After all that sun we got in Hawaii, we almost forgot that we still have some adventures to share from a notoriously less sunny place. We already told you about our day at the Portland Home & Garden Show (you can read more about that here – and if we met that evening, our pic together might be here). And yes, Sherry is holding someone else’s baby and I’m wearing an apron (meant for Clara!).
Between all of that presenting/meeting/greeting we actually had some time to take in the city a little bit too. So for anyone planning a visit (or just wondering what the heck we did) here ya go…
We got into town around 4pm PST on Tuesday the 21st and Clara was tired with a capital T. The poor girl had gotten up two hours early, was nearly at her normal bedtime (in East Coast time), and hadn’t napped or even slept a wink on the plane – scratch that, she slept one wink as we touched down at PDX (we’ll cover more on traveling with a toddler and how she adjusted to the time difference later on Young House Life).
So after giving Clara a much needed power nap we dashed out to grab dinner at ¿Por Que No?, one of the many restaurants that you guys had recommended to us. It was muy delicioso (forgive our iPhone pics for being no bueno). Our favorites were the carnitas and the shrimp & pineapple tacos if you’re wondering.
Since we were determined to soak in as much of Portland as possible (and force ourselves to get onto west coast time), we even stayed out long enough to get dessert. We hit up Salt & Straw, which was this ice cream lover’s dream. Although having to pick just one of their very distinct flavors was a bit of a nightmare (paralyzed…with…indecision). After sampling spoonfuls like Pear with Blue Cheese and Arbequina Olive Oil, I landed on their most popular flavor: Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbon. Meanwhile Sherry got something equally amazing (almond ganache something?) and I also bought one of their extra soft t-shirts (why yes, I am expanding my repertoire beyond soda shirts to food related tees as well).
Salt & Straw was a pretty cool shop too. First, it was a big reminder that Portland is crazy about being eco (in a good way). Compost everything? Don’t mind if we do!
Decor-wise they also had a flock of these awesome wire birds soaring across one wall along with exposed beam ceilings and industrial lights and stools.
And these cool rustic shelves stocked with retro looking products like soaps, stationery, and straws were speaking our language. We could’ve spent another hour or two there soaking it all up (and digesting our first scoop enough to order up another one), but we were starting to push our luck with our littlest ice cream connoisseur (who got the Double Fold Vanilla and loved every bite of it – so much that she screamed “buh bye ice cream!” when we left).
The next day – Wednesday the 22nd – was spent pretty much entirely at the Home & Garden Show (Clara was being entertained by my parents, who had thankfully flown out with us to visit some family in the area). Oh but after our early interviews with a couple of Portland’s morning news shows (you can check one of those out here) and before any presentation/meet & greet stuff started we did have a break to check out the single most recommended spot according to you guys: Voodoo Doughnut.
There were so many weird flavors that we wish we could’ve rented a secondary stomach for the day. In the end we ended up with a Bacon Maple Bar (yes, a doughnut with bacon on it), a Neapolitan (chocolate doughnut with vanilla frosting, strawberry dust, and marshmallows), and an Arnold Palmer (vanilla frosting with lemonade & ice tea dust… and a solitary green Froot Loop?). They were all good, but the Bacon Maple definitely rocked our world the most (crispy + salty + sweet + doughy = awesometown).
So by this point we were pretty convinced that Portland was (a) very green, (b) very yummy and (c) apparently very weird. Case in point: when Sherry spotted this sign in the background, she did her part to fit in. I’d say she looks mighty weird. Mission accomplished, Mrs. P.
Fast forward to Thursday, which was the extra day that we had built into our stay so that we could run around town a little more. We started the day at another highly recommended spot: Pine State Biscuits. Is it sounding like we just ate the whole time? If so, it’s pretty accurate.
Sherry got their signature sandwich: “The Reggie” and I got “The Chatfield” (basically the same thing, but with apple butter instead of gravy). We realize this picture is less than appetizing, which is doing this breakfast a great disservice. It was the best.
We also bought some local art while we were there, which was hanging on the walls of the restaurant (I love when they do that – because if you see something you love you’re actually allowed to buy it). There were so many letterpress prints attached to wood boards to choose from…
… but we went with this guy:
They’re made by a local company called Old School Stationers and sold for $25 a pop. We love getting things like this while on vacation to remember the trip by (full disclosure: Sherry has a childhood shot glass collection from every place she’s ever visited while growing up, which she only realizes now is an odd thing to collect at age 10). No idea where our new letterpress guy will end up, but we’ll share pics when he finds a spot in our house!
