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.
I LOVE that black glass chandelier. I looked on the Schoolhouse Electric site and couldn’t find it … do you know where it is from?
I think that’s from Ballard Designs. Hope it helps!
Go over a weekend – the Saturday Downtown Market is tons of fun!
Don’t know if you remember me, I did a video shoot at your house a few years ago, and know some of your family. It was so cool to see you visited Queenbee in the PDX! That’s my sister’s biz, Queenbee Creations! What a small world. Hope to see you in RVA sometime!
No way! What a crazy small world. Love it! Of course we remember you! And we love your sister’s shop!
Jenna Reyna says
I’m a new Portlander & can’t wait to try the biscuit place & Queen Bee. There are so many amazing places in Portland that are local & true to the northwest- not your typical “touristy” city. If you are a coffee drinker, you’ll have to try some of Portland’s best coffee shops next visit. Por Que No is a fav of mine… Little Big Burger (local,organic, all compostable) is right down the street & is to die for! Glad you could spend a short yet packed visit in Portland!
I am so glad you loved Portland. It is by far my favorite large city in the US. Here are some tips:
1. Go in June if you want to see everything blooming. The closer to the end of the month you get, the less likely it is to be raining.
2. Take a ride up to Mt. Hood and Timberline Lodge, great lodge, great food and fun mountain snow and views.
3. Try OMSI (the science museum)- they have a fantastic childrens area, a few science labs, a retired US submarine to tour, a planetarium and an IMAX. It also has some pretty amazing touring exhibits.
4. Take a drive to the outskirts of town and enjoy the roadside fruit stands. You can get some of the best berries for a really reasonable price, plus you get to experience the locals.
5. You should also go look at some of the waterfalls. Multanomah is world famous and if you follow the Columbia River Gorge you will find some really beautiful hidden falls.
Love all the Portland tips everyone!
Oh my, I WANT the House 5 sign! Our house number is 5. Love! So glad you guys had a great time. Welcome back! Oh, we have the same cork flooring, it’s fabulous, you will love the warmth on your feet (versus tile or even linoleum).
I’m so glad you guys were able to check out the ReBuilder’s store while in Portland. The place is amazing. My husband’s cousin’s partner works there as part of the demolition crew. She took us on a tour when we visited and I was amazed at all of the things they’ve saved and sell. I wish we had one in Chicago.
I’m so bummed I missed you at the Home & Garden show as I had to travel for work that day…. but you should definitely include Portland on your book tour – perhaps even at the famous Powell’s Bookstore??
Also, I’d say you crammed in a lot in your 2.5 days here, maybe you should venture out to the surrounding areas maybe for some winetasting next time??
Can wait to see the pics of the housecrashing you did!
Please, please come to Seattle! I’ll take you to Mighty-O donuts (vegan donuts). We have the same weather and lots of craftsman houses too! You could even take pictures of my sister’s house which is a very cool remodel.
If you like cured meats, we have Mario Batali’s dad’s salumeria in our town. Need I pitch more?
Would love to! It’s all in our publisher’s hands, but we’ll keep you posted!
I’m glad you guys had so much fun in Portland! When my husband and I got our engagement pictures done we actually went into the ReBuilding center! We have some awesome pictures of us sitting on the edges of bathtubs and even some in front of that wall of pictures frames :)
Kim Wethe Rily says
Glad you had a great time. I will verify that it did get sunny when we went to Portland last year in January. The sky was blue and there were only puffy white clouds in the sky. Then we drove up to Mt. Hood for the snow. Oddly enough, my cousin lives in Beaverton as well. Sure we’re not related?
Did you check out the local waterfalls? They were beautiful!
Wish we had time for that! Next time!
Emily Crawford says
Next time you’re in town, you should hit some local pubs with rotating craft beer on tap for some tasty flights (little 5 oz tastes lined up on a board). Maybe a beer brawl t-shirt.
