Travelog IX || PNW: Portland Oregon
After watching all the episodes of Portlandia, it was time to see what the city of Portland was really all about. We spontaneously bought a plane ticket to Portland a few months back and was looking forward to our Portland adventure in the upcoming days. Last year we did a short weekend road trip to Southern Oregon and fell in love with the diverse landscape of forest and mountains. We were definitely excited to visit the Beaver State again.
Our arrival to Portland was on an early Thursday morning at 8AM. From the airport to our hotel, it took about 20-30 minutes. During our time in Portland, we stayed at the pet-friendly Kimpton Hotel Monaco. This hotel is centrally located and well situated to everything that we wanted to do and was walking distance to many of the popular spots within downtown Portland. Upon walking into the hotel, there was a welcome sign for all the pups that was checking in that day and two bowls filled with water. The hotel staff was warm and welcoming, which made the check-in experience all the better after a long morning of traveling.
We had a small mishap after we checked in where we needed to make a room change but that was easily taken care of. Luckily we didn’t unpack anything. The hotel staff was incredibly kind and responsive to our accommodation. Once we got situated in our new room on the fourth floor, Cooper immediately made himself at home by going under the bed and splooted for a nap.
The room decor was eclectic and funky, which really gave off that local eccentric Portland vibe. I love that the bedroom and living room were separated from one another, overall it made the room feel cozy. Despite being on the fourth floor, we couldn’t hear any city traffic noise which made it easy to sleep at night.
As expected, the room and bathroom was spotless and clean. I didn’t have to worry about Cooper finding any hidden treasures as the room was well tended. Cooper had the VIP treatment upon arrival. The hotel provided him with a dog bed, food and water bowl, delicious dog treats, and a llama dog toy for him to play with. As for the humans, the bathroom amenities included nicely scented eco-friendly shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and lotion. Our room also came with two TVs, one in the living room and one in the bedroom. We immediately made ourselves at home and unpacked everything while Cooper continued to sleep under the bed.
For majority of Thursday, I was at my agency’s office and worked there until 5PM. Cooper stayed at the hotel with my boyfriend and they had a nice afternoon walk to the waterfront. During lunch, I had a fantastic fried chicken sandwich from 10 Barrel Brewing with a refreshing stout called Glen Coco. It was a beautiful day in Portland and everyone was exceptionally happy about the non-rainy weather. Apparently, we visited on a good weekend.
In the evening, I went back to the hotel after work to collect my boyfriend and Cooper so that we can explore downtown before it gets dark. As we were exiting, the hotel lobby had live music playing which made for a warm and inviting atmosphere. On our evening exploration around downtown, we visited quite a few shops and had the most amazing coconut shave ice at Wailua Shave Ice located at the Union Way arcade shop. This is a must-have if you're craving something light and not too sweet (we got the triple coconut).
We ventured quite a bit from our hotel, going from the Pearl District to the further Northwest side and then back towards downtown. For dinner, we went to Lúc Lác for Vietnamese food. I got the combination vermicelli bowl and the portion was huge! As someone who is Vietnamese and loves eating vermicelli bowl, this place was great if you need your Vietnamese food fix. One thing to note is that there aren't any outdoor seating so it wasn’t dog-friendly. Since our hotel was just down the street, we ordered takeout and enjoyed it with the company of a drooling corgi in the comfort of our hotel room.
I would be lying if I said I wasn't excited for what's coming up on our day 2 in Portland. After a nice peaceful sleep from a long Thursday, we woke up at the crack of dawn to go rent a car and it was off to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn (45 minutes south of Portland). I haven't been to a tulip field since my study abroad in the Netherlands four years ago, so I couldn't help but smile and reminisce upon seeing a field full of colorful darwin hybrid tulips that were neatly lined-up. It was a gorgeous and spectacular scenery.
The amazing part about this tulip farm is how dog-friendly they are! The entrance fee was $5 per person (free for dogs) and you can enjoy the field for as long as you want. It's ideal to arrive early, either at sunrise or right before 9AM, if you want the field to be a bit empty and not have a lot of visitors in the background.
We stayed for about 2 hours but I wished we stayed forever. We were going up and down the rows of tulips while snapping as many photos as my camera's memory allowed me to. The tulip farm had a variety of colors and most of them were already in bloom! Cooper thoroughly enjoyed himself, although it took him a while to wake up and I finally got a smile out of him half way through. He would occasionally sniffed the tulips as he walk alongside the rows.