But now let’s focus on our non-culinary adventures. With full stomachs (and another t-shirt added to my wardrobe along with some sweet Portland art), next we hit up The ReBuilding Center, which was like our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore on steroids… and with cheekier signage.
I’m sure we could’ve spent hours hunting through the rows of lighting, tile, windows, and lumber – but without an easy way to get anything home we resisted (plus it was freezing in there!). Though we almost snagged one of these picture frames that they make from scrap wood:
The ReBuilding Center just seemed to underscore how much this town values reusing materials. I mean, just check out this cool wall made from random windows on one of The ReBuilding Center’s warehouses.
After we left there, we passed a block of shops that caught our eye – specifically this place (Sherry has trained her eyes to zero in on bee references).
Queen Bee Creations was cool, not just because they had really great textiles like this (Exhibit A):
And this (Exhibit B):
But also because the shop opens right into their studio (or “hive” as they call it). So you can actually watch their items being made (stitched, printed, and more!). It’s really fun to witness this little reminder that the things you can buy there are literally made right in front of you by Portland locals.
Another one of our favorite experiences in Portland was just driving around and checking out the neighborhoods. There seemed to be a really eclectic mix of houses and lots of bungalows and arts & crafts style homes (which we love).
People also seemed to have a lot of fun with their exteriors, so there were lots of fresh color choices to take in.
It’s too bad we weren’t there in a season where things were lusher and blooming. Although we’re mostly convinced that the rumors that it’s always overcast and misting in Portland except for in August are pretty spot on.
We also lined up a House Crashing visit while we were there, so we did manage to admire at least one house from the inside as well. We’ve still got to sort through those pictures, but here’s a preview to whet your appetite. It was beyond inspiring. We hope to edit the pics and write it all up by next week for ya.
It was actually this homeowner, Kirsten, who made the suggestion that we check out Schoolhouse Electric. We knew of them from this giveaway that we did ages ago with them, but we hadn’t heard they expanded their line beyond retro inspired lighting and hardware.
Sherry especially loved this big House 5 sign…
… these printed lamp shades…
… and these library-card-catalogs-turned-bench-seating. We only wish we could have squeezed in a trip to Rejuvenation too (they have amazing lighting) but Clara was getting antsy so it was time that we did something with her in mind.
Luckily the (otherwise sad-looking) mall near our hotel had a carousel that Clara adored (she had fun selecting which horse she wanted to ride). And pretty much the entire time she was on it, her face looked like this:
Portland has a pretty awesome Children’s Museum too – so we spent a few hours there as well. Why hello giant lite brite, fancy meeting you here.
Like any good toddler with hair so short she’s often mistaken for a boy, Clara spent most of her time playing with the trucks in the giant (rubber) gravel pit.
Our time in Portland actually wrapped up in nearby Beaverton, where my cousin lives with his wife and two children. My aunt and uncle had also driven out from Boise to pick up my parents (they were all heading back for a big family visit in Idaho when we ventured on to Hawaii) so they had all of us over for dinner. We somehow managed to leave without pictures – probably because we were just enjoying the chance to unwind with family that we don’t get to see that often.
So even though our Portland trip was quick, we felt like we squeezed in a lot of P-Town in two and a half days. Actually, in some ways it felt like the perfect taste to make us want to come back again. Perhaps for our book tour in the fall? Here’s hoping! Can you Portlandians schedule a few sunny days for us? And we’d love more tips about what shouldn’t be missed next time we’re in Oregon (selfishly for ourselves, but also for anyone reading this who is looking for more Portland fun).
Psst- The Portland Home & Garden Show Meet and Greet photo at the top of this post is by NV Holden Photography.
Pssst- Check out all of the other traveling posts we’ve shared over the last 4.5 years here.
sounds like a fun trip! since you have family in Boise, maybe you should make a stop here next time! :) not quite as weird as portland but… we can show a good time!
Sounds like a plan!
Ditto that – come in the summer for all the outdoor activities you can handle! If Clara makes that adorable face on a carousel horse, imagine her face while whitewater rafting (okay, maybe when she’s a bit older…)
Haha, sounds like a plan… in a few years!
wow, you guys were busy! Looks like a fun time, and I love that art you picked up and anxious to see what you guys do with it- that picture of Clara’s face on the carousel is so precious- she has an infectious smile!
Looking forward to the house crashing post!
Stephanie Phillips says
What an amazing town! I hate the cold and the wet, but it does look like a good place to visit!
