48 Hours in Portland

If you like quirky, Portland is the city for you. Truth be told, it reminds me a lot of Denver: the outdoors, beer and food. But Portland has been getting a lot of attention over the past couple of years, and let me tell you– the hype is true. It’s a pretty sweet place, as Will and I discovered on our whirlwind trip last month. And while we only had 48 hours in the city, we capitalized on every single minute. Read on for details on how we spent our 48 hours in Portland!

Huge thanks to Travel Portland for arranging our weekend of adventure!

48 Hours in Portland

Photos by Will Rochfort

Friday Evening

Will and I both work traditional Monday-Friday jobs, so we didn’t catch our Southwest flight until 4pm on Friday afternoon. We caught a cab from PDX and headed directly to our sweet accommodations downtown: Hotel Vintage Portland.

48 Hours in Portland

The hotel itself is beautiful and the location was pretty awesome. Smack downtown, Hotel Vintage Portland is located in the Pearl district which is within walking distance to pretty much everything. And did I mention how cool the interior is?!

48 Hours in Portland

The hotels uses graffiti-inspired cork artwork, a lobby bar, and an adult game room to liven the place up a bit. Vintage cruiser bikes are propped against the wall in the front lobby for guests to rent, and the bar has a wine hour every night– with live music Thursday-Saturday.

48 Hours in Portland

All that said, my favorite part was our room! Hotel Vintage Portland hooked us up with a comfy-and-modern room that had an entire wall of windows. Of course, the absolute BEST part was our balcony: we had our private hot tub!

48 Hours in Portland

After getting settled, we met up with Alacia, our contact at Travel Portland. We grabbed an Uber and headed over to Division Street for dinner at Block + Tackle. It was a quiet little spot, but Will and I couldn’t focus on the ambience: it was time to EAT ALL THE OYSTERS!

Don’t judge. We don’t get a lot of fresh seafood here in Denver!

After dinner, we caught a quick beer at Base Camp Brewing. Naturally, I loved the spot thanks to its outside vibe. Denver is a mecca for microbreweries, but Portland definitely takes the cake. There are 84 breweries in the Portland metro area!

Saturday

If you find yourself in Portland with a lot to see and no idea where to start, I suggest calling Kieron Weidner of First Nature Tours. With a background in ecology, Kieron has been in the tourism industry for years, showcasing the outdoor adventures in Portland, along with Costa Rica and Europe. And did I mention he picks you up in a sweet Mercedes Sprinter?!

48 Hours in Portland

48 Hours in Portland

We first cruised over to the Internation Rose Test Garden. Founded in 1917, the test garden is the oldest official, continuously operated public rose test garden in the country. Currently, the garden features over 10,000 rose bushes and 650 rose varieties. We do a lot of work with roses in our family business, so I was enthralled by the test garden. I kept picking my favorites and then wondering if I’d see them in our wholesale nurseries in a few seasons!

48 Hours in Portland

After the rose test garden, we swung over to Forest Park for a trail run. Admittedly, I dropped the ball on this one. After all, our itinerary told us that we were “trail running” in a park in the middle of the city. How rugged could these trails be?! As a result, I grabbed my road shoes, which turned out to be a major error. Crazily enough, Forest Park is a legit trail system smack dab in the middle of Portland!

48 Hours in Portland

Truthfully, we didn’t do much running. We admired the massive spiderwebs, hiked along some trails, chatted about the history of Portland, and simple enjoyed the greenery as we ducked away from the hubbub of the city. If I lived in Portland, I would definitely run at Forest Park on the daily.

My stomach was growling at this point, so it was time to check out the food carts at the Portland Farmers Market on the Portland State University Campus. Y’all, there was so much edible goodness that I barely knew where to look! We found honeycrisp apples the size of my head; pour-over coffee that smelled delicious; green cauliflower-stuff that fascinated me; perfectly-soft donuts coated in sugar; and a crepe booth that cooked up fresh crepe concoctions of both the savory and sweet variety. Will grabbed a sweet nutella mixture as an homage to our engagement trip in Paris. To balance that, I went with a savory goat cheese-and-spinach blend that I promptly inhaled.

48 Hours in Portland

48 Hours in Portland

Man, food makes me happy.

Of course, we weren’t done eating yet: we had made some dinner plans with a few of our Columbia Sportswear friends, and they weren’t that far off. Kieron took us back to the hotel in style– in our Sprinter!– and we said goodbye. We had a brief moment to shower, clean up, and get ready to meet our posse; it was time for sushi!

48 Hours in Portland

But first: I had to investigate the CANNED WINE Travel Portland left in our room!

Meet: Bamboo Sushi, the first certified sustainable sushi restaurant in the world! According to Bamboo, roughly 76% of the world’s fish populations are over-fished or simply fished out. With 67% of the country’s seafood consumed in restaurants, Bamboo has a goal of only serving sustainable fish. They won’t serve items on the “avoid” list according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Blue Ocean Institute. Bamboo is also a certified green restaurant: the majority of their products come from local, organic and sustainable farms, and they ensure they have a light footprint.

And the food was amazing. The four of us gave our server our budget, told him of any aversions, and let him plan our menu. His choices and order of dishes was unbelievable and he impressed me to a ridiculous level. Not only was the fish itself quite tasty, but he ordered us some very unique items that I never would’ve ordered on my own. And somehow, he placed them in an order that complimented each item. In short, I’d recommend Bamboo to anyone in town!

