Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Wanderlust: Portland Bound (Again!)

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know how much I love Portland, Oregon. Now I'm making good on my promise to drag the rest of the family up there for a look-see.

Later this month, we'll be spending a week in my beloved PDX. We're doing a house-swap with a lovely family, who'll be camping out at our Bay Area casa while we stay in their beautiful home in Portland's Laurelhurst area. (That's it, below -- score! And they have a corgi of their own, so I think the swap was truly meant to be. Gotta love craigslist.)

That means the lodgings are taken care of, and I think I have the Stumptown shopping and art scenes pretty well scoped out. But if there are any Portlanders (or Portland lovers) reading, I need your advice on a few other things:

* We'll be driving up, and splitting the journey into two legs. Any recommendations for a good place to stay for the night in southern Oregon -- or any other quick pit-stops between the Bay Area and Portland that we should plan for the trip? (I've heard that Corvallis is a great little town, for instance. Worth a visit? And should we plan any time in Eugene or Salem?)

* My agenda is basically: Shop, eat, art galleries, repeat. But I have a feeling the kids may want to do some things they consider fun -- which, believe it or not, doesn't necessarily involve being dragged to every thrift shop and art opening in town. Any ideas for things to do or places to go in Portland that will meet the approval of a 13-year-old boy and 10-year-old girl? (E.g., Swimming, fairs and festivals, skate parks, waterslides, and so on.)

* We're bringing our dog. Are there off-leash dog parks in Portland proper, or other good places for long walks?

* Which restaurants (and pubs, if kids are allowed on the premises) should we not miss?

* Other things worth a visit: Flea markets, museums, performing arts centers, events (we'll be there from June 17th to the 25th), etc.?

* Any good daytrips around Portland that you'd recommend? We're not a particularly outdoorsy kind of family (we prefer what we call "urban hiking"), but a day at the beach or a nearby lake would be fun. And I love to explore small towns with good antiquing ...

Thanks in advance for any tips you can share!


Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

Well I will speak on behalf of all Portlanders, we will welcome you with open arms! :-) And that is a mighty fine house you get to stay in! You'll enjoy the neighborhood too.

I will read through this and come up with my suggestions and get back to you!

So glad you are coming to town!


decorno said...

Corvallis and Eugene are both dumps. If you must go to one, go to Eugene. If it's still there, Cy's Pizza is a place to behold. The pizza is amazing. Parts of the UofO campus are lovely.

Ashland has a big fancy-ass Shakespeare Festival, and I imagine what has cropped up around it are cute shops and good food. That might make a nice stop pretty much as soon as you cross the border. But after you do, make a run for it and head straight to Portland. My fondest memories of Roseburg is the fact that their high schoolers were notorious for shouting racial slurs as visiting Portland high school athletic teams. Classy.

Laurelhurst is LOVELY. What an awesome house trade thingy you've got going. Laurelhurst Park is small and adorable. Not sure how young your kid(s) are, but little ones like to see the ducks in the pond there.

OMSI (oregon museum of science and industry) is a good place for families with kids your age and it's right on the river (east side).

If I think of more I will pop back over to share them.

-Decorno, Portland native and Oregon Nationalist

mlepdx said...

I would stop in Ashland on your way up (rather than Eugene or Corvalis, which are very close to Portland).

Or, depending on how you want to split things up, the Shasta area is the best part of the I5 journey.

I agree that OMSI is fantastic and you can even hop on the Eastbank Esplanade right around there and get a great view of the city. It loops around if you want to cross over into downtown.

The Mount Tabor dog park is great, as is the one at Laurelhurst park. And Mount Tabor in general is great to hike up and check out the view. It's massive. As is Forest Park (for urban hiking). Lucky Lab Brew Pub allows dogs and kids if I am remembering correctly (might want to check on the kids one).

The Columbia Gorge (Crown Point, Multnomah Falls, Rooster Rock) is a great day trip, and Hood River is a great place to have lunch (good antiquing there too).

Silverton/Mt Angel and Silver Falls are both great. Cute town and a great eleven water fall hiking loop. It's right near Salem.

Laurelwood on Sandy is kid friendly and has good food. I personally adore: Navarre, Autentica, Le Pigeon, and Country Cat. All mid to high $ range, not sure about kid-friendlyness. I think you might be able to take the kids to Montage, which is very Portland (and cool and industrial for them). For (adult) happy hour, Portland City Grill has very good cheap food and an even better view (although somewhat of a meat market).

There are like 40 different farmers markets during the summer so it's easy to eat great local food. A lot of it from Sauvie Island, which is a fun day trip for swimming or just looking around.

Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood is beautiful and there are a couple great lakes you can swim in on the way up. And of course the coast is always wonderful. Oh, and the tram is fun too.

I guess I could go on and on. I love your blog and love that you love Portland as much as we do!

eM said...

I'd love to hear the particulars of this house trading situation
how does that work, exactly?
I visited Portland for the first time in April, I agree that it's lovely

Leah said...

Decorno -- thanks, as always, for your unvarnished opinions. The Oregon Tourism board should hire you! ;-) OK, so Cy's, Ashland, OMSI -- check. My kids are 10 and 13, so past the stage where ducks can provide an afternoon's entertainment, sadly. But the other stuff sounds good.

Mlepdx -- thank you thank you thank you for all the great tips! Keep 'em comin', folks!

Em -- this will be my first experience with house-swapping, but I have friends who do it regularly and swear by it. It's so much nicer to have a whole house rather than a hotel room, and it's free! Basically, I just scanned the "house swap" area on Portland's craigslist and found this family who were looking to swap with someone in the Bay Area for their summer vacation. I got in touch, the dates they were looking for worked for us, we exchanged photos of and info about our homes and neighborhoods and chatted a bit to suss each other out, and struck a deal. We are each giving the other a security deposit to cover any damages, and each of us signed an agreement laying out the details of the swap and agreeing to treat each other's homes with care and not to hold each other liable for anything that might occur during our respective stays. It's a bit of a leap of faith, but I'm excited to give it a try. There are also house-swapping agencies and web sites that match people up and take care of the details, but plain old craigslist or sending out an email blast to friends (and friends of friends) in the destination of your choice works, too.

ALANMAN said...

When I was younger, we used to stop by a burger and ice-cream joint called "Peggy's" on the long drive down I-5. If it's still there, it's worth checking out. A nice bit of Americana.

I'll second the vote for Multnomah Falls. It's a great hike, a beautiful area, and a great place to burn some kid energy. OMSI was a lot of fun as a kid too.

In Portland, I enjoy the Red Star Tavern for a very relaxed night out (sans kids) and Mother's for a delicious breakfast (kid friendly). These two places are also within walking distance of the Saturday Market as mentioned in this article along with other fun and free things to do.

Another place, maybe half kid friendly, is punk rock doughnut shop Voodoo Doughnuts. With a crazy selection of doughnuts ranging from the Cocoa Puffs doughnut to a number of vegan alternatives, Voodoo Doughnuts is a definite must-see (open 11PM-11AM).

Portland also has a wonderful zoo (and the oldest this side of the Mississippi to boot!).

Best of luck with your trip!

Jennifer in ATL said...

I lived in SE Porland about 12 years ago! One of the best burgers I've ever had was at Stanich's. Ever been? I also liked Nicholas's: http://nicholasrestaurant.com/.
I haven't been back to visit but would LOVE to go. What a great city....

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

You got some great tips here. I would add that if you wanted to drive from Portland to Federal Way, Washington there is a fun Water Park (called Wild Waves) your kids would probably really like. On the ocean, you can go to Newport aquarium or closer to Portland you can go to my personal favorite, Cannon Beach. Great artsy beach town. Eat at Lazy Susan's for a yummy breakfast and take the kids to The Scoop for lunch and ice cream. Haystack Rock on the beach in Cannon Beach would be a fun place for kids to look at tide pools. If your kids like a more happening beach town with arcades and such, Seaside is not far from Cannon Beach. It is a big teen hangout.

Back in Portland, there is a small amusement park at Oaks Park in Sellwood for the kids. Sellwood has some fun little antique shops for moms. If your kids want an indoor water experience, there is Clackamas Aquatic Center which has wave pools and giant slides. For outdoor swimming there is a pool up the street from me at Wilson High School.

Downtown Lake Oswego has more upscale shopping and some good restaurants. Kids would probably like Tillamook Ice Creamery for lunch (they might have changed the name, but it is right in downtown Lake Oswego). Just a good old hamburger and ice cream joint. Unfortunately there isn't much access to the lake for the public.

Blue Lake Park (which I haven't been to in a long time) is a fun place for picnics and water activities.

We sometimes just walk along the river downtown and stop for ice cream. You can rent bikes if you want to bike with the kids.

Ok, there are a few more ideas for you!


Anonymous said...

I agree, Ashland is the perfect mid-way stop. It's just the right distance and a cute little town. Their town park (Lithia Park) is quite lovely as I remember it.