It was around 11AM that we finally said good-bye to the tulip farm and made our way to the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store. I have this huge affinity for anything Pendleton so making a stop to the woolen mill was a must. Pendleton is a textile manufacturing company in Portland, Oregon. They're known for their blankets and woolen clothing that connects you to the outdoor. This is a great place for any small businesses that are interested in buying authentic Pendleton fabrics by the yard. They had a sale section where everything was 30% off and I left checkout with a nice blanket. Dogs are welcome inside and they have a regular who is an Australian Shepherd that comes in every now and then.
For our next venture, we decided to explore the southeast side of Portland on Division street.There were plenty of great boutiques, eats, and cafe in this area.
One of the most popular restaurant in Portland that was a must-have is Pok Pok. A thing to note is that they are not dog-friendly despite having outdoor seating, we ended up ordering for takeout. Just because we have a dog doesn't mean we should pass up on trying out this famous Portland restaurant.
We ordered the Pet Pha Lo which is a Thai style stewed duck leg in five spice soy broth with pickled mustard greens, stewed boiled duck egg, crispy garlic and chile vinegar sauce. To accompany this dish, we ordered the coconut rice. Pok Pok is known to serve North and Northeast style Thai food, which I have yet to try until now. The Pet Pha Lo was phenomenal and tasted fantastic, there was a good balance between the duck and five spice soy broth. We ate our Pok Pok takeout right outside Good | A Coffee Company while enjoying a nice lavender matcha latte from the coffee shop.
Just like that, we hopped onto the next neighborhood and found ourselves in the Arts District located on the Northeast part of town. We enjoyed our time walking and window shopping along Alberta Street, which is lined with restaurants, bars, boutique shops, and quirky street arts. Majority of the time, we always end up finding a dog store that Cooper immediately walks inside to. Cooper ended up getting some delicious charcoal dog biscuit at the The Filling Station, which made for good rewards during our random street photoshoot. I particularly loved Darling Distraction as they had some pretty neat pins and quirky local art products. If you're craving some delicious ice cream, there's a Salt & Straw here as well!
Once we were done checking out the neighborhood, we wanted to find a dog-friendly restaurant for dinner and ended up on the Northwest of town in Nob Hill. There was a Thai restaurant called Thai Bloom! that was absolutely delicious. Honestly, the Thai food in Portland was unexpectedly good and we somehow ended up eating at another Thai restaurant. A note about this restaurant is that they do provide outdoor seating but only for certain hours. If you guessed that we order takeout, you guessed right.
While we were waiting for our food, we took a stroll around the neighborhood. This area of Portland almost felt like I was back in San Francisco since there were quite a few Victorian houses. We came across an award-winning tea shop called Tea Chai Te. You can buy tea leaves by the ounces and order some refreshing boba as well. I couldn't help myself and bought a few tea to try. Our day ended with eating Thai food at our hotel. For dinner we had Tom Yum soup, half-duck roasted crispy with fresh buns, and seafood meatballs.
All in all, Day 2 was pretty amazing.
Time to go chasing waterfalls! But first, we need some breakfast to fuel our day. The first stop of the morning was to Blue Star Donuts. This place was highly recommended to me by quite a few people. I got the Cointreau Creme Brulee and my boyfriend got the Chocolate Almond Ganache. Biting into these donuts was just so fulfilling. It didn't taste cakey and the dough was light and fluffy. This place is dog-friendly and Cooper was more than welcomed inside.
Following the donut rendezvous, we headed to Pine State Biscuits Division. We chose the Reggie Deluxe to share and it consisted of fried chicken, egg, bacon and cheese topped with gravy that's sandwiched between two fluffy biscuits. Eating this was exactly what I needed for a morning wake up call. Everything was perfectly balanced without the ingredients overwhelming one another. This place is also dog-friendly and they have outdoor seating as well. The waitress saw Cooper outside and asked if he would like a piece of bacon. I couldn't say no to that and Cooper thoroughly enjoyed his morning breakfast as well.
With a belly full of good food, we were off to the Columbia River Gorge. From Portland to the waterfalls, it was only a 30 minute drive away. When in Oregon, the great outdoor is literally right outside your own backyard. The three main waterfalls that we went to visit were Latourell Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and the famous Multnomah Falls. All three falls were accessible by car and they're not too far off from their respective trailhead. Latourell Falls was a short walk from the parking lot and it's also close to Bridal Veil Falls. The Bridal Veil Falls hike is about 2 miles roundtrip. It's a brisk walk to and from the falls. Nothing too strenuous! Cooper was super thrilled to be hitting some trails for the day even though they were short ones.
