top New York and Connecticut-style pies that can be purchased by the slice or by the box.
611 SW Kingston Ave | Opened in 1963, the Portland Japanese Garden is one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in the United States. The garden is located in Washington Park, within the scenic West Hills. The garden emulates Japanese monzenmachi, featuring gate-fronted villages surrounding sacred sites and temples. There’s also a 20-foot medieval castle wall, the Chabana Garden, and a sprawling terrace used for Japanese tea ceremonies. The property also includes a village courtyard, a cultural village tea café, art gallery, a workshop, and a gift shop.
Portland’s Art Museum is the seventh oldest museum in the United States and is internationally recognized for its special exhibitions drawn from the Museum’s and the world’s finest collections with more than 42,000 objects on display. The museum is also known for its collection of Native American art, English silver, and the graphic arts. As an active collecting museum, it also devotes 90 percent of its galleries to its permanent collection to preserve art for the enrichment of future generations.
Portland Rose Garden
The Portland International Rose Garden is known as the oldest operated public rose test garden in the country boasting more than 10,000 beautiful roses. The garden receives hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world to enjoy the natural floral scents along with breathtaking views of Portland and Mt Hood in the distance.