For Eugene/Corvallis/Roseburg/Salem the two big reasons to stop are hiking and wine. If you enjoy either of these there are some great places to stop but otherwise, they can wait.

There are some great restaurants in Portland...a very highly rated italian one...the name escapes me, but surely easy to find. We also like Paley's Place quite alot.

Have a great time.

Daddy said...

You can stay in a treehouse in S. Oregon! Kids'll love it. The place is called the Out'n'About Treesort and it's run by a guy who is a pioneer in the engineering of treehouses. www.treehouses.com

Anonymous said...

Things to do with your kids:

1. Oaks Park (www.oakspark.com) - it's located in Sellwood, in the SE. It's an old amusement park with a skating rink.

2. Lloyd's Center (http://www.lloydcentermall.com) - not my favorite shopping mall, but the teens will probably like it and it has an ice-skating rink at the bottom floor.

3. Mt. Scott Indoor Swimming Pool - part of Portland's Park & Recreation system. Great family pool, plus other things like gym, basketball court, etc. (see: http://www.portlandonline.com/parks/finder/index.cfm?PropertyID=1120&action=ViewPark )

4. If you're up for a short trip (maybe 25 minutes out), take them berry picking on Sauvie Island. Afterwords, you can hang out on the "beach" there (riverside). See: http://www.sauvieisland.org

5. I'm sure you're familiar with the Pearl Neighborhood - there's Jamison Square park (see: http://www.portlandonline.com/parks/finder/index.cfm?PropertyID=1140&action=ViewPark ) which has a really cool water feature for cooling off (kids of all ages play here) - afterwards you can go for lunch at Hot Lips Pizza, across the street, and then take a short walk to Powell's Bookstore, on Burnside in the Pearl.

6. If they're into hiking, you should take them to Forest Park in the NW part of Portland. It's supposedly the biggest inner-city park in the country, but don't quote me there (see: http://www.portlandonline.com/parks/finder/index.cfm?PropertyID=127&action=ViewPark)

Hope that's a good start ...


Katie said...

I'm so jealous! I don't have anything to contribute, I just eat up everything I read here. I'm sure guys are going to have a great time...I hope the family loves it as much as you do.

Hopefully in the fall I might be able to head up there for a weekend.

Mignonne said...

Pamela's 5 and 6 are on my list.

Also NW 23rd street for shopping and food. In between the Pearl and NW 23rd is Saint Cupcake, sure to be a family hit.

Oaks Park near Sellwood Bridge has amusement rides and skating.

Oregonlive.com has loads of tips

Laurelhurst resto listings at http://portlandor.about.com/od/neighborhoods/p/Laurelhurst.htm are all good, eaten at many of them.

Sunday Brunch at Daily Cafe in the Pearl is a treat.

Burnside has a big ole skater park. http://www.skateoregon.com/Burnside/Burnside.html

Also worth checking out are the Belmont and Hawthorne districts for shopping and restaurants. Roux is another good restaurant worth trying.

Anonymous said...

ashland's cute, but a little touristy. good book store. awesome ice cream shop near the theater (zoey's?). cute park with a summer concert series at the bandstand that's not at all terrible.

my family always takes the obligatory "<---Weed College--->" photo coming over the pass.

the detour from winters over to davis for some Ikeda's pie is also mos def worth the time. ...seriously miss the marionberry cobbler right about now. texans do cobbler right, but they got nothin' on Ikedas.

superjealous of your trip, leah! it's 101 in austin today.
~*another* melissa

Anonymous said...

dont forget to hit saturday market!! (runs on sunday too)

Anonymous said...

oh yeah, AND saturday the 14th is the massive and fantastic laurelhurst neighborhood wide garage sale...get a map and start early!

jewelie randall said...

I hope when you're in Portland this time, I'll be in the store so we can meet.
Here are some recommendations for you and the family.
I have a 12 & 15 yr old, both girls.
An odd recommendation that we all loved was pirate themed, black lit, 3-D mini golf. I know it sounds amazingly ridiculous but it was a blast and it's downtown.
we walk to Bangkok Palace (my vegetarian kids and carnivore hubby love it) afterwards, but there is pizza and mexican in the same block that are kid friendly.

my kids love to hang out on Hawthorne, just walk around and look at stuff mostly. The people watching is great for that age group and there are great shops as well.
Powells has a books for cooks as well as a smaller version of the downtown store
Peets coffee & Tea for your caffeine needs
presents of mind
buffalo exchange
red light
american apparel
bagdad theatre and pub - cheap movies, great decor
widmer brewhouse has good food for kids, beer for the adults
3 doors down
there's a korean grill up towards 45th that's supposed to be good
apizza scholls

maybe you already know all about the area, but just in case...
the kids love it.

also, my assistant works for the unscene guide, so she knows all about the local cool goings on.
Her name is Julia, you can ask her for ideas if she's at the store.

when are you coming to town?


