From where to eat, must-see sights, and local festivals, this is How to Spend 24 Hours in Portland, Oregon...
I have to admit that this post has been long overdue, you all. I actually visited Portland, Oregon for the first time when I attended the Indulge conference last May, but this post kept getting pushed to the back burner. Not only was this trip my first time visiting the city of Portland, but it was also the first time that this East coast gal traveled all the way to the West coast. I ended up spending about 53 hours in the city before catching an overnight flight back to Pittsburgh. Can I just say that the 3 hour time difference is sort of brutal?? I didn't think that 3 hours could make such a profound difference, but I came back home exhausted. Like I crashed on the couch for a solid 3 hours. In the middle of the day. And I don't nap during the day, folks. Like ever.
But enough about the trials and tribulations of traveling across the country and through 3 different time zones. Let's talk about Portland, shall we? ;) Let's just say that you happen to find yourself with only 24 hours to spend in the city- an unexpected or planned layover, or maybe a free day during a work conference, or maybe you live within driving distance and want to spend the day in the city. I have gathered some of my best ideas for how to spend a whole day in Portland, Oregon, & I am sharing them all with you in today's post. Granted, I do not think that for 5 seconds that my 2 day+ experience in the city makes me an expert on all things Portland. But I will say that I was amazed at how much you could pack into a day while visiting there....
1. Eat, eat, & then eat some more.
One thing that I did learn about Portland's local food scene the weekend that I visited there is that it is deliberate and thoughtful. I mean, I was there to attend a conference called Indulge, you all. And indulge we did. But not only did we feast and dine and imbibe, but we got to meet and talk to the people behind the local food movement in the city. Portland has a thriving and growing restaurant industry built largely on sourcing locally grown & seasonally harvested produce and products.
Now no visit to Portland would be complete with a visit to one (or more) of their famous donut shops. Most famous of all is Voodoo Doughnuts. And let me tell you, folks- it lives up to the hype. The donuts pictured above actually came from Voodoo Doughnuts, but we were fortunate to have had this little box of donut goodness delivered right to our rooms as part of the Indulge conference. But if you must wait in a line, I will vouch that they are worth carving out a little time in your morning for.
Another doughnut shop in Portland that is worthy of your time (and possibly waiting in a long line for) is Blue Star Donuts. They only make one huge batch of their signature donut dough every 18 hours, so once they sell out they are out. Definitely plan to get there early for the best selection.
For lunch, I highly recommend heading to the Alder Street Food Cart Pod. Located between Southwest Alder and Washington Streets, you can find a plethora of local food carts open from lunchtime until early afternoon.
Though choices abound to suit every palate and craving, myself and quite a few of the other bloggers who took the short walk down to Alder Street naturally gravitated towards the Grilled Cheese Grill cart. ;) They offer a huge selection of cheesy goodness with many of their grilled cheeses featuring a local favorite- Tillamook. All their sandwiches are served with chips and a pickle spear...
After lunch, you will probably be in the mood for something a little sweet. That is when a visit to Petunia's Pies & Pastries will be in order...
I should mention that every sweet treat that they serve in their bakery is vegan and gluten-free. Not that I am either one of those two things, but quite a few of my food blogger friends that I was with that day were. I will admit that at first I was a wee bit skeptical. I mean, gimme my gluten and butter and cream. ;) However, I will admit that I wouldn't have had a clue that any of these delectable goodies were vegan or gluten free if someone would have handed me a Petunia's cupcake at the hotel later on that day. And everything looked absolutely amazing to boot!
If baked goods are not your thing, then Portland is also known for some amazing ice cream shops. Salt & Straw and Ruby Jewel Scoops were the two shops I heard most about from the food bloggers who did make their way out to satisfy those ice cream cravings. While I didn't make it to either one, both are most definitely on my list for the next time that I visit the city. :)
If you happen to be a fresh seafood lover, then you certainly can't be in a city in the Pacific Northwest and not visit one of their premier seafood restaurants. I had the pleasure of dining at Southpark Seafood during my stay in Portland, and the seafood lover in me was in heaven. Not only is Southpark committed to serving the freshest locally sourced seafood in Portland, but they have also have a deep commitment to sustainability that goes beyond simply sourcing their seafood responsibly. They pride themselves on their green practices as well- composting their food waste, providing customers with compostable to-go containers, & serving their drinks with straws made from corn to name a few. :)
And the seafood? Amazing, folks. I ate my very first fresh oyster during my meal here, and let's just say that I fell in love. I never thought that I would become a lover of raw oysters, but their oysters were liking tasting the fresh & salty ocean on a half shell. Perfection.
2. Walk around the city and take in the sights.
And while you could certainly spend 24 hours eating your way through Portland, I suggest taking a few breaks in between, walking around, and really taking in the city.
You can find colorful painted murals on the walls of buildings and structures all over the city thanks largely to the Portland Street Art Alliance. The impressive mural above is called Faith47, and it is located at the corner of Southwest Washington and 10th Streets. It is a popular photography spot for wedding parties. In fact, I saw a couple of newly wedded couples having their photos taken in front of it in the short 15 minutes or so that I was there.
Portland is also home to over 120 outdoor sculptures and statues. The one below of a mother bear and her cubs is part of a bronze sculpture & fountain series called "Animals in Pools" that was first installed in the city in 1986. There are 9 other exhibits in this series featuring fountains and 22 more bronze sculptures throughout the city.
3. Get in on a local festival.
Visit Portland just about any month and weekend of the year, and you are bound to find a local festival to take part in. From craft beers to music to flowers and more, this city covers all of its bases when it comes to citywide celebrations.
I happened to be visiting during their annual Portland Rose Festival (being held May 27- June 12 this year). In the photo above, city-goers are lining up on the street for the Starlight Parade that features an impressive line-up of illuminated floats as the sun goes down over the city streets.
The Festival of Flowers at Pioneer Courthouse Square was also in full swing during the weekend I visited Portland last May. The festival, taking place May 29-31 this month, works with local artists or a design firm each year to create an artistic masterpiece in the middle of the square using more than 20,000 potted flowers and plants. Live entertainment is also provided during scheduled times each day of the festival.
For a full list of events & festivals in Portland by month, visit the Travel Portland Events page.
If you happen to have more than 24 hours to spend in the Portland, Oregon area, I highly recommend planning to take a little day trip to the Willamette Valley...
Willamette Valley is about an hour drive from downtown Portland, but worth every minute. I spent almost a full day exploring the valley as part of the OXO Farm Tour that was offered during the Indulge Conference. Besides absolutely breathtaking views in any and every direction, Willamette Valley offers the ultimate in the farm to table experience. The perfect side trip for any of my traveling foodies planning a visit to Portland, Oregon.
How would you spend 24 hours in Portland? :)
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