Top 5 Things to Do in Portland #PDX

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!

Brewcycle Madness: The More the Merrier!

Brewcycle Madness: The More the Merrier!

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!)

Visiting Wine Country with Friends and a great DD!

Visiting Wine Country with Friends and a great DD!

 

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!

Timbers Army

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.

No matter what neighborhood you stay in, there is likely a food cart pod ( a number of food carts all in one area) in your area. Click here to find one near you.

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!

The Rise of the Craft Beer Revolution

Double Mountain Brews from Bend, Oregon

Double Mountain Brews from Hood River, Oregon

Tell me if this doesn’t completely entice you to want to drink a beautifully crafted Oregon beer:

“Welcome to a place where the water runs pure and clean, from snow-capped mountaintops through lush green valleys. A place where hops grow in such abundance, their harvest is celebrated each autumn by beer makers and beer lovers alike. A place with a metropolitan area that has more craft brewers per capita than any other place on earth. Is it a dream? No. It’s Oregon, home to Oregon Craft Beer. And we’ve been waiting for you.”

This was brought to you by the Oregon Craft Beer Guild.

Oregon is home to over 136 brewing company operating in 61 cities across the state. Did you know that in Portland alone, there are 54 breweries—and over 70, if you include the entire metro-area?  Portland has beat out Cologne, Germany, for the highest number of breweries per capita and has become the Microbrew Capital of the world.  For my German husband, this revelation is a serious blow to his ego.  Good thing for us, we live in Oregon!

Well, if you haven’t heard of Oregon beer, it is time to pay attention. Oregon is home to craft-brewing pioneers such as Deschutes Brewery, RogueHopworks Urban Brewery, Santiam Brewing, Widmer Brothers BrewingMcMenamins, and Full Sail Brewing Co.—all of which make incredible beers that are well worth the trip to visit.  Oregon craft brewers make a wide range of beer styles, so there is always going to be something for you.

Given all of this, it is not surprising that Portland has been chosen as the first place for the launch of the film CRAFT this Thursday, April 3, 2014, at the Hollywood Theatre in Portland.  It will be the first of a multi-city tour; click here for more information on upcoming stops in Denver, Fort Collins, Austin, Oakland, and San Diego.

If you are new to the craft beer scene, this film follows a Cicerone (a beer expert— Cicerone is to beer as Sommelier is to wine) by the name of Craig Noble on his coast-to-coast once-in-a-lifetime journey, from his start as an apprentice at a farm brewery, to his beer schooling in Vermont and then to the development of his own farmhouse ale recipe.  This documentary film also takes a look at how breweries are taking on the mandates of quality, creativity, and integrity expected in this industry and the passion required by the people behind these hand-crafted beers.  Enjoy the trailer!

I am just now discovering all there is to offer in this great foodie-and-beverage capital of the Pacific Northwest.  Local is what is supported here, and Oregonians are very loyal to all things local. Furthermore, if your local brewery is putting on something that supports local causes (as Santiam Brewery supports the local Humane Society), Oregonians will be there.

From start to finish, the beer making process

From start to finish, the beer making process

Visiting Oregon soon?

If you are coming to visit Oregon, make sure to save the dates of upcoming events in the area:

April

April  3            Widmer Brothers Pub Grand Re-Opening in Portland

April 3             CRAFT Film Launch at the Hollywood Theatre in Portland

April 18-19      20th Annual Spring Beer & Wine Fest at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland

April 25-27      10th Annual Brew Fest at Oregon Gardens in Silverton

May

May 2-3          Cinco de Micro Brew Fest at the Salem Convention Center in Salem

May 16-17       Brewer’s Memorial Ale Fest – 8th Annual in Newport (Rogue)

May 23- 31      Central Oregon Beer Week  in Bend

May 30-31       Cheers to Belgian Beers in Portland

June

June 21           Eastern Oregon Beer Festival in La Grande

June 2-29       10th Annual North American Organic Brewers Festival at Overland Park in Portland

July- Oregon Craft Beer Month

July 23-27       27th Annual Oregon Brewers Festival at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland

If you are looking for great events in your own neck of the woods, visit the Beer Advocate for more information.

A few of my favorite local Brewers

Come support some of the local Oregon Breweries. If you aren’t in the area, take note of these great places, and add them to your Must Visit list!

There are a few of my favorite places:

Portland
Salem
Hood River
Bend

Check out this great page for more info on all there is to offer in Bend: BeerMeBend

Ashland
Pacific City
Eugene

Brewery Tours in Portland

There are tours for everyone here in Oregon. Choose your own adventure below:

Enjoy and drink safely! Cheers!

About the author: April Yap-Hennig

April Yap-Hennig is a wine lover and marketer with 12 years of experience in International Marketing and Communication in Europe and the United States, and with life experience also in the Caribbean and South America. She holds a Masters in Viticulture and Enology from the University of La Rioja, Spain, an MBA from Purdue University, and B.A. from University of Utah. She is also a Certified Wine Sommelier from the International Wine Guild in Colorado.  April was born in Utah, raised in the Dominican Republic and Ecuador, and has lived and worked in The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, and Spain. Her love of wine started when she studied in La Rioja, Spain, during her undergraduate studies. This is where she fell in love with the country, the region, the people, the culture, and, finally, the wine–thus changing her life and eventually her career.

She is now the co-founder and owner of Epicurean Media, a beverage-and-food artisan public relations and marketing consultancy; she also founded and writes the Sacred Drop Channel at www.sacreddrop.com. She is forging a new future in Oregon with her husband and their hilarious French bulldog, Guapo.

Check out her websites:www.about.me/aprilyaphennig,  www.sacreddrop.com, and www.epicureanmedia.com.