The State of Oregon

The State of Oregon anaheimer

Portland waterfront ParkAlthough Oregon became a US State in 1859, the region has been inhabited for at least 15,000 years. The lush, fertile land west of the Cascade Mountains has always been a magnet for natives and pioneers alike.

The native tribes lived in harmony with the land for thousands of years. For a short while, the European explorers and trappers continued this tradition.

Later, the Lewis and Clark Expedition mapped the area, paving the way for a flood of settlers that changed the landscape with overlogging and sprawling cities.

But recently, Oregon returned to basics with excellent environmental protections, sustainable logging, and enforced city boundaries – preventing urban sprawl.

Oregonians love nature, and there is a lot to love all around.

Oregon - Multnomah FallsAt the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, the city of Portland is surrounded by forested hills, waterfalls, lakes, and mountains.

Snow-capped Mount Hood towers 11,000 feet above the landscape and can be seen from many spots in the city. For more stunning views of the mountain, go to one of the lakes like Trillium or Frog.

You can find the Columbia River Gorge with its year-round waterfalls a short drive from Portland. There are ninety waterfalls on the Oregon side alone – many of them are visible from the historic Highway 30 or after a short hike.

The most spectacular waterfall at the gorge is Multnomah, dropping from a height of 620 ft with a trail that takes determined hikers to the top.

Oregon - Silver Falls State ParkFor more waterfalls, a visit to Silver Falls State Park located south of Portland, is a must. The state park has ten distinct waterfalls connected with several hiking trails. The rim trail connects 5 of the most popular waterfalls.

To the west, the mountains and forest meet the ocean, creating stunning views and pristine beaches.

You can find many beach coves with tree stumps washed ashore and majestic rocks jutting through the waves.

One of those beaches, “Short Sand Beach” in Oswald West State Park, was featured in the Twilight movies.

Beach towns dot the coastline, preserving their small-town vibe with unique local eateries and shops - no fast-food chains here.

If you happen to be in the Portland area, the closest beaches would be Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Lincoln Beach, and Newport.

Portland, Oregon

Portland, OregonPortland is an exciting cornucopia of beautiful nature, progressive culture, friendly people, and a delightful food scene. 

Interesting Facts: For a few years, Southeast Portland had some unusual residents. A development company brought a herd of goats to a vacant lot to help with weed control. They soon became Portland celebrities and social media darlings. They became known as the Belmont Goats - with their Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest accounts. The Belmont Goats had to move recently to a new home when construction started on the new condominiums.

The city and surrounding areas offer many activities, adventures, and dining experiences. It is impossible to see and do everything in one visit. So, to help you decide where to go and what to do, you can visit the Portland pages here.  

Here are some highlights: Walk around downtown, stroll along the Waterfront Park, go on a tour with a local guide, have lunch at a food truck pod, visit nearby waterfalls and Mount Hood, or go on a wine or beer tasting tour.

You can also visit the Japanese Gardens, Pittock Mansion, ride the aerial tramway, and dine at one of the Farm-to-table restaurants.  

Read more here.

Oregon Coast

Oregon CoastAn hour-and-a-half drive heading west from Portland will take you to the beautiful Oregon coast – where the mountains and forests meet the ocean creating stunning views and pristine beaches.

You can find many beach coves with tree stumps washed ashore and majestic rocks jutting through the waves.

One of those beaches, “Indian Beach” in Ecola State Park, was featured in the Twilight movies.

To get to this beach, you must hike through a forest trail passing by two creeks.

Once you reach the sand, you will be greeted by a scene from fairy tales. In the distance, you will notice Tillamook Lighthouse, better known as Terrible Tilly. It earned its nickname due to native folklore, unfortunate incidents, and the huge waves that buffet the lighthouse frequently.

Beach towns dot the coastline, preserving their small-town vibe with unique local eateries and shops - no fast-food chains here.

The closest beaches to Portland are Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Lincoln Beach, and Newport.

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Oregon - Cannon Beach - Haystack rockCannon Beach is known for Haystack rock rising 235 ft above the waves, with many bird species making it their home.

At low tide, you can walk right up to the rock and observe colorful sea stars and other fascinating tidepool creatures. Climbing on the rock is prohibited to protect wildlife.  

The Haystack was also featured in many movies and TV series, including The Goonies and Kindergarten Cop.

The city also boasts four miles of pristine beaches and many parks.

Ready for a meal or some souvenirs? The main thoroughfare, Hemlock Street, offers many choices. My favorite place is the terrace at The Local Grill and Scope.

Seaside, Oregon

Oregon - SeasideSeaside is a charming beach town with long beaches, a historic promenade, and many attractions for the whole family. It is a bustling city for a small town.

Visitors can walk along the half-mile promenade, bike, jog, or visit the Aquarium. Around the middle of the Prom (as locals call it), as it connects to Broadway, you will find a Turnaround with a statue of Lewis and Clark. The circle marks the spot where the explorers turned around after their long journey.

