The biggest mistake people make when planning a visit to Portland is not spending enough time to enjoy everything it has to offer. Not only is there plenty to do within the city itself, it makes the perfect base for exploring much of the rest of the state.
Mt. Hood’s year round skiing is 90 minutes by car, the Columbia Gorge’s stunning hiking trails are only a 45 minutes drive and the Willamette Valley wine region is just under an hour’s drive. But if you do find yourself with only a day to spare, here is an idea of where to go and what to do to get a taste of this vibrant and happening city.
With non-stop flights from Vancouver (and now) Calgary direct, you can take the early flight and land just in time for breakfast. Head straight for the Pearl District for stop #1…
1. Kenny & Zuke’s Delicatessen
This local favourite has brought back the tradition of handmade Jewish deli food in Portland. Its humble beginnings as a farmer’s market booth were quickly replaced with three locations throughout the city due to such tremendous demand. And while a Jewish delicatessen may seem like a strange choice for breakfast, its all day breakfast offerings include bagels, omelettes, and corned beef hash—all made fresh to order. Of course, for the very daring there is their featured “Breakfast Dog”. Yes, you guessed it, grilled all beef sausage complete with eggs, bacon & cheddar…enough said!
You’ll likely need a respite after the Breakfast Dog and as luck would have it, you’re within a block and a half of a true Oregonian landmark for your next stop…
Filling an entire city block, Powell’s Books has over one million volumes and more than five hundred thousand titles making it one of the largest independent bookstores in the world. A true Portland icon, you can easily lose yourself in here for hours and they defy you to come up with a title they don’t have.
After all that literary stimulation you’ll likely be ready for a coffee break and a snack. Look no further than a block up from Powell’s Books to your next stop, home of ‘donuts for grownups’…
3. Blue Star Donuts
While Voodoo Donuts is well known among tourists, Blue Star Donuts has burst onto the artisanal donut scene (yes there are that many) fast becoming the local favourite. Made fresh daily from a classic Brioche recipe, they feature flavours both expected (lemon poppy buttermilk, raspberry) and unexpected (Mexican Hot Chocolate, Blueberry Bourbon Bliss) that will literally melt in your mouth. And, of course, they serve Portland’s own Stumptown Coffee to help you wash down these French inspired delights.
If you need something a bit stronger than coffee it may be time to drop into one of the more than 60 craft breweries for a pint of the State’s finest. To say that Oregon has ignited the craft brew scene would be a vast understatement…
4. Deschutes Brewery
With so many local craft brews to choose from it’s hard to pick just one but Deschutes is without question among the best featuring a very impressive reserve list. According to locals in the know, the trend in beer right now is to focus on lighter, less hoppy beers like a Pilsner or a Lager. Some of the other notable breweries at the moment are Commons, Upright, Gigantic, Ecliptec & Hopworks. The more daring beer taster may be more inclined toward Hair of the Dog, Breakside or Burnside Brewing. But if you’re sticking to downtown you can stop at Pints, New Old Lompoc on 23rd, and Bridgeport—all of which (along with Deschutes) are along the streetcar route.
Of course, you need to keep your wits about you to enjoy the rest of your day which makes the next stop perfect timing. In a city known for focusing on local, seasonal & sustainable products, no visit would be complete without a stroll around a Farmer’s Market…
5. Farmer’s Market at Portland State University (PSU)
Open year round the Farmer’s Market at PSU is an absolute must in a city renown for celebrating everything local. Vendors include farms, orchards, bakeries, creameries, butchers, coffee roasters and chocolatiers.
Now that you’ve worked up a bit of an appetite for lunch, it’s time to discover why Portland’s Food Carts have been named best street food in America…
6. Food Cart ‘Pod’ at 10th & Alder
More than 600 Food Carts populate the city via individual corners or at ‘pods’ like the one at 10th & Alder which has more than 60 at its location. Whether you feel like a bagel, a burger, stir fry or taco, the options are seemingly endless at this location alone.
But on this one day itinerary for Portland, maybe just opt for a snack from a food cart as you’re about to embark on a culinary walking tour that will require some curiosity and an appetite to enjoy to its fullest…
7. Forktown Food Tour – Alphabet District
Is there any greater way to discover a city than to eat your way through it? Now that you have a reasonably thorough knowledge of the Pearl District in the heart of downtown, it’s time to discover one of the burgeoning surrounding neighbourhoods. None it seems is more representative of the local, seasonal foodie scene than the Alphabet District. But in order to maximize your time and find the best of the best, you’ll need to enlist the local knowledge of Forktown Food Tours. This 3 hour culinary walking tour (2pm-5pm) snakes through this funky area stopping at a former saloon, a handmade Jewish deli, an authentic French bakery, a distilling company, wine bar and chocolatier—easily three of the best hours of your life!
After enjoying the culinary delights of your walking tour you’ll likely want to start thinking about freshening up before you ease into your evening activities. If you’re looking for a place to stay invoking history and character that’s a little off the beaten path, look no further than one of McMenamin’s Historic Hotels…
8. McMenamin’s Edgefield Hotel (Troutdale)
Twenty minutes from downtown Portland, Troutdale is home to McMenamin’s Edgefield Hotel. A former Poor Farm, the century old hotel sits on more than 30 acres of land housing just over one hundred guest rooms. And, in true McMenamin’s fashion, every free-standing building that’s not accommodation or a restaurant is a pub!
This includes the Little Red Shed which seats up to 8 people and the Black Rabbit House which seats all of 3. With 10 pubs in total, an excellent restaurant, a first-run movie theatre, and live music every night, you can enjoy an evening out with plenty of options without leaving the property.
While we can’t recommend 24 hours as being near enough the time needed to explore this amazing city, we do think this itinerary is enough to convince you to contact your Flight Centre travel agent and extend! To book your next Portland adventure, call 1-877-967-5302, visit your closest store, or connect with a travel agent online.