There is much to do in Portland but if you had a couple days only, here are my recommendations!
This is the world's largest independent bookstore for both new and used books. It is so big that you can spend a whole day here! Absolute must-do.
Pretty touristy national site, best time to visit is during winter and spring as the water flow is highest. There is a restaurant on site, restrooms, ice-cream shop and a gift shop. Parking is right across the falls. This spot is about 30 minutes away from Portland, it's fun to do and quite beautiful. You can watch the falls from the bottom, you don't have to go up so the viewing area and the restaurants are handicap accessible. Free to visit.
So beautiful! These gardens are open Wednesday through Monday. It cost about $20 per person to enter the facility. Buy the tickets onsite, and park in the parking areas, a short walk away. Stroll around the pond, visit the tea garden, sand and stone garden, natural and flat gardens. Explore the Bonsai Terrace, eat at the Umami Cafe and if you are lucky, catch an exhibition. Do not forget the gift shop as it is a cultural experience in itself. All in all, a great time! Took us about an hour to complete.
What a delight - This a well-loved garden with so many people taking such good care of it. Find this treasure right in the middle of the city! The garden was built by Chinese artisans from Suzhou and feels pretty authentic. It costs about $14 to enter and is wheelchair accessible. The plant collection at Lan Su is spectacular with so many species native to China. Def try the Puer Tea experience in their cafe and if you are lucky, you may meet a fantastic calligrapher on site, by the in-house museum.
From March 5 through Dec 24, this open air arts and crafts market is a way for local businesses to display and sell their wares. There are 150 booths so make sure to visit the Old Town / Chinatown neighborhood that transforms every Saturday!
A very large percentage of the U.S. hazelnut crop is produced in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. so when in Oregon, visit a hazelnut farm - Right? About 30 minutes from Portland is Ken & June's Hazelnuts Melcher Family Farm. This family has been growing hazelnuts since 1957. They currently farm 300 acres of hazelnuts. Pick up some hazelnuts while you are there, check out their peach farm in the same area and try their hazelnut shakes. I personally love to learn how things grow so this experience was fascinating for me.
7. Experience local restaurants, coffee shops, wineries and breweries!
** Try tamales that taste like home and check out the food truck scene - a thing to do in Portland!
We visited Casa de Tamales and had some really cool vegetarian tamales. These folks used to have an asparagus farm but they don't anymore. Their tamales are amazing! We also visited Cartopia, which is basically an area with different food trucks.
**Celebrate Oregon wine
Much to celebrate here! Oregon is known for its Pinot Noir and there are several wineries in the state. Some wineries are close to Portland in Willamette Valley and others are in Southern Oregon in Rogue Valley.
We did a wine tasting (+food pairing) at Adelsheim - great wines, sensibly priced. Call ahead for guided tastings. This winery has great Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.
During our travels down south, we also visited the Dancin winery in Medford - it was a great experience. Look for that wine and order it, when you are dining in Portland. This winery has great pinot blends as well as chardonnays.
At a wine bar in Bandon, we also tried the Red Lily Vineyards Red Blanket Tempranillo 2016 from Jacksonville, Rogue Valley which was wonderful with its bold, dark fruit flavors and the award-winning and organically grown Willamette Valley Heritage Reserve Pinot from Coeur de Terre (CDT). I liked the Red Blanket better but everyone else in my group were fans of the CDT.
Want to know more about Oregon wines? Click here.
Visit Oregon breweries
Oregon has several great breweries, so try some local beer. We visited Breakside Brewery, which seemed quite popular, great selections, indoor and outdoor seating, wonderful vibe and food too!
Try the local coffee!
Oregon has some fantastic roasters. Definitely check out the Coava Flagship store and try their pour-over. And Stumptown, of course! You will also see Dutch Bros everywhere - they don't have regular drip coffees but a variety of other kinds. They are headquartered in Grant Pass, OR.
Finally, Voodoo Doughnuts is a thing to do! The shop itself is quirky, the doughnuts, delicious. The lines are huge to get in so get to the store early!
Credits: While I am busy taking videos, my family helps in so many ways! Thank you, PJ for the photos, Mauli for planning all the food excursions, PK for driving and Anya for forever keeping us young!
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