We threw ourselves into the city, searching out the best destinations—from shops and markets, to restaurants, parks, and more. Follow us through our two-day whirlwind tour of Portland.
Where to Stay
Ace Hotel Portland: 1022 Southwest Stark Street, Portland, OR 97205
If you’re looking for a boutique hotel that fits with the vibe of Portland like a glove, the Ace Hotel is the place to go. Besides the fact that the downtown location couldn’t be any more convenient, every single inch of the space is well thought-out and filled with character. Located in the 1912 Clyde Hotel building just a short walk from the Pearl District, the hotel is walking distance to endless shops, restaurants, bars, and coffee joints. When we first arrived to this historic building that was converted into the hotel in 2005, the lobby stopped us in our tracks. The design details range from industrial and raw, to intricate and textured.
We were pleasantly surprised to find that every room has its own character with different wall murals, furniture arrangements, bathroom setups, and window treatments. We were given actual keys—as opposed to key cards—and found ourselves wanting to see what everyone else’s rooms looked like. If I could describe the quarters in one sentence, I’d say that it felt like we were staying in a cool camping bunker that’s rough around all the right edges.
The Early Morning Fuel
Stumptown Coffee: 1026 SW Stark St, Portland, OR 97205
Voodoo Doughnuts: 22 Southwest 3rd Avenue, Portland, OR 97204
Before we hit the town for some shopping and exploring, we made sure to grab a quick breakfast in the vicinity of the hotel. Stumptown Coffee has a post directly connected to the lobby, so you can grab a cappuccino "to-go" and head back into the cozy lobby to catch up on some morning reads. If you’re interested in seeing where it all began, you can visit Stumptown’s headquarters in an old lumber factory on SE Salmon Street—which has been around since 2012. There, you can take part in daily public tastings or schedule a tour to explore their roastery, offices, and training rooms.
After multiple people recommended Voodoo Doughnuts as one of the best places around, we walked over (about a 10 minute stroll) to grab a box to-go. Expect to find crazy and wacky doughnut creations and a space that’s about as quirky as it gets. We were also recommended Blue Star Donuts, which had a line around the block for a large chunk of the day—proving that doughnuts are king in Portland.
For the Adventure Seeker
Poler: 413 SW 10th Ave, Portland, OR 97205
After being surrounded by such an outdoors-y crowd for less than 24 hours, we felt it was only right to try and find the best outdoor adventure shop. Poler is the place. We stumbled upon it while turning the corner a block from the hotel—one look at the camping environment they styled in the window, and we knew we had to check it out. It’s filled with colorful camping gear from their own line that ranges from thermoses, hats, and backpacks—to larger items like tents and sleeping bags. If this place doesn’t make you want to drop everything and go camping, then I don’t know what will. You can even take a load off on their centralized pair of sofas where you can peruse an impressive selection of books and magazines on adventure and travel photography.
For Gifts and Blooms
Alder & Co.: 616 SW 12th Ave, Portland, OR 97205
When you’re making your way back to the hotel, we recommend you stop at Alder & Co. Located right around the corner from the Ace, it’s filled with beautiful tableware, hard-to-find apothecary goods, and a curated selection of books, accessories, and jewelry. One of the best parts of the store is the Hilary Hovrath flower shop that stands at the entrance. It’s the perfect spot to grab a few loose stems or a casual bouquet to take back to your hotel.
The Peaceful Outdoor Pitstop
Tanner Springs Park: NW 10th Ave, Portland, OR 97204
Make sure to save some time to stop by some of the parks that are spread out throughout Portland. We were surprised to discover Tanner Springs Park, and how it quietly hides in the middle of the bustling Pearl District. In this area that used to be a wetland and lake that was fueled by streams from the nearby hills, the park sits 20 feet above the former lake’s surface. Ever since the city made a goal to create a network of open spaces in the early 1990s, this park—along with several others—has become a quiet respite from its urban surroundings. In 2003, German design firm Atelier Dreiseitl and local landscape architecture firm GreenWorks, P.C. brought the community into the design process to turn it into what it is today.
The Pre-Dinner Cocktail
Angel Face: 14 NE 28th Ave, Portland, OR 97232
What makes a lot of these stops so special is their connection to the Portland culture. However, it’s also nice to step into another world that’s completely unexpected. So is the case with Angel Face, a Lyonnaise-style bistro that serves incredible cocktails and a range of French food in a transportive environment. The horseshoe-shaped walnut and marble bar creates a communal atmosphere while the classic bistro-style details in black wood, brass, and marble pull the vibe together.
You can choose to grab a cocktail and small bites, or go for a full meal—with some delicious dessert options. It sits next door to chef/owner John Taboada’s well-known restaurant Navarre, which serves food with origins from Italy, France, and Spain.
Must-Go Dinner Option I
The Hairy Lobster: 900 NW 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97209
The first night we were in the city, our colleague recommended The Hairy Lobster, which has now become one of our favorite eating spots. Opened recently by chef extraordinaire couple, David and Mellisa Root, the restaurant is a casual eatery that serves incredible, local food that experiments with textures and tastes. The duo has filled the space with a mix-match of vintage tableware, industrial furniture, and antiques from their travels. They visit the farmers’ market twice per week and work together to create a warm atmosphere that feels collected—and serves great food.
After exploring these stops and talking to as many people as we could, we gathered a couple of other recommendations that are worth checking out if you have time.
- Powell’s Books: As the world’s largest independent bookstore, you’ll find endless reads without having to leave the Pearl District.
- Beam & Anchor: Explore this retail space for an impressive selection of furniture, accessories, and home goods from artisans and makers.
Make sure to check out the next segment of our trip, where we lead you through our second day of adventures in Portland.