Portland has always been a dream city of mine to visit. I find it so bizarre that Frank and I have been all over the world but actually going places inside of the United States is far and few between. When we had Kett I told him this was our chance to really see our own country.
When I travel I always am overly detailed about places and times to visit and eat. In reality I think in my previous life I was probably a type of travel agent, but not the kind that just books flights but gives you detailed daily activities, how to get to each place and where to eat all on the smallest budget. I want to visit every place Alton Brown eats or Guy Fieri has visited, pretty much any spot the Food Network says to visit. Then I want to visit all the touristy spots and on top of that all the unique places that makes the city, where all the locals go!
This by far was the hardest trip for me to plan because I now have a 15 month old to consider when traveling and well lets be honest, he kind of is the boss right now. That in-between stage where we can't communicate, so he cries and then I cry and then we both have fits of not knowing what each other wants. Its a good relationship right now.
If you want more insight on everything that made our flights a million times better, check out this blog post here.
When I plan trips I research practically every place I can image and then pin it onto Google Maps and go from there. I try to stay in a particular area so its pretty easy to get around, you can view my google maps for Portland here. Usually when I find time before a trip I break it down by places, shopping and food but there was ZERO time for that this time, so I mostly just stuck to the areas.
Thankfully Kett is a pretty good sleeper and can really sleep anywhere as long as its in line with his usual schedule. So I knew I really needed to schedule everything around that and then kind of just go for it. I knew that food and sitting around would not be the most viable option with a toddler and planned places to eat that weren't far from parks in case we needed to get it to go. I also planned at least one or two things that were meant for Kett every day. Portland made it pretty easy to do so, they really have so much to offer.
So here is my overly detailed ideas on what to do in Portland with a Toddler!
We got into Portland around 7pm, carseat in tow and mustered a taxi up to bring us straight to the hotel. We stayed at the Kimpton Hotel Vintage. By the time we got to the hotel and settled down it was almost 9pm so we searched for a nearby place to grab food Frank could go pick up and bring back to the room. We chose Portland Burgers and it was seriously so delicious.
Day 1 This was the beginning of the trip, we got a pretty good nights sleep, woke up early and got on the move. One of the biggest things to do in Portland is there Saturday Market and that was top on my list to see. From the hotel it was about a 15 minute walk and we chose to walk it along the River, passing Mills End Park, worlds smallest park and get a quick bite to eat at Bijou Cafe. I read the recommendations to eat there were the Oyster Omelet and the Tofu Scramble and seriously I wouldn't be able to decide between the two. When traveling with a toddler I realize the amount of time you get to eat is pretty limited so I researched places to eat in advance and the best things to eat there so when we sat we could order up and get it quick.
After the quick bite to eat we walked over to the Portland Outdoor Store to grab a picture with the sign and then headed straight to the Portland Saturday Market. So many unique shops and tents. All the food and things you could imagine. They had a band and we got a beer to share and let Kett stretch his little legs and run around. A lady with bubbles was in the park and there were dogs galore so he had everything to entertain him. We stopped to take pictures with the Skidmore Fountain and the White Stag Portland OR sign is right on the other side of the Burnside Bridge, walk along the river and its right there.
Just a couple block walk from there is the Keep Portland Weird Sign across the street from Voodoo Doughnuts. I definitely don't recommend going there on a Saturday if you can try. Its open 24 hours and its the same delicious doughnuts all day. After grabbing a few pictures with that mural I planned to either head back to the hotel to let Kett nap or head to the Portland Museum of Art, always options with the little guy! So the walk started with a cup of coffee from Barista and a hopeful mom that could get their kid to sleep and not have to take a hotel break... I put him in my Boba carrier and boom, asleep, those bubbles and dogs really did a number on him.
We walked and caught the last 2-3 hours of the Portland Art Museum. Kett woke up about half way through and literally screamed the whole way through. But not mad scream, just a cute loud ahh playing with the echos of each room. I apologized to every single person we walked by but his little Ahh and a whole lot of giggles to follow got a lot of smiles and laughs out of everyone we passed.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped by the Ira Keller Fountain Park, which the fountain wasn't working but it was still a nice little playground with a lot of stairs that kept Kett entertained for a bit before we went to grab food for dinner. Not a far walk was the Alder St. Food Cart Pod that came highly recommended, we had a little something from the Hawaiian BBQ place and a Poke Bowl that was seriously to die for so good. Then we grabbed some wine on the way home from the Target across the street and went back to the hotel.
