Escape to Portland
Mar 29, 2016 04:52PM
● By Megan Wiskus
Escape to Portland [16 Images] Click Any Image To Expand
Portland’s plethora of pints, Pinot, roses and rain, combined with no sales tax and burgeoning arts, music and food scenes, makes our neighbor to the north a desirable destination for creatives, outdoor enthusiasts and epicureans alike. Plus, with easy access from Sacramento via Amtrak (a scenic, albeit lengthy trip), airplane or automobile, there’s no excuse not to visit Oregon’s biggest—and, in my humble opinion, best—city.
That aforementioned glass of Pinot will be easy to get your paws on with a stay at the vino-themed Hotel Vintage, one of the downtown area’s more in-vogue spots to snooze and sip. Fresh from a facelift, the Kimpton property (one of my fav boutique hotel chains for their unique design elements, liberal pet-friendly ways and daily hosted wine hour) boasts oversized common areas steeped in mid-century mod elegance with plenty of quirky touches, luxe meets urban cool guestrooms, and a grown-up “playroom”—complete with an XBox, Wii, pool table, shuffleboard and old-school board games.
No matter your room number, expect cork-lined walls, bottles of wine from each room’s namesake, street-style art and comfy-as-a-cloud beds. What’s more, guests who decline housekeeping are rewarded for “going green” with a credit to the on-site eatery, Pazzo—where the Pacific Northwest and Italy convene for a match made in food heaven. Come morning, wake up with the property’s complimentary coffee and tea service (hello, soy milk!), and then grab one of their loaner, custom-designed PUBLIC bikes for a cruise through town.
Consistently ranked as one of America’s most cycling-friendly cities and often dubbed “Bike City, USA”—thanks in part to 315 miles of bikeways—getting around via two wheels is easy, safe and a perfect way to soak up the city like a local. Be sure to stop and smell the roses at Washington Park‘s International Rose Test Garden, which is home to over 500 varieties of the bloom and the oldest continuously operated public rose test garden in the U.S.; pause at the Portland Saturday Market (ironically, also held on Sundays) to take in live music, grub from around the globe and handcrafted goods aplenty; and, for those who appreciate the beauty of books, swing by the aptly named Powell’s City of Books, which is truly a “city” (1.5 million tomes in 3,500 different sections, making it the world’s largest independent bookstore).
After all that pedaling, you’ll want to hit the brakes for some fuel at one of P-Town’s 600 food carts that are mostly clustered into “pods”—making it a snap to sample several at one time (trust me, trying to pick between a “Volcano” at The Hot Box BBQ—a sub with pulled pork or smoked tofu, homemade jalapeño jelly, crispy onion bits, sriracha aioli and lettuce on a brioche bun—or a full English breakfast, served all day (!), at Kingsland Kitchen is impossible).
For the indecisive imbiber who prefers to leave the pedaling to a pro, PDX Pedicab’s “Beer, Whisky and Wine Tour” is a prime pick. As your driver regales you with stories of Portland’s drunken past and present, you’ll drink your way through various award-winning and nationally recognized distilleries, craft breweries and urban wineries. It’s an informative, and intoxicating, way to taste what the Rose City, literally, has on tap.
When it comes to one-hole wonders, Portland takes the cake. While the always recommended, always open and always busy (with tourists, mind you) Voodoo Doughnut‘s avant-garde confections are certainly worth trying, you’d be remiss to skip Blue Star Donuts—where it’s all about the dough (pretty smart, considering we are talking about doughnuts here). Crafted from a classic brioche recipe (ingredients include sustainable bread flour from Shepherd’s Grain, cage free eggs, whole hormone-free milk and European-style butter) that originated in the south of France and takes 18 hours to make, locals go gaga for the booze-infused blueberry bourbon basil, buttermilk old fashioned, Cointreau crème brûlée and hard apple cider fritter.
If you haven’t started drooling or dreaming of your Portland getaway yet, what are you waiting for? There’s a warm donut—and even warmer people—waiting for you.
Did You Know?
- Not only is New Girl Zooey Deschanel originally from Portland, but so is Bugs Bunny (aka voice actor Mel Blanc), culinary great James Beard, and Simpson’s creator Matt Groening (many of the show’s characters and landmarks are named after PDX streets and spots).
- Portland’s name was determined from a coin flip by its two original settlers’ (Asa Lovejoy and Francis Pettygrove) East Coast hometowns; had it gone the other way, it would’ve been called Boston. The “Portland Penny” is on display at the Oregon Historical Society Museum.
- When it comes to fueling up, leave the pumping to a pro! If you try to pump your own gas, you’ll be hit with a $500 fine.
- Portland is one of only three cities in the U.S. that has a dormant volcano—Mount Tabor—within city limits.