From the Turnaround, you can enjoy views of people of all ages enjoying the beach, and in the distance, you can watch the waves breaking over Tillamook Head.

Seaside is also home to other fun places like Captain Kid Amusement Park, Funland Arcade, High Life Adventure Park, a skate park, and the Seaside Inverted Experience.

The downtown area is walkable and full of restaurants and shops. Broadway Street is especially busy with many hotels and dining opportunities.

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon anaheimer

The Columbia River Gorge was formed eons ago by catastrophic events. After the ice glaciers started to melt, huge quantities of water were held back by natural ice dams. When the dams broke, torrents of water and boulders came rushing down to carve this beautiful gorge. But you don’t need to know the history of this natural wonder to enjoy its beauty.

nullThe scenic and historic Columbia River Highway will take you from the town of Troutdale, close to Portland, to the town of Dalles 75-miles away and passes by high overlooks and plentiful waterfalls. See the full article about Portland, Oregon here.

The first stop on the road to the waterfalls is a place jokingly called the Million Dollar Outhouse. The rest stop and vista point was supposed to be built on a budget but ended up costing too much.

null

Interesting Facts: The Gorge starts from British Columbia and ends at Astoria on the Oregon Coast. It spans 260,000 square miles in 7 states.

The building sits on a promontory with a great view of the river and hills on the Oregon and Washington sides. On a windy or rainy day, the indoor viewing gallery with its floor-to-ceiling windows provides shelter while you are enjoying the views. Downstairs you can find restrooms and a coffee shop.

Highlights

Formed eons ago by melting glaciers

Marks the border between Oregon and Washington

Many Waterfalls cascade down the mountains on the Oregon side

The Gorge starts from British Columbia and ends at Astoria on the Oregon Coast

The iconic Multnomah Falls is the most photographed waterfall in Oregon

Waterfalls

The Gorge has 26 waterfalls, some on the Washington side. There isn’t enough time in one day to explore all of them, but here are the most popular ones.

Multnomah Falls

nullThis is the most iconic fall in Oregon and the most visited and photographed. It also has the highest plunge of 620 feet – with a beautiful bridge that brings visitors closer to the roaring water and the mist.

This is the most iconic fall in Oregon and the most visited and photographed. It also has the highest plunge of 620 feet – with a beautiful bridge that brings visitors closer to the roaring water and the mist.

Interesting Facts: Multnomah is considered the tallest waterfall in Oregon. The water mainly comes from underground springs and snow melt.

There is a short trail that takes you to the bridge. This is an easy and accessible hike that anyone can make. But if you are up to the challenge, you should continue on the steep trail that takes you to the top of the falls where you can find another small waterfall. Tip: If you go on the bridge and continue on the trail

Tip: If you go on the bridge and continue on the trail past the bridge be ready to get wet. The mist from the fall is very strong in this area.

Multnomah Falls area has a visitor center, café, and a nice restaurant with a view. The food here is very good, but the view is even better. I enjoyed my pancake breakfast while watching the amazing waterfall.

Wahkeena Falls

nullWahkeena drops from a height of 242 feet, but it flows down from this height gently. Like Multnomah, it has a bridge that you need to hike to for the best views of the fall.

Interesting Facts: The word Wahkeena in the Yakima Indian language means “Most Beautiful” – a very fitting name.

The fall is close to Multnomah and connected by a hiking trail. The hike between the 2 falls is easy with surprising small waterfalls and cascades along the way.

Tip: The parking lot at Multnomah is usually full on the weekends, so park at Wahkeena instead, enjoy this waterfall, then hike to Multnomah.

Bridal Veil Falls

Another great waterfall with two cascades of water plunging from a height of 160 feet. The gushing water flows under the Historic Highway. Although you can view the falls from the viewing platform next to the road, for

Although you can view the falls from the viewing platform next to the road, for the best view you should try the 1-mile round trip hike. It is steep with a lot of switchbacks, but it is worth the effort.

Other Falls at the Gorge

nullSome of the other falls worth mentioning are:

  • Latourell Falls (249 feet): Visible from the road, but requires a hike for a better view
  • Horsetail Falls (176 feet): A nice waterfall that you can walk behind
  • Punch Bowl Falls: (35 feet): A smaller fall that runs into a punch bowl-shaped pool.

Hiking through the Gorge

This is my favorite way to enjoy the gorge and its waterfalls. Take one of the many trails that connect the falls and get close to nature. The “Multnomah-Wahkeena Loop Hike” connects Multnomah with Wahkeena falls and is considered a moderate hike.

You can start this hike from either waterfall. The trail is about 5 miles long and your elevation gain is only about 1600 feet. Along the way, you will see 8 named waterfalls, plenty of unnamed water cascades, and verdant moss and trees. Some of the falls will require a short side detour to get to.

