I love traveling. Something about the sights, the sounds, and the FOOD of a new city excite me (and my belly). Every year, I add more destinations to my “must visit” list. I categorize them by distance, travel costs, food options, walkability, and a variety of other factors. And while the majority of these spots are International, there are a number of cities in the USA I have yet to experience (suggestions welcomed!).
My husband and I love the Pacific Northwest. The greenery, fresh air, and open space remind us of our time in the mid-west. Yes, the weather is a little gloomy in comparison to sunny San Diego. But I love the changing seasons, crisp cool air, and any excuse to wear sweatpants and uggs 🙂 Add in hiking, biking, and tons of healthy eats and it’s a winning combination.
We recently traveled to Portland for a wedding, and I absolutely loved it. The city quickly won my heart with so much to see and taste. If you love vegan and gluten-free friendly eats and the great outdoors, your next trip to P-town awaits.
Where to Eat in Downtown Portland
My husband and I were only in Portland for a few days, but that didn’t stop me from some serious foodie research. Looking for a healthy restaurant in Portland? I got you covered 🙂
The all organic restaurant in Southeast Portland serves up delicious gluten-free food with raw, vegan, and vegetarian options. It’s a rarity for me to want everything on the menu–literally everything. To fuel me for a busy day I opted for the Betty Bowl, jam packed with quinoa, beans, steamed greens, roasted veggies, cabbage apple kimchi, and your choice of sauce. I added avocado and a poached egg to complete my dish. When in doubt, #putaneggonit.
After spying Blue Star donuts down the street my husband opted for a smaller meal to save room (smart man).
Blue Star Donuts are a must-try in Portland. The heavenly culinary masterpieces are made from scratch every morning from a classic brioche recipe. Picking just one will be the hardest decision you make all day. Every bite of the raspberry buttermilk we split was completely worth it. Often, I find donuts too sweet, but this was the perfect balance and easily the best sweet bite on the trip.
While we’re on the topic of doughnuts…Yes, we stopped at Voodoo too. A PDX tourist must, Voodoo has a few locations in town and all typically have a line stretching down the block at all times. Is it worth it? If you love crazy toppings, a much sweeter doughnut, and a ton of options, Voodoo is your go-to spot. My husband and I opt for a good ole’ fashion glaze or chocolate, so our vote is with Blue Star.
Harlow’s sister restaurant, Prasad, is also a must-stop for all of your avocado toast, rice bowl, smoothie, and veggie cravings. Situated inside Yoga Pearl, the counter-service cafe is also the perfect spot for post-yoga eats (East location inside Portland Rock Gym). Sadly we missed breakfast time, but I opted for The Harvest Salad loaded with kale, chickpeas, carrots, beets, pepitas, rice, sesame seeds, tempeh, and sesame miso dressing.
Departure is an upscale Asian-fusion restaurant atop The Nines Hotel. With intriguing cocktails and city views, the chic space is the perfect date spot. After eyeing the Departure Wings on another table, we placed our order. Wings never tasted so good 🙂 And whatever you do, ask about the seasonal ice cream cones.
Additional foodie ideas and resources:
- Paleo Eats in Portland
- Eater Portland
- Salt & Straw: The gourmet ice cream shop serves seasonal flavors, with delicious creations like Freckle & Hyde Potion, Essence of Ghost, and Creepy Crawler Critters (Happy Halloween!).
- Farm Spirit: A farm-to-table culinary experience with 100% plant-based dining. I read about my friend Nicole’s experience and it’s on my list for our next trip!
Fun Things to Do in Portland
Founded in 1971, Powell’s is the world’s largest independent bookstore. The store takes up an entire city block! You could easily spend hours (or days) reading through books, magazines, journals, and chotchkies lining the shelves.
Bike Ride Around the City
Biking around Portland is a fun way to spend a sunny afternoon. Book the Essentials Tour with Cycle Portland to cover all the must-see spots. Thirsty? The Brews Cruise will take you through town and the craft beer scene.
The 410-acre public urban park includes a zoo, rose garden, Japanese garden, children’s museum, and more. Get lost in greenery, roses, and people watching. It’s amazing to see so much green in a big city.
If you’ve never been to a Portland Timbers game, snatch up a ticket as soon as possible. The stadium is packed, the energy is high, and the team and fans put on an incredible show. Half-way through the first half my husband and I vowed to get season tickets to any MLS team that comes to San Diego. The highlight of the match came after a Timber’s goal, when a lumberjack cuts wood. Timmbbbbeeerrrr!
Take a trip to the Oregon Coast
A mere 90-minutes outside of Portland is the beautiful Oregon Coast. We ventured west for a wedding in Gearhart, a cozy beach town with no traffic lights, wide streets for riding bikes, public tennis courts, and a gorgeous beach. We are so used to the hustle and bustle of a big city, but the quiet was welcoming. One day we hope to return for a lengthier trip along the coast.
The staff at our hotel highly recommended the nearby farmers market. Situated around a square, the layout reminded me of the farmers market in Madison, WI (go Badgers!). Fresh veggies, fruit, cheese, baked goods, coffee, and more. There is no better way to live like a local.
Take a Yoga Class
No trip of mine is complete without fitness. I popped in for a HIIT & Flow workout at Flex and Flow Portland and instantly fell in love with the studio. From the beautiful mural on the wall to the empowering messaging all over the room there was something special about the space. My legs and core quivered through sweaty fun with Liz. If you’re ever in Portland I highly recommend stopping by for an OM-azing workout and flow (see what I did there?!).
I’m already excited for my next trip to the PNW! So much to see, taste, and explore—so little time. What are some of your favorite things to do and eat in Portland?