Oh the challenges of working and wanting to travel. Cue the weekend. Yes, the two days of the week of freedom. Granted now that I don’t work a corporate nine to five, I don’t necessarily have as much of a constricting schedule. Since I don’t want to travel solo though, that means I travel with friends who do have those nine to five jobs.
Anyway, weekends. How do you travel in just two days and two nights? Well, it is difficult, but it’s not impossible. Here to prove this, is my 48-guide to visiting Portland. Fly in Friday night and grab a late flight out on Sunday. Friday you probably can grab a late dinner, but be prepared to make the most out of the full day Saturday and Sunday.
There is a lot to see and do in Portland and while renting a car could be fun, but for the amount it is, you definitely can still get around without having to rent a car. Besides the sightseeing, the two best things about Portland: beer and food.
First things first - get up early. I think it’s way easier to get up and get going early when you’re traveling because you don’t want to miss out on all the things you can do and see.
VOODOO DOUGHNUTS - The other advantage to getting up early is beating the crowds and getting in line to try the infamous Voodoo Doughnut store. Their doughnuts are not only legendary but very popular having originated in Portland, Oregon. You’ll sure be tempted to get a whole signature pink box worth’s of donuts because they all look delicious.
KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD SIGN - Looking back I realized I was going to grab a photo of this iconic sign after I ate a donut (or two) but I think I forgot because I might have been in a food coma. When you visit, don’t make the mistake I did, grab a picture before you fall into a doughnut coma. It’s really easy because it’s right across the street from Voodoo.
MULTNOMAH FALLS - The main thing I wanted to see when I was planning my trip to Portland was to see Multnomah Falls. The only problem is that it is a good hour outside of the main Portland tourist area.
I found the best way to not have to rent a car while still getting to see Multnomah Falls and it's called the Columbia Gorge Express. And guess what? It’s crazy cheap! These luxury buses actually stop at Rooster Rock State Park, Multnomah Falls, Cascade Locks and Hood River. An all-day pass online will cost you $12 - that’s a round-trip, hop on and off ticket. Just a round-trip ticket to the falls is $5. Grab your tickets ahead of time, here.
PORTLAND SATURDAY MARKET - After you visit nature, head back to the city to grab some lunch. The Portland Saturday Market is much like Food Pod Carts that I’ll tell you about later. There are so many different areas of food to choose from and shop a little if you’d like.
10 BARREL BREWERY - You’ll probably be a little burnt out by now, so head on over to 10 Barrel Brewing for drinks at their rooftop bar. If it’s a pretty day out, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this rooftop. Grab a flight of their beers - they offer everything from light and cidery to dark and stout.
ALDER ST FOOD CART PODS - Really you don’t have to head to these pods as there are food cart pods literally at every other corner in Portland. This one just happens to be the largest collection of pods downtown. What I absolutely loved and was so surprised about was the diversity of foods. I saw carts serving food from Egypt, Mauritius and even Iraq, as well as, typical staples like Thai, Mexican and Middle Eastern. Don’t feel like you have to limit yourself to one cart either. Sharing is caring! My friend and I got one dish from 4 separate carts to share and it was the best decision ever.
SALT AND STRAW - If you saved any room in your stomach (which you should), head over to Salt and Straw. This Portland staple may be located in more places outside of Portland but grabbing some ice cream from the original is a must. The freshly baked treat smell when you walk in will make you want a giant scoop of everything.
CHERYL’S ON 12TH or TASTY N ALDER - Grab a real sit-down breakfast today at one of these delicious spots. They’re actually a block away from each other, so take your pick. Full disclosure, we intended to grab a bit at Tasty N Alder but they had over an hour wait so we walked down the block to Cheryl’s. I had the french toast with lemon curd and blueberries and let me tell you it was amazing. Ask for extra lemon curd!
PEARL DISTRICT/POWELL BOOKS - Take a stroll after breakfast around the Pearl District and through the famous Powell Books. This bookstore literally takes up a whole street block and claims to be the largest bookstore in the world. There are also multiple other great shops in the Pearl District.
PORTLAND JAPANESE GARDEN/INTERNATIONAL ROSE TEST GARDEN - I’m grouping these two together because they are literally right next to each other. After your breakfast head over to stroll through some beautiful gardens. We grabbed an uber, but you could rent a bike, if you wanna work more of that french toast off. Biketown is a great way to do this and they're sponsored by Nike which is located in Portland. The awesome thing about the Portland Japanese Garden is that is is considered the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan.
The International Rose Test Garden is also a beautiful place to walk around. It’s free, unlike the Rose Garden. It also features around 650 varieties of roses.
MISSISSIPPI AVENUE - This area is a little north of the main downtown area but is super hip and up-and-coming. It is filled with eateries and bars literally at every corner. Here are a few of the places we stopped at on Mississippi Avenue:
- STORM BREAKER BREWING - The cute open and outdoor patio of Stormbreaker Brewing was the perfect place to spend an hour or two to grab some beers after a long touristy morning. They even make their own potato chips that are oh so good and giant, might I add.
- BLUE STAR DONUTS - Another Portland original and staple, Blue Star donuts shouldn’t be missed. I will say these donuts are often compared to Voodoo but I think they are different. Blue Star is more cakey with different flavor combinations while Voodoo’s are more doughy and have different flavored icing. You should try them both for yourself.
- INTERURBAN - After a beer, or two, and some snacks along the way, we stumbled into this gem of a place. Head to their quaint covered patio in the back complete with a fire pit. We enjoyed a good 10 minutes out here before it started pouring on us even though it was blue skies and sunny that morning. Never the less, Interurban was a great place to have a drink and hang out.
LUC LAC VIETNAMESE KITCHEN - I have to say I was greatly impressed with the food here at Luc Lac. I actually really loved that you order at the front and then have your food brought to you. I always feel like I get my food faster this way. Perfect when you’re hungry from touring around all day. They have a great selection of small plates but if you’re hungry, go for the combination vermicelli bowl. It has pork, chicken, shrimp, nom neon and crispy rolls. My friend had it and it was so freaking good.
I know, I know - there are so many places I missed or could’ve eaten at because let’s face it, this blog post really should’ve been “where I stuffed my face during 48 hours in Portland”, but there’s only so many meals a day you can eat. The only other highly recommended restaurant we were going to eat at but didn’t get a chance to was Pok Pok. I don’t regret forgoing it though because we were tired from afternoon drinks on the 10 Barrel rooftop and decided to grab from 4 different food cart pods instead. I think we still won in the food department.
I hope you get to experience Portland soon if you haven’t. This was actually my first trip and I definitely want to plan another trip back. You know to eat more there.
Yours Truly // Shannon
PS if you're looking for a great place to stay, check out the Hi-Lo hotel. It's the perfect mix of luxury and hip design right in the center of downtown. It's walking distance from so many of the locations I listed in this post. Check them out, here.