Tip: Although it is not a difficult trail, it can be rough at times. Take special care during wet or icy conditions. It could be very slippery.

Biking through the Gorge

Yes, it is possible to bike all the way from Portland to the waterfalls at the Gorge. It is not all smooth sailing, but it can be done. Here is a very detailed map of the bike trails through the Gorge

Easy Ride

The Easy CLIMB Trail is a 2-mile loop at the Cascade Locks Port and offers an easy intro to biking the gorge.

This is a mostly flat trail that winds through river beaches and meadows.

Moderate Ride

This trail goes along the Historic Columbia River Highway from the town of Troutdale to Cascade Locks. The bikes share the road with cars for most of the way. This trail passes by many of the most popular waterfalls at the Gorge., including Multnomah Falls.

Guided Tours

Before I went exploring on my own, I decided to try a guided tour through the Gorge. This was a great decision. I went with Hub World Tours on a full-day tour of the Gorge and Mt Hood. The tour was very well organized and informative. It was a good way to get introduced to a new place. Read the full story here …

Mt Hood, Oregon

Mt Hood, Oregon anaheimer

Mt HoodMt Hood is the tallest mountain in Oregon and is always capped with snow. At a height of 11,000+ feet, it is omnipresent in the Portland eastern horizon.  

The mountain has 12 glaciers and snowfields and has the distinction of having the longest Ski season in the USA. 

When we arrived on an April day, it was lightly snowing with ski lifts running and skiers and snowboarders enjoying the slopes.

nullMt Hood is about 50 miles from Portland, which makes it the winter wonderland for Portland residents and visitors. The ski season is usually open year-round with lots of winter sports events.

See the main Portland article here.

The road up the mountain is scenic with lots of small farms giving way to Pine forest and snowbanks. 

At the end of the drive, you will come across Timberline Lodge - the center of winter fun. It was built during the Depression to create jobs for the unemployed workers. It ended up being a work of art. It is now a National Historic Landmark.

nullThe Lodge was mainly built from recycled material to reduce cost, but you wouldn’t know that while admiring its architecture or when you go inside. The indoor main hall is elegant with 3 fireplaces. The place is warm and cozy.

Inside you can find several restaurants, bars, and cafes – and of course classic lodge rooms. The luxury-minded visitors can rent a Condominium. 

Outside, you can either watch the skiers and snowboarders zipping by on the slopes or you can be part of the action.  

nullIf you are not a skier, you can still have some fun at Mt Hood. Try a ride on a snowcat to a Height of 8500 feet or ride a chairlift on a summer day. You can also enjoy mountain biking or hiking during summer days.

The lodge also hosts many events throughout the year like Stargazing Party, Hood to Coast Rally Race, and a Music Festival. 

Get more info about Timberline Lodge, winter sports activities and events here.

On the way to Mt Hood, you will pass a great place for adventure seekers. The Mt Hood Adventure Park at Skibowl is a great place to try Ziplines, Alpine Slides, Bungee Jumping, and Horseback Riding.  The kids can try Pony Rides, Miniature Golf, Go-Carts, and other fun rides.  Get more details here.

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon anaheimer

Portland is an interesting cornucopia of beautiful nature, progressive culture, friendly people, and delightful cuisine. 

Located at the confluence of 2 great rivers, the Columbia, and the Willamette, the area was a magnet for early native tribes and more recent European pioneers. 

Although Lewis and Clark did not end their famous journey at this junction, they came close enough to open the way for future settlers. Portland became an incorporated city in 1851. Read more about Portland’s history here

Interesting Facts: Just before the official incorporation of the city, the land claim holders Pettygrove and Lovejoy argued about their favorite names for the area known as “The Clearing”. Lovejoy wanted to name it Boston after his hometown and Pettygrove preferred to name it after Portland Maine. They settled the dispute with a coin toss. The famous Portland Penny is now on display at the Oregon Historical Society, downtown.

nullThe city and surrounding areas offer so many activities, adventures, and dining experiences, it is impossible to see and do everything in one visit. 

I only had one week for this visit, so I made the most out of it. I went on walks and bike rides through downtown and the 4 (main) Portland neighborhoods, I sampled the eclectic variety of foods offered at restaurants and food trucks and ventured out to nearby rivers, valleys, forests, and mountains. 

Having experienced the wonders of this delightful city, I intend to go back for many more visits. 

Where to stay

nullPortland is a major city, so you have many choices for accommodations. I, personally, stayed at an Airbnb rental in the Northeast neighborhood. My stay was pleasant, and the house was close enough to attractions. But the downside to renting a room or a house is that you don’t have Hotel services like a maid or concierge. 

