In spite of my relatively limited travels throughout the region, I firmly maintain that the Pacific Northwest is the best kept secret of the United States. While the world and worlds beyond are aware of the rich history of New England, the bustling megalopolises of New York and Chicago, and the glitz and glam of Hollywood, the PNDubs gets a rap for the purported following attributes: rainy, cold, and depressing. My friends, that is exactly what the locals want you to think.
With lush evergreenery, a plethora of outdoor activities, and a restaurant scene that makes tastebuds sing, states like Oregon and Washington are anything but depressing. I was fortunate enough to spend an entire week in Oregon traveling alone. During the trip, I was able to experience the state in full panoramic view: from the windswept oceans, to the uniquely defined and vivacious pockets of Portland, to the serene mountains and even down to the sunkissed, arid climate of Central Oregon. I got to eat eel pie at a fancy French restaurant, drive on the beach, and ski on an active volcano. I got to bike across the Willamette River, sip tea in a Chinese garden, and buy some of the funkiest comics I’ve ever seen. I got to be a tourist and, dare I say, melted into the background as a local whenever I chose to be. I sometimes laid down with my computer at night and, while blogging about my days, sat in disbelief at my recently transpired experiences. I came back rejuvenated with great memories and an enormous reminder of the splendor and beauty of this world. If this cheesy paragraph is enough to convince you, I encourage you to visit.
…and now that you’re convinced – let’s start planning! 🙂
In the hopes of helping you along, here is a basic itinerary of what I did, along with more fun and helpful stuff.
PART I – BASIC ITINERARY
Day 1: Flew into Portland. Ate Peruvian in the upscale, posh Pearl District and spent some time in Sellwood-Moreland area, a fairly quiet, family-oriented area with a grand array of old Craftsman/Victorian homes. Stayed with a family I found on AirBnB, which I recommend far and above any other type of lodging any day. Stayed in Portland.
Day 2: Biked from SM to downtown and spent the day there. Saw the Saturday/Sunday market, the library, the “token spots” of Oregon (Powell’s Books, Voodoo Doughnut, etc.) and spent the night exploring some spots in East Burnside, including the most expensive restaurant I’ve ever dined at in my life, ever. Stayed in Portland.
Day 3: Spent the morning/afternoon exploring more of natural/historical Portland (Pittock Mansion, Japanese Garden, Hoyt Arboretum) and later set course for Seaside. Spent the evening strolling the beaches and having dinner on “The Prom”, Seaside’s boardwalk and primary center of entertainment. Stayed in Seaside.
Day 4: Spent the day exploring the finest of the Northern Oregon Coast – Astoria, home of the famous Astoria Column and, of course, the Goonies house; Cannon Beach, which holds the gargantuan and impressive Haystack Rock as well as Ecola State Park and Indian Beach; Tillamook, where vast pastures and fun attractions (the Tillamook Cheese Factory and the Air Museum) await thee; and Cape Lookout, where
I got trapped in a marsh and fell in a pile of mud one can see some of the most breathtaking scenery on the Pacific Coast. Returned to and stayed in Seaside.
Day 5: Headed due east for Mt. Hood and skiied there for the day. Later explored the area around my hotel in nearby Welches and found fantastic hiking in forests that looked almost prehistoric. Stayed in Welches.
Day 6: In a spontaneous fit of adventure, headed south to Smith Rock State Park and spent the day hiking most of the trails available. Went south another skosh to Bend and explored more nearby hiking as well as the charming downtown for amazing sushi. Stayed in Bend.
Day 7: Made the journey back up from Bend to Portland and saw Multnomah Falls, the Chinese Garden, and Forest Park. Rested up before enjoying delectable Argentine food and a blast of a show at the swaggalicious Doug Fir in east Burnside. Stayed in Portland.
Day 8: Made like a local and hit up Mississippi Avenue and the Alberta Arts district for some satisfying art spotting and antinque-trinket shopping, not to mention otherworldly ice cream-tasting. Headed out in the late afternoon to return to make my journey back to life.
PART II: COST FIGURES; HOW MUCH I SPENT ON…
Airfare: …is completely dependent on where you’re coming from. My flight from Phoenix was purchased about 2 and 1/2 months in advance and cost about $215 roundtrip.
Where I stayed: Peoples’ house on AirBnB (best option), motels (decent option), and hotels (if-you-must option). $44-120 a night. Backpacking is an option I haven’t explored, but I’m sure you could do that and go even cheaper.
How I got around: Rented a car. HIGHLY recommend if you want to see the varying landscapes of the state. $576 total (ouch, but worth it), and only because I was born in 1990. Yeah, there’s a $200 underage fee added to your rental bill if you are under 25, which is something to consider when you’re a child like me traveling. Lame.
I also spent about $120 on gas the whole time I was there – quite a bargain for the amount of ground I covered, but it helped that my car had half-decent gas mileage. That includes tips to the attendants who pumped my gas for me – how exciting that was to experience for the first time ever! 🙂
Where I ate: Portland is one of those cities that offers myriad food choices that appease anyone and fit any budget. I chose to go the more dollar-burning route and ate the vast majority of my lunches and dinners out. It’s the cross for an aspiring foodie to bear, I suppose. Meals, like anywhere, can vary in price from $5-105, but I opted to spend about $60/day on food on average and ate QUITE handsomely. Again, though, there are food trucks galore throughout the city and they are EXTREMELY good. Not as many chain restaurants, but you’ll find a few and do fine if you so choose.
What I did for fun: Portland and Oregon in general have a TON of attractions and things to do outdoors. That being said, most of these cost at least something. State parks are generally $5 for a day pass. Local attractions like the Pittock Mansion or Japanese Garden run about $9-20. Certain places like Forest Park or some of the falls are totally free for both parking and visiting. You can avoid the ore expensive sites and still have an absolute blast, particularly if you’re active and like the outdoors.
PART III: OTHER STUFF
Favorite parts of the trip: Cue obligatory “ALL OF IT”, but in the spirit of decisiveness: my meal at Le Pigeon (see “most expensive meal I’ve ever eaten in my life, ever”), Smith Rock State Park, and the concert at the ‘Fir.
What I’d do differently next time: Purchase an annual park pass to save money on parking, check the weather before going skiing a little more carefully, and visit Southern Oregon to see the Shakespeare Festival, Mt. Hood, and my uncle who lives in Roseburg. I’d also try out some of the Portland brewery tours, as those are extremely popular in the city. Don’t even get me started on the dunes in Florence!
You’d like this trip if…: you love the outdoors, you want both solitude and urban buzz within close range of each other, or if you love food. Depending on the type of you, you should probably also be cool with rain.
For more detailed info: Ask me. I’m an open book.
Happy traveling, or should I say living!
Thought of the Day: Practice patience. Do something, wait 20 minutes, then decide if it’s ready to be done/sent/submitted/shipped.