If you're headed to the PNW, you must stop by and pay a visit to Portland. It didn't even take me an entire day to fall in love with everything this city had to offer. But, you see, Portland is charming like that. It'll squeeze its way into your heart without you even taking notice! The parks and bridges, the delicious food, the outstanding coffee and the friendly people you'll encounter are just a few of the reasons why I'd go back in a heartbeat.
Whether you're visiting Portland for the first time -- or the fifth -- I've put together a 36 Hour Travel Guide to get you started in planning your trip!
Stumptown Coffee @ The Ace Hotel
Start your day off with a cup of coffee inside the prettiest hotel in all of Portland. After having my first cup of Stumptown Coffee in New York City, I was downright obsessed. Known for their high-quality coffee and freshly-roasted beans, Stumptown is the perfect spot to fuel up for the day. Grab your cup of coffee and wander into the lobby of the charming Ace Hotel. Don't forget to try out the restored photo booth that requires cash and prints out a vintage-style black and white photo strip of 4 poses!
Hours: Monday - Friday 6AM - 7PM, Saturday + Sunday 7AM - 7PM
Powell's City of Books at Burnside
When in Portland, you must check out Powell's Books, as it is the world's largest new and used bookstore! Browse their extensive collection, rediscover the lost art of turning pages in an old book and purchase a new read for the flight home. PS: Make sure you visit the flagship store on Burnside -- it spans an entire block and consists of three floors, nine rooms and 3,500 different sections. Don't worry, the store offers a color-coded map of the store as well as an app with step-by-step directions to find your favorite book!
Hours: 9AM - 11PM Daily
McMenamins Kennedy School
This once-abandoned school-turned-hotel is one of Portland's little gems! The building is entirely scholastic-themed (from the chalkboards to the cloakroom). If you're thinking of booking accommodations here, take note that it's a little far from the city center; however, it's definitely worth the trip for an evening of fun. The school houses a cute courtyard restaurant, multiple themed bars (take your pick of Honors Bar or Detention Bar!), a movie theater, pool, brewery and gift shop. The night I visited, there was even a live band!
If touring the perfectly-landscaped grounds of this beautiful château doesn't interest you, then I urge you to come for the breathtaking views of the city and Mt. Hood. For $10, you can purchase a ticket to tour the inside of the mansion, but exploring the surrounding area is free!
Hours: 10AM - 4PM Daily
If you have a bonus day in Portland, a day trip to Mt. Hood is definitely worthwhile! Just 90 minutes from Portland, the tallest peak in Oregon offers scenic recreation for everyone. Camping, hiking, fishing or skiing -- take your pick!
After exploring Pittock Mansion (see above), just west of Downtown Portland you can find serenity between the tall trees of Forest Park. Here, you'll see locals galore as they set out on their morning jogs, ride their bikes and walk their dogs. I wish we could have taken a longer trail, but since we were pressed for time, we just hiked a portion of the Wildwood Trail that you can follow from Pittock Mansion. Check out the Forest Park Conservancy site for directions, tips and a map to help you find the best entry point to the trail.
Pioneer Courthouse Square
Often referred to as Portland's "living room", Pioneer Courthouse Square is shaped like an amphitheater and is home to various events throughout the year: Weekday Farmer's Market. Movies. Lighting of the tree. There is always something going on here. We grabbed lunch from the Adler Street Food Cart Pods and made our way over to sit, eat and people watch. PS: This is also where the whimsical Mile Post Sign lives, which shows you distances to popular geographical destinations!
After frolicking around Portland's many neighborhoods all day, you're probably in need of a place you can kick back and wind down for the evening. ENSO Winery is the cutest little industrial-looking spot in SE Portland for exactly that. Wine buffs and newbies alike can appreciate what this mico-winery has going on. Grab a table outside, order the $10 rosé flight and pair it with a charcuterie board of your choosing!
Hours: Monday - Thursday 4PM - 10PM, Friday 4PM - 11PM, Saturday + Sunday 1PM - 10PM
SE Hawthorne Boulevard
If you pictured Portland as a city of quirky independent little vintage shops and hipster-filled cafes, then you must have envisioned Hawthorne Blvd! The street is completely walkable, with blocks on blocks of boutiques and some of the best restaurants in Portland. For brunch, try Jam on Hawthorne!
Portland Saturday Market
Located on the waterfront, the Portland Saturday Market (FYI: it's open on Sundays, too!) is an outdoor market with a variety of unique stalls. From handcrafted trinkets to food carts and flower stalls, there are tons of vendors to shop from! We didn't stick around for more than 20 minutes here, but you could easily spend an hour or more browsing the artwork or shopping for jewelry.
Hours: Saturday 10AM - 5PM & Sunday 10AM - 4:30PM
Lan Su Chinese Garden
Take a break from the city and escape into the tranquil Lan Su Chinese Garden. Impressively built using traditional materials from China, Lan Su is sure to engage all your senses. When you've finished your self-guided tour of the gardens, sit down and enjoy a traditional Chinese tea experience at the Teahouse. I loved sipping my Jasmine Pearl green tea from a Gaiwan (a unique vessel that was one of the first types of tea ware) -- I'll admit, it was a little strange at first but it was easy to get used to.
Hours: 10AM - 6PM Daily