When describing a great vacation to someone, do you tell them about it in the format of a day-by-day narrative, share only the trip’s highlights or include every little detail of the experience? Ultimately the idiosyncrasies of the place visited and the specific memories it created determines the style in which a journey is remembered. Which is why Portland, Ore., is the perfect getaway, where four days gives one plenty to talk about upon return.
Land. Southwest has multiple daily flights at affordable prices.
Check in. Choose from among multiple chic hotels, including the Hotel de Luxe (whose design theme is world cinema), the Jupiter Hotel or The Nines (a Starwood luxury collection hotel).
Eat. At Pine State Biscuits, indulge in The Reggie, a fried chicken, bacon and cheese biscuit sandwich topped with gravy. The food really makes waiting in line—which usually goes out the front door—worthwhile.
Go to the Pearl District. Get caffeinated at the Pearl Bakery before you head to the fantastic universe of words that is Powell’s Books. Be a witness to creativity at Oblation Papers & Press, an Old World letterpress print shop, European-style stationery boutique and urban paper mill. And then check out Cargo, an importer of handpicked antiques and artifacts.
Tonight try Le Pigeon for dinner, a small gem of cuisine accompanied by a similarly precious wine list and service staff where chef Gabriel Rucker creates dishes to savor and later tell stories about.
For an after-dinner cocktail and an elevated view of the “City of Roses,” go to the 30th floor location of Portland City Grill.
“Of all flowers methinks a rose is best,” wrote Shakespeare, who would have loved a stroll through Portland’s International Rose Test Garden, which serves as a testing ground for new varieties. Continue your morning at one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside Japan. The Portland Japanese Garden is a 5.5-acre haven of tranquil beauty nestled in the city’s scenic west hills. Both gardens are great settings for a picnic.
At lunch head to Bunk, 621 SE Morrison St., for the best sandwich in town. I recommend you order the pork-belly Reuben and enjoy it with a bottle of Mexican Coke (made with sugar instead of corn syrup).
For some of the city’s finest boutiques and restaurants, roam NW 23rd Avenue, where you will fall in love with the vintage pieces at Gilt jewelry boutique and the fashions at Souchi.
Enjoy dinner at Wildwood, where executive chef Dustin Clark bases the restaurant’s menu on the wealth of premium ingredients found nearby in the lush Willamette Valley.
Need a nightcap? Welcome to the Microbrew Capital of America, starring the Night Light Lounge, Henry’s 12th Street Tavern, Widmer Gasthaus and Lucky Lab Brew Pub.
A day to explore! Start with Stand Up Comedy, a store that curates and presents selections by young, bright designers at their small Burnside Street location. Two other stops: The Meadow, a store filled with some of the most desired and appreciated items known to man (i.e., chocolate, wine, flowers and gourmet salts), and Fourteen30 Contemporary, a gallery whose artist program is both avant-garde and elegant.
A charming spot for lunch is Foster & Dobbs, which offers a select menu of sandwiches, a ploughman’s lunch, and cheese and charcuterie plates to eat in the shop or take away. And for dinner, there’s Paley’s, where you will find Portland’s finest cuisine, whether it’s the rabbit ravioli or the Braised Belly, White Bean & Pork Stew with rapini and pork jus.
Assuming this day falls on a weekend, a great brunch spot is the “Screen Door” a celebration of Southern food in the corner of 24th and East Burnside Street. After brunch walk a couple of blocks to 28th to encounter some the coolest secondhand shops Portland has to offer.
This is the perfect time to add some cultural activities to your day. Head to either the Portland Art Museum or the Pittock Mansion, a house of historical and visual significance with spectacular views of the city. Then take a drive over to the Columbia River Gorge and its cascading Multnomah Falls, off Interstate 84. Or visit Oregon’s wine country for lunch at Dundee Bistro and then tasting at Adelsheim Vineyard or Scott Paul Wines.
Return to Portland for dinner at John Gorham’s Spanish-inspired Toro Bravo or make a reservation at Beast for one of its two dinner seatings.
For your final goodbyes to Portland, enjoy a cocktail at Thatch Tiki Bar or at Noble Rot. Both bars offer their own very personal style and ambience.