What must we not miss during our honeymoon in Portland, OR in July?
June 18, 2012 1:20 PM   Subscribe

What must we not miss during our honeymoon in Portland, OR in July?

I am getting married in July and we are taking a trip to Portland, OR for a week. What must we go see/eat/etc.? Any tips for getting around? We bought the usual tourist books, but we would love some insider tips!
posted by stevechemist to Travel & Transportation around Portland, OR (20 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Are you book people? If so, you must go to Powell's. If you are nerdy book people, make sure to hit the Powell's Technical Bookstore, which is in a different location (or was several years ago when I visited it).
posted by jquinby at 1:31 PM on June 18, 2012

Do not eat at the Whiskey Soda Lounge/Pok Pok. Worst pricey meal of my life.
posted by Cosine at 1:36 PM on June 18, 2012

PDX Food, previously.
posted by furnace.heart at 1:43 PM on June 18, 2012

The Japanese Garden.

Seconding Powells (The technical store is now across the street) and Nicholas.
posted by kbuxton at 1:44 PM on June 18, 2012

I've never been to Portland, but Voodoo Doughnut will attract me there if nothing else will.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:49 PM on June 18, 2012

What do you like to do?

This is a pretty good list of fun things to do in Portland.

Depending on when in July, you might try the Blues Fest July 4-8, or the Oregon Brewers Festival July 26-29. More festivals and events listed here, there's always something going on in the summer.

The best brunch we had recently was at Irving St. Kitchen--pork belly with waffles and smoked maple syrup, fried chicken with mashed potatoes and poached eggs. Nom nom. They also have semi-private booths with curtains which might be a nice touch for a honeymoon visit. Oh! And there's also this awesome list of restaurants/bars that have patio seating, arranged by neighborhood--we use this almost every weekend in the summer when we're looking for new places to go and want to take full advantage of the beautiful weather.
posted by stellaluna at 1:50 PM on June 18, 2012

Seconding the Japanese Garden.

If you don't mind losing a little over half a day, you can drive up to Mt. St. Helens. Last time I was there the crater was closed, but you do get a fantastic view from the park station along with all the information you could ever want on mountains going boom.

Nthing Powells. Theoretically the Barnes and Nobels here in NYC is larger, but it doesn't feel that way.

I have fond memories of walking along Hawthorne between 16th and 44th or so, but bear in mind that it's bound to be full of hipsters, probably more than there were 8 years ago.

Saturday Market! Stay on the non-import side- when I lived there last that was located under an overhang or tent like thing. Don't try to park near it- park near a MAX stop and take that in.
posted by Hactar at 1:58 PM on June 18, 2012

Another dining in Portland question.
And another.

Getting around is fairly easy in Portland-- get a couple of TriMet day passes, and you can bus/MAX/streetcar a lot of places. Taking the streetcar down to the waterfront and then catching the tram up the hill is a thing that I keep meaning to do & not getting to-- that would be a great vacation thing. There are also a few places that rent bikes, I think, if you're a biker (watch out for streetcar tracks!).

Places that can be lots of fun to wander shop/eat/drink include:
Pearl District (NW) NW 21st and NW 23rd, SE Hawthorne, E Burnside, NE Alberta, N Mississippi, NE Sandy (Hollywood District).

If you're interested in such things, there is a SE Portland Distillery Row that has a passport/discount program. There's a ton of local beer and/or places to get local and/or specialty beer, including:
Bailey's Taproom
Cascade Barrel House
Green Dragon
Belmont Station
Horse Brass
Burnside Brewing
posted by Kpele at 2:24 PM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Any tips for getting around?
Portland is a city best seen by bike. Stop at a bike rental shop -- my friend had a decent experience with these guys -- pick up a bike map, and explore the city. I'm a fan and resident of SE Portland and I think the close-in neighborhoods are gorgeous. Pick up some picnic food and head over the Laurelhurst Park. Stop at a cart pod.