Am I the only one who read this line: “We’ve still got to sort through those pictures, but here’s a preview to whet your appetite.” And said whet aloud a la Stewie? Hwet? Hwet! Hweeties!
I’ll fit right in Portland… weird…
Bwahahahah. I love that Wheat Thins commercial.
kaycee parker says
Looks like you all had a great time! I love that print that you guys picked. My bf is in San Francisco for a work trip & that’s what I’ve begged him to bring me back! Hopefully he can pick a stylish one ;)
I’ve been to Portland a handful of times while I was growing up (from NJ too!). Now that i’m older and have left my parent’s nest, the thought of going back is more tempting now then ever. I would have a different view of the city and would love to go explore things that interest me nowadays.
Anyways, welcome back to the East coast! You guys are great!
I really had to restrain myself from yelling, “PUT A BIRD ON IT!” when I saw those wire birds. Also, Clara’s face on the carousel is priceless.
i love every single thing in that teaser photo of your house crashing! can’t wait!! also that art you snagged is awesome!
I thought that was your “I just ate waaaay too many donuts” face.
Haha- that too!
Kristen @ Popcorn on the Stove says
It looks like a wonderful trip! I’ve actually heard of voodoo donuts so I’m glad it lives up the the hype. Portland is definitely on my list of places to visit (it got added after I spent a Summer in Seattle, WA)!
Yay!! You hit all the best spots. NE Portland is tops! I live two blocks from Salt & Straw… dangerous. Glad you enjoyed Portland!
Oh my gosh- so dangerous!
Bacon covered donut….YES PLEASE! Could you work out a giveaway with them, do they ship?!?!
Haha, now that would be amazing.
Heidi P. says
Oh my oh my. That would be an AWEsome giveaway.
I’m totally missing Portland after reading this! Hmm! (that’s a sad, whistful whimper)
Where can I find the habitat for humanity store in my area, Ft Worth, Tx? Or a store with a similar concept?
Here’s their page to search for one in your area: http://www.habitat.org/cd/env/restore.aspx
You guys totally just made me want to take my family there! I was there…oh….15 years ago? For like a week and I totally wasn’t old enough to appreciate it. My husband’s never been further west than Vegas and that has to change pronto! I’m glad you had a blast!
I love Portland, and everything it stands for. My sister lives there, and my last visit included taking my 11 year old twin nieces to get their ears pierced at a tribal body piercing museum by a man with one of those 3 inch holes in his ear. Never a dull day. Glad you guys had a great time!
PS – My favorite donut at Voodoo is the one with the Cap’n Crunch Berries on top. It’s genius!
Mmm, that one sounds so good!
Julia R says
Yay! I’m glad you enjoyed your visit to my neck of the woods. And I do assure you, it is not grey and misty all of the time except August.
We get some pretty spectacular weather here, but we also need the rain to keep everything beautiful.
Come back anytime – there is SO much more to see in this wonderful part of the world :)
I second that it is not always grey. We actually get sun breaks most days and have some beautiful weather almost every single month. This last week it has been up to 60 during the day.
The best part about having a little less sun than average (besides the beautiful, happy plants) is that when the sun comes out, so do all the people. The whole city comes to life at once.
Jenn McCormick says
Wow! You guys made it to so many awesome Portland locations! I love you that were hanging out in NE PDX (my hood!) … it’s so charming and quirky :). And, I love the letterpress you picked up from Old School Stationers. I bought one of their prints a few years ago and it’s still one of my favorites!
no powells? My favourite portland hangout. Used to go to portland three or four times a year for gigs. And powells was the place to hang out.
and yes, it’s pretty misty most of the time, but can be absolutely glo-ri-ous in the sun. great city.
We wish we had time! We drove by it and glued our faces to the window. It’s amazing how big it is!
that’s where my husband and I spend all of our time when we visit Portland!
It sure does look like you had a great time. I’m so glad you had a chance to check out ¿Por Que No?. Two and a half years after visiting there and my friends and I are still talking about it. That shrimp and pineapple taco was my favorite too!
Wait – Sherry collects shot glasses? I don’t recall having seen them anywhere in your houses, so I assume you guys are as stumped as I am on how to display them without looking too kitschy. I have over 130 and I can’t stop buying them from all my vacation destinations, even though I have nowhere to put them. What do you do with yours?
They’re actually at my dad’s house (when I went off to college I left them behind for fear of looking like a weird lush).