The last stop we had while chasing waterfalls was one of the most visited natural recreation site in the Pacific Northwest, Multnomah Falls. By the time we arrived there, the parking lot was already getting full and it hasn't even been noon yet! Nevertheless, we still got a good view of the famous waterfall and was able to snap some photos there as well. Cooper wasn't as impressed with Multnomah as I was.
Once we were done chasing all the waterfalls for the day, we headed back to our hotel to rest up. It was a tiring morning and we wanted some down time before venturing out to Portland again. Not to mention, I needed to clean Cooper since he picked up quite the bit of dirt during our morning hikes (low rider problems).
For lunch, we drove out to Nong’s Khao Man Gai and ordered the no. 1 which is just chicken and rice with their house sauce. They were celebrating their anniversary and was giving out free thai tea with any order. They have outdoor seating here but you have to order food first before you can claim a spot outside. Dog are welcomed outside. We were able to enjoy our lunch with Cooper by our side while soaking up the nice sunshine weather.
After finishing our lunch, we decided to go to the waterfront and took a nice stroll along the Willamette river. Cooper was happily romping and playing fetch in the open field while also trying to skinny dip in the river. I reluctantly told him that he can't get himself too dirty. Apparently you are allowed to swim in the river but it's at your own discretion. The water didn't look too enticing though.
Since this was our last full day in Portland, we wanted to make sure we check out the best views of the city. There were three places that had spectacular vantage point of the city and we went to all of them. Pittock Mansion is the most famous spot to see Portland. There's a 2-3 miles trail nearby that you can hike. Plenty of people were picnicking at Pittock Mansion and there was a surprising amount of prom photoshoots that took place.
Our hotel Valet recommended Council Crest Park for a 360° view of the city. This spot was our favorite since there's an off-leash dog park and it provided a beautiful view of both East and West side of Portland. Also, there are hidden trails around the park that you can hike with your dog as well! Out of all the city views we saw, this was our favorite.
Just when we think we had seen enough views of Portland, we drove out to Rocky Butte. The vantage point here provided a closer look at the Columbia River Gorge, Mt. Hood, and the border between Washington and Oregon. There's a large grass area that allowed dogs to be off-leash! It felt like being in a medieval castle when we were at Rocky Butte. Fun fact, Rock Butte is in fact an extinct volcanic cinder cone. How wild is that!
As it was getting closer to sunset, I wanted to go to Cathedral Park at Northwest Saint John’s Bridge. This was the last spot for the day and I was very happy to have watched the sunset here. Being under St. John's Bridge, the park really did look like a Cathedral. Cooper made sure he gave this park a good frap around. If you want some peace and quiet from the hustling and bustling while getting a stunning sunset view, definitely come out here to Cathedral Park.
For our last dinner in Portland, we went to Screen Door. Once again, we ordered for takeout since they weren't dog-friendly. Never leave the dog behind I tell you! The food here was so good, it's no wonder there's always a long line. For dinner, we ordered the Pecan Trout, Crispy Fried Chicken Strips, and House Smoked Beef Brisket. On our way back to our hotel, we made sure to cross the Burnside Bridge in order to catch a glimpse of the well-known White Stag sign. Ending a long day of adventure and exploring Portland with Screen Door was definitely a treat, along with seeing the White Stag sign up close.
That night, we all went to bed with a full belly, tired legs, and a happy face.
On this day, we woke up early to return our rental car and then went to pick up more donuts from Blue Star. I got the Blueberry Bourbon Basil and my boyfriend got the Hard Apple Cider Fritter this time. We did one last stroll around downtown and the waterfront (where we enjoyed our morning donuts) before heading back to Kimpton Hotel Monaco for check-out.
This was definitely a nice change of pace from the San Francisco life that we've been accustomed to. Seeing how green and flat the city of Portland was really put things into perspective. Like, how come we don't have more trees and better Thai food? There were certainly more bars than cars which made driving around Portland less stressful.
This city haven't seen the last of us since we'll be sure to return again soon. Next time, we'll most likely hit more of the dog-friendly hiking trails. Until then, continued to stay weird Portland.
This post was in collaboration with Kimpton Hotel Monaco. Thank you to the hotel staff and valet crew at Kimpton Hotel Monaco for their warming hospitality and friendly service. If you are in need of a dog-friendly accommodation when visiting Portland, definitely consider staying at Hotel Monaco. The hotel staff will take care of you and your pup to make sure that your stay and visit is a great one! All opinions and photos are my own.