As for the disparaging remarks about Pok Pok above, to each their own. I was there last night with a friend and had an amazing meal -- two non-alc drinks, an appetizer and two entrees -- all for under $40. And that includes tip! If you're looking for non-standard Thai food, I haven't found anything better.
posted by funkiwan at 2:36 PM on June 18, 2012

Get some takeout from a food Cary and bike to skidmore bluffs to watch the sunset, unless it's raining.
posted by vespabelle at 2:58 PM on June 18, 2012

Ground Kontrol is a cool arcade/bar. It is downtown in the Chinatown area - not too far from Voodoo Doughnuts, actually. And it is directly next to the Max tracks.
posted by tacodave at 3:09 PM on June 18, 2012

Do not eat at the Whiskey Soda Lounge/Pok Pok. Worst pricey meal of my life.

you have a very minority opinion on this one. i mean, if you were expecting some pad thai (or anything typically found in a thai restaurant), then i guess it would be a disappointment…

that said, i mean, there are SO many amazing restaurants (and food carts!) in portland, it's pointless to recommend one to you without you requesting a specific cuisine. we also have an amazing farmer's market on saturdays downtown on the PSU campus. as for things to do, there seem always to be some sort of festival happening down on the waterfront every weekend in the summer. the portland bridge pedal also happens in july (if you are there on that specific date), in which hundreds of thousands are given the opportunity to bike across all the bridges in portland. there are also movies in the park after sundown a few nights a week, each week in the summer.
posted by violetk at 3:11 PM on June 18, 2012

I was just in Portland for a honeymoon a month ago! It is a fantastic city with great scenery, great people, and so many fun things to do.

I would recommend the following:
- Powell's, of course. You cannot go to Portland and not check out the book-lovers paradise.
- dinner & beer at a brew pub.
- check out a concert at The Crystal Ballroom (and dance along on its bouncy floor!)
- Portland is famous for its Food Carts, and they live up the hype. I was also pleasantly surprised at how affordable most of the offerings were!
- Council Crest Park, which is close to downtown (about a 10 minute drive, also accessible by transit) offers incredible panoramic views of Portland, the Willamette Valley, and if its a clear day, you can see Mt Rainier, Mt St. Helens, Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson.
- if you have a car, I highly recommend driving to the Columbia River Gorge and driving along the historic Columbia River Highway to Multnomah Falls
- another one that I recommend if you have access to a car (and at least 1-2 days to spare) is a trip to the Oregon Coast, especially the Oregon Dunes National Rec Area, centred around Florence.
posted by wats at 3:25 PM on June 18, 2012

Re Ruthless Bunny:

By all means check out Voodoo, but realize that they are known for being zany and Weird(tm), and not necessarily for making the best donuts in town. For example, they're not even in the top 10 on Yelp, and that likely includes a lot of ratings from people who saw Voodoo on TV and that's the only donut they had when they visited.

My current favorite donut shop: Coco Donuts. I walk past it every day on my way to work, which is both fantastic and terrible. Yelp's number one pick, Delicious Donuts, is also great, but I rarely find myself over there at donut-thirty.

It's not that I hate Voodoo: a bacon maple bar is exactly what you want at 2am after a rowdy show. it's just one of those things that's been hyped up, and I'd hate for a visitor to waste their precious time/appetite on something that's only sorta good.
posted by sportbucket at 3:27 PM on June 18, 2012

I'll chime in on the Pok Pok thing, too: yes, the food is very good. Yes, it's possible to order badly and end up with a meal you didn't love. (I did this on my second visit when I thought I had things figured out.)

The key: ask for help! The waitstaff will be more than happy to guide your menu choices. Let them.
posted by sportbucket at 3:32 PM on June 18, 2012

Yes, the coast as well. So pretty! You can do an easy day trip out to Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Newport, or Astoria (1-1.5 hr drive each way, depending on which town).
posted by violetk at 7:01 PM on June 18, 2012

The Columbia Gorge is a short drive out of the city and there are heart-expanding views and beautiful waterfalls. Very honeymooney.

Powell's Books, downtown, and the science annex across the street, are definitely worth the pilgrimage. The downtown Central Library is picturesque and nice too.

Sauvie Island would be a lovely afternoon trip, full of u-pick berry patches and little beaches. Forest Park has amazing hikes in it. Cathedral Park is extremely peaceful and beneath a beautiful bridge (a sibling of the Golden Gate). Take a short drive to secret Elk Rock Garden and kiss beneath the tree-sized rhododendrons. Or just take a walk by the river at the Eastbank Esplanade.

Sellwood is a tucked-away neighborhood full of antique shops and cool views, with giant berry-filled Oaks Bottom park and Oaks Park amusement park right there.

