Portland See And Do
Cannon Beach , Oregon
Cannon Beach is the most appealing of Oregon's many coastal towns, in part because it is the closest to Portland. A mere hour and a half away (compared to upwards of two or three hours to towns further south) along mostly scenic roads, Cannon Beach is also one of the prettiest. The town consists of a long strip of tastefully weathered shingle buildings, housing a typical beach-town mix of art galleries and ice cream shops, pubs and pizzerias, bike rentals, and a good number of inns. While this makes for a pleasant stroll, the wide sandy beach, with its crashing waves and the well-known Haystack Rock, is the real point of making the trek out here. On the right day, when the sun is shining and the wind isn't blowing, it offers a near-perfect beach experience (August and September are good bets, though the weather is notoriously unpredictable). Another scenic vantage point is Ecola State Park, on the northern edge of town, whose wide, grassy viewpoint is sprinkled with picnic tables (plan ahead) with beautiful ocean vistas. Book a room at the cozy Stephanie Inn bed and breakfast.
Portland has long been known for its microbrew and wine scenes. But the latest local boozing trend is small-batch distilleries, tiny D.I.Y. outfits cooking up everything from bourbon to aquavit. Most line the southeast side of town on what has come to be known as Distillery Row. Among our favorites are House Spirits, whose old-timey apothecary offers tastings of Dutch-inspired Aviation Gin, Russian-Polish style Medoyeff Vodka, and whatever else they're tinkering with in the distillery out back. Locally made bourbon chocolates, vintage cocktail books, bitters, and tiki syrups are also available. Integrity Spirits focuses on botanicals like Oregon's first locally produced absinthe and hazelnut-infused vodka. Vodka is also the drink of choice at the all-organic New Deal, which adds savory flavors like basil. Across town in Northwest is the granddaddy of the distillery movement, Clear Creek. It's been creating liquors with local produce for 25 years, including a pear brandy with a pear grown in the bottle.—Colleen Clark
House Spirits tasting room open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 4 pm. Tours on Saturdays by appointment.
Integrity Spirits open Saturdays 2 to 6 pm or by appointment.
New Deal Distillery open Saturdays 12:30 to 5 pm and Sundays 1 to 4 pm or by appointment.
Clear Creek Distillery open Mondays through Saturdays 9 am to 5 pm.
N.W. 29th Avenue & Upshur Street to Newberry Road
Forest Park , Oregon
503 823 7529
At 5,000 acres, it's the country's largest urban wilderness. What that means for you is that a taste of the Pacific Northwest's gorgeous natural scenery is just a stone's throw from downtown. Miles of trails serve bikers, hikers, and casual strollers. One of the most popular hikes is the portion of the Leif Erikson trail that begins at the end of N.W. Thurman Street. A wide, leafy fire trail with a gradual uphill grade, it's an easy way to get a taste of this forest without even having to put on sneakers. It's particularly beautiful in the fall when the leaves change. A more strenuous option takes you from the Upper MacLeay parking lot (located just off Cornell) one mile uphill along a narrow, forested trail to Pittock Mansion, which has panoramic city views, with snowcapped Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens in the distance. But these are just the tip of the icebergor forest, in this case. Those interested in hooking up with local hikers or learning about other trails should check out the website of local hiking group the Mazamas at www.mazamas.org. Forest Park is also home to a variety of attractions, including the Oregon Zoo, the arboretum, the Rose Garden, an amphitheatre that hosts free concerts and plays in the summer, and numerous other attractions.
Hood River , Oregon
Not so long ago, Hood River was just another rustic waterside town tucked along the edge of the Columbia Gorge. Then, in the 1980s, it became known as the windsurfing capital of the world. A whole slew of diversions followed in the wake of its development as an outdoor recreation mecca. Big Winds and Hood River Waterplay are just two of the outfitters ready to help get visitors out on the water with a range of offerings that include both rentals and lessons. Those not ready to test their skills with a board and sail will find plenty of other options. Outdoorsy types can go river rafting (on the Salmon River), skiing on Mount Hood, fishing, or hiking. Those taking a more leisurely approach to their vacation can play golf or savor a leisurely lunch overlooking the river (try the gorgeously manicured Columbia Gorge Hotel). The overall vibe is distinctly laid-back and youthful. Yes, you'll find some elegant places to have lunch, but it's really about enjoying the brew-pubs (Full Sail is located here), watching the windsurfers and kite-boarders, and taking in the great outdoors.
