February 18, 2014

our beloved pacific northwest: what to do in Portland

We believe the west coast is the best coast... and the great Pacific Northwest is our favorite place on earth. We want to share our love for Portland, Seattle and Vancouver BC with you by giving you some hints on places to eat and things to do in our beloved cities! We both grew up in Portland, OR and Ashley is still a resident; Katie has spent the last ten years in Seattle and Vancouver BC, so our hints come from our experiences of these great places. 

There is a lot more to Portland than beer, donuts and bicycles. Depending on your mood, there's definitely a place for you to explore. Here's a little list of our favorite inexpensive or free ways to pass the time in the Rose city (and here's our list of great places to eat, while you're out and about):

NW 23rd & the Pearl District:

Powell’s books (Burnside between NW 10th and 11th): A gem. The biggest bookstore in the world (literally). Be prepared to spend hours here if you are a book person. Used and new, rooms and rooms and rooms of books.

The Pearl Disctrict (the area around Powells- a few blocks north and south to the park blocks and a few blocks east): A newer neighborhood with some nice shops and restaurants. Worth a stroll while you’re by Powells. Mio Gelato, NW 11th @ Burnside, is delicious. And don't forget to stop by the Pearl REI. Also, there are a few hidden parks and a water fountain for hot summer days.

NW 23rd St (between Burnside and Quimby): A fun street with a collection of shops and restaurants. Work your way down the street poking in shops, grab a bite (Pizzicato Pizza, NW 23rd @ Glisan is one of my favorites!) or have a coffee.


Pioneer Courthouse Square (Yamhill @ NW 7th): this square is a neat place to people-watch in Portland. Grab a Starbucks and sit on the steps, or bring take-out lunch here to eat and enjoy the city’s vibe. While you're there, try out the echo box in the corner near Starbucks.

Salmon Street Springs (Salmon @ Naito Pkwy): If it’s a hot day, kids will be jumping in the water here.

Waterfront Park (along the river on the west side): A lovely place for a stroll. In June, the rose festival takes place here, and there are other festivals all through the summer. Cross one of the bridges to the east side for a lovely walk along the East Side Esplanade- a walkway on the water.

Washington Park: Just above downtown sits a hill of trees and parks. It’s well-worth a drive. Take a walk in forest park, visit the Pittock Mansion and see the view from the top, picnic in the rose gardens (gorgeous in early summer months). The Oregon Zoo and Japanese Gardens are also located here, for an admission fee.

Saturday Market (under the burnside bridge along the water on the W side): Blocks of crafts, food, and Portland hippie culture. Very fun on a Saturday morning (and Sundays now, too)!

Portland Timbers (at Civic Stadium- or, as they call it now, PGE park) Catch a soccer game and join the Timber’s Army, one of the rowdiest home crowds in the sport (if you can get tickets).

North and South Park blocks (between 8th and 9th Ave in downtown): blocks and blocks of green space and great people watching. Go on a Saturday for the farmer's market. 

Portland Art Museum (on 9th between Jefferson and Main street in Southwest Portland): Call or check the website ahead of time to find out the current exhibit; also, there is a "happy hour" reduced price around 4:30 (I think). 


OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry): Awesome place for kids and big kids- interactive exhibits, a submarine you can go inside of, IMAX films. (Email Ashley if you will be in town. She has a membership and loves any excuse to go! This way, you will also get in for free)

Hawthorne District: A strip of great restaurants, shops, etc.

Oak’s Park: A classic amusement park next to the east end of the Sellwood bridge. Kids will love it (big kids too). Also, take a meander down the Oak’s Bottom trail that crosses here, along the east side of the river towards town. Great for walking or bikes. 

If you live in Portland or have visited, what would you add to the list?

happy exploring,
Katie & Ashley

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