Portland : help my girlfriend and I plan a couple awesome walking tours!
August 29, 2012 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Help my girlfriend and I plan two awesome walking tours of Portland, OR!

I'm taking my girlfriend to Portland this weekend. We love to take long walks, and I'd like to show her the coolest, best, most-novel parts of the city. The plan is to take two walking tours, one on Friday and one on Monday. The walks should be about 8 miles each.

To give you an idea of where we're at culturally : 20/30-something; physically fit; tech/internet-savvy; love music, food, and art; politically liberal; residents of San Francisco's Mission district.

Feel free to suggest cool streets to walk down, as well as worthwhile points of interest. Or if you're feeling REALLY creative, you're welcome to map out a route or a partial route. This question is intentionally open-ended; show us all the great things that make Portland Portland!

(as a side-note, we'll be doing hiking and wineries on Saturday and Sunday, so you're welcome to suggest destinations outside the city for those days)
posted by Afroblanco to Travel & Transportation around Portland, OR (6 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
The DK Eyewitness guidebooks have some nice walking tours of Portland.

Outside Portland, I would suggest going to see the Tillamook cheese factory, right on the Oregon coast (go when the packaging operation is operating), and Mount St. Helens.

Also, meetup Saturday!
posted by grouse at 11:20 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you're visiting, I think there are three basic walking tour options.

1) The SE Walk/The Old-School Hipster. This would go something like Laurelhurst Park down to Belmont/Hawthorne districts (20s-40s), maybe even hitting Mt. Tabor part (cool urban volcano). This would mostly be the park, a couple good record stores, some okay eats and bars and food carts. Iconic part of Portland. Probably the least recommended of these three.

2) The NE walk/The Not-Quite-A-Yuppie. I'm biased, but I highly recommend this one. This would go something like starting in the N Mississippi area, walking over the the small but neat Williams Ave strip and then over to the Alberta Arts district and even up to Killingsworth. A few hip strips with some lovely neighborhoods in between. Less parks than the SE walk, but better bars, food, venues for shows (Wonder Ballroom, Mississippi Studios, Alberta Rose, etc), galleries. Many of my favorites places to eat are in this area (Tasty n Sons, Toro Bravo, Podnah's Pit, Por Que No, Miss Delta, Mississippi Pizza).

3) The Downtown Walk/The Yuppie. This could be something like starting in Washington Park and seeing the Rose Garden and Japanese Garden (highly recommended), heading down to 23rd/21st street (mostly bars and shops and cafes, not super interesting), then continuing east toward the river and hitting Powell's, the Craft Museum, and the pearl district generally. Then maybe walking over the Burnside Bridge and hitting up a good bar on MLK.

If any of this sounds remotely interesting to you, hit me up and I'm happy to provide more recommendations in greater detail.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:34 AM on August 29, 2012 [5 favorites]

You need "Walk There!". Check out the Pearl District (esp. the walk to Pittock Mansion) - you'll get your fill of food and art. Not so sure about music, other than possible buskers. (BTW, there's a free iPhone app, if you swing that way.)

For the best all-around sight-seeing with a walk/hike, try the 4-T Trail. It covers a fair bit of the city AND gets you on four modes of Portland transit: train, tram, trolley, trail (okay, that last one is not exactly public transit).

Seconding Lutoslawski's recommendations, esp. #3, since that could be incorporated with the 4-T (Washington Park is lovely, particularly the Japanese Garden and the Rose Garden).
posted by sazanka at 11:42 AM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'll second Lutoslawski's recommendation for Mississippi/N. Williams/Alberta.

Also you can walk across most of the bridges for fine views of city. The loop from the Broadway bridge all the way down to the Sellwood bridge and back the up the other bank is nice, but it's a bit over 11 miles. Of course, if you have a car, you can do the quickie version by driving the 5-405 loop, counterclockwise, so you'll be on the top decks of both the Marquam and Fremont bridges.

I would definitely include at least one steel bridge (pedestrian) crossing in your wanderings. Maybe both decks. And you'd be close by the Lan Su Chinese Garden, which is definitely worth a visit for the paving stones alone.

(For your wineries day, you have a lot of choices. I like Elk Cove in Gaston. Take a blanket. Take a picnic.* Drink rose.)

*Round up your picnic at the Farmer's Market at PSU on Saturday morning. You'll be able to get everything for a picnic, and take in the full glory of Portland's produce and residents.
posted by janell at 12:12 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Thirding Lutoslawski's recommendation for Mississippi/N. Williams/Alberta. To add more detail to the Alberta portion (assuming you're coming from the west walking east), go all the way down Alberta to 30th and turn north (left). Walk up to Killingsworth where there is a little patch of restaurants/shops. If you want to go a little further, continue east on Killingsworth to 33rd. If you like beer, there's Concordia Ale House. Turn left on 33rd and walk a couple blocks north to The Kennedy School, an old middle school converted into bar, theater, restaurant, hotel, etc.

Sellwood is also a nice area to walk in and is next to the river.
posted by perhapses at 3:57 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hey all! Thanks for the awesome advice -- we took nearly all of it! We even dropped by the meetup!

So, our first walking tour basically consisted of walking from downtown to the international rose test garden, hanging out in the rose garden, walking from there to the Pittock mansion, and from there to the Perl. A nice, challenging, hilly walk -- reminded me of home! Got to see some pretty roses and some excellent views of PDX.

Our second walk started at our hotel downtown, took us across the N. Broadway bridge, all the way up N. Mississippi, and then all the way down Alberta to 33rd. What a great walk! The Alberta district was awesome -- so many cool places to hang out! -- but I gotta say, the real showstopper was N. Mississippi. Had this sort of magical otherworldly quality. Seriously, my girlfriend and I felt like we'd stepped into a movie! Also, I noticed all the amazing places to grab a pint, and fantasized about some future Afroblanco starting at one end of N. Mississippi and just drinking his way down the block. Perhaps next time?

And then on our hiking day, we climbed Beacon Rock, which was spectacular! My girlfriend had never seen the Columbia River Gorge, and really, the drive out there is almost a scenic as the view from Beacon Rock itself. Sadly, didn't make it to any wineries, so we'll have to do that next time.

Anyway, thank you all! I love you and your city! I usually come back a couple times a year, so I can guarantee you haven't seen the last of us :)
posted by Afroblanco at 9:56 AM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

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