Where to take visitors in Portland
Updated: Dec 31, 2019
If you are looking for something OTHER than the obvious touristy places, this is the blog post for you.
If you want to focus on one area for an afternoon, try these three together:
1. The Portland Puppet Museum features 300 puppets and marionettes, many of them made by museum co-owner Steven Overton. He founded the Olde World Puppet Theater in 1976 and has since made puppets for live productions of Disney stories, parades and theme parks. The painted storefront was originally Campbell's Grocery built in 1870. Now, it’s home to hundreds of puppets of every shape, size and origin. String, hand, rod, shadow — all the great puppetry forms are represented. Famous TV puppets are featured here too...remember Lamb Chop? Lamb Chop is a sheep sock puppet created by late puppeteer and ventriloquist Shari Lewis. In 1957 she first appeared on Captain Kangaroo. 906 SE Umatilla Street, Portland, Oregon 97202. (503) 233-7723
2. Afterward, head over to Kay's Bar, the first bar in Oregon to get their liquor license after prohibition. The food is outstanding, far better than you would expect from a typical bar because there is an actual chef with a rotating menu and they really, really love what they do. The drink list and liquor options are equally respectable created by bartenders who have worked there more than ten years and geek out on creating truly good, quality drinks, infusions and other unexpected concoctions. 6903 SE Milwaukie Ave, Portland, OR 97202 (503) 232-4447
3. Before you leave Sellwood, visit the Tea Chai Te' Teahouse because it's in a Seattle Pacific Railroad car so, ya know, it's fun to shop for tea! They offer more than 120 varietals: Organic, premium, rare, & top grade blends and (BONUS) they also have an outdoor patio to sip from. Stay awhile. 7983 SE 13th Ave, Portland OR 97202 (503) 432-8747
If you want to drive to one location and just let yourself explore:
Set your GPS for The Rebuilding Center and street park. You'll love exploring up and down this street with much to see, taste and hear. Mississippi Avenue has an atmosphere were everything is possible. 3625 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR 97227
If you are entertaining the outdoorsy type:
Silver Falls is the largest state park in Oregon with 10 magnificent waterfalls and dog-friendly hiking trails that lure you through 8.5 miles of trail on the 9,200 acre preserve. It's located near Salem, so make this the dominant activity for the day. It can't be rushed to enjoy it. Take water, snacks and lunch in your backpack and expect to bring your trash home with you. There aren't a lot of dining options as you might expect. You will find orchids, firs, maples and wildlife. You can go BEHIND the South Falls...the trail will literally lead you there. 20024 Silver Falls Hwy SE, Sublimity, OR 97385
If you don't want to drive as far as Sliver Falls, try escaping the city without leaving it at Forest Park. It's the largest urban forest in the US, BTW...try it's best known route, the Wildwood Trail traveling the entire length of the park through trees and ferns galore. The park is open every day of the year from 5am until 10pm.
Eats: Holy Cow...too many options to list
Accanto: BRUNCH. For when Brunch is on your mind and a great Bloody Mary is high on the priority list. The Belmont Bloody is a serrano chile–infused vodka with a fried prosciutto garnish. Order the Duck hash, ricotta doughnuts, burrata. Yes, it's kid friendly and they have nice outdoor seating if the weather is good. 2838 SE Belmont St., Portland
Less Fancy// Renata: a neighborhood pizza and pasta spot where you can pair pinot gris from Portland's Teutonic Wine company with local cheeses and Scandinavian style delicacies. The wine bar of the Southeast Wine Collective allows you to sample any of three dozen wines made on-site while enjoying dishes like kale and beet salad or Moroccan lamb meatballs with parsley, mint and almonds. THEN...close by is the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation featuring a 440 ton steam engine locomotive followed by the OMSI where you can check out the USS Blueback, a submarine launched in 1959 and retired in 1990. Lastly, stroll the Eastbank Esplanade under our four bridges across the Willamette River. It's especially stunning in early April when the cherry blossoms are blooming.
More Fancy// La Pigeon: DINNER. This is Gabriel Rucker's neighborhood. The James Beard medaled rock star of Portland's food scene opened his bistro in 2006 and is still delighting guests with complex flavor combinations and atypical protein like rabbit and eel terrine. 738 E. Burnside St., Portland OR
Late night Drinks: Again...so many options so I will pick for you
Les Caves: There is an alley to the right of Courtesy Janitorial Service at NE Alberta and 17th; follow the cinderblock stairs down, around a rusty wine press, under the bull’s head, duck into a bunker that feels like it dates to the Great War. (It does.) This is Les Caves (“lei CAHV”), a secretive tasting room jointly run by Jeff Vejr, of Forest Grove’s Golden Cluster winery, and the owners of Newberg-based Ovum Wines. This is an experience that is both hyperlocal and deeply global, pouring wine for (at most) 18 people at a time. You feel like you have entered a secret society during prohibition. It's intimate and made for great conversations.
Stop in to browse:
Jacobsen Salt Co. Harvested from Oregon's coastline, Sample all the kinds of salts and chocolates and buy the smoked ghost chili salt for your home made bloody Mary's. 602 SE Salmon St, Portland, OR 97214
If they want to go somewhere touristy:
take them to Powell's Books. It's called the City of Books for a reason since it occupies an entire city block making it the largest bookstore in the world. And you won't have to stand in line at Voo-Doo doughnuts...so bonus.
The benches beside the Lewis and Clark Memorial column at the International Rose Test Garden are a great destination because you can enjoy a wonderful view of Portlands' skyline along with the Willamette River. They are a perfect location to picnic and check out 600 kinds of roses. Take a blanket and head up! If you would rather do a picnic table style picnic, the park has two covered shelters, The Elephant House and the Stevens Pavillion in the middle of the Hoyt Arboretum. Garden hours are 7:30am-9:00pm but you can get in on the free public tours offered daily at 1:00pm, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. Click on the link above for more details.
The Portland Japanese Garden just had a $37 million dollar expansion added and it was known world wide as a striking place to visit BEFORE this renovation so you can imagine, it's time to have another look. You'll take in glass and wood buildings, a castle wall, stone courtyards, art exhibits a small library with a cafe. It's worth your afternoon!
Kristina Browning is a realtor in Oregon City, West Linn & beyond. She is a licensed in the state of Oregon under 503 Properties with a Sellers Representative Specialist certification. She is also a home coach focused on spacial reasoning and home functionality.
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©Kristina Browning 2019