Briel K. says
This post makes me want to visit Portland! I’ll have to bookmark this so I have the list of fun places to visit when I make it there. :)
I love love love the houses. I’m especially a lover of the Craftsman style, siiigh. What area were you house sight-seeing in? SE, SW, N? I’m a Californian about to relocate to Ptown! Scaryciting! SE is known for being hip, but from what I’ve heard, North is more family friendly. Anyway, do tell! I’ve been looking primarily in SE, but am totally open to any neighborhood with cute dwellings. I know that pretty much means the entire city of Portland, but…lol.
I don’t remember exactly where all of those houses were, but most were between Pine State Biscuits in Alberta and The Rebuilding Center on Mississippi… so I think that’s considered NE? The house we crashed was in SE and it seemed plenty family friendly from our brief time there.
So glad you guys hit up Salt & Straw! It’s the best! I glimpsed you guys at the Home & Garden show, but all the spots to hear you were taken up so I just looked on and said to my boyfriend, “Those are the people who run the house blog I like!” Glad you guys enjoyed Portland, it’s a great place to call home :)
Darcy Yazzolno says
AH you guys stayed near Jantzen Beach. Not a great mall but has an awesome carousel, Target and Old Navy (since I live in Vancouver I have to pay sales tax so I visit Jantzen Beach often as its only about 10 minutes from my house, NO TAX!). Jantzen Beach used to be a permanent fair and an actual beach back in I believe the 40’s 50’s.
Down the hill from the Childrens Museum is an awesome park, Rose Garden and the Chinease gardens. OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) is also really awesome for parents and kids. My daughter, 3, loves to just be downtown Portland too. Pioneer Square usually has some pretty fun things going on and the Saturday Market is awesome in the summer. Cant be tons of homemand/handmade things from jewelry to planters to clothers plus an elephant ear.
Looks like you guys had fun, hope you make it back soon!
Oh yeah, while we were at the mall we read the display about the history of Jantzen Beach as an amusement park – quite interesting! And the best part was we bumped into a man who used to work there as a kid. He happened to be visiting to relive some memories so we got some good stories from a guy who experienced it first hand.
I’m glad you had a great time! You hit up pretty much all of the spots that I take out-of-towners to.
(And thank you, thank you, thank you for not dropping a Portlandia reference.)
Kelley M. says
PLEASE COME TO DENVER ON YOUR BOOK TOUR:)!!!
Dee@ Small Houses says
Clara on the carousal ride.. sheer bliss! Just a big, happy smile.
Short of Jantzen Beach (which, except for Target, is kind of scary), I think you hit most of Portland’s hot spots. There is always the Pearl District and the eclectic Hawthorne area for your next trip.
Just this afternoon, I was walking past Pine State (love the Alberta area!) and across the street is Ciao Vito which is delicious. I think I’m going to have to go to Pine State and check out their breakfast menu soon! Unless, of course, I get distracted by a bacon maple bar!
Love your Portland pics. My husband and kids and I just moved from Portland to Southern CA to escape the rain…I lived there for 29 years! When you tell your kids about 10 times a day that, “no you can’t play outside today…its raining” it gets a little old. Glad you guys had fun! The city IS great…the weather…not so much!
You’ll have to come back to PDX in late August/September for the book tour- that’s when we have the best weather, and you can check out St. Cupcake :)
It’s really exciting that you were in Portland- Oregon is a really awesome place to live and visit (but I may be a little biased). It sounds like you had a great time at The ReBuilding Center. I’ve wanted to go there for a while. If you ever come back to Oregon, you should come to Eugene and check out BRING -it’s like The ReBuilding Center, but with Eugene’s hippie flair. It’s a lot of fun.
Looks like a fun trip! I had a shot glass collection as a kid, too! Started it in late elementary school when we visited Niagra Falls. Always Wondered why my mom thought it was a good idea to encourage that collection……
So glad you found Old School Stationers! One of my prized possessions is this letterpress wall art of a pig at I bought a few years ago.
