One of my favorite things about the Portland area is that there seem to be a ton of great spots very close together. I was so surprised when we went from Salt & Straw on 23rd Street to Lovejoy Bakers in the Pearl District in a matter of minutes, because in the Los Angeles area, you really have to drive to get to sizable cool areas. Portland is great. Anyways, here are some of the places we went!
23rd Street reminded me a lot of Old Town Pasadena, except with fewer chain stores and smaller streets. The street was lined with artisanal food places, cute boutiques, vintage stores, and peppered with some more recognizable brands to make it a little more approachable. Also on 23rd Street was not one but two of the best dessert places EVER aka Salt & Straw and Blue Star Donuts.
Since our schedule was so packed, we mostly walked around and didn’t really enter any of the non-food stores, so that’s a definite must for the next time I visit.
You’ve already heard me gush about Lovejoy Bakers, so it kind of makes sense that the area surrounding it is also pretty cool. On the same block is Jamison Square Park, which is more of a water park than a grassy, traditional park. I found it really odd but cute that there were kids in their swimsuits playing in the fountain, but I guess that’s a normal thing.
Also in this area is Thea’s, a cute vintage shop with the most adorable succulents I ever did see, as well as some pretty great wax art that I wanted (but couldn’t) take back to SoCal with me. Didn’t want to risk ruining it in my carry on.
Hot Lips (a pretty popular pizza place, so I’m told), is a couple of blocks from Thea’s and Lovejoy, so we chilled in the burned-but-now-renovated building it’s located in. Very cute. Very cool.
Pioneer Courthouse Square & surrounding area
We actually went here because my bf wanted to take me to a mall. It was just a normal mall, but with a pretty cool skybridge that was like an oven with a view. I was in there for 5 minutes taking pictures, and by the time and I went back inside I was sweating, so it’s great if you want to quit smoking and sweat out the toxins. Kidding. Kind of. There was also a Teavana where I spent WAY too much on tea, like an embarrassing amount of money, which led us to think of all the things I could have gotten for the same price.
After the mall we hopped over to Pioneer Courthouse Square. It had stadium seating, so I feel like music there would be really great. Then we walked over to a Teacher’s Fountain where a guy posed a picture, and also where I saw a woman wheeling around a cat on a stroller. My kind of lady.
Sorry if it sounds like we didn’t do much…we mostly just walked around! But downtown Portland is so clean and beautiful, that spending an hour just exploring was as great as actually “doing” things.
Streets of Tanisbourne
Or as my bf likes to call it, “The Streets he was raised on” (he’s a sheltered Asian boy…let him imagine haha). The Streets were an outdoor shopping mall with a nice restaurant selection (we ate dinner there) and a Macy’s where you can imagine what your life would be like as a middle-aged soccer mom.
Beaverton Farmer’s Market
One of my absolute favorite parts of this trip! Growing up with the SoPas farmer’s market has come to make me appreciate quality farmer’s markets. I’m not hating on SoPas…but that FM is tiiiinnnnyyyy. This one was huge! (that’s what she said ha). And everything had samples. One bakery table had samples of every. single. baked good. I was in heaven and I probably sampled more than $10 in cookies. Oops.
There were also places to buy prepared food (Crepes! Tamales! Enchiladas!), and they had komboucha on tap. What? I was amazed.
Also there were artsy booths, some selling paintings, others glass sculptures, others jewelry. I bought a hand-blown glass picture frame. Gorgeous and so inexpensive.
I did a full post on this who doesn’t want to look at pretty pictures of flowers? Read it here.
Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Tom McCall Waterfront Park is, surprise surprise, right on the water. It’s a really scenic walk lined with cute cafes and shops, which is a great place to have an awkward first day (we witnessed this first hand). There are geese roaming everywhere, women running with strollers, cute kids giving out roses, and old couples walking hand-in-hand.
A really relaxing walk with a great view.
The view alone is worth a trip to this mansion.
Powell’s City of Books
BEST. BOOKSTORE. EVER. This place was huge! I think we spent an hour looking around, but I know I could have easily used up an entire day perusing each of the sections and reading everything.
What can I say? Everyone, no matter how much you hate reading, will find something to love about Powell’s. They have an extensive comic book section, a section on feminist writing, rows and rows on yoga, isles of cook books, and section-themed nick-nacks around every corner.
And it’s categorized by color! Purple, blue, green…and the natural light that floods the floors is perfect for reading. Arg. It’s just so great there. Highly recommend.
Sorry about the brevity of my comments on the last few places. I’ve been meaning to publish this for days but kept forgetting, and now I’ve rushed the end. But I still highly recommend a visit to all the places on this list.