3 Days in Portland, Oregon

Last month Adam and I went on a quick getaway to Portland, Oregon. Neither of us had ever been before and we had so much fun exploring a new city together. We flew in to Portland on Wednesday and left Saturday morning. Adam is working an alternate schedule right now, so those were the days we could go without him taking any vacation time.

We love trying local breweries and Portland is the mecca of craft beer, so we were definitely in our element. We also love spending time outdoors, but that hasn’t been possible for the past few months in Phoenix. Seriously, I’m so over the heat and can’t wait for it to cool down. But Portland weather was perfect for hiking and just walking around the city (except for one day). Our trip was a perfect mix of city fun and outdoor adventure. 

Day 1 | The City

Our flight landed at 11:00 a.m., so it was perfect timing to have lunch and spend the afternoon exploring Portland. As I mentioned, we love trying new craft beers so our first stop was Great Notion Brewing. I prefer lighter, fruity beers and wheats, so I ordred the Blueberry Muffin sour. Adam is an IPA guy, so he ordered the Ripe IPA. Both were excellent and after our trip we agreed they were our favorite beers. We also had lunch there and the food was good too! 

After lunch we stopped at Salt & Straw for ice cream. I know, I know…ice cream after beer sounds risky, but we couldn’t pass up our chance to try their ice cream. They had some really fun flavors and all them that we tried were delicious! 

We were both stuffed afterwards and decided to walk it off at Powell’s City of Books. It’s the largest used and new bookstore in the world. It occupies an entire city block and is SO much fun to explore. We walked all over and each of us ended up buying a book, plus I bought a funny oven mitt.

Our plan after that was to go to Washington Park to see the International Rose Test Garden and Japanese Garden, but it was actually hot that afternoon (95 degrees) and we didn’t want to walk around in the sun. We ended up going to our Airbnb to check in and then decided to check out a couple breweries instead. If the weather is nice, I would highly recommend a trip to Washington Park. I’m disappointed that we never made it to the Japanese Garden.

Our Airbnb was a short walk to the Pearl District, so it was the perfect location for checking out all of the breweries and restaurants in that area. We ended up walking to dinner each night and it was so convenient not to have to worry about finding parking or getting a ride after drinking. Our first stop was 10 Barrel Brewing Co. I ordered the Raspberry Sour and it was good, but super sour (duh). They have a really nice rooftop patio, so it’s a great location to drink and relax.

For dinner we decided to try Von Ebert Brewing. After that sour I needed something totally different so I ended up ordering the Sabrage IPA. It has a lower IBU than most IPAs so it was the perfect IPA for someone who doesn’t really like hoppy beer. For dinner we shared the giant pretzel and both ordered the smoked wings. Their wings aren’t like the usual wings you get in restaurants. They’re the full chicken wing and they were delicious!

Day 2 | Adventure

We started our second day with a Portland classic – Voodoo Donuts. They have 2 locations and I HIGHLY recommend visiting the one on Davis St. There’s lots of parking and it’s way less crowded than their original shop. We were there pretty early and there was only one other couple in the whole place. If you’ve seen pictures of the lines before, you know how amazing that is. Oh, and a quick note, it’s cash only (they have an ATM on site though).

I ordered the voodoo doll, Adam got a maple bar, we split an Old Dirty Bastard (chocolate frosting, Oreo cookies, and peanut butter drizzle), and we got an apple fritter to go. It was sugar overload, but so good! I think the apple fritter was my favorite!

After enjoying our donuts we headed out of town to explore the Columbia River Gorge. Our first stop along the Historic Columbia River Hwy was Vista House. The Vista House was built in 1917 and is one of the best scenic points along the highway. Inside are exhibits, a gift shop, espresso bar, and restrooms. It’s a great place to stop to get an unobstructed view of the gorge. We were there pretty early so it was still a little foggy, but it was still a beautiful view. 

Unfortunately, last September the Eagle Creek Fire burned almost 49,000 acres of the gorge and most of the Historic Columbia River Hwy and trails are still closed due to the damage. If everything was open, we probably would have spent most of the day chasing waterfalls and hiking, but because of the closures we booked an afternoon activity (more on that later). That forced to stick to a schedule and we were only able to see Latourell Falls and Multnomah Falls. Both were beautiful and I wish we could have stopped at Bridal Veil Falls too. 

After our time at Multnomah Falls, we continued on to Hood River for lunch. We picked Full Sail Brewing Co. and really enjoyed our beers, meal, and seat by the window. I ordered the salmon fish and chips and was not disappointed. The fish was fresh and not greasy!

OK, now let’s talk about our afternoon adventure…we went white water rafting! The river and rafting is technically in Washington, but it’s just across the Columbia River from Oregon. We booked the White Salmon River Half-Day trip with Wet Planet and I can’t recommend them enough. We had such an amazing time and we both agreed it was the highlight of our trip!