And then we had dessert. ‘Nuff said.

Sunday

Sadly, Sunday flaunted true Portland weather: dreary, gray and rainy. Nevertheless, Will and I bundled up in our most rainproof layer: we had a bike tour with Cycle PDX!

48 Hours in Portland

Our tour guide quickly outfitted us with a bike and a helmet before we rode straight out of the shop and into the rain. I’ve heard that Portland is a crazy bike-friendly town, and it’s the truth. In fact, I’ve never been anywhere that is so accommodating to two-wheelers! Bike lanes go everywhere in the city, including the new Tillikum Crossing bridge. Opened in September, 2015, the new bridge only allows pedestrians, bikes, and public transportation vehicles: no private cars allowed.

48 Hours in Portland

The rain poured on us for a solid two hours as we tooled around the city on our bikes. I’ll admit that I was a bit cold and wet, but I had to laugh: it was seriously dumping buckets yet people were out exercising in full force! Runners, biker, walkers– it didn’t matter. As our guide told us:

“If you don’t get used to being in the rain, you’ll never get anything done here!”

The rest of Sunday passed in a blur. We had an amazing brunch at Tasty n Alder, a delightful little spot with ridiculous food: chocolate malt milk shake and fries, potatoes bravas, Korean fried chicken, and bloody mary’s all went down the hatch.

When on vacation…

48 Hours in Portland

Of course, we weren’t done eating and we had two iconic spots to visit before catching our flight back to Denver. First up was the classic coffee joint of PDX: Stumptown Coffee. I had another pour-over {people in Portland are highly caffeinated!} which lived up to its reputation. But truthfully, I was more excited about our next visit: Blue Star Donuts.

48 Hours in Portland

Let me be clear: tourists flock to Voodoo Donuts when they visit Portland, and it’s definitely worth a visit–once. {We have a Voodoo in Denver so trust me on this one!} But if you want a truly delicious donut with unique flavors and well-sourced ingredients, you need to visit Blue Star. They make their dough from scratch daily and it stems from a classic recipe that originated in the South of France. All the ingredients are responsibly sourced: hormone-free milk, cage free eggs, and sustainable bread flour. The flavors change daily, so you never know what to expect, but it’s definitely not going to be a plain glaze.

48 Hours in Portland

It was like I had died and gone to heaven.

48 Hours in Portland: Here's the shortlist of what to do and see. #PDX Click To Tweet

Disclaimer: Travel Portland covered our flights, accommodations and the majority of our excursions over the weekend. All thoughts, stories, and opinions are my own.

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14 Comments

  • Reply Anne November 23, 2015 at 8:49 am

    Looks like a great trip! I had a friend who lived in Portland for a year, and I regret not getting out there to visit her, so maybe I’ll plan a trip around a race or tri someday. Please tell us what that gorgeous building is in the first picture!

    • Reply heather November 23, 2015 at 6:19 pm

      It’s the Pittock Mansion! We visited it on Saturday before heading to the rose garden 🙂

  • Reply Alexandra November 23, 2015 at 9:25 am

    I live in Portland! Great post, sounds like you hit up all the cool spots and spent 48 hours just like a local would!

    • Reply heather November 23, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      Yesssssss! Glad to see we did right by it!

  • Reply Whitney Vestal November 23, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Nice post! I, too, recently took a trip to Portland. I love it as well! The Base Camp Brewery was my favorite of the trip! I love it! I told them it would fit in very well in Colorado. I also went on a few runs through Forest Park! Looks like you guys had a fun trip.

    • Reply heather November 23, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      Ha, I said the same thing to Alacia! Base Camp would be perfect in Boulder or Denver!

  • Reply Christian November 23, 2015 at 9:33 am

    This looks AMAZING!!! I’ve spent 4 hours downtown Portland due to a flight delay and I loved it! This makes me want to go back.

    • Reply heather November 23, 2015 at 6:21 pm

      Definitely head back! My sis used to live in Hillsboro during PA school, so I visited her a fair bit, but it’s changed a lot since then!

  • Reply Lynn (Tahoe Fabulous) November 23, 2015 at 10:48 am

    I went to Blue Star twice in my slightly-more-than-48 hours in Portland. The blueberry bourbon basil might have ruined me for other donuts.

    • Reply heather November 23, 2015 at 6:26 pm

      They were seriously AMAZING. I don’t remember the flavors we had but they were stupid good. It made me eat almost two which, of course, made me feel sick of the next couple hours. But, so worth it!

  • Reply Sandra Laflamme November 27, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    Oh how we want to travel back to Oregon! Your trip looks amazing!The trail running, the brew pubs, the hotel . . . Wonderful!

  • Reply Jessica November 28, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    I’m glad you had a good time on your trip and that it didn’t rain the entire weekend 🙂

  • Reply Amiee December 7, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    I need to hear more about this canned wine thing! The box is one thing, but a can?!? Any good?

    • Reply heather December 8, 2015 at 7:48 am

      It wasn’t bad actually! You just have to be careful because my brain thinks of a can as a single serving, but it was actually a WHOLE LOTTA WINE!

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