Susan S. says
@Elaine- the key to displaying collections without the kitsch or bore factor is to break it up into smaller, interesting groups and rotate the collection periodically so all your treasures aren’t out on display at once. For shot glasses you could use a empty bottle as a bud vase and scatter a few glasses around it, in another area use one as a paper weight and one in the bathroom as a jewelry catch-all.Sneak a few onto to your shelves by color, shape or theme. Because they’re scattered here and there, they won’t be so overwhelming– kinda like Sherry’s animal menagerie.
And YHL’ers, next time you’re out of town and find more stuff than your bags can handle just remember that shipping your items home in the mail is a great alternative. Sure it would be on the expensive side for something really big like a dresser or something but with flat rate boxes, it’s a perfect way to get home that picture frame, bag, toy you’re gonna regret not snagging.
Hope this all was useful!
Great tip! I was so scared to look at lighting at the Rebuilding Center for fear of falling in love and having to check a giant lamp, but shipping is always an option!
[email protected] says
We’re considering Portland as part of our road trip honeymoon (from Seattle to LA) so I loved this post! It looks like you had a great time.
I’m so happy to hear of another pre-teen who (unintentionally?) started a shot-glass collection from vacation spots! I’m not alone!!
Looks like you had a great time shopping and eating your way through Portland!
Haha, we should start a club!
You hit up some of the best little food spots in town! I’m a local but am not a big fan of Voodoo in terms of best donuts in town (most unique – yes). But it’s hilarious that you made it out to Jantzen Beach – the most depressing mall ever – I have ridden that carousel many a time! Glad you enjoyed Portland!
So glad you enjoyed your trip to my fair city of Portland! As a resident, I can attest that you hit up all the right places. If only you had longer, though :) Definitely come back for your book tour – August or September might be nice!
Whenever we travel, food is the main point. Seriously. I spent two months finding the best places in Boston and New York.
I might have issues, but I sure do eat well!
Now planning for Chicago this fall…
The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh says
I would be SOOOO broke going through those stores. Such great homes in the area too though I’m partial to the first one. We’re going to Portland in the next few years and this makes me even more excited for it!
I’m Australian, and this wrap was good enough to make me want to drop by Portland (admittedly when things are a more little ‘aussie’ in weather!!) I was in the US in 2011, so next trip not likely til 2013, but for all the food, I’m seriously considering it!!
Ohhhh lies–the sun comes out in late May and sticks around through September :P There’s even a week or two in July where it gets up into the 100’s!
PS: Nobody can figure out why the Janzen Beach mall is still open…there’s *nothing* there :P
Christy A. says
How fun to read about you adventures in Portland. I live close by, however was not able to make it up to the Home and Garden show. Please, please come through on a book tour!!!
No Powell’s?!?!?!?! For SURE you have to hit that up!! The Rose Gardens are awesome, as is Multnomah Falls (about 45 min drive away). Paley’s Place restaurant for sure, and Portland City Grill for happy hour and the view!!!
Hi Sherry! I know you are going to write up a post on the house crashing next week, but is there any chance you know and can share the name of the paint color in that room? We are painting a room this weekend and I’ve yet to find the perfect color, but that is exactly what I’m looking for. Thanks!
I don’t know it yet! Still emailing her for all that info! Soon I hope though!
pretty sure it’s Olympic’s “quill”
I love that dining room. I already had it pinned! The pendant is from Ballard.
I can’t wait for the house crash post!
Kirsten Nieman says
Betsy is right! It’s Olympic’s Quill:).
Thanks for the info guys!
Leigh Anne says
Looks like your trip there was a great one! I just started watching Portlandia after you linked a couple of videos and would love to see all the weirdness Portland has to offer. Welcome home, Petersiks!
Yes! And let us know when you come to Seattle on book tour, we’ll give you a similar yet still different list of quirky, artsy, tasty must-dos!
Sounds like fun!
It’s so fun to have you guys on the west coast for a few days! I live in Boise & visit Portland often, so its great to have actually experienced the places you went! Portland is weird! And therefore awesome! Glad you guys enjoyed it! Hopefully your book tour will bring you out this way again!
And I’ll add another vote to Powell’s…it’s a Portland must! I actually got bookends of the Chrysler bldg & Empire state bldg last time I was there :)
uh, that pic of the doughnut with bacon on top? makes me want to go to portland right. now. drooooooooooooooool…
Krystle @ ColorTransformedFamily says
So glad to hear you had fun and that Clara was a trooper with all the traveling. I would love to play on a giant LiteBrite like that.
My husband and I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Seattle last year and absolutely loved it. Being from the South we weren’t used to a culture that is so environmentally conscience… even though we try to do our part and recycle back home. I was also head over heels in love with all the bungalows…. my dream home style.