Downtown hotels have the advantage of being at the center of action in the city. You are usually within walking distance of any restaurant or attraction. Some excellent choices are the Sentinel, Embassy Suites by Hilton, The Heathman Hotel, and The Nines. Expect to pay more for the location.

Interesting Facts: Portland is also home to the largest independently owned bookstore in the world, Powell's Books. The bookstore has over 4 million books in stock.

Hotels outside of downtown are quieter and less expensive. If you have a car or are willing to use Portland’s exceptional public transit, then choose one of those hotels. Some of the best ones are DoubleTree by Hilton, Hotel Eastlund, and Comfort Inn.

Getting Around

nullPortland received several awards for being the Greenest city in America for many reasons. One of them is the great public transit system. 

The city’s neighborhoods are connected with a system of buses, streetcars, and light rail. The MAX (Metropolitan Area Express) is the light rail system connecting downtown with the suburbs. In downtown and nearby districts, you can ride the streetcars. 

For a fun ride, you should try the Portland Aerial Tram, which connects the South Waterfront district with Oregon Health & Science University. At the top, you can enjoy great views of Portland, the Willamette River, and Mt Hood.

nullPortland is bike-friendly – many streets have dedicated bike lanes. If there is no bike lane, bikers have the same rights (and responsibilities) as cars sharing the road. There are also a few designated “Green” Lanes for bikes. They were designed to have a minimum of stops along the way, with special bike-only traffic lights. Riding on those lanes is a delight for bikers.

Tip: When biking, if you reach an intersection, look for a green box. If you stop in the green box, cars will stop for you and let you pass.

Finally, the city in partnership with Nike created a bike-share program. You can find many bike pickup stations around Portland. The fees are very reasonable. You can rent the bike for one trip, the entire day, or a full month. Go here to get program details and pricing.

Things to do around town

Take a walk

nullThe best way to experience a new place is just to park somewhere and start walking. When you walk, you can have a more personal encounter with the city and learn firsthand about its landmarks, shops, restaurants, and people. 

Make sure to stop at the food truck pods. Food trucks are regulated and inspected, so don’t worry about health issues. They offer an eclectic variety of international cuisines. Have you tried Mauritian or Norwegian food? This is the place to try it. 

Interesting Facts: Portland is home to the Portland International Rose Garden, which is the oldest rose garden in the United States. The garden has over 5,000 rose bushes and over 10,000 roses in bloom during the summer.

Portland is considered one of the most walkable large cities because of its grid plan, short blocks, and safety. There is no serious crime in Portland, but if you have young ones in your group, you probably should avoid the Northwest side of downtown. This area is infamous for its adult entertainment establishments. On the other hand, if you intend to have some adult fun, this is the place to be. 

To help navigate through Portland, always remember that the Willamette River divides the city into East and West sections. The main section of downtown is to the west of the river with most of the hotels, shopping, entertainment, and dining establishments. 

Interesting Facts: East and West used to be two separate towns with the Willamette River running in the middle. Ferries were the only way to cross the divide. After connecting the two sides with bridges and streetcars, East was incorporated with West into one large city. 

nullThe west side of the river has a nice waterfront park called “Tom McCall Waterfront Park”. Make sure to spend some time here. The park has splendid views of the river and the many bridges that cross it. There is also a bike rental shop and several beautiful fountains. One of them is called “Salmon Street Springs” and sits around the middle of the park – close to Hawthorne Bridge. The fountain has variable displays of water and color and is a wonderful place for kids to get wet. 

Further south, make a left turn on SW Clay Street and walk about 3 blocks to the Keller Auditorium and its amazing fountains. 

nullThe fountains are built from tall concrete blocks, creating man-made waterfalls that cascade into pools. Some pools are deep enough for swimming. 

The fountains are open to the public, and many Portland families enjoy playing in the water during the warm months. 

Bike around town

Another terrific way to enjoy Portland is to bike through its mostly flat streets. Many streets have dedicated bike lanes and traffic signals. 

You can just ride around downtown or venture further into Portland neighborhoods. For a very nice collection of bike route maps, go here.

For the adventurous, try the Columbia River Gorge trail for a great workout and breathtaking scenery. 

Guided Tours

When I am visiting a new place, I try to depend on professional local guides to give me a proper introduction. During my visit, I went on several of those tours. Here are some of the best:

Portland Walking Tours

nullPortland Walking Tours offers many walking and foodie tours. I picked the “Best of Portland” tour as my first intro to this beautiful city. 

The tour started from a very convenient location, which is under (subterranean) the Pioneer Courthouse Square. 

Interesting Facts: The courthouse building is the oldest federal building in the west. It was built in 1869. 

Our tour guide, Alexis was knowledgeable and entertaining. During this tour, I learned about the history of the city, visited some important landmarks, and got a good workout after walking for 2 hours. 

