We brought our Seattle-based team out to compare the nearby world of Portland Oregon, for just a 3 hour drive. While Portland has many similarities to Seattle in weather and culture – it can be a different and interesting place to getaway. We found some great places and a bit of the culture that is satired in the Portlandia television show. Here is the story of our weekend.
We began our Saturday in Portland at the top-shelf coffee of Stumptown. While Stumptown has several Seattle locations that we enjoy, the huge Portland cafe was really amazing for its quality and atmosphere. If you want some of the world’s truly highest quality coffee — Stumptown is the place to go.
We stayed at the Riverplace Hotel, which is a Kimpton hotel, right on the Wilamette River. The hotel has some special service with Kimpton style and a very caring staff. We got chocolate caramels at our bedside, free DVD rentals, super comfy beds, and a free goldfish for our room. The hotel also provides much needed umbrellas. This hotel is about a mile from the central downtown district, but next to a relaxing park with riverfront views. We’d rate Riverplace highly based on Kimpton’s caring staff and attentive service. One tip – skip the $30+ valet parking for the $12 per day (or less on weekends) lot next door, an easy one block walk. The hotel is part of a condominium complex with restaurants including McCormick and Schmick’s all bordering the river. The hotel stay includes an upscale health club with full pool and basketball that we really enjoyed.
One of our favorite things about Portland is the many microbreweries that dot the city. We had a great time enjoying two of the larger ones, Deschutes Brewery in downtown and Hopworks Urban Brewery (“the HUB”) across the bridge. The beers, service and food at Deschutes were awesome and a location very convenient to downtown hotels. The bar is very family friendly but with an active bar area and sports programming. Deschutes Brewery was four stars with our team.
It’s no coincidence that Portland’s most famous business – Powell’s World of Books is within walking distance of Deschutes Brewery. Combining the two is a great way to spend a rainy day. Powell’s is a full city block of books that actually takes a map to get around in the store. During an age when online books and e-books have taken over, it’s great to see, feel, and touch real books in an atmosphere where people love literature and reading. Despite our best efforts, we left Powell’s with a good sack of new books to enjoy for our trip.
Hopworks Urban Brewery is an interesting place across the Wilamette River. The brewery is extremely popular with a huge bar ringed by old bicycle frames. The food is organic and locally grown and the beer is organic too. This place was a bit too popular and crowded for our taste and the service was below average.
The HUB felt like a bit more hype than was deserved and while it may be a fun place for locals – we enjoyed Deschutes far more for its service and atmosphere.
On Sunday, we checked out the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry which is a great place for kids and families. The museum can be very popular on weekends. Our kids really enjoyed the interactive exhibits. There is a submarine tour which is really special for $5 extra. You will tour a real submarine and feel what it is like to live underwater. The museum was cool, but I might try for weekdays when it is less busy.
We closed out our visit with a try of a Scandanavian style restaurant that is lauded by Yelp readers, Broder. Today’s lesson: too many positive Yelp reviews can make for a very busy place. This tiny restaurant had some great food, but hassle was way out of whack with the food quality / enjoyment of the experience. The servers at Broder made a valiant effort, but its a better option for people with unlimited time on their hands who like to eat in cramped places. The place is really small, with the open kitchen taking up about half of the restaurant. The food was unusual and tasty – and we enjoyed it, but be prepared to wait — a lot. They also can run out of many items as you go later in the day.. when it is less busy… Broder features a bar next door that they use to house the waiting patrons, you can order coffee and drinks there while you wait.
Overall, Portland is a great getaway trip from Seattle. Time your weekend visit right and you can miss the traffic on the busy SEA-PDX corridor. The walkable downtown is filled with great breweries and organic food, and in some ways… does Seattle one better in walkability and convenience. Check out Portland!