Portland Saturday Market
The Portland Saturday Market is open every Saturday and Sunday from March through December and features artisans and food vendors from the Pacific Northwest. It’s located off of Naito Parkway along the Willamette River. Meander through the booths, buy a gift or two, sample some kombucha, listen to the live band, and gobble down an elephant ear. [For those of you unfamiliar with the edible type of elephant ear, it is a pastry about the size of a real elephant’s ear covered in cinnamon and sugar goodness.]
Old Town Chinatown
Some of Portland’s must-dos are located within the boundaries of Old Town Chinatown. But whether or not you decide to hit all the must-dos or not, take some time to wander the streets of Old Town Chinatown. Take in all the sights, and see what you discover. Some of the places you may want to stop and experience are Lan Su Chinese Garden, Voodoo Doughnuts [be prepared to wait in line], and the historic Union Station.
An entire city block of books. What’s not to love? If you’re a reader, you better sketch out some good quality time to peruse Powell’s bookstore. It’s hard for me to resist books, and one of my dreams has been to have a library requiring a sliding ladder in my house, so this was a must stop (twice!) for me.
I like to eat anyway, but walking down the streets of downtown past food trucks with the delicious smell of food wafting past my nose makes me even hungrier. As you meander the streets of downtown Portland, stop at a food truck, savor the smell, and fill your belly with some great food. I personally like a good gyro filled with lamb, but there are plenty of other options, including many vegetarian ones. Walk as you eat or find a spot to people watch while you down your food. Check out www.foodcartsportland.com for maps of food trucks in the area.
Visit the Iconic Signs
Considering that we are in the day and age of selfies, you may want to go on a hunt for the iconic signs around Portland, such as the “Keep Portland Weird” one. Our selfie was not so successful, so I’m leaving that picture out, but you may do better with yours.
Multnomah Falls & the Oneonta Gorge
Do not miss this one. Another thing I like to do is hike. Take the drive outside of Portland along the Columbia River up to the Oneonta Gorge. Park and follow one of the trails to go in a hike. There are trails of various lengths, so pick the one that best suits you. We did the Triple Falls hike, which was about four miles in total. You will enjoy beauty, fresh air, and nature. Before or after your hike, stop off at the famous Multnomah Falls. There’s just a short walk awaiting you from the parking lot to the bridge. If you get lucky like we did, you’ll be able to sit on the bridge and enjoy the breezy and beautiful waterfall without fighting the crowds.
Salt & Straw
If you enjoy good ice cream, then the famous Salt & Straw is a must. There are now three Salt & Straw locations in Portland. One of them is on Division Street in southeast Portland. Again, be prepared to wait in line. When we arrived, there were a good 25-30 people outside waiting in line. But it is seriously worth the wait. When it’s your turn, you can sample as many flavors as you would like, but please be considerate of all those people waiting behind you. Salt & Straw offers seasonal flavors, some pretty standard options like vanilla, sea salt and caramel, but most of the flavors are out-of-the-box. Even if you are not an out-of-the-box kind of person, take a risk and try a bold flavor. I sampled the strawberry with honey, balsamic vinegar, and black pepper and the pear with blue cheese. They may sound a little odd, especially for ice cream, but they were so good that I ordered a scoop of each. If you’re not up for the samples or the wait, skip the line by going to the freezer, picking out a pint, and hopping directly in the line to pay.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I like to eat. This is why several food-related “things to do” have found their way on my list of what to do in Portland. Sitting down and enjoying a meal with someone is a sign of friendship, of welcoming the other person into your life. Gathering together around the table builds community, and Montage is a great place to build that community. You just might be seated at a table and joined by people you don’t know. Be ready for communal seating and dining. I kind of felt like I was in Louisiana, not Oregon, with the many tastes of the Bayou on the menu. Try some alligator or good ol’ mac and cheese. If you have any food left, your waiter will pack it in foil in the shape of a mermaid, platypus, flower, or some other foil masterpiece. Montage is located under the bridge on SE Morrison Street in the heart of the Central Eastside Industrial district.