After our previous day of nature adventures, I slept good and hard. Now it was time to actual explore the city of Portland. Our flight home was at 3:40pm, so that gave us about six hours to try and tackle the must-sees on our Portland list.
We grabbed coffee next door to our Airbnb at Bushel & Peck (I’m a fan of any city that has a bunch of great independent coffee shops). Our first stop was at Mills End Park, otherwise known as the “World’s Smallest Park.” I sipped my coffee while looking at this little patch of grass – oddly enough placed right in the middle of a median – and was a little underwhelmed. I wasn’t sure why I’d been so excited to see this originally; I guess I’d imagined it fully and well landscaped since it was small, but it was kind of just some twigs with trash adorning it.
We walked a few blocks leisurely through downtown just to get a chance to see some of the everyday culture. It was still pretty early so not too many people were out, but I love walking a city and just watching all the mundane stuff there is to see. We made it to Powell’s Books, aka Heaven.
Spoiler alert: Powell’s was my favorite part of Portland. I know, I know, it’s just a bookstore. But it’s massive and has so much to see. It’s got new and used. Merchandise and gifts for book lovers (and gifts for nerds ha). They’ve got great recommendation tags all over and even have themed book lists. I wanted to buy everything, or just move in. Sadly, I didn’t. Instead, we headed around the corner from Powell’s to the Ace Hotel, where one of the oldest photobooths was still in use!
We took a few and it actually exposed and developed our film strips. I had to carefully pick it up as the sheet was still drying. I love that they kept such care of it and that it still works!
From Ace, it was time to head to a Portland classic: VooDoo Donuts. Of course it was very busy. There was so many bright colors and the display case turned and they were trying to efficiently move the line, I got a bit overwhelmed. When Jenna decided to get the original voodoo doll donut, I went for the same but in vegan version just to taste test. Now, it’s funny that there’s red jelly inside (pretend blood), but being not a fan of jelly donuts, it was a very unpleasant surprise after my first bite. Got to admit, not really a fan overall of VooDoo Donuts.
Right across the street was the iconic Keep Portland Weird sign, so as tourists we snapped that picture, and then headed to the outdoor Saturday Market. We arrived, saw no booths of food or crafts from local artisans in sight and were very confused. Of course, my research isn’t failproof (which we all know by now) and the outdoor market wouldn’t kick up again for at least another month. Bummer.
I’d done a lot of research on thrifting in Portland. I could tell a lot of the local fashion was thanks to thrifting and I knew from “Best of” lists that Portland had a lot of great vintage shops. I knew we wouldn’t have time to hit them all, but the one that kept coming up as cheapest and most quantity was the same one, locally nicknamed the Bins. It was a Goodwill outlet, where you bought based on weight. Basically, I got three tops for a dollar and some change – crazy!
All day we’d had little bites to eat here and there, but we saved it all for the outdoor food truck area. We were starving and there were so many options. I got a plate of hummus from one and a mountain of fries from the cutest food truck, Potato Champion. Seriously, the food in Portland is so so good!
Our time was escaping fast and we each had one more last wish list item. We grabbed coffee at Heart for Jenna and then made a mad dash for ice cream at Salt & Straw. I was flabbergasted at how busy it was – the line was completely out the door! I was so stressed on time, we should already have left for the airport, but it was one of the only things on my list and I was bound and determined. Luckily, it all worked out! And it was so worth it!
Finally settled in at the airport, no longer rushing for the first time that day, only waiting, I relaxed and thought back on our mad dash around Portland. It felt like we’d done nothing because of how many things we’d had to give up on our list. Compared to our leisurely nature day, our city dash had mostly been frantic. (Apparently more leisurely in the morning where I snapped the following pic for some reason.)
When I think back to rearranging the schedule or substituting, there’s nothing I would hang though. I had a full Portland experience, I just didn’t have the chance to fully experience Portland (if that makes sense. I’ll just have to go again!