Tom M says
You really need to catch an episode of ‘Portlandia’ now.
Caitlin @ Hardly Housewives says
I used to live in Seattle and whenever I ventured south to Portland, I always visited Powell’s Books. AMAZING selection. And though I wasn’t paying attention to baby stuff then, I bet they have an awesome kids section.
They do, indeed.
adriane Wacker says
My Husband grew up in Portland, and my in-laws are there. I so badly wanted to go and meet you guys. I do love Portland and it seems as if you soaked in the overall vibe of the city. If you ever come back, they do have a fun zoo and and a fun Science museum also called OMSI.
omigosh you hit so many of our favorite spots! pine state, salt and straw, voodoo, schoolhouse electric, even the giant lite brite at CM (it enthralls my son for long periods of time)! too bad you couldn’t get to powell’s or rejuvenation or other random awesome thrift stores…definitely on the return trip! and at pine state, you were just two doors down from the most amazing fabric store – bolt. september and october are great months to visit, weather-wise. i’d love to say hi at a book signing! :)
Oh man we saw Bolt but didn’t have time to go in. So sad!
If you’re in Portland when the roses are in bloom the Rose Gardens are gorgeous! I never knew there were so many types or colors of roses before visiting.
Or if you had some time to drive out to the coast, it’s breathtaking.
My favorite doughnut at VooDoo is the blue raspberry flavored one. It’s bright blue and pink and tastes like a blow-pop. My inner child was very happy.
Mmm, that one sounds awesome!
Leah T says
Sherry, I totally had a shot glass collection from vacation spots when I was younger too! It never struck me until I was older that it was an odd collection for that age. At the time they just seemed like cute mini glasses. :)
Toro Bravo (tapas) is by far my favorite place to eat here in Portland.
Next time you are in (on a clear day) go up to Council Crest Park where you can see five mountains Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Rainier. Or up the Gorge a short ways for views of Multnomah Falls!
Glad you got a taste (ha, ha) of our fair city and I hope you guys come back in the summer months!
Kelsey Noble says
I have a shot glass collection that started when I was young also–it’s a cheap item that almost every place has, the perfect souvenir! Glad you guys had a good time!
That’s what I think too! When you only have $1 you grab a shot glass!
Thank you for sharing! Before i moved to the US, i debated between New York and Portland…and if NY didn’t work, i would go to Portland..well, NY worked out great and I’ll be here for the long haul, but i would still like to visit some day!
I live right by Pine State and Salt and Straw! So glad you hit up NE. I wish I had run into you guys! :) Looks like you had a blast.
Many moons ago, Jantzen Beach was home to a thriving amusement park – http://www.pdxhistory.com/html/jantzen_beach.html
The mall (which opened in 1972) used to be much larger and also held a small water park. It actually had quite a few tenants during my childhood in the 1980s, but has taken a slow demise over the last 20 years.
Glad you had a fun time in PDX!
Oh yes we read the signage about it! Such an intriguing story! We actually met someone there who worked there as a teen and his dad was in charge of all the roller coasters (even the one that killed that kid). Crazy talking to him about a part of history!
Carol N. says
I have to say that the biscuit picture looks yummy to me! But I’m a gravy loving Southern gal! Funny how so much of your trip was food related – that is what we do too! Looks like Clara had a good time as well.
Hope you had a great time!!
So psyched that you got to go to Pine State Biscuits and try the Reggie! I also had that when my hubs and I visited Portland…actually…since it was a Sunday morning, the place was so busy that we had to get it “to go” and eat it in line at the airport…and ended up missing our flight because I had insisted on going to Pine State. Sad face. But the Reggie was worth it, in my opinion! (Don’t tell my hubby :))
Oh man! It was so good though!
Meg@ Green Motherhood says
Now I want to visit!
My hubs had a shot glass collection as well; I got rid of it. Bad wife, I know.
Clara’s face on that carousel, priceless. I love her joy.
K (Barking Babymama) says
Come to Tucson, Arizona on your book tour!!!!!!!! It’s very eclectic and artsy in areas and has a big street fair twice a year (December and March) – you should check it out!
Would love to! It’s all in our publisher’s hands but we’ll keep you posted!
[email protected] says
Oh, my goodness! I love Portland, too! We are there every six months or so for business with my hubby. I have to tell you that the houses you took photos of look so much like my house color:
Makes me feel normal…since we’re in So. Cal. and probably have the ONLY house in our city with a yellow door! Everything looks so fun!
Organizing Made Fun
So bold and fun! I love it.