This post is kind of a love letter, actually. Lounging in my sons’ Portland apartment, watching the rain drizzle down, I am realizing the more I see, the more I like in PDX.
I’m still a committed Californian but tempted to cheat with this effortlessly cool city. My sons' careers have brought them (temporarily) to Oregon, and I have fallen in love since my first visit just last summer. Today’s gray skies follow several days of sunshine, and I’ve become even more enamored after my latest excursions.
My son Brian found an apartment off Northwest 23rd Avenue, a charming neighborhood nestled into a hillside twinkling with white lights on the sidewalk trees. I'm a sucker for those white lights — anything with sparkling lights — and these stay up ALLLL winter! Many of the homes alongside the line of delightful boutique shops and restaurants keep their lights up, as well, brightening that Pacific Northwest gloom.
Everyone told me how fabulous Portland is, and everyone sent me their list of musts, which I have been diligently working through (while discovering a few of my own) on visits ever since. I have loved exploring Portland's amazing, eccentric food scene. From carts and trucks and little wooden taverns with fire pits and café light canopies, to places like Tusk, Little Bird Bistro, Bollywood Theater, and Screen Door (with its famous praline crusted bacon), I have been impressed at every turn.
The shopping scene is just as creative, artistic and whimsical. You could wander for days and find unusual treasures in unexpected places. On NW Alberta Street, I spied a corner that is host to Pine State Biscuits, Sip (a green juice camper), and the Tiny Massage Cart. Follow a gravel path behind these to discover a hidden secret garden nursery, Thicket, offering classes and workshops. Pretty dreamy. There are little nooks and crannies everywhere in this town where you can find such hidden gems.
My husband and I call this our 'Portland Phase’. We know someday we’ll look back and say, 'remember our Portland phase?' I don’t want it to end and tear up when I think about it. I already miss it. People just seem to live more simply up here, and there is so much to enjoy. There is nothing like the sight of the three majestic snow capped mountains presiding over the sparkling city on a clear day. The must-see Rose Garden and its tapestry of brilliant colors. The Japanese Tea Garden with awe-inspiring maples. The charming craftsman homes, the Fall colors, a million different shades of green in the Park, the different neighborhoods each with their own unique flavors and character. Portland is less make up, less fashion, less plastic surgery, less talk about what you do and have — more talk about who you are. Who you are being in the world in this moment.
There are so many places in the world that inspire with lessons and messages. What a blessing to learn about ourselves and what really touches us through the eyes and energy of a certain area. Cities have a way of infusing us with a certain imprint we then get to carry with us — whether Paris, New York … or Portland. Sometimes I wish we could live in places simultaneously and experience the uniqueness they offer because there never feels like enough time to experience it all. Portland caught me by surprise, delivering a fresh message: appreciation of the little things.
I have gained new perspective and simple joy here. So, as I sip on my second cappuccino from Barista on my final morning of this visit, I am savoring all the moments I can — as I stay present in the magic of wherever life leads us, and the wonder of what is revealed through the beauty of our very diverse world.
A few other Portland Faves:
- Teote: Latin American street food + fire pit on the patio + gluten free + fab jalapeno margarita = quintessential Portland!
- Powell’s Books: The largest bookstore in the world, Powell’s provides a map to navigate this full city block of books! Spend an afternoon getting lost in here! Bonus points to the Pearl District location.
- Pok Pok: Best Thai food in Portland- The food is as yummy as the lines are long. (And the SE Division location offers the ‘farm-to-cone' Salt & Straw ice cream just a block away … !)
- Pittock Mansion: Breathtaking views and a beautiful piece of Portland history at this French Renaissance-style château built in 1909 — tells the story of the city’s transformation from pioneer town to the modern city of today. A great hike up and down through the beautiful park!
- Andina: Delicious Peruvian food, imaginative cocktails, and fun music in a cool space, with the vibrant vibe of the Pearl District.
- Sunlan Lighting Inc: This offbeat lighting emporium will brighten your day — from the outside it looks like an antique shop, and inside is an enormous selection of rare and retro lights. Super-knowledgable staff … the Powell’s of light bulbs!
- Sloan: Portland boutique shopping at its finest. Stylish, reasonably priced clothing and a helpful sales staff — they consider themselves the store ‘for every woman’! I certainly came out with a few fun pieces!
- Manor: 'Fine Wares & Curious Goods’ is their tag line, and describes this relaxed home store perfectly. Gorgeous textiles, dishware, candles…Luxurious but not pretentious … just like Portland.
- Twist: One-of-a-kind jewelry pieces and a well-curated store. Designers I love and designers to discover — artistic and unique. I was fascinated with the many Christopher Marley stunning mosaic pieces---butterflies, feathers and yes- even insects!