Kerry said...

You have to visit Edgefield -- it's McMenamins Kennedy School times 100. I'm biased, of course, since I work there and get to enjoy it five days a week. Just 20 minutes east of downtown Portland.

DJ said...

Portland, my beautiful Portland.

Not living there anymore is like a knife in my heart.

I hope you will post more about the house-swap after it's over. Have you done a house-swap before?

I have tried a few times to convince my charming spouse that a house swap would be a brilliant way to be able to afford to go back to Portland, or to visit friends in other locations. But he remains leery of strangers in the home.

The perfect situation would be to trade homes with someone who wanted the visitors to feed, water, and scoop the litterbox of their cat(s), in exchange for performing the same service for us.

That would make a trip even more affordable, by eliminating pet sitter expenses, as well as hotel costs.

But I may just be loopy in the brain to imagine such a situation could work. ; )

jen said...

How amazing of a trip! I will be spending the month of July in Hood River, so definitely come out that way. You can hike at Multnomah Falls (or one of the smaller falls for less crowds), watch the windsurfers and kite-boarders, do some shopping at the downtown boutiques (there are a few!), go to Mike's for ice cream and eat lunch or dinner at 3 Rivers Grill or Andrew's Pizza for something more casual. First Friday is a fun Friday event in Hood River that has local art displayed in all of the different shops, lots of free wine and goodies, live music, etc. Unfortunately July's First Friday is July 4th, so I don't know what they will be doing with that, but if you are there on August 1st check it out!

On the Washington side of the Columbia River, about 45 minutes from Portland is Skamania Lodge which has an AMAZING Sunday brunch.

As for Portland, try to get your hands on the August 2007 of Portland monthly magazine. It was the best of the city edition and I found so many "new to me" places last summer. Their current issue (June '08?) is about cheap, good places to eat!

Powell's books is a must, and there is a lot of fun shopping and eating in that area. I have younger kids so we are still in the zoo/children's museum phase, but one of the nicer malls is Washington Square. I also agree with someone else that the Forest Park is pretty amazing to hike around in (see the gardens, memorials, etc.)

I love Portland, too! I grew up in the Bay Area, but now I live in Maryland so the visits are much less frequent! Please contact me if you have any questions.


jen said...

One more thing... if there is a particularly hot spell and you want some cooler weather, Canon Beach is great and Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood is fun (year round skiing, so bring your sweatshirts and long pants!).

Betty said...

I should have posted earlier, but here's a run-down:

- Powell's Books - I only had time (2 hours! but I'm a ditherer) for the mags and garden section, but had a blast.

- Eats: OMG, Le Pigeon and 1001 (Ten 01) were FANTASTIC. Famed Paley's Place was actually only good by comparison (by normal standards, Paley's would be fantastic). Some fellow foodies warned us away from Gracie's so we did not go despite our $10 off certificate from staying at the Hotel DeLuxe (which, as at least 10 lovely strangers and several maps told us, used to be the Hotel Mallory). Cappuccino and iced mochas at Stumptown = amazing. Voodoo Doughnuts was a novelty, but actual doughnuts seemed just okay tasting. Fuller's for breakfast was very good. (Guilty?) confession: I liked Mercato's pizzas for lunch.

-Places to see: Pony Club, Jackpot Records, Oblation Papers and the gardens. Japanese and Classical Chinese Gardens, specifically. Rose garden was okay, but husband justifiably accused me of rose snobbery. We only saw hybrid teas and floribundas. (Sniff.) The adjacent outdoor amphitheater is beautiful by itself, though.

I'm sure I'm missing loads of things. We only had time for a tiny bit of Portland anyway. Would love to catch a showing at the Living Room Theater next time or Shakespeare in the park at the amphitheater. Also, we caught the very end of the Rose Festival. From our view on the light rail, Waterfront Park looked like it was a kid's carnival paradise for the festival.

Gayness: Although I entertained many thoughts about moving to Portland, I'm so happy to be a Californian right now because of the gay marriage decision. I had no idea while in Portland about the gay clubs, but a friend told me later that there are several clustered around or along Stark, presumably centrally located in Portland. And, I know, not a family trip thing but I'm throwing it out there as general info/rumors.


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