I just got back from a 2 week long trip in the Pacific Northwest. It was my first time in that area and I had a great time. The topography there is incredible. I have a lot to tell you about, but I thought I would start with the first city Nick & I explored. Portland, Oregon! Nick had been before and loved it, and after our first day there I could see why. Portland is a laid-back city with unique, friendly people. The city is also very walk-friendly which is a big plus. We spent 4 and 1/2 days loving the perfect weather and exploring as much of the city as we could. Here are a few of my favorite free/cheap things we did while we were there.
Eat from food trucks:
This is a very popular and cheap way to eat throughout a trip to Portland. There were food trucks all over the Portland Saturday Market on Sunday when we got there, but I was surprised to see how they line the streets throughout the week as well. The best part is there are SO many options to choose from! You can get just about any ethnic food you feel in the mood for, as well as some pretty obscure cuisines. If you look closely at the photo above you might notice one food truck specializes in Alaskan Reindeer Sausages. I didn’t even know that was a thing until this trip! (and no, I did not try it, haha)
Price: Prices vary from truck to truck, but you can easily find a filling meal for under $10.
Sample local beers at Bailey’s Taproom:
Portland is famous for its local beers. It actually has the most micro-breweries per capita in the USA. Bailey’s Taproom is a great way to sample several local beers without spending a fortune or nursing a hangover on your trip. They keep a large variety of local beers on tap, and sell them in full or half sized glasses, so you can try several small glasses of different beers. They do not serve any food, but allow you to bring food in from outside. Might I suggest stopping at a food truck on your way to Bailey’s…
Price: Prices vary by beer, but a typical beer will be $4.50-$5 for a full glass and $2.50 for a small glass
Go to the Portland Saturday Market:
Despite its name, the Portland Saturday Market is actually open every Saturday AND Sunday from March until Christmas Eve. The market is located right on the waterfront and is the perfect place to stroll around on a nice day. With rows and rows of food truck vendors and local artisans you can find some pretty interesting stuff at the market.
Price: Free (unless you can’t help but buy something from one of the vendors)
Get lost in Powell’s City of Books:
The name really says it all. Powell’s City of Books is the headquarters for Powell’s Books and takes up an entire street block in the Pearl District. They sell new and used books (including rare and out of print). Floor after floor is filled from floor to ceiling with books. We spent about an hour wandering around through some of the different sections. Make sure you go to every floor just to get a sense of how massive this place is!
Price: Browse for free. They also buy used books so if you have some you’re trying to get rid of they might just pay YOU!
Eat at VooDoo Doughnuts:
VooDoo Doughnuts is a Portland icon. It has been featured on several food/travel shows, as well as being mentioned in various other shows and movies. It is an international tourist attraction and a must do (at least once). The company started in 2003 and became famous for their interesting decor and unique doughnuts. A few actually contained NyQuil filling and crushed Pepto topping. Did I mention VooDoo is open 24 hours? This was definitely geared toward a post-bar crowd. These doughnuts were discontinued once health officials cracked down on them, but you can still get plenty of unique doughnuts here today, including a “Cock-and-Balls” doughnut and doughnuts topped with Cap’n Crunch or Tang. The day we went the special was “Marshal Mathers Old Dirty Bastard Maple Blazer Blunt”. I doubt you’ve ever been to a doughnut shop like this before.
Price: Doughnuts range from $.95 to $5.25 (also note they only accept cash!)
Have a picnic at Pittock Masion:
While there is a fee to tour the actual mansion, the grounds around the mansion are free for anyone to enjoy. The grounds are very well groomed with picnic tables (or bring a blanket just in case the tables are all taken) and are isolated enough that it is a quiet and peaceful place to relax and enjoy a fantastic view of Portland.
Price: Access to the grounds is free, so price depends on what you pay for food to bring
Stop and smell the roses at the International Rose Test Garden:
When I was planning our trip, this was not high on my list of things to do/see. I thought “a garden is a garden” and “I can see roses anywhere”. But Nick had been there before and said it was really beautiful and worth visiting. He was so right. On the drive up to the garden I noticed the air start to change. Even from the car we could start to smell roses. The entire area smells so amazing. The actual garden itself has rows upon rows of different breeds and varieties of flowers. I saw roses in colors I had never seen before (in a rose at least).
Price: Amazingly free
Take the historic scenic route to Multnomah Falls:
Multnomah Falls is impressive, but it isn’t nearly as impressive as one of the routes you can take to get there. Make sure to stop at Chanticleer Point for a great view down the river. You can stop at Vista House too for some views and to look through the little exhibits they have inside as well. There are several other small waterfalls you can stop to see and take pictures of along the way as well. I thought some of the prettiest parts were through the forest where the trees canopied the road. Take your time, relax, and enjoy the drive!
From Highway 85 take the “Troutdale” exit. From there follow the signs for the “Historic Route” to Multnomah Falls.
Price: Gas for your drive
Is there anything on my list I missed that you think I should add??