9 Things to Add to Your Portland Bucket List

Oh Portland! The city of happy hipsters, coffee shops galore, and the nicest people you’ll ever meet. A city that flew under the radar for so long is finally having a moment as an increasingly popular travel destination. Whether you like to explore the great outdoors, drink good Pinot Noir, or give your tastebuds a tour of a booming culinary scene, Portland has something for everyone.

Indulge at Blue Star Donuts

Ask a local what their favorite donut shop in Portland is and you’ll probably get a different answer each time because there are no shortage of delicious donut shops. I love a traditional glazed donut as much as I love a fancy donut, and Blue Star Donuts is next level.

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The gourmet donut shop with seven locations throughout the city uses seasonal flavors to make donuts like Pistachio Cream Cheese or Apple Brandy Crumble in addition to their widely-popular regular flavors like Raspberry Rosemary Buttermilk or Passionfruit Cocoa Nibs. Their donuts are (almost) too pretty to eat but once you do, you might just have to try one of each!

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Eat your vegetables at Tusk

Named one of Bon Appétit’s best new restaurants in 2017, Tusk is a modern twist on Middle Eastern cuisine using Portland’s finest local produce.

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The menu is heavily centered around vegetables, fruits and grains so vibrant colored dishes like the vegetable plate topped with whipped feta come flying out of the kitchen as if the ingredients were freshly picked off the farm just minutes before.

Explore the city on (Nike) bikes

While the popular athletic brand is headquartered nearby in Beavertown, the bike-friendly city of Portland was crowned BIKETOWN in 2016 with the launch of Nike’s bike share program.

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Bright orange bicycles are stationed all across the city that you can rent for just $2.50 a trip or $12/month so you can get a work out while you explore the town on two wheels.

Bury yourself in books at Powell’s City of Books

Bibliophiles rejoice! Powell’s City of Books is exactly that — a city of books. Taking over an entire city block, it’s the largest bookstore in the world, with 9 color-coded rooms and nearly a million books.

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Grab a book, take a seat and stay for a while. You can easily spend hours getting lost in the aisles upon aisles (and more aisles) of books!

Get caffeinated at Heart Coffee

It’s no secret, Portland’s coffee scene is buzzing. There’s a cool hipster coffee shop on every corner you turn and the coffee snob in me is perfectly ok with that. I stumbled upon Heart Coffee on 12th Avenue and it was love at first sip.

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Their display of neatly stacked, freshly baked pastries will stare you right in the eye as you decide which caffeinated cup of Joe to order from the flannel-wearing baristas. (P.S. I recommend their seasonal drinks.)

Have a stiff drink at the Multnomah Whiskey Library

Multnomah Whiskey Library is a dimly-lit cocktail bar that looks like the board game Clue came to life with tufted, plush leather furniture, high ceilings, and exposed brick-walls. With an extensive list of spirits lining the walls and mixologists on staff, there’s no drink they can’t shake up for you.

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The bartenders take your order from a moving cart for a more personalized experience and if you don’t know what you’re in the mood for, leave it up to the experts to surprise you!

Feast like a local at Nong’s Khao Man Gai

No trip to Portland is complete without at least one visit to the food carts (Portland’s version of a food truck). Some of the best food you’ll have in the city comes from these charming “pods” and they’re sprinkled all over Portland but perhaps the largest collection of food carts and where you’ll find this Thai gem, is in downtown between SW Alder and Washington.

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Nong’s is best known for their Khao Man Gai (poached organic chicken served on top of a bed of rice with a side of chicken stock and their house made sauce). It’s a simple yet delicious and comforting chicken dish that soothes the soul.

Tantalize your taste buds at Salt & Straw Ice Cream

The artisanal ice cream shop that started in Portland has since expanded with locations in San Francisco and Los Angeles but still remains a favorite among Portland locals. While Salt & Straw serves the traditional ice cream flavors one would come to expect, their claim to fame are the seasonal and holiday flavors like Gingerbread Cookie Dough and Spiked Lingonberry Eggnog.

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And if one scoop isn’t enough to satisfy your sweet tooth, pick up a pint to go (or join the pint club).

Experience tranquility at Portland Japanese Garden

Can’t make it to Japan? The Portland Japanese Garden is the closest garden you’ll experience to the real thing. Over twelve acres of natural beauty and eight separate gardens including a Japanese Tea House make this sanctuary a special experience outdoors.

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Enjoy a peaceful walk through the garden surrounded by all the greenery and you’re guaranteed to leave more relaxed than when you arrived. Tickets are $14.95 for adults.