Portland is a city of food, craft beer, and wine. It is a place to ride a fixie bike and to ride the public transportation system instead of driving your car, a place where being green is the only color to be, a place where there is craft coffee, fancy donuts, crazy soccer fans, beard-toting men, and amazing cider—all in one city.
This is my Portland. To get a true sense of what it means to keep Portland weird, here are my top 5 things to do in Portland:
1. Drunken Cycle Tours of Portland with BrewCycle Portland
Taking one of these tours is probably one of the funnest things to do with a group of your friends through Portland! What would be better than drinking beer, blasting music, and riding bikes through a sunny afternoon in Portland? We got together a group of six of us and mounted a BrewCycle bike with friends for a tour of three breweries in the area (see photo below). Well worth the $20 per person! Be prepared to pay for your own happy hour priced drinks, and to have a great time!
2. Escape to Wine Country with Grape Escape Winery Tours
If you are coming to the Willamette Valley, you have to go wine tasting. It’s a must to leave Portland for a day and enjoy the beautiful countryside. I highly recommend Grape Escape Winery Tours, which is a marvelous little company that plans a trip for you based on what you like to drink and what you want to see. After a conversation with the owner, he will craft a tour just for you and your group. Groups as small as two are welcome. Also, they provide great little platters of cheese, meat, olives, fruit, and even chocolate so that you can continue to enjoy your wine trip without spitting out the wine! Besides the food with your wine, you also get very knowledgeable guides (your “Escape Artists”), who will tell you all about the history of the wineries you are visiting as well as tell you all you need to know about the Oregon wine industry. Furthermore, this isn’t your stretch-limo kind of tour but a nice van that takes you from place to place. It’s a little less presumptuous and comfortable financially. (Make sure to tip!)
3. Get geeky at OMSI- OMSI after Dark
Science is fun! Can you imagine being able to shoot off a water rocket, microwave a light bulb, and build a Roman Arch with your friends while enjoying some great beer and wine at night? This event is held once a month on Wednesdays from 6-10 p.m. The museum picks a theme and sets up a number of really interesting hands-on science experiments that you are sure to enjoy. Make sure to check their schedule here for the next event.
4. Be a part of the Timbers Army at the Portland Timbers Game
Some claim that this is America’s version of European soccer fanaticism—II couldn’t agree more! I have sat in numerous seat locations—from ones right on the center midline, so close that I could touch the players as they were doing a throw in; to ones on the side, where you can get the best overall view of the game; to the famed Timber’s Army seats. I have to say, my favorite by far have been the General Admission Timber’s Army seats. These seats allow you to feel like you are a part of the game with the chanting, jumping, flag-waving community that surrounds this home soccer team. At about $25 a ticket, you really can’t go wrong. Just be prepared to stand, sing, and yell as others stand, sing, and yell with you: LET’S GO TIMBERS, LET’S GO!
5. Visit a Food Cart Pod and eat it all up!
You can’t leave Portland without having eaten at a Portland food cart. There are over 500 food carts throughout Portland. Not only are food carts a great place to try native foods from around the world, they are also safe and authentic. This is where top chefs or soon-to-be top chefs experiment with an idea, and if it takes off, they decide to expand it to more food carts or potentially to brick-and-mortar locations. Food carts are always an experiment in entrepreneurism, low overhead, and passion. Some stay, some go, some move. Look them up before you hit the streets.
Some of my favorites:
- Nong’s Khao Man Gai, which now has become so popular for its Thai chicken over rice. This plate comes with a phenomenal ginger, soy, and chili sauce called Khao Man Gi sauce. Nong came to Oregon with $17 and two suitcases; she worked in the restaurant industry until, in 2009, she decided to open her first food cart. A Bangkok native and now Oregonian, Nong now has two food carts and a restaurant. I love her food! Below you will find a video on how exactly to eat her great food.
- Gabagool, if you love italian food, you will love this place. I have been so impressed with their Piadina Sandwiches, especially its namesake, Gabagool Piadina. I have yet to try their homemade pasta, but if it’s as tasty as their Gabagool Piadina sandwich, I won’t be disappointed and neither will you.
- Koi Fusion, the place where you can get Mexican and Korean in one amazing fusion meal. Having initially started with one food truck, the owners now recognize the balance of having not only food carts but multiple stationary (brick-and-mortar) locations. There are now six stationary and six mobile locations throughout Portland, so you are destined to run into one. I personally love their kimchi and would add it to every single item on their menu.
There are so many restaurants, breweries, cider houses, urban wineries. and concerts to enjoy in Portland as well! However, if I went into all my favorites, you’d quickly shut down this article and move on. So,… I will hold onto my favorites for another article. (However, if you can’t wait for that article, look back through my Sacred Drop posts on many such Portland attractions.)
To find out more about all the fun things to do in Portland, check out Travel Portland online. At that website, you can book your hotel and tickets through their concierge staff and receive discounts to all kinds of great events.
See you soon! Cheers!