Whether you spend two days or a whole week in Portland, Oregon, you’ll never feel like you had enough time exploring the sights, sounds and tastes of this city on the banks of the Willamette River. Of course, the hope is that you soak in as much as you can in the time you are here, so we have distilled some of our favorite places to stay and play for those looking to savor a quick visit to Oregon’s central city.
Head downtown to Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Hotel Lucia, which will be your home base for the next few days. Its proximity to the popular West End neighborhood known for great restaurants, shopping (the beloved Powell’s bookstore has its flagship store here) and drinking, in addition to close-by streetcar and MAX light rail lines, makes it conveniently situated to get the best out of Portland.
Residing in a 1909 building that’s on the National Register of Historic Places, the chic boutique hotel is filled with stylish, contemporary décor and the world’s largest collection black-and-white portraits from Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer David Hume Kennerly (the Oregon native worked for noted publications like Time and Life magazines and was President Gerald R. Ford’s personal photographer). The rooms come loaded with amenities, from pillow menus to iPods, but our favorite is that you can have delectable local favorite Salt & Straw ice cream (try a pint of the strawberry honey balsamic) delivered to your room. (For more eats, check out the hotel’s Imperial and Portland Penny Diner, both of which are helmed by James Beard Award winner and Iron Chef America champion Vitaly Paley.)
Once you’ve stowed your bags, stroll a few blocks to Portland’s historic South Park Blocks, a tree-filled pedestrian green space running 12 blocks, right in the middle of the city. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, be a local and check out the popular Portland Farmers Markets and you’re sure to come back with fresh fruit or flowers. Next, walk the short distance to Raven & Rose’s exclusive upstairs hideaway, the Rookery, to sip on some of the finest cocktails you can find in the city. Time it right and sign up to attend a cocktail class that its bartenders teach every month.
For dinner, make your way over one of the 12 bridges spanning the Willamette River that bisects the city and goes straight to Renata, a new restaurant that features a warmly styled interior that perfectly complements the melt-in-your-mouth contemporary Italian flavors and pops of texture found in each dish. Try the beef tagliata and pair it with a 2013 Brick House Gamay from Oregon wine country. After dinner, and since you’re on the east side of the river anyway, satisfy your dessert craving by swinging by Tasty n Sons in North Portland for chocolate-potato doughnuts so scrumptious that you’ll wonder how the treat was ever considered solely a breakfast item.
Whether you’re a repeat visitor or it’s your first time, you surely know by now that Portland is a city dedicated to bicycles. Riding downtown is safe, easy and a great way to explore. There are several rental options a short walking distance from Hotel Lucia. Once you’re ready to get pedaling, begin with brunch at the chic but comfortable Mother’s Bistro & Bar. The crunchy French toast and egg scrambles are a delicious way to start your day.
Hop back on the bike for a couple blocks to reach Portland’s Waterfront Park, which runs parallel to the Willamette River. For one of the best views of the city and to feel like a resident, ride the two-and-a-half-mile loop that takes you onto the Eastbank Esplanade and over two bridges.
Eventually, cruise back to Hotel Lucia to get into your car. Drive a half hour northwest of the city to Sauvie Island, the largest island in the Columbia River. Spend the rest of the day exploring family farms, a wildlife refuge and sandy beaches. In the fall, have fun and challenge yourselves at the Pumpkin Patch corn maze or stop by Kruger’s Farm to pick as many berries and fresh produce as you can eat before driving back to the city, happy and tired.
As Portland is known for the more than 500 food carts that line streets, make the final dining stops of your stay at a few of these stalls, so you can properly enjoy tasty food while supporting locally owned businesses and chefs. Whether you choose vegan at Juniper, Hawaiian from 808 Grinds or Himalayan at Momo Cart, you’ll surely find something to delight every sense. And doesn’t that kind of perfectly sum up your two days in the City of Roses?