Meredith Ericksen says
What a fun post to read…Portland looks amazing. So jealous that you got to see the Schoolhouse Electric showroom…love their new line of furniture,etc. Also excited to read about The Building Center…as I have been working with our local Frederick (MD) Habitat ReStore…such a great concept!
Meredith @ Tuscan Blue Design
[email protected] says
You did hit all the high spots! I’m a Seattle transplant (OK, so I didn’t go very far) but Portland is definitely a different place and my land now. Your post felt like a love letter to my town.
You are so right about the ReBuilding Center–it’s always COLD. Thought you might like to see some of their stuff in action (so to speak). We found cool lights (which you can see here: http://www.thissortaoldlife.com/2012/01/06/new-entry-light/) and it’s a primary source of tile for our bathroom renovation project (which you can see here: http://www.thissortaoldlife.com/2012/03/05/designing-a-multi-colored-tile-wall/)
Thanks for helping me see why I love it so much here–
Oooh, I love it!
Amanda Wells says
Loving Clara’s sweet little face! She is so full of expression!
I think you guys should come to Florida on your book tour!! You can take the bean to Disney! (or Seaworld, or Universal Studios, or Islands of Adventure, or Busch Gardens, or LegoLand, or or or. . .) :)
YES! Please come to FL :)
glad you enjoyed Ptown! My husband and I actually met there during undergrad. And kinda crazy, we honeymooned in Hawaii and will ourselves be traveling back the islands this summer. Great minds…
When my husband and I started dating, we were both surprised to learn that we both had shot glass collections from when we were young. What’s even stranger is that we collected shot glasses even though we were Mormon (we don’t drink, ever.) To our credit, neither one of us realized what they were for when we were collecting.
The Undomesticated Wife says
Ooo! Portland is stealing Austin’s motto! (Keep Austin Weird)
Those donuts remind me of The Donut Chef by Bob Staake. http://www.amazon.com/Donut-Chef-Golden-Classic/dp/0375844031/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1331132452&sr=8-1
This is the best vacation I never took. Thanks for making me feel like I was there and like I’d like to actually go (back). Do they give awards for best vacation post ever on a blog?
Aw, thanks Susan! Stay tuned for our big Hawaii rundown!
VERY awesome re-cap! Thank you!
Book tour, you say? Let’s not forget SEATTLE – – only a 2.5 hour drive from Portland. We would LOVE to have you!!! XOXO
We’d love to come!
Glad you had liked Portland! I was wondering what fun interesting places you’d find while you were there. My husband and I have been there a lot in the last year for work. My sister just moved there, so I’m looking forward to going even more often and checking out some of the places you went to that I haven’t heard of before. Schoolhouse Electric looks like a mandatory stop!
oh i LOVE portland, glad you liked it! I loved all the architecture and design in that land. Mid Century paradise too! The style seems just like yours!
Thank you for taking the time to put together this post! We just moved to Portland and are always keeping an ear open for the best local places to eat/see/shop.
Oh, and the weather has been beautiful and sunny the past two days. So sorry you missed it!
Lindsay H says
Ah, sounds like you guys stayed in Jantzen Beach (sad). I once heard a comedian say, when you drive into Washington you welcome us with big signs and flowers. When you drive into Oregon we welcome you with Jantzen Beach. Ha ha! I actually used to work at the Oxford Suites there, so am all too familiar with it.
It used to be pretty cool though. My parents talk all the time about how they used to hang out there all the time growing up. Here are some cool old photos and history of how it used to be…basically I-5 and a flood ruined it.
Oh yes, they had cool old signs and plaques in the back of the mall telling the whole story. So interesting!
I am LOVING the textiles from Queen Bee! Especially the DNA-ish/Honeycomb one. Fingers crossed that they have an online store.
