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Recommendations for a week in Portland?

 
gardener
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Hey, I'm going to be in Portland, Oregon for about a week starting September 13.  The primary purpose of my trip is a low-intensity get-together with some elderly relatives, but they are incredibly ancient and have already warned me that we'll probably be doing stuff on an every-other-day schedule so they can rest up between tourist adventures.  So I will have several days (or at least partial days) where I'm left to my own devices and free to roam by myself.  

I have Google and I know how to use it; I'm not worried about finding stuff to do.  I like to shop, and I figure I'll hit up some fancy/healthy food stores for ingredients and goodies I can't get in my central Oklahoma food desert.  This is a driving trip for me so I'll have plenty of room to take goodies home.  The trouble with Googling, though, is  you don't find things you didn't know to look for.  

I am open to all kinds of recommendations and suggestions for places to go and things to do.  Bookstores, spice shops, botanic gardens, plant nurseries, natural history museums, anything that locals might recommend that an out-of-towner wouldn't discover without a recommendation.  

Thanks!
 
pollinator
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If you like bookstores you need to go to Powell's. Allow several hours..
 
Dan Boone
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Dillon Nichols wrote:If you like bookstores you need to go to Powell's. Allow several hours..



Ha!  That was one notion already on my radar. More than a quarter century ago I had a long airport layover between two connections in Portland; I took public transit downtown just to kill time and found Powell's without having had any prior notion that it existed.  Time: killed!

I am glad to hear they still exist and have not been eaten by the market factors that have destroyed most bookstores.
 
steward
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Powell's is still there, still huge, still awesome.

What do you like?  Portland is a great place to try unusual food.  It's a great place to find unusual clothes (if you like that sort of thing).  There are amazing ferny hikes.  You're not that far from the ocean and if you don't get to the ocean much, you should allow a day trip to the coast at least.  You could drive to Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood and see snow and eat a nice meal in a gorgeous WPA project (if you're into 1930's timber framing and craftmanship).
 
Dan Boone
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Thank you!  I think dining will be at the center of most of the stuff I do with my relatives so I'm letting them worry about that.  But these are the sort of suggestions I am happy to receive!  Since I may be excursing outside Portland with the relatives I am also interested in places I should go in town (especially if I leave the car behind and explore on my own via public transit, which I expect to do given how much I dislike driving in unfamiliar city traffic).   I'm sorry to be so vague -- I don't know "what I like" in this case; I mean, I haven't really been to an interesting city in close to fifteen years.  So mostly I'm just fishing for other people's favorites in hopes of stumbling on something I would never have thought to look for.
 
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The best Thai food I've ever had in my life: Pok Pok.

https://pokpokrestaurants.com/


It's not a fussy place.  The vibe is hip, not traditionally Thai.  Get the wings.  Amazing.

I always enjoy Tanner Springs Park.  So . . . by a book at Powells and then go sit in Tanner Springs Park and read it.  If you think you'll want a snack, stop by VooDoo Donuts first and get yourself a dozen of the best donuts ever.
 
Dan Boone
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Marco Banks wrote:If you think you'll want a snack, stop by VooDoo Donuts first and get yourself a dozen of the best donuts ever.



Ha! A dozen doughnuts is not, theoretically speaking, a “snack” but it  does well reflect my maximalist approach to junk food eating when temptation wins. :-)
 
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Speaking of donuts, people here seem to LOVE Dutch Bro's coffee (pretty sure they don't have donuts, but coffee and donuts go hand-in-hand, right?). People carpool with their friends to drive an hour away to got to openings of new coffee stand. When Dutch Bro's came to Washington, people lined up for probably 1+hours to get a cup of coffee. I don't drink coffee, and have never had Dutch Bro's, but I know it has a huge fan base.
 
Julia Winter
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https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g52024-d3878569-Reviews-Blue_Star_Donuts-Portland_Oregon.html

I second PokPok.  I think Alberta Street in NE Portland, between 15th and 25th (roughly) is an excellent slice of Portland life.  Salt and Straw, near 21st on Alberta, is another big Portland thing - it's gourmet and unusual ice cream.

If you like planned city parks, Laurelhurst Park is a gorgeous place to spend some time.  You can take a stroll, have a picnic, watch people, watch dogs. . .  (from Wikipedia:)

Laurelhurst Park is a city park in the neighborhood of Laurelhurst in Portland, Oregon.[2] The 26.81-acre (10.85 ha) park was acquired in 1909 from the estate of former Portland mayor William S. Ladd. The City of Portland purchased the land in 1911, and the following year park superintendent Emanuel Mische designed the park in accordance with the Olmsted Plan.

In 1919, the Pacific Coast Parks Association named Laurelhurst Park the "most beautiful park" on the West Coast, and in February 2001 it was the first city park ever to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[3]  



So, the trees planted for this park are now over a hundred years old.  If you like lovely old houses, the homes around and especially to the north of Laurelhurst Park are very nice.

One great thing about Portland is the bike system.  There are neighborhood greenways - city streets that are set up as bike "highways."  They get priority over cross streets (no stop signs) and when they cross busy car streets, there are special crosswalks and buttons you can push that STOP the cars pretty quickly.  



There's a bike share system, so you can rent a bike easily.  I do recommend some biking.
 
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Saturday market if you have a weekend free.
 
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