Entertaining your folks in Portland, Oregon!
May 23, 2012 8:27 AM   Subscribe

How should I entertain my midwestern mother as she visits me in Portland for the first time?

After living in Portland, Oregon for almost 5 years now, my parents from Iowa are finally coming to visit me, well my mother at least. Off the bat I can already think of a million things to do that she will like: ie. Powell's, Rose Garden, Multnomah Falls, Breakfast restaurants, etc. I'm still trying to think of some new things she might like though. For the most part her and I share similar tastes in entertainment, although I'd say after living here for so long I've become more acclimated to grungier venues (the VooDoo Doughnuts downtown, bars and such.) She is pretty open minded to new experiences, but I'm hoping to take her to some quirky and innovative venues while avoiding the overbearing hipster/homeless people/scumbag population that exists in Portland. Reason being I'm wanting to show her how neat of a city this actually is, not try and depress her with our social drama.

Can you guys think of some places I may not have thought of yet for entertaining my mother?

Thanks in advance!
posted by dargerpartridge to Travel & Transportation around Portland, OR (18 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The Beverly Cleary statues in Grant Park. Klickitat St is real!
posted by brujita at 8:39 AM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Living Room Theatre
A drag show!
People watching in Pioneer Square
One of the cooler McMenamin's (Edgefield, Kennedy)
The Grotto (I'm not at all religious but really dig strolling through those gardens; be sure to take the elevator up)
posted by AnOrigamiLife at 8:40 AM on May 23, 2012

Bike along the river to the opera.
posted by feral_goldfish at 8:51 AM on May 23, 2012

Definitely the Grotto. My mom loved it, as well as Mt Tabor Park.

She also liked going to the Pied Cow, sitting in their courtyard area with a glass of wine. (We didn't go for a hookah, but she was pretty amused watching the next table over with theirs.)

Other than that, we visited a few different neighborhoods (NW 23rd, Alberta, Mississippi) and just strolled around. Mom was very fascinated by all the grown men riding around on skateboards; they don't have that in SC where she lives.
posted by medeine at 8:56 AM on May 23, 2012

Feast your eyes on this AMAZING recent blog post from a long time Portlander.

My vote is Pittock Mansion, maybe with a little trail walk while you're there. I was born here and have lived here for 30+ years, and only recently went to Pittock because that sort of thing bores the hell out of me. It was amazing and the view was astounding.
posted by peep at 9:13 AM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you're going to go to the Grotto, also drive up Rocky Butte and check out the amazing unobstructed view of everything.
posted by MonsieurBon at 9:16 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Multnomah County fair is this weekend. It's small, but charming, and it's an excuse to go to Oaks Park / Oaks Bottom / Sellwood.

Pedalpalooza is also coming up - if your parents aren't cyclists, perhaps you could pick an appealing ride and eat/hang out near the meet point or route. Costumes! Funny bikes!

Rooftop gardens downtown? There's one at the federal courthouse with extremely creepy statuary, and one atop PSU's new rec center (by the archives).
posted by momus_window at 9:34 AM on May 23, 2012

If you have the time to go to the coast (I know, I know, not in Portland), I haven't met even one person who wasn't blown away by the beauty of the Oregon coastline.
posted by batmonkey at 9:45 AM on May 23, 2012

When our family members would visit us in Portland, we always took them to McMenamins Kennedy School. The food is just OK but the Happy Hour food specials are cheap enough that picking up the tab for everybody is very doable. And when you're waiting to get seated, it's fun to walk around and look at the old, creepy art work, check out the soaking pool, etc...

Usually whenever anybody talks about visiting us there, they always seem to bring the Kennedy School. It's quirky, like Portland, but not too unfamiliar, so I think that's why people like it so much.
posted by smirkyfodder at 10:36 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Google Offers has a 2-for-1 deal on tickets to Pittock Mansion this week. I bought a couple for when my mother comes to visit next month. :)
posted by homodachi at 10:52 AM on May 23, 2012

Are you able to travel outside the city at all? My Michigan parents-in-law visited Oregon in January with us and they enjoyed driving around the area. Especially the coast (they visited Lincoln City because I have a childhood fondness for it, but I think they might have hit other spots on days we weren't with them), Mt Hood, etc. My MIL made favorable comments comparing the parts of western Oregon she saw to Michigan around the Great Lakes. They enjoyed Burgerville for a quick bite, too.

Pittock Mansion, Japanese Gardens and/or the Lan Su Chinese Garden, OMSI, maybe the Portland Saturday Market? Check out a brewpub if you think she'd be into that.
posted by asciident at 11:05 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

For me, what makes Portland special is how lush and quiet it feels, even in the urban core. If you and your mom are the biking sort, I'd get a bike for her and take a lazy bike ride using neighborhood greenways. Point out the sharrows, the bioswales, and other street-calming devices. Stop at your favorite cafe or food carts.

Also, depending on where you live, take a slow walk in your neighborhood. I'm continually amazed at the gardens/lawns of my neighbors. So much creativity and variety. I spent nearly an hour the other evening strolling within two blocks of my home with a friend doing plant and kitty identification.

Plenty of cities have restaurants, museums, attractions, etc. But Portland really shines in the interstitial spaces. That's what I'd focus on if my parents were coming to visit.
posted by funkiwan at 2:18 PM on May 23, 2012

Happy hour at the Portland City Grill. Get there a little early and get a window seat.
posted by St. Sorryass at 2:41 PM on May 23, 2012

Pix Patisserie! The art museum!
posted by amanda at 3:13 PM on May 23, 2012

Gonna speak out against The Grotto, unless she's super-Christian, in which case go for it. Check it out for yourself first (if you haven't already), would be my advice.

A cute new bookstore, in a neighborhood with nothing else to recommend it, is Mother Foucault's. If your parents are book people, it will kill an hour, and it's near all kinds of bridges and arteries.
posted by snoe at 3:38 PM on May 23, 2012

Some excellent suggestions in this thread! I'll add one I haven't seen mentioned.
If you can get out as far as Troutdale, spend an afternoon wandering the grounds at McMenamin's Edgefield. Beautiful gardens, a glass blowing studio, restaurants, wine tasting, and the amazing artwork throughout the hotel; well worth checking out.
posted by browse at 3:42 PM on May 23, 2012

A crab Louis at Dan and Louis
posted by brujita at 5:32 PM on May 23, 2012

Hmm. Can I remember what my parents like when they visited me in Portland from Iowa... A couple of things come to mind:

The Rose Test Garden has a great view of the city. The Rhododendron Garden in SE is also good, and has some nice waterfowl viewing opportunities as well. (I really didn't know that rhododendrons could grow that big until I moved here.)

Seconding a trip to the coast if you can manage it, though it might be insane with the holidays. But Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach is good and the cheese factory in Tillamook is a real crowd-pleaser.

Multnomah Falls is also worth the trip and the pain of finding parking, because it's spectacular. Alternatively, if the weather cooperates, just climbing to the top of Mt. Tabor and looking out at Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens is nice.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 8:00 PM on May 23, 2012

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