They provide all of the gear (wetsuits, paddle jackets, booties, life vests, and helmets) and take pictures along the way, so you only need to worry about paddling and enjoying yourself. I’m not going to lie, I was really nervous about going…and I was nervous for like the first hour of the rafting trip. But it was so much fun! I’m so glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone to try something new. I even did the optional cliff jump at BZ Falls and rafted down Husum Falls! 

The river is fed from the glaciers of Mt. Adams, so the water is crystal clear and COLD. With the wetsuits and paddle jacket (and adrenaline rush), the cold water is not that noticeable though…except during the cliff jump. The cold took my breath away when I hit the water! But honestly, I needed that. After being fully in the water and having to swim to the raft, I was less nervous about accidently falling out. I was already soaked and knew I could swim to the raft, so that feeling of the unknown was gone. From then on my nerves were calm and I really just enjoyed myself. 

After our rafting adventure we drove back to Portland and had dinner at Oven and Shaker for wood-fired pizza. We split a salad and the Spicy Salami pizza. The pizza was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had! After dinner we stopped at the Cookie Dough CafĂ© for a scoop of edible cookie dough!

Day 3 | The Coast

We really wanted to see the Oregon coast while we were in Portland and we had a rental car, but after a lot of driving the previous day, I knew we wouldn’t want to spend more of our vacation driving. After reading a ton of reviews I ended up booking the Oregon Coast Tour with Wildwood Tours. It worked out perfectly and we both really enjoyed the trip!

We met our group and guide in the morning and headed west! Our first stop was Ecola State Park where we stopped for a few pictures and tasted wild blackberries. We also got a nice view of Tillamook Rock Light lighthouse. Our guide told us that the entire Oregon Coast is public land, which means there are no private resorts and beaches along the coast (Beach Bill passed in 1967). 

Just a short drive from Ecola State Park is Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock. There we had plenty of time to walk the beach and enjoy the beautiful coast. Both of us put our feet in the water and it was cold, but not as cold as the river the day before…or maybe it’s because it was just our feet and not our entire body getting wet. We lucked out with amazing weather, so it was the perfect beach day. 

We had lunch in the town of Cannon Beach and had an hour to eat and shop. We walked to the far end of town and had lunch at Public Coast Brewing Co. The food and beers were good, but I wish we would have picked something faster so we would have had more time to look in the little shops. We ended buying the dogs some homemade treats at Puppy Love By the Sea and split a dessert from one of the bakeries, but I wish I could have looked in more of the shops.

From there we continued down the famous Pacific Coast Hwy 101 to Neahkahnie Overlook. It’s the highest drivable point along the Oregon Coast and the views are stunning! You can also see whales during certain times of the year. 

Our last stop of the tour was Short Sands Beach (aka Smugglers Cove) in Oswald West State Park. The trail to the beach is about a half-mile hike through beautiful old growth forest. There’s also a wooden suspension bridge that crosses a small river. The beach is popular with surfers and it was fun to see them out there catching waves. 

We had plenty of time to walk the beach and enjoy the last of our time on the coast. From there we headed back to Portland. We had dinner at Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House. It’s definitely the most well-known brewery in that area. Adam was already a fan of their Fresh Squeezed IPA so it was the perfect way to end our trip. I ordered the Dungeness Crab Roll and it was delicious! I haven’t had anything like that since we visited the East Coast years ago. Yum yum yum!

As I mentioned above, I really wanted to see the International Rose Test Garden, but it was too hot to visit when we had originally planned to. Luckily it’s open late, so we were able to stop by after dinner. It actually ended up being a great time to go because it was easy to find parking and there was hardly anyone there. 

I had no idea how big it was going to be and how amazing it was going to smell! Everything was in bloom and the different colors were so gorgeous. These paint splatter looking ones were my favorite, but there were so many amazing colors that I’ve never seen before. Oh, and the garden is free to visit, so it’s a must-see in my opinion. 

We had such an amazing time in Portland! We got to see so many beautiful places, ate some amazing food, and drank SO much craft beer! I would love to go back to Oregon someday to visit the vineyards in Willamette Valley and see Crater Lake National Park.


  1. Wow portland looks amazing! The coast is just WOW! Need to book a trip asap

    1. The coast is SO gorgeous! I love that it's all protected as public land too, so it won't be destroyed by developers.

  2. We used to live on the west coast but sadly never made it to Portland - now I want to go!!

    1. You should! We really enjoyed our stay in the city and all of the surround adventures!

  3. I have heard so much great things about Voodoo donut and it looks amazing. Hopefully I visit Oregon one way.

    1. They were delicious! We also tried Blue Star Donuts and they were amazing too!

  4. Oh Portland looks gorgeous and so much fun!! I'm dying to go, so I've saved this to use for reference.

    1. Yay! Hopefully you make it there someday! It's such a pretty area!

  5. This whole trip looks like so much fun! We were really hoping to make it to Portland, but hope to make it back over to the West coast soon. I could spend all day in that bookstore!


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