Some highlights of the tour:

  • Visiting the Portland Penny that decided the name of the city at the Historical Society
  • Learning about the history of Micro Breweries and Coffee Roasters
  • Visiting Tom McCall Waterfront Park and the fountain that changes every 20 minutes
  • Admiring the remarkable number of public art exhibits on the streets
  • Learning about the eleven bridges that cross the river
  • Strolling through the South Park Blocks, which span twelve city blocks. It is a contiguous greenbelt in the center of town.

Interesting Facts: In the early days of the Park Blocks, one square was set aside for women and children exclusively. This was done to protect women from drunk men.

Eat Adventures

nullTo discover the culinary delights that Portland has to offer, I went on the “Best of Portland Food Tour” with Eat Adventures. 

During this tour, we visited a microbrewery, a winery restaurant, a food truck, and a creamery. Along the way, we learned about the various Portland neighborhoods and their history. 

Angie, our guide, was a wealth of information. She drove us around in her comfortable minivan to cover more of the city. 

Our first stop was at the “South Park Seafood” where to try cold smoked trout. I never knew you could eat cold fish, but we did, and it was superb. The place has an oyster bar with a fresh and ever-changing selection of oysters and clams.

At the Ecliptic Brewery, we enjoyed a plate of delicious snacks and a few beers to taste. My favorites were the beets with sharp white cheddar and the porter beer. The decor was out of this world.

Interesting Facts: Portland is also well known for its microbreweries. The abundance of Hop, Barley and fresh water nearby makes for ideal conditions to make this the beer capital of the World. 

nullAt Tessera winery restaurant, the hostess was generous with both whites and reds to try. We also enjoyed a selection of cheese and cold cuts. 

Angie then took us to a food truck pod to try new cuisine. The Viking Soul Food offers Norwegian comfort food. Their specialty is a potato-based Crêpe called “Lefse”. I picked the smoked Salmon wrap, and it was very light and tasty. The portions were large, so I saved half for later.

We ended our foodie trip with the “Ruby Jewel Ice Cream Sandwiches”. A fantastic way to end the day.

See more tours at Eat Adventures website.

Cycle Portland

nullOn the day of my “Foodie Field Trip” with Cycle Portland, the weather was cold and rainy. I was expecting the trip to be canceled, but we donned our rain gear and ventured onto the wet streets.

I am glad I didn’t chicken out. I ended up having a private foodie bike tour with Neil. He was an excellent guide, taking me through the most interesting bike paths and stopping at some great food and drink establishments. 

We started by visiting the “Cup and Bar” coffee shop, where I enjoyed a cup of coffee and a fudge bar. 

Interesting Facts: A lot of coffee beans pass through Portland on its way to other states. So, it is natural for coffee roasters to flourish in this town. With more than forty specialty coffee roasters, within the city limits, dare we say that Portland is the coffee capital of the west? 

nullThen we biked on a long stretch of “Green Way” to a food truck pod hidden in a residential neighborhood.  At the pod, I tasted a Poutine for the first time at “Potato Champion”. It is a Canadian dish made with fries and some kind of topping. Mine was “Palak Paneer Fries”, with spinach, cheese, and curry. 

After another bike ride in the rain, we stopped at “50 Licks Ice Cream” for a sampling of very intriguing flavors. After trying a few, I decided to go for the Rumid Razin with Rum and Raisins. This was a nice ending to our food tasting, we still had to bike back to the bike shop.

On the way back, we rode on a waterfront trail, passed by the Museum of Science and Industry, and crossed over a floating bridge. 

Thanks, Neil, for a great bike tour through Portland.

See more Cycle Portland tours here.

Where to eat

nullPortland is proud of its foodie culture, with an abundance of local and ethnic choices. Many restaurants offer seasonal “Farm to Table” menus with ingredients sourced locally from the Willamette Valley farms. 

The city’s location next to a large farming community and natural clean water makes it ideal for winemaking and beer brewing. 

Finally, you can’t miss the food trucks. They are regulated and inspected and offer a large variety of world foods. 

Here are some of my favorites:

Breakfast

Voodoo or Blue-star? You must try the donuts at “Voodoo Donuts” and “Blue Star Donuts”. There is a long-standing argument among locals and visitors about which one is better. They are both delicious, but I preferred Blue Star. 

Bijou Café: An excellent place for a nice sit-down breakfast. They offer the basics plus French favorites. I tried the mushroom & Tillamook vintage cheddar omelet. They also serve brunch every day.

Pine State Biscuits: If you love biscuits, then you must visit this place. Freshly made biscuits with your favorite toppings. I tried the Regina, which came with over-easy eggs and braised greens with hot sauce. Delicious and filling. 

Their most famous concussion is the Reggie (or Reggie Deluxe), but I didn’t feel like fried chicken for breakfast on that day.

Lunch

nullFood Trucks: I really love the food trucks in Portland. It is the most convenient way to try many ethnic cuisines for a reasonable price. You will find Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Greek – just to name a few.