Go see cheap movies and eat pizza and drink beer at the Bagdad or Laurelhurst theaters. Take a tour of the letterpresses and Yeti paraphernilia at the Independent Publishers' Resource Center. Have fancy coffee and beer all over the place. Visit the 24 Hour Coin Operated Church of Elvis (and then get some arty comics at Floating World and play pinball at Backspace). Reserve floatation tanks at Float On and/or get massages and hot tubbing at Common Ground or Flanders House. Go to the Mcmenamins Kennedy School for beer, movies, lodging and an amazing outdoor hot soaking pool.
posted by feets at 7:09 PM on June 18, 2012

P.s. about getting around, if the weather is good you can rent bicycles (and take them on Tri-Met, the public transit). There are also two carshare companies in the city, zipcar and car2go, though they require membership cards and it might make more sense to just rent a car. If you shop around and don't pick the car up at the airport you can get pretty OK rates (less than $25/day)
posted by feets at 7:13 PM on June 18, 2012

If you rent a car and leave town, consider a trip(s) to the following:

Columbia Gorge. Mentioned earlier in the thread. Take I-84 east out of town, it starts roughly at milepost 17 (Troutdale exit). There are three roads to take through the gorge. I-84 is the fast way. SR14 (Washington) is quick as well, but there's a lot less easy, pretty stuff on that side, or take the Historic Columbia River Highway (well marked). Take the highway starting in Troutdale or Corbett. Best things to see: Go up Larch Mountain for the best view ever ($5 parking), the easy four waterfalls: Latourell, Wahkeena, Multnomah, Horsetail; all of them are easily accessible from the Historic Hwy. The Horsetail Falls loop is about 2.5 miles and one of the easiest in the gorge, good to kill a couple of hours. Rooster Rock State Park is also a nice place to enjoy the gorge and lay on the beach (exit 25 on I-84). Hood River and the Hood River Valley are very beautiful as well, approximately 1 hour from Portland. Drink beer and eat pizza at Double Mountain Brewery.

Mount Hood. 45m-1h east on US26, or I-84 east to Hood River, then south on Hwy 35 (1.5 hours or so). It's a mountain, and beautiful. There's all sorts of places to park and wander around. Drive up to Timberline and ride the Magic Mile. Go to one of the lakes. Hiking around is awesome. Look up Ramona Falls for a good hike.

Mount St Helens. 1.5 hour drive one-way. Take I-5 to Exit 49 in Washington, follow SR504. Go the the Johnston Ridge Observatory and sit through their show. Worth it if only for the end bit.

The coast. Anywhere between Astoria (1.5h from Portland) down to Newport (2.5h from Portland) will be beautiful. I'd personally avoid Cannon Beach and Seaside due to my dislike of tourist traps. Astoria, Tillamook/Cape Meares, Pacific City and Newport are better. My personal favorite coast town is Manzanita (US26 west until Hwy 53, Hwy 53 until US 101, then north a few miles on 101). Please be careful driving on the roads through the coast range and avoid driving through at night. Food: Astoria: The Bowpicker for fish and chips. Tillamook: the dairy for ice cream and cheese. Newport: Lighthouse Deli for seafood.

Sauvie Island. A pleasant respite close to Portland, complete with clothing-optional beach. Lots of people ride bikes on the island. Can be reached by #17 bus, but beware the schedule.

St. Paul Rodeo. Town of 300 gets 9000 people per night. If you are here July 3rd-7th, the rodeo in St. Paul (45 minutes S of Portland $14-18 for tickets) is one of the bigger rodeos during Cowboy Christmas. Enjoy people riding animals, actual cowboys and a tinge of right-wing propaganda. I go pretty much every year.

Places I would avoid in general: Anything in Portland east of about 72nd Ave. It gets kind of boring, don't bother. The suburbs tend to be boring as well. The Willamette Valley (south of Portland) tends to get boring with lots of farm land, although there are cool things to find.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:06 PM on June 18, 2012

Since it's your honeymoon you might want to try drinks at the Sapphire Hotel, housed in the lobby a a reputed former brothel, it's known for its dark romantic ambiance that hits the right spots. For spendy Dining I've had good luck at Clyde Common and some fantastic cocktails. Pok Pok is excellent (despite what was said up page) but a long wait. if you don't fancy it the food cart pod opposite has a Captured By Porches beer truck (with lots of seating), and a Guamese food cart, PDX 671 that does some great food. It (rightly) won an award for best food cart at a recent, local food cart festival and is one of my favourite food carts.
posted by tallus at 10:31 PM on June 18, 2012

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