As a fellow Pacific Northwesterner (Seattle represent!) which has similar weather to PDX, I can assure you that our weather from June through September is really, really beautiful. Gray from October through May? Mostly, yes. But the beautiful intensity of the good weather FAR outweighs the bad. Plus? WAY less humidity than the East Cost. I was back in Virginia during July a couple of years ago and couldn’t believe how “chewy” the air was, WOW.
I love hearing when people get to venture out to Oregon, especially because it is often misconceived as anything more than dreary. I was born and raised there (now living in Iowa) and miss it more and more everyday. If you ever get the chance to go back, I highly recommend you visit Powell’s Books in downtown Portland. It covers an entire city block and requires a map to navigate your way through – a very cool experience! I would also recommend you visit Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood (a mere hour drive east of Portland). Maybe I’m biased because my husband and I got married up there just this past August, but it is stunning and will give you the opportunity to really capture Oregon’s beauty. Another must see is Multnomah Falls along the Columbia Gorge.
Love all the Portland advice guys!
Megan B says
Looks like a great trip! My husband and I were just talking about going to Portland, and this just confirms the fact that we need to go!
The townhouse with the 2 different colored doors made me laugh. I’d imagine it’s especially helpful if you’re stumbling home after a few too many drinks!
i’m a big fan of alicia paulson, who blogs from portland, and i’ve watched as much of portlandia as i could take. but you two have given me the first inkling of what and why people like it so much — the creativity. last time i was there it was during the bhagwan years and it was all washed up and end-of-the-railroad-line and wet and dreary. jeez. glad to hear and see of the renaissance; if you all ever get tired of renovating houses, renovate an airstream and hit the road. i’d follow ya.
fyi, since you were born rather more recently:
Thanks Jeannette! Off to check it out!
amanda k. says
tell clara not to worry about her hair. bald babies are BEAUTIFUL!
i should know, 1) i have a bald baby 2) i was bald (some hair…but it was fine and blonde so you couldn’t see it) until i was 8. that’s right, that wasn’t a typo. eight years old. i was in 3rd grade.
my parents called me onion head.
Aw, onion head is cute! It’s so funny that she doesn’t have much hair because John and I both had huge heads of hair from a year on. Oh well, she’s our sweet little short haired gal!
I have opposite feelings about P-town’s Habitat store. Every time I visit I never seem to find anything that catches my eye! But at Hippo Hardware which I think is just as eclectic as the Habitat Store I always find some random thing that will be perfect. Glad you enjoyed it and the best time for weather that we have found in P-town has always been August (but big disclaimer here.. it still might rain but its not like the torrential downpours that you may have experienced while you were there, because I was there at the same time and forgot my umbrella!)
Aw, man we wanted to check out Hippo Hardware so much but ran out of time!
I live in Portland and have been reading your blog for a while now. Great post on our crazy, wonderful city! :) I also want to say that I love reading your blog and watching your house transform.
I live in SE PDX (originally from MA) and I loved this post. You guys hit some great spots (though wow, the Lloyd Center, so sad, so true). I’m particularly excited to see your mention of ReStore in context of the Rebuilding Center – there are three – count’em THREE ReStore locations in the Portland metro area. We’re extra lucky when it comes to reuse options.
Hope you make it back for a visit when the sun is shining!
I’m so excited about this post. I am a native Portlander and so happy we had some sunny weather while you were here. I hope you make it back for a book tour…how could you not…Portland loves DIY! Next time try the aerial tram too…great views of the city and mountains on a clear day. There are lots more fun shope on Mississippi too, like Pistils that makes awesome terriums.
I can’t wait to see the house crashing post. My husband is currently building us a table from reclaimed wood that looks just like that one. It goes along with the brass light fixture we spray painted ORB (thanks for the tips)that looks just like theirs, and the reclaimed wood shelf and grey room (all supplies from the Rebuilding Center!). He will be happy to know he is on the right track.
Glad you had fun!