One day, I had a sampler of dumplings at the “Dump Truck” downtown. My favorites were Mr. MA’s special and Potato Curry. I didn’t like the bacon dumpling that much.

On another day, I tried Mauritian Food for the first time at “Chez Dodo”. Mauritius Island sits in the Indian Ocean between Africa and India, and their cuisine reflects those influences. At this place, you build your meal by picking the base (rice or noodles), meat, toppings, and spice level. For sides, try one of their Samosas. They are huge, so maybe you can have it as the main dish.

While on tour, I got to try Norwegian at “Viking Soul Food” and Canadian at “Potato Hiro”. Both were new experiences and both very delicious. 

Dinner

nullMany great choices for dinner in downtown and further away. You will be hard-pressed to find any chain restaurants downtown, and the only fast-food place I could find is McDonald’s. This is a good thing because you are forced to try new things. 

Here are my favorites:

India House: is a small place with delicious traditional Indian dishes and bread. I ordered the Lamb combo which had Lamb Kari and Lamb Kofta with many side dishes and Naan bread. The rice pudding was an excellent finish to a great meal. 

Le Pigeon: With an ever-changing menu of creative French dishes, you can always find something new to try. During my visit, I sat at the bar and watched the chef prepare my dinner. I decided to try the “Beef Cheek Bourguignon” and I loved it. The meat melts in your mouth, and the side of mac and cheese were nostalgic. I was tempted to try the “Honey Glazed Lamb Shoulder” but saved it for another visit. I ended my sumptuous meal with a Crème Brule.

Sizzle Pie: A great place for unique Pizza creations. The place is simple and casual, but you go there for the food, not the ambiance. I picked a slice of “Swamp Wizards” and “Vegan Angel of Doom”. Strange names but great tastes. The Swamp Wizards had Chicken, Spinach, Butternut Squash, Dried Cranberries, and Mozzarella and the Angel of Doom had Mozzarella, Jalapeños, Pineapple, and Almonds. You can’t find those combinations at your chain pizza store.

Hoda's: A Lebanese restaurant with traditional middle eastern fare and homemade pita bread. With friendly and attentive staff and great-tasting food, you feel right at home in this 2-story place. 

They have a wide selection of Kabob, Kafta, and rice dishes. You can also order Mezza, which is a large selection of small plates. The Mezza for two includes Tabouleh, Hummus, Baba Ghanouje, grass-fed Kafta Kabob, Basmati Rice, and Meat Pie.

nullI picked the Lamb Kabob which was served with rice and pita bread. The meat was cooked exactly right and full of flavor. I finished my meal with my favorite dessert, the Kenafeh. I will definitely come back for more at Hoda’s.

Departure: This restaurant sits atop the luxury hotel “The Nines” with a commanding view of Portland’s skyline. You can pick indoor or balcony seating. I would have preferred to enjoy the view from the balcony, but the weather did not cooperate.

The restaurant offers the best of Japanese cuisine with a variety of seafood, chicken, and steak. 

Check out the Chef Gregory Gourdet recommendations menu for special treats. 

Finally, Departure offers Vegan and Gluten-Free menus. 

Melting Pot: You start with cheese fondue, then you pick your vegetables and meats and dip them in a savory sauce. You end your meal with a chocolate fondue. The possibilities are limitless. 

The problem is, by the time we got our main course of meats and seafood we were almost full. We are definitely going back, but this time we will concentrate our efforts on the cheese and the chocolate fondues. 

Btw, the service was excellent. The waitress was attentive and friendly.

Away from Downtown

A few blocks away from downtown you can find many shopping and entertainment venues. null

The Lloyd Center 

The center is a few blocks away from downtown to the east of the Willamette River and accessible via streetcar and light rail. It houses the largest mall in Oregon, a movie theater, an indoor ice skating rink, and hotels.

Interesting Facts: For a few years, Southeast Portland had some unusual residents. A development company brought a herd of goats to a vacant lot to help with weed control. They soon became Portland celebrities and social media darlings. They became known as the Belmont Goats - with their Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest accounts. The Belmont Goats had to move recently to a new home when construction started on the new condominiums. 

A nice park sits between the train station and the mall, with interesting fountains and statues. 

The mall itself has some large department stores like Macy’s, H&M, Guess, and The Gap with a lot of unique boutique stores and souvenir shops. You can find a large selection of gifts at the “Made in Oregon” store. 

Pittock Mansion 

nullA short winding drive west of downtown, this mansion sits atop a hill with a great view of the city, the river, and the Cascade mountains to the east. 

The mansion itself is worth a visit to see how the Portland rich and famous lived in the early 1900s. It was built in 1914 as a home for the Pittocks Henry and Georgiana along with 8 family members. 

In 1958 the last family member moved out and later the city of Portland purchased the property and runs it as a museum and park.

