For New Years, I decided to go to the Pacific North West as I did last year to Seattle, WA. There is something so tranquil about the PNW that sets off the year just right. Ever since I went to Europe last summer, I have been on a mission to see as much of the United States as I can. The country is so diverse and there are so many beautiful states to see. I traveled to Portland with @RightEyeImagery (boyfriend and photographer) on a four day excursion filled with photography, hikes, INCREDIBLE food, and of course, drinks.
We arrived Thursday evening and started the night off with delicious cocktails and dinner. If you decide to make it to Portland, know that the restaurants and bars fill up quickly. We had to wait usually about 1-2 hours at popular restaurants without a reservation. Trust me, the food is SO worth it. Portland has probably the best food of any place I have ever traveled.
Night One – Thursday 12/29- We started the evening with a Sessions beer at our beautiful hotel, Hotel Lucia. Our hotel was perfectly located in the heart of Downtown on SW Broadway. Every night our hotel had happy hour from 5:30-6:30 PM and we took full advantage of it. The beer was delicious and started off the night perfectly. After a nice brew we headed off to Swine Moonshine & Whiskey Bar where we had cheese fondue and old fashions. The fondue was delicious and the old fashions were just what we needed for the cold weather. (Note – I will talk a lot about old fashion consumption during this post – it was the drink of the weekend!) After Swine we were off to Tasty and Alder which specializes in shared plates. The wait was about two hours so we headed across the street to Super Bite, where we sat at the bar and had (more) old fashions served by a wonderful bartender who gave us tons of recommendations on Portland. The appetizers here were delicious. See link for more info: http://www.superbitepdx.com/#splash. Once the wait was over, we headed back to Tasty and Alder. This was probably the best food we had while in Portland. Link: http://www.tastynalder.com/. After that, we called it a night and hit the hay since Friday was a big day for us.
Day Two – Friday 12/30 – Friday was our main photography day since we had friends coming into town that evening. We rented a car and headed to Multnomah Falls. If you go to Portland, you must go to this waterfall. It was truly unlike anything I had ever seen before. If you are interested in photography whatsoever – bring your camera and a tripod if you have one. The photos were amazing! Portland in December is cold but breathtaking. The entire drive to the falls (about 40 minutes from Downtown) was serene and beautiful. Our car rental was only about $40 so I highly recommend renting a car for a day if you can. After Multnomah Falls we headed to Cathedral Park, known for it’s beautiful blue bridge (about 15 minutes from Downtown). If you want a good photography opportunity, go below the bridge and take some photos. It was one of my favorite photography locations of the trip. After we shot some photos here, we stopped in at Occidental Brewery. I love beer so I was in heaven. We were hungry and cold so we both ordered bratwursts which were delicious. This brewery is right next to the park so it’s a must do. If you like Heffeweisen, order one here. After Cathedral Park we headed to Pittock Mansion. This was a really fun spot if you like museums or care to learn about Portland history. The mansion, built in 1914, sits on top of a hill that looks off on all of Portland. Link here for more details: http://pittockmansion.org/. Also – the photography here is unreal.
Night Two – Friday 12/30 – Friday night we ran into our same issue as the night before… we didn’t have reservations. The first place we put in our name was the Whiskey Library. The wait was 2.5 hours so we walked around putting in our name until another reservation was open. We had to wait a little while for Pepe Le Moco but it was worth it. The underground bar gave it a great romantic vibe. Their old fashions were delicious and the cheese plate was out of this world. After Pepe the famous Whiskey Library was ready to seat us. When I say this place was worth the wait, I certainly mean it. The staff was incredible, the whiskey bar was BEAUTIFUL, and the food was delicious. I was quite a few old fashions deep at this point so we were not bashful when we ordered. The table ended up ordering a fabulous burger, bone marrow, and chicken liver pâté. I highly recommend making a reservation and going to this place when you are in Portland.
Day Three – Saturday 12/31 – I woke up with a slight headache…I wonder why? The cure? Tasty and Sons. This place. Is everything. The wait was about two hours so we kept ourselves busy with some of the best Bloody Mary’s I have ever had. The drinks were garnished with pickled beets, onions, olives, and bacon that were out of this world. Tasty and Sons was similar to Tasty and Alder (I’m pretty sure it’s owned by the same peeps) in that the food is meant to be shared. The boys ordered steak and eggs and the girls ordered anything from Shakshuka (baked eggs in tomato stew with merquez sausage) to the fried chicken. Seriously. Go here. The staff was so friendly and amazing and the food was even better. After brunch, we ran outside like maniacs because it was finally SNOWING! It lasted only a brief moment but living in California makes you especially appreciative of snow. After a brief moment of excitement we headed to Widmer Brewery for a beer tasting. It was a beautiful brewery and the beer was great. After Widmer we headed to the famous Deschutes Brewery in Downtown. The beer was wonderful and the food was even better. The table ordered bacon mac and cheese, a cheeseburger, and beet salad. It truly was incredible. After Deschutes, I took a (brief) moment to run into the Free People across the street because, well, Free People. That specific location is actually the second largest location on the West Coast – a must see!
Night Three – Saturday 12/31 – We started the evening at The Nines where our friends were staying. It has a beautiful bar with great service. The rest of the night we hopped around to little dive bars and made sure we had some cover from the rain when we all cheered “Happy New Year!” To end the night, we headed to Voodoo Donuts which was probably the best idea we had. If you go to Portland – you have to try Voodoo. They have so many different creations and it’s a cool store in and of itself.
Day Four – Sunday 1/1 – Our last day in town we started with brunch at Smokehouse Tavern in East Portland. I had the chicken and waffles which was exactly what I needed. Everyone loved this spot because it had great comfort food. After brunch we headed off to our last photography spot of the trip – Forest Park. We got lost trying to go here on Friday but we were determined to find it so we could go to the Witch’s Castle. Our uber got lost as well, but after about 20 minutes we found it. The park has 100s of hiking, biking and running trails and on New Years Day, it was loaded with friendly Portlanders. We walked for about a half mile until we found the Witch’s Castle. A stone building built in what appeared to be late 1800s to early 1900s. It was mystical and serene – I was so glad it was the last adventure of our trip.
The rest of the day we did photography and relaxed before we flew out the next day. Portland is a city I highly recommend to anyone. It has so much to offer and there is always something to do. I felt refreshed and ready for the New Year when we left. Being out amongst the trees and wildlife allows you to disconnect – something I think is needed to reboot and get ready for a new year ahead. If you have any questions at all, please ask. I would love to answer any questions to make your trip to Portland that much better!