24403 E. Welches Road
Off Highway 26
Welches , Oregon
Tel: 503 622 5560
This is Portland's playground. Mount Hood, located roughly an hour and a half from Portland, encompasses a vast and varied terrain that supports a dizzying number of diversions. In summer and early fall, hikers stroll out to the many lakes (Trillium Lake is a popular option) to swim, fish, and picnic. More adventurous types head out there for white-water rafting expeditions, mountain biking, and rock climbing. And die-hard skiers can hit the slopes year-round at the Timberline ski resort (www.timberlinelodge.com). Regardless of what activity you choose, you should make a point of visiting the massive Timberline Lodge, a National Historic Landmark built entirely by hand in the 1930s as a WPA project. The rustic, simply furnished rooms are fine and offer some exceptional mountain views, but it's equally popular as a scenic place to stop for lunch or a hot chocolate. Those interested in hiking should visit www.mazamas.org for more information.
724 N.W. Davis Street
Portland , Oregon
Tel: 503 223 2654
When the Museum of Contemporary Craft reopened in an expanded location in the summer of 2007, it threw a huge block party with local microbrews, gelato, live music, and an impressive array of artist demonstrations. Families mingled with artists, gallery owners, and donors, and the whole thing was a raging success. That pretty much captures what the museum is setting out to do: to make art and craft accessible, interesting, and fun. The calendar is packed with events, from formal tours, lectures, workshops, and demonstrations to casual coffee get-togethers during which a specific aspect of the craft world is discussed. The temporary exhibits may or may not strike a chorddepending on when you're here, you may find a broad retrospective on craft in America or a specific artist-based exhibit. At the very least, the gallery is full of distinctive items by mostly regional artists, from gorgeous ceramics to handmade jewelry and textiles.
Open Tuesdays through Sundays 11 am to 6 pm, Thursdays until 8 pm.
Portland , Oregon
Not so long ago, the Pearl District was just a bunch of warehouses. Gradually, a few galleries moved in, some lofts were converted to live-work spaces, some ambitious new restaurants opened their doors, and a thriving example of "new urbanism" was born. Today, newly erected condos are packed with young singles and couples who enjoy easy access to the restaurants, wine bars, spas, galleries, and boutiques that have staked their claim in this now highly desirable part of town. Avid shoppers will find everything from locally designed party dresses at Bubble Boutique to antique and contemporary furnishings at Cielo and Hive to great shoes at Sole and fine art and photography at Butters and Blue Sky Gallery. Numerous eateries and watering holes sprinkled throughout the area make fine places to regroup and give the credit cards a rest. Jameson Fountain fills with splashing tots in the summer months, transforming the otherwise quiet square into a popular hub for families. The first Thursday of every month, the galleries stay open late, streets are closed, and the whole neighborhood turns into one big block party (visit www.firstthursday.org for more information).
1219 S.W. Park Avenue
Portland , Oregon
Tel: 503 226 2811
The Portland Art Museum completed a massive expansion in 2005. As a result, the museum is now in a position to host major traveling exhibits, which has solidified its place on the city's cultural map. Keep an eye out for these blockbusters, which are the real reason to pay a visit. The museum was the only one on the West Coast to host an exhibit showcasing the treasures of ancient Egypt, and another highlighting Rembrandt's work from the legendary Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. The permanent collection includes a range of contemporary, Native American, and European art.
Open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays 10 am to 5 pm, Thursdays and Fridays 10 am to 8 pm, and Sundays noon to 5 pm.
With 37,000 acres of metro-area green space, the City of Roses offers an embarrassment of riches when it comes to natural diversions. Start in Washington Park, which is home to the Portland Rose Garden, the oldest continuously operating rose garden in the country, with more than 8,000 plants. The park is also home to the Japanese Garden: five and a half peaceful acres of artfully laid paths winding past waterfalls, rock gardens, and pagodas with views of the skyline and Mount Hood. Across town, the Ming Dynasty–style Lan Su Chinese Garden, an oasis surrounded by buildings, has a tea house overlooking Zither Lake's bridges and colonnades.—Colleen Clark
Oregon has been growing grapes for decades, but it has only recently begun to get the sort of recognition it so richly deserves. As a result of its slow rise to fame, the wineries and towns in the area are much more low-key than California's well-established Napa Valley. A wine-tasting day trip here is relaxing, without the long lines, high fees, and traffic congestion. There are a couple of ways to organize this easy excursion: Grab your own gourmet picnic in Portland, select your own tour of vineyards, and make the drive yourself. Along the main artery, Highway 99, you can stop at the forward-thinking Chehalem Winery (which has a new tasting room open in Newberg), the premier Argyle Winery, and the sustainable and organic Sokol Blosser Winery. Carlton is home to several up-and-coming wineries whose wares you can taste at the Carlton Winemakers Studio, and you can buy a number of local wines not normally available to the public at The Tasting Room. For a leisurely wine country lunch, head to the town of McMinnville, which has several good restaurants. The Bistro Maison serves authentic French fare in a lovely rustic setting, while the Golden Valley Brewery is a good option for classic American pub food. Alternatively, sign up for a semi-customized package tour (an excellent option for those wanting to leave the driving to someone else). The informative Grape Escape Tours has several offerings catering to different interests. For more information, visit www.oregonwine.org and www.winesnw.com.