PNW - Part 2: Portland

August 26, 2016

Our family traveled to the PNW earlier this month. I shared a little about our time in Seattle in a previous post. We started our PNW trip in Seattle and took the Amtrak down to Portland. We ended up booking a place to stay through Airbnb (I share a little about my Airbnb experience below).  Portland was quite different from Seattle (besides it being very green). It had a very old, hipster, super chillax vibe. Tons of small shops and restaurants hidden within residential areas. Lots of bikers and people with tattoos. Super friendly people and lots of coffee shops. Not sure if it's a place that I'd be able to call home, but I'm glad I finally got to visit.

I thought we ate a lot in Seattle, but that was nothing compared to how much we ate in Portland. I think we ate every 3 hours. It was non-stop. Even though I was full, I just kept eating (the food is definitely cheaper over there). In general, I liked the food in Seattle better, but here are some places I'd recommend (mostly breakfast places).

Top places to eat in Portland (ranked):
  1. Tasty n Sons - This place was amazeballs. Everything was delicious. I ordered the steak and cheddar eggs with cornmeal pancakes. The only complaint was that the meat was a bit tough. I also recommend the polenta and sausage good! Their chocolate potato donut was good too.
  2. Bing Mi - This place is located in downtown in a food cart. They have crepes that are Chinese inspired. It was surprisingly good! I'd definitely recommend.
  3. Lardo - This was the first place we ate at when we arrived in Portland. If you want a good sandwich, this place is great. 
  4. Screen Door - I think this was place was overly hyped. We waited a really long time to be seated, so by the time we sat down, I was expecting something great. The chicken and waffle dish is their best seller. It's pretty huge. Our chicken was too tough though, so we were a little disappointed. All the other dishes we ordered were good though.
  5. Broder - Went for breakfast. Everything we ordered was good, no complaints. 
*Blue Star Donuts - Where do I even begin. I went in with no expectations...and I fell in love at first bite. These donuts were stanking good. My favorite was the buttermilk old fashion. I like the simple ones. Their dough isn't your usual donut dough, and that's probably why I liked it. It's more bready and its thicker. I loved them and now I crave them all the time. We have one here in CA, but it's all the way in Venice! I'm praying they open one up in the OC soon.

Things to do in Portland:
  • Hike - Multnomah Falls is probably the most popular place to visit when in Portland, so we made sure to stop by and takes tons of pictures. We did a short 2 mile hike - roundtrip (Wahclella Falls Hike). I'd recommend this one if you have kids.
  • Alberta Street - This is a long street with tons of small shops and restaurants. We just walked around and the girls were able to take a nap in the stroller.
  • Downtown Portland - There's one section in downtown with dozens of food carts. I think they're open all week. Lots of different types of food to choose from. We grabbed some food and found a little park (Director Park I think) to eat.
  • Portland University Farmer's Market - I believe its every Saturday. We got there towards the tail end, but it was still pretty crowded. It's pretty big and there are tons to eat and buy.

A few tips:
  • Take Amtrak - We took the Amtrak down to Portland from Seattle. I highly recommend. It was only $65 for our whole family. It worked out really great because Erin was able to walk around and play with her toys. She also took a nice 1.5 hr nap. Ava did really well too. I ended up ergoing her around so she was able to sleep for about an hour. The train wasn't crowded so Ava got her own seat as well. Score!
  • Rent car-seats - We were originally planning on taking our car-seats with us. We thought it'd be a good way to save money, but the more we thought about carrying around huge car-seats along with all our other luggage to and from the airport, we decided to rent them instead. We got lucky with the car situation because we were able to use someone's car in Seattle and Portland, so we saved tons on not having to rent a car. But for just renting 2 car-seats, the total turned out to about $160 for 7 days. The car-seats seemed to be in decent condition, no complaints. We used Traveling Baby in Seattle and Baby's Away in Portland.
  • Don't pick an Airbnb rental in a basement if you have kids - We found a cute little Airbnb that was decently priced, but it was in the basement of a home. We didn't think too much of it and decided to book it. After getting to our rental, I immediately got concerned. Floors were cemented and the ceilings were very low (Ken practically reached the top). We ended up with a ton of bug bites (me mostly). The one very big con was how noisy it got down there. The owners rented out the space above the basement and we were able to hear every little noise. It sounded like they were jumping around up there when I'm sure they were just walking around. I barely got any sleep while I was there. So my advice is that if you're a light sleeper or have young kids, I'd book a place that's not in a basement. *The good thing about being in the basement though was that it never got too hot.
  • Bring tons of snacks - We ran out of snacks real quick. Erin would keep asking for more. We were out and about most of the day so we didn't really have time to stop by anywhere to replenish. Erin would randomly get hungry at odd times so the snacks were quite vital. I'd definitely bring more next time.
  • Bring new toys or any other entertainment - I always get something new for Erin to open and play with when we're traveling. It really does work wonders. My go-to place is the dollar section at Target or going to the Dollar Tree. I don't need to buy anything fancy or expensive. Erin was quite content and happy playing with anything that was new.
  • Bring a sound machine - I'm sort of a light sleeper, especially when I'm in a new place. Bringing the sound machine on this trip really saved me and Ava. Erin is more of a heavy sleeper like her dad, so she slept fine throughout this trip. The sound machine drowned out some of the snoring and it helped drown out a lot of the noise in Portland. *The machine isn't big so its doesn't take up a lot of space in your suitcase.

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