We had the most amazing trip to Oregon and I wanted to do a travel guide before I forgot the best details! Let me just start by saying…this is one spectacular place. Within an hour & 1/2 drive from Portland, you have world-renowned vineyards, hiking and mountain views, as well as a gorgeous rugged coastline. Portland itself is a five hour flight direct from Atlanta-Hartsfield Jackson Airport and they are 3 hours behind us (time-difference).
If I had to name my favorite thing about Portland it would be how casual it is for a city…people do not get dressed up here. It is pretty much just “go as you are.” However, you still have that walkable city feel and can pretty much go anywhere on foot or by a short Uber ride.
A few other reasons to visit Portland: 1) Mild weather year-round 2) the Food Trucks...they are everywhere, 3) the craft breweries (I like Gigantic Brewery) 4) the farm-to-table dining options, 5) they have an excellent live-music scene and 6) tasty coffee shops/ brunch options. I thought Austin, TX had a lot of food trucks..but is has nothing on Portland!
We stayed at the Sentinel Hotel, located in downtown Portland off of 11th Avenue. I like this pet-friendly, boutique hotel for its visionary art-work scattered throughout, central downtown location, friendly staff, and very comfortable beds (which is a personal must). You can walk out and have coffee shops, fine dining, food trucks, breweries and shopping right at your fingertips.
A sitting area inside the Sentinel Hotel.
One of our most special visits was to the Portland Japanese Garden. It is a total of 5.5 acres and has 5 different garden areas. It is such a peaceful place and you can really feel in-tune with nature. If I lived in Portland, I would get a membership and come here every time I felt stressed! It will put you in a very “zen” mood at the beginning of a trip. Photo by Jonathan Ley.
Sapporo Lantern in Late Summer Dusk by R. Johnston.
We tried Stumptown Coffee (latte pictured above) near our hotel and it was so good! I highly recommend it. Our hotel concierge also recommended Heart Roasters and Coavo Coffee Roasters. If you are not one for pretty lattes and would rather have regular coffee and a traditional breakfast, try The Daily Feast, which has breakfast burritos & bagels, among other things.
We had dinner at Tasty N Alder , which was a “stone’s throw” from our hotel and it was fantastic. You may have to wait if you don’t have reservations, but there is plenty of room at the bar. I had the Bulgogi Short Ribs and Radicchio Salad – yum. Something you should know about Portland, as well, is that they are very health-conscious and most restaurants are farm-to-table/ organic produce or grass-fed meats. It is such a nice option to have if you are trying (a little) to be healthy on vacation.
Wow- just look at that view…just so breathtaking! If you are looking for a great restaurant with a view of Haystack Rock, try the Wayfarer. The lattes at The Irish Table are so good..they actually have chocolate whipped cream (their dinner is really good, too).
The second night we were there, we had oven-baked fresh wild salmon that my husband caught that morning on a fishing excursion. Truthfully, that is the way to go…the fresh salmon here is like none other. Get your husband or boyfriend out there on a fishing trip to bring home the goods! FYI- I would plan to get there in the afternoon, spend the night and then most of the next day, if you want to hike or drive down the coastal highway. I don’t know if you need to stay here more than a day and a half or two days to get the full experience.
View from Ecola State Park, Cannon Beach.
We went hiking at Ecola State Park and saw the most stunning views all along the coastline. The hike is supposed to be “easy,” depending on your skill level and physical prowess. I have not been in the best shape lately, let’s say I’m currently a “6,” and it took medium effort level in some sections.
It is only 1.5 miles both ways, but it is pretty uphill in a lot of areas and depending on the rain situation, can be a bit slippery, so wear really good shoes. However, the views are magnificent and will help you work off all the Oregon wine!
Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge and only 30 minutes drive from Portland (off of Hwy. 84).
If you are brave enough to hike all the way to the top of the waterfall (the one behind the bridge)–get ready for some work. Work it…Work it. Again, there are the most beautiful views of the Columbia River as you are on your way up, so it is not a waste of time! Just bring water and a little stamina!
Also, there will be crowds, so you may want to go early. It will be worth it…this is the 2nd Highest Waterfall in the country and the tallest in Oregon. Just go and thank me later!
After all that hiking, a girl needs to chill out…at several vineyards. We had a driver/guide through Black Tie Tours. If you are visiting more than two vineyards, I would recommend hiring a driver. It is easy to get lost in the hills, plus it takes the fun out of it! They will pick you up at your hotel and return you after the tour is completed. If you decide to book through them, please tell them that “Bloom Girl” sent you:)!
As a side note, some of the vineyards require private appointments, especially if they are a smaller, boutique winery. Most are walk-in visits and you would just pay a tasting fee per person, usually around $30.00 for a flight of wines. A few other winery recommendations: Soter Vineyards (appointment only), Penner Ash for the views and ambiance, Domaine Serene, White Rose Estate, and Purple Hands Winery. Click Here to see a full list of wineries, listed alphabetically. There are 7 distinct AVA’s within the Willamette Valley, each with slightly different undertones.
Domaine Drouhin has excellent Reserve Pinot Noir (above) and Chardonnay. I also recommend Domaine Serene, which is next door and is just a really beautiful property. I highly suggest the 2012 Reserve Pinot. Both have excellent wines and views.
Lange Winery is another must-see –for the views, the excellent wine and unpretentious staff. We ended up with a bottle of Domaine Trouvere Syrah, 2013. Oregon also has special “Oregon Pinot Noir” wine glasses, and we purchased two from this winery with their logo as a little memento. If you want to purchase anything, they just ship it direct to your home. Most wines are shipped in late fall, to avoid the heat.
Overall, I really enjoyed my stay at the Allison. The location is a perfect home-base for winery tours and is just so peaceful. You can order in-room dining and have breakfast on your balcony, go for a walk on the quaint little trail that wraps around the resort, or enjoy a relaxing spa treatment.
Oregon is such a special place (and affordable); from the eclectic city vibe in Portland, to the breathtaking coastal towns and majestic wine country, it really does have it all. The flight is not too expensive and not too long. This is a great option if you don’t want to worry about the complexities of traveling abroad; yet, you get the dramatic views, city feel, and wineries that are similar to Europe. It is especially nice for a couples or girl’s trip if you want to take advantage of the “adult” activities, such as winery hopping.
Sample Oregon Tour
1) Spend the weekend in Portland. Visit the Japanese Garden, walk around downtown sampling food trucks, craft breweries and the River Walk.
2) Drive 1.5 hours to Astoria and take the coastal highway down to Cannon Beach for a day or two.
3). Drive to Willamette Valley and do a winery tour. You can stay at the Allison or at one of the many Bed & Breakfast Inn’s. I recommend two days here.
4) Drive back up through Portland to get on Scenic HWY 84. Enjoy the beautiful Columbia Gorge Scenery and plan time to hike the Multnomah Falls and grab lunch.
If you have any other specific questions regarding the trip or have any questions, please feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.