Day 2 In the morning we got ready and headed out to Petunias Pies and Pastries, a vegan bakery. We had the most amazing waffles and gluten free biscuit with gravy. I definitely recommend their cute bathrooms they share with a few other stores. We got our Metro/Tram/Public Transportation passes, its all on the app making it a breeze to get a 5 day pass for $25 to hop on and off whenever we needed to. We walked to Powell City Books and walked around and marveled at the collections. Kett ran around the kids area and made friends with other parents and kids. We spent a little over an hour chasing him around there. It was really fun to watch him grab books and read to him.
Just around the block we stopped in the Ace Hotel to take pictures in their Photo Booth. That was well worth the stop and I definitely would have made it back there a second time if we had had the time. Its the old fashioned emulsion black and white Photo Booth, emulsion still on the prints when they come out. It was only $5 to get one strip done and the wait was about 5 minutes for them to print. But seriously the cutest little strip of photos I for sure will cherish the rest of my life. I can't wait to add it to Ketts baby book.
We then went and ate a quick bite at Grassa, a really amazing hand pulled pasta community style seating place. It was loud but not too loud, it had great music and was great to bring a toddler. When I planned lunches I planned them around 2pm, after the lunch crowds and researched places a toddler could meltdown and no one would even notice. He didn't melt down here but if he did I swear no one would have even noticed. It was really between Grassa and Tasty N Alder, I try to have options based on how busy they are or hours, etc.
We hopped on the bus and headed straight for the Japanese Gardens. I was hoping again I could get Kett to nap but that wasn't the case this time around. He stayed in his stroller and we walked the gardens. I would say the bus ride to the Gardens drops you off about a ten minute uphill walk to the gardens and the gardens themselves really aren't stroller or toddler friendly. But they are gorgeous and very easy to relax and walk through to marvel at the beauty of it all. Back down the hill and onto the bus and back to the hotel. We ordered and picked up food from Rock Bottom Brewery. It was probably last on my places to eat in Portland but it was near and the wait wasn't long and we were all very worn out from the day.
Day 3 Today we decided to rent a car for the day and head to Cannon Beach, Seaside and Astoria. We got the car stopped at Voodoo Doughnuts grabbed 6 doughnuts to share on the ride. We got there around 7am and practically walked up to the door.
It just so happened that during the week we were in Portland was a Whale Watching week where for only 5 days a volunteer came out to tell you and help you seek out the 20,000 something whales that are migrating to Mexico. Of course the weather was awful and the day before they saw 33 whales. The day we came we saw none. But the breathtaking views and just the drive up to the Ecola State Park were worth it.
We drove back down to Cannon Beach, the weather was entirely against us at the point so we weren't able to enjoy Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock as much as we would have liked but it did keep us moving forward with the day. We got lunch at Driftwood Restaurant where we had some seriously delicious oysters and a beer and clam chowder to die for. On the way out to Seaside we of course got a flat tire, my husband changed in the POURING rain... and I mean POURING.
We drove through seaside on our donut tire, eating the rest of our dooughnuts for dessert and went to get the wheel fixed at a local spot that Enterprise sent us to. A quick tire fix and we were on our way to Astoria. If you are not a huge Goonies fan you can probably skip the next few sentences. We went on a full Goonies tour and stopped at all the places they filmed in or around, including the county jail and the Flavel House. Took a few photos to mimic the movie and stopped very briefly to see the Goonies house. Its mostly blocked off so you can't really get to it so we saw it from afar. We then went and hung out by the water where all the sea lions were making noise and jumping on and off the deck to let Kett stretch his legs again, got some snacks and headed back to Downtown Portland.
We ended the night by picking up pizza from Old Town Pizza. The rumors are its haunted but the pizza was crazy good and the environment seemed like a lot of fun. Unfortunately we had to get back to the hotel and get the little guy to sleep.
Day 4 The first day of my husbands work conference, so it was just Kett and myself and our friend Kasey who was there with her husband who had to work as well. As a freelancer I don't really get days off so I spent a couple hours in the morning catching up on emails and some work. Then met Kasey in the lobby and hopped on the bus at the Pioneer Courthouse Station which is only a couple blocks from the hotel and went to eat breakfast at Pine State Biscuits.
Not a far walk from there is the banana mural we stopped to get a few photos in front of and then we were off to the OMSI. The OMSI really a place both kids and parents could enjoy, they have a great area for little ones that we stayed in for a while. Almost as soon as we walked out of the kids room did Kett fall right asleep. Letting Kasey and myself walk around the rest of the OMSI.
After the OMSI we hopped on the bus and went to eat at Wholism, an instagram dreamworld with seriously some of the most delicious food. Not a far bus ride from there we hit up Mt. Tabor Park, another uphill walk. Mt. Tabor is a dormant volcano right in the middle of the city. Kett was able to play around and run a but before getting back int he stroller. Back on the bus and we went to grab coffee at Tov, a coffee house made from an old double decker tour bus.
