Nate & Kristen explore the free-spirited, craft-beer-loving, city of Portland and the Columbia River Gorge!
columbia river gorge bike tour
We loved this tour, through Pedal Bike Tours – definitely the highlight of our trip! The group met at the bike shop downtown where they measured us for our bikes and we loaded up in a 15-passenger van. We stopped for coffee at a cute local shop on the way out of town, and then it was about a 45 minute drive to the gorge. We biked a 10 mile loop through the gorge, stopping at 5 waterfalls along the way. The gorge is GORGEOUS, and our guide was great – she was lots of fun and a wealth of information. We saw a lot of traffic and jammed parking lots, so we were very thankful to be traveling by bike and not having to mess with parking, finding our way on our own, etc. Well worth it to go with a tour group!
If you do try to head out to the Gorge on your own – here are the 5 falls we visited:
Latourell Falls – less crowded, small paved path to walk down to see the falls
Shepperd’s Dell – Small, right off the road. Not really a great area to park (no problem on the bikes), but you would just have to pull over on the shoulder of the road.
Bridal Veil Falls – one of my favorites – beautiful! About a ½ mile walk down a paved path to get to it and then a nice viewing platform built to overlook it. Nice sized parking lot with bathroom facilities. If you take the path to the left of the bathrooms (other direction from the falls’ path), it will lead to a really nice lookout point looking out over the Columbia River and over to Washington.
Wahkeena Falls – Another good one – if you walk up to the top – less than a ½ mile – you can feel the spray! It’s loud too! Nice sized parking lot, but FULL when we got there.
Multnomah Falls – If you’ve seen any pictures of the Gorge, this is probably the one you’ve seen a picture of – the most well known and DEFINITELY the most crowded! You can view it from the bottom or walk up the path to the bridge – probably about a ½ mile walk again. Very impressive. There is a gift shop and bathroom facilities here as well.
portland saturday market
Every Saturday (and Sunday!) local artisans set up booths to sell their crafts at the Portland Saturday Market. There are a lot of fun clothing, woodwork, jewelry, art, souvenirs, and other funky finds. It takes up several blocks and we both really enjoyed walking up and down the rows checking out the eclectic crafts.
Powell’s Books was the #1 place people told us to go and honestly……it was just a bookstore. It’s huge – multiple stories and takes up an entire city block. The cool thing is that they shelve the new books and used books next to each other, rather than in separate sections. It’s one of those things that you’re ‘required’ to see if you visit, but don’t plan to spend much time there unless you actually want to shop for books.
We did not make it to Washington Park – just outside of downtown – but there are walking trails, an arboretum, Japanese Gardens, Rose Garden, and the Zoo.
Pollo Bravo is a tapas restaurant is known for their Spanish style rotisserie chickens. We went to the Alder location and it was very small, but was a cute atmosphere, and we really enjoyed it.
Departure Lounge is a rooftop bar on the roof of The Nines hotel. It was a great atmosphere with great views of the city in the heart of downtown. There is a restaurant too, but we just got late night drinks.
We stopped in Stormbreaker Brewery for late afternoon beer flights. It was a fun atmosphere with a big outdoor area. It’s located right on Mississippi Street (north of downtown), which is a popular gentrified area with more of a “locals” feel. There were several fun restaurants , breweries, etc in the area.
We stopped in Bailey’s Taproom for beer flights to taste more Oregon beers. They have a large selection to choose from.
oregon wines on broadway
I needed some wine after all this beer, so we found this cute wine bar, Oregon Wines on Broadway, and tasted several Oregon wines. They did 3 generous pours for $10.
food carts/street food vendors
Food carts are a fun part of Portland’s culture. They’re located sporadically around the city. You’ll find a block with 10, and then go several more blocks without seeing another one. We mainly saw Asian and Indian foods, however many were not open for dinner on the weekend. We enjoyed good, cheap, Thai food one night on Alder street.
multnomah whiskey library
Multnomah Whiskey Library was highly recommended and looked awesome. We tried to go twice, but both evenings there was a 2 hour wait to get inside and we didn’t wait. Apparently they’ve gotten a lot more popular since it was featured on the Bachelor (Lauren B took Ben there on her hometown date!) Make a reservation several days before your trip.
university place hotel & conference center
University Place Hotel & Conference Center was one of the less expensive, but still decent, hotels we found downtown. It’s on the southern edge of downtown, right next to the PSU campus. It’s located right on the orange MAX line, so it was very easy to get to. It was an average room, but they offered a free hot breakfast, so that was a nice perk.
We took the MAX trains everywhere and it was SO easy! The red line goes straight from the airport into downtown and it was very easy to connect to the different lines to get around. There is really no need to rent a car if you’re staying within the city. Tickets were $5 for an unlimited day pass, and you could tell the MAX was a popular option for locals too. Downtown was also very walkable.
portland Travel tips:
Timing – There is not as much to “do” in downtown Portland. We planned 1 ½ days to see the city and did not need that long. If I was to redo it, I would have done a ½ day in the city, and then I would have liked to do a day trip to see Mt Hood, or a day trip to the Willamette Valley (wine country.) There are several tour companies who take groups out to both places from Portland.
Other Travel Guides you Might Like:
Las Vegas, Nevada – Guide to Gambling and Eating in Las Vegas, Nevada
Chicago, Illinois – Weekend Guide: Chicago, Illinois
New York City, New York – Art Lovers’ Tour of New York City
Cape Cod, Massachusetts – Beaches and Lobsters: Cape Cod, Massachusetts
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