Interesting Facts: Henry Pittock, before he became rich and built this mansion, took a job at the Weekly Oregonian newspaper, where he also slept on a cot for a few years.

The Mansion is a 23-room French Renaissance-style Chateau with elegant decor and furniture, but the best feature is found outdoors in the well-landscaped gardens and hiking trails and a view to die for. 

Many Portlandians and visitors just go for the view and maybe some hiking. You don’t have to pay a fee to visit outdoors, but the museum fee is $10, and children under 6 are free. Read more about the Pittock Mansion here

Places to see near Portland null

Just an hour’s drive away from Portland you can enjoy an abundance of natural wonders. 

If you follow the Columbia River along the Historic Columbia River Highway, you will come across popular waterfalls like Multnomah and Bridal Veil Falls and you can spend days traversing the many trails.

Almost from anywhere in Portland, you can see Mt Hood with its snow-covered cap. Mt Hood is a fun destination any time of the year. 

To the southeast, you can visit the Willamette Valley with its wineries and the Cascade foothills with its own collection of waterfalls. 

The Columbia River Gorge

nullThe gorge was formed eons ago by catastrophic events. After the ice glaciers started to melt, huge quantities of water were held back by natural ice dams. When the dams broke, torrents of water and boulders came rushing down to carve this beautiful gorge. 

 The Gorge has 26 waterfalls, some on the Washington side. Some of the most popular ones are Multnomah, Whakeena and Briadal Viel. Read the full article about the Gorge here.

Willamette Valley and Silver Falls State Park

The Willamette Valley is a 150-mile stretch of fertile land bordered by 3 mountain ranges. The Willamette River runs through the whole valley, with many tributaries and streams crisscrossing the valley.

It is home to Oregon’s largest cities where 70% of the population lives – including nullPortland, Eugene, and Salem, the state capital.

Today, Willamette Valley is renowned for its numerous wineries (more than five hundred and counting) spread over 19,000 acres of fertile land. 

The Cascade Mountains form the eastern edge of this valley, with lush forests and roaring waterfalls. A visit to the Valley is incomplete until you venture into the Silver Falls State Park to enjoy the falls and the hiking trails.

The best way to enjoy the state park is by hiking the trails that connect ten amazing waterfalls.  

Willamette Valley and Waterfalls Guided Tour

I recently went with Evergreen Escapes on their “Willamette Valley Wine & Waterfalls” Tour and enjoyed every minute.

The tour was very well planned and took the entire day to complete. Our guide, Adam Sawyer, was wonderful. He also happens to be an author of travel guidebooks, so he really knows and enjoys his stuff. 

nullWe started with a morning visit to the “Silver Falls State Park” where we explored three beautiful waterfalls and ended the day with a picnic lunch and wine tasting tour.

The tour took the whole day and was full of activities and interesting facts. Read the full story about the Willamette Valley here 

Waterfalls and Mt Hood Guided Tour

Waterfalls and Mt Hood Guided Tour anaheimer

Multnomah Falls The Columbia River Gorge was formed eons ago by catastrophic events. After the ice glaciers started to melt, huge quantities of water were held back by natural ice dams. When the dams broke, torrents of water and boulders came rushing down to carve this beautiful gorge.

But you don’t need to know the history of this natural wonder to enjoy its beauty. The scenic and historic Columbia River Highway will take you from the town of Troutdale, close to Portland, to the town of Dalles 75 miles away, passing by commanding viewpoints and flowing waterfalls.

Interesting Fact: The Gorge starts from British Columbia and ends at Astoria on the Oregon Coast. It spans 260,000 square miles across seven states.

Before I went exploring on my own, I decided to try a guided tour. This was a great decision.

Book your Oregon Tour here.

I went with Hub World Tours on a full-day Gorge and Mt. Hood tour. The tour was very well organized and informative, and it was a good way to get introduced to a new place.

See the full article about Columbia River Gorge here.

See the full article about Portland, Oregon here.

I was picked up from a hotel in downtown Portland in a nice Mercedes van and headed to Troutdale, a small historic town at the start of the historic Columbia River Gorge Highway. The town sits on the banks of the Sandy River, which flows into the Columbia River.

Our tour guide was very friendly and knowledgeable. She kept us informed about the history of the gorge and the cataclysmic events that shaped this area. She took us to the most interesting viewpoints and waterfalls.

The Gorge

Columbia River Gorge Our first stop after passing Troutdale was at a place jokingly called the Million Dollar Outhouse. The rest stop and Vista Point were supposed to be built on a budget but ended up costing too much.

The building sits on a promontory with a great view of the river and hills on the Oregon and Washington sides. On a windy or rainy day, the indoor viewing gallery, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, provides shelter while you enjoy the views. Downstairs, you can find restrooms and a coffee shop.