We walked around the area which had a lot of great shops and entertainment before heading to the Hollywood area to see some fish at the Wet Shop, a walk past the Hollywood Theatre and from there a train ride back to downtown and the hotel where we separated and were able to meet up with Frank for dinner at the Pine Street Market. A great little cafeteria style place with plenty of options for everyone, very noisy but also a really fun unique place to grab food. On the way out we got some ice cream and headed back to the hotel.
Day 5 Another day Frank had to go to work so I took advantage and worked some from the hotel room. Then I met up with Kasey and we went to Laughing Planet for lunch where Kett pretty much napped through and to on the train and through the Discovery Museum - World Forestry Center. It was a really fun little museum that had all the background and history of forestry, wood and a lot of fun hands on activities. We then walked over to the Children's Museum across the street where Kett really enjoyed himself. We spent a good 2-3 hours there while I chased him around.
Both of these places made me miss growing up in New Orleans and all the activities it has for kids. Living in a small town can sometimes be redundant. After the Children's Museum, we then headed back to the hotel where the conference held a drinks and dinner party that we hung out at. The Kimpton Hotel has a really fun vibe to it in general. They have a complimentary wine tasting every night from 5-6pm that we definitely indulged in every night. There is a bar in the lobby and a game room on the second floor, really great music in the elevators we definitely danced every time we got in. Really one of the most unique hotels I've ever stayed in.
Day 6 We had another work day, Frank at his conference and me in the hotel room. After that I met up with Kasey and dragged her ALL the way across the river to eat at Slappy Cakes, a place I wasn't going to miss eating at for sure. A really fun DIY pancake place made for kids and adults and anyone really. There was a good 45 minute wait even after the lunch rush time so we took that opportunity to walk around the Belmont neighborhood and shop in some cool vintage stores, got some coffee and walked the streets.
After a late lunch we then headed to the Portland Zoo. It was really one of the cutest Zoos I've ever been to. You can tell they love their animals. A lot of them weren't out but we still enjoyed all the animals that were there. Kett really isn't old enough to get the full experience of a zoo but he did take a great nap on the way home before meeting up with the husbands and getting our free glass of wine, or possibly glasses. *Side note: If you do ride the Trimet/Train to the Zoo, Childrens Museum, or Discovery Museum you get a couple dollars off admission! Every little bit helps right? We love public transit and I would think if you had older kids they would really think the train is fun. Kasey had her first public transit experience this week and I think she thoroughly enjoyed hopping on and off!*
Then Frank Kett and myself got on the bus and went to eat at Franks Noodles. To say that today was scattered all over the city would be an understatement. But I had to get in the few top places we wanted to eat and they all happened to be so far away from each other. Franks Noodle House was really some of the best chinese food places I have ever been. Just seeing Kett try to mimic us in using chopsticks made the whole dinner so fun!
Day 7 Our last day in Portland, Frank was off of work and got the whole day so we rented a car again for the day and went to Pittock Mansion. Before heading out we grabbed doughnuts from Blue Star Donuts and seriously the donuts were so good. Don't ask me to choose between them and Voodoo because I cannot, they both are so good. At the Pittok Mansion, the grounds, the gardens and the view were unreal. We decided to pay for the tour of the house but I really think you could skip it. There weren't too many things original to the house other than the house itself, you can read the history online.
If you have time take a hike on the Wildwood Trail that starts near the bottom of the grounds. Its a really light hike but really quite beautiful. After Pittock Mansion we got Kett to fall asleep in the car and stopped to get pizza from Mississippi Pizza on the way to Multnomah Falls. The Mississippi area in Portland was definitely on my list of areas to check out but alas the time constraints. You can read more about what they have to offer here.
It was really nice that he got to sleep almost the whole ride to Multnomah Falls. I read that it was just a tourist trap and there are plenty of places to stop before and after but really the falls were SO worth it. We got there around 430pm and there really wasn't too many people there. We took a ton of photos and decided to hike to the top. By the time we got down there was practically NO ONE around, so we were able to snatch up so many amazing photos.
On the way back we did stop at a few of the falls and spots. We saw a little BnB we drove past that I could only imagine has the most beautiful weddings. On the way in we saw almost a look out spot that we decided to stop at on the way back to downtown. And man oh man do I highly recommend this view and visit to Corbett Vista House. We got there exactly at sunset, it was really quite the magical experience. There were stairs that entertained Kett for a while and dogs and literally just such a beautiful place.