Following up on our weekend in Seattle – which you can read about here and here – we had a couple bonus days to visit some good friends in Portland, Oregon. They kindly picked us up in Seattle and drove us down (with a stop at a Burgerville on the way).
We spent the next couple days exploring different parts of the city, including a stop downtown to visit Blue Star Donuts. Blue Star has become a thing since we last visited Portland, building on the momentum of nationally recognized shops like Voodoo Doughnut. We were excited to finally check in on them, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Read about our Blue Star experiences here.
Our first full morning in Portland dawned clear, cold, and windy. We drove first up to Council Crest, the highest point in the city, with spectacular views all around. Because of the clear conditions, we were able to spot Mt. Hood in the distance.
Afterwards, we drove down to the Rose Garden to stroll through the lines of roses lying dormant for the season.
We found the marker honoring the latest Rose Festival Queen.
And then we headed to Mississippi Avenue to re-visit a breakfast favorite: Gravy. I wrote about Gravy back in 2011, where the smoked salmon hash and bruleed oatmeal stood out, so in a rare move for us – we returned to enjoy the same dishes again!
Gravy serves breakfast all day. The smoked salmon is mixed with shredded potatoes and veggies, topped with two eggs, and served with a small nest of hash browns.
The oatmeal brulee is an overflowing dish of rich oatmeal that’s been caramelized on the top, covered in berries, and dusted with powdered sugar.
Afterwards we took the kids to a giant playground, where they swung and climbed over the equipment.
That evening we visited a Portland institution: Powell’s Books, the largest independent bookstore in the world.
Powell’s features floor after floor of every book you can imagine. You can – and should – disappear in there for hours.
The following day we drove east of the city down the Columbia River Gorge to explore some of the natural landmarks, stopping first at the famous Multnomah Falls.
The two-tiered falls rise up more than 600 feet. You can hike up to a bridge that spans the middle of the falls, allowing you to see the upper falls in more detail…
…and look down on the lower falls, as well as the lodge and the surrounding river region.
It’s a gorgeous landmark every time of year. There are hiking trails that take you further up around the falls; when we visited, they were still closed as the area continued to recover from the Eagle Creek Fire.
Unfortunately, that day proved to be very windy, which prevented us from visiting any other falls. We did stop at the Vista House, an iconic, octagonal-shaped building was constructed in 1917 as a rest area. It offers panoramic views of the river gorge, which meant it was particularly wind-swept that day. In fact, I tried to take photos but the wind was so strong I couldn’t hold still.
We rectified that with a drive back into Portland to visit Pip’s Original Doughnuts & Chai.
At Pip’s you can order tasty little donuts fried to order, plus a flight of different chai teas. Perfect for an afternoon warm-up. Read about our full experience here.
Later in the day we strolled some of downtown Portland with my brother Greg and his girlfriend Melissa, letting the boys race around the riverfront park before stopping at Barista.
We savored top-notch espresso and a cortado on our visit.
And then we walked over to the Pine Street Market, a food hall featuring a collection of local food stands with communal seating in the center.
Personally, I’m enjoying the trend of food halls. We have one in Columbus, with another on the way. We also discovered the Revival Food Hall in Chicago when we visited last spring.
Food halls are great for discovering a variety of foods, especially if you’ve got a large group with differing tastes. At Pine Street Market we found burgers and barbecue…
…pizza and ramen. Most food halls have a bar on premises, so you can enjoy beer, wine, or cocktails with your dinner.
And that wrapped up our final night in Portland!
The next morning, we made one more stop for Portland coffee…
…and then it was good to be home again.