After our stop at the Vista House, we passed by Latourell Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, then stopped at Wahkeena Falls.

Wahkeena Falls At Wahkeena, we enjoyed a great view from the viewing platform right next to the highway and watched the water gushing down from a height of 242 feet and under the road. Our guide pointed out a trail we could take to get closer to the waterfall.

Book your Oregon Tour here.

We spent some time at Wahkeena and then continued on to Multnomah Falls, which was the tour's highlight. We took our time enjoying the view from the bottom and then hiked to the bridge for a closer view. From the bridge, you can watch the cascading waters from one side and the beautiful Columbia River from the other.

Traveler Tip: Bring a rain jacket or poncho when visiting the waterfalls, as the mist can be quite heavy.

The tour continued on the Historic Highway towards Hood River, where we turned onto Highway 35 towards Mt. Hood.

Mt. Hood

Mt. Hood The road to the mountain was scenic, and there were great views of Mt. Hood as it grew nearby. Along the way, we saw many small farms that gave way to a pine forest.

Mt. Hood is always covered by snow and ice. This gives it the distinction of having the longest ski season in the USA. When we arrived in April, it was lightly snowing, with ski lifts running and skiers and snowboarders enjoying the slopes.

Timberline Lodge Timberline Lodge itself is very interesting. It was built during the Depression to create jobs for unemployed workers. It ended up being a work of art, and it is now a National Historic Landmark.

It was mainly built from recycled material to reduce costs, but you wouldn’t know that when you gaze at its architecture or go inside. The indoor main hall is elegant, with three fireplaces. The place is warm and cozy.

Stepping outside, you will feel the huge drop in temperature, and you can watch the skiers and snowboarders zipping by on the slopes.

See the full article about Mt. Hood here.

Timberline Lodge During this tour, we enjoyed nature at its extremes. On the first leg of this trip, we visited lush greenery with cascading waterfalls and got wet from light rain and waterfall mist. We experienced the cold and snowy weather on the second leg while admiring Timberline Lodge, half buried under the snow.

Interesting Fact: Mt. Hood has over 12 named glaciers and snowfields, making it a unique spot for year-round skiing.

Read more about America's Hub World Travel here.

 

Willamette Valley and Silver Falls State Park

Willamette Valley and Silver Falls State Park anaheimer

Willamette Valley

The Willamette Valley, nestled between three mountain ranges, spans 150 miles of fertile terrain. The Willamette River flows its length, and numerous rivers and streams weave through it.

This valley is the backdrop for Oregon's major urban centers, housing 70% of the state's populace, including Portland, Eugene, and the capital, Salem. Discover more about Portland here.

Renowned for its extensive wineries covering 19,000 acres, the Willamette Valley is a wine lover's paradise.

Dahlias near Canby, OregonThe Cascade Mountains are bordering the valley to the east, home to dense forests and cascading waterfalls.

A trip to the valley is incomplete without experiencing the natural beauty of Silver Falls State Park, its falls, and hiking trails.

To fully appreciate the region, start your day with a waterfall hike in the morning, followed by a wine tasting journey among the valley's 500+ wineries.

Exploring Willamette: A Guided Tour Experience

Coelho WineryMy memorable adventure with Evergreen Escapes on their “Willamette Valley Wine & Waterfalls” Tour was an experience of a lifetime, thanks to our knowledgeable guide, Adam Sawyer, an author of travel guides.

Marvels of Silver Falls State Park

Silver Falls State ParkOur journey began with a morning visit to Silver Falls State Park, exploring three magnificent waterfalls, distinct from those in the Columbia River Gorge due to their formation from cooling lava flows.

The park features a trail connecting 10 waterfalls over 8 miles, though time allowed us to visit just three, including the mesmerizing North Falls and Lower South Falls.

Lower South FallsLower South Falls offers a unique trail leading into a ravine behind the waterfall, offering a spectacular view from behind the water's curtain.

Our exploration was complemented by our guide's preparation of French Press Coffee, a delightful touch to our outdoor adventure.

Experience the splendor of Silver Falls State Park through this captivating video.

The Wine Country Adventure

Wine CountryFollowing the waterfall exploration, we ventured into the serene wine country.

Our first stop, Coelho Winery, provided a delightful picnic lunch from a local Portland eatery, setting the stage for an afternoon of wine exploration. While the Pinot was modest, the experience was enriching.

At Brooks Wines, we were introduced to Gerry, a wine expert who shared fascinating insights into the winery's history and the nuances of wine tasting, enhancing our visit significantly.

Our wine journey concluded at Winter's Hill Winery, where the wines were as pleasing as the picturesque setting, complemented by their locally produced hazelnuts, chocolates, and honey.

The tour with Evergreen Escapes stands out as a highlight of my Portland visit, and I eagerly anticipate my next adventure with them.

Learn more about Evergreen Escapes here.