This past week I traveled to Portland, Oregon to attend my cousin's wedding. It took place at the University of Portland-- a beautiful campus surrounded by lush, towering trees and peppered with vibrant rose bushes. However, my family and I had three extra days of our stay in Portland to do some sight-seeing and exploration of the city. Before leaving for Portland, my family did not have many concrete plans about how we would spend those extra days-- the trip was wide open. We could spend the whole time wandering around the city, checking out small boutiques and hole-in-the-wall restaurants. In fact, we did do quite a bit of wandering. However, there were a few staples of Portland we were convinced to visit. The following are some of the most interesting sights we explored.
Browse Powell's Books.
One of the many packed book shelves in Powell's Books
During our first day in Portland, we decided to visit Powell's Books -- a famous Portland bookstore known for its seemingly endless shelves of books, both new and used. Inside the store, there are rooms organized by color -- each containing a particular set of genres. Uniquely, the shelves are sporadically decorated with tags that indicate recommended books by employees and a brief description of the book's significance. Powell's Books is a great place to spend the afternoon, perusing a plethora of genres of books on a wide range of topics. You'll likely accumulate a hefty pile of books to read during your vacation.
There is also a lovely coffee shop attached to the book store, which is a perfect place to take a break from browsing or settle down and read some of the books you've picked out! Overall, Powell's Books is a must-see. Even if you don't like to read, it a blast to just meander through the endless bookshelves and marvel at the sheer diversity of the topics. However, if you love browsing books, this is definitely the Portland sight for you!
Digest some art at The Portland Art Museum.
Harvest, by Michael Trophy, 1995, oil on canvas
The day before the wedding, my family and I visited the Portland Art Museum located in the heart of the city, right next to a strikingly colorful rose garden. We decided to peruse the museum Friday, which was only a day away from the opening of its new featured exhibit -- Paris 1900: City of Entertainment. This exhibit, according to the Portland Art Museum website, "re-creates the look and feel of the era through more than 200 paintings, decorative art objects, textiles, posters, photographs, jewelry, sculpture, and film."
Unfortunately, since we were just a day too early, we were unable to marvel at the Paris exhibit. Instead, we chose to tour the modern and contemporary art -- one of the many collections available at the art museum. One of my favorite parts of the collection was the exhibit that organized the art by regions of Oregon: Picturing Oregon. This exhibit highlights the unique climates and natural features of the various regions. The painting I have featured here is by the contemporary Michael Trophy who seeks to expose the negative effects of human beings on the Oregon landscape and thus convey an important political message.
At the Portland Art Museum, you will learn so much about Oregon through these creative works. Walking around the museum and gazing at the art was an eye-opening and mind-stretching experience that I recommend to anyone visiting Portland!
Order a weird donut at Voodoo Doughnut.
One of the two Voodoo Doughnut locations in downtown Portland
Voodoo Doughnut is one of the weirder sights in Portland-- a bakery that serves wildly unique donuts. You can visit their website to view many of their options on their website https://www.voodoodoughnut.com.
Although weird, Voodoo Doughnut was clearly the place to visit in Portland. From the get-go, we noticed people walking around downtown Portland with bright pink donut boxes -- the signature Voodoo Doughnut box. It didn't take very long before my family was convinced we needed to visit the famous bakery. My family selected five from their menu.
I ordered the "Graham Slam", a cream-filled glazed chocolate donut covered in Golden Grahams. My brother ordered "Oh Captain, My Captain," a glazed donut with vanilla frosting covered in Captain Crunch; "Old Dirty Bastard," a chocolate glazed donut covered in Oreos and peanut butter; and "Diablos Rex," a chocolate cake donut with vanilla and chocolate frosting with chocolate chips in the middle. My father ordered the "Maple Blazer Blunt," a glazed donut in the shape of a blunt with maple frosting and red sprinkles.
The donuts were fun to order, interesting to look at, and delicious to eat. If you go to Portland, it is clearly a must to try Voodoo Doughnut!
Meander through the Portland Saturday Market.
Saturday Market in downtown Portland
After just being in Portland for a couple days, we kept hearing about the Saturday Market along the river. It sounded like the perfect way to spend our last morning in Portland.
Portland's Saturday Market occurs every weekend (on Saturday and Sunday) beginning in March and ending on Christmas Eve. The Market features at least two hundred booths -- each selling unique arts and crafts made by local artisans. During our brief morning visit, my family and I browsed the expansive variety of booths -- products ranged from henna tattoos to Thai food. More specifically, some of the booths we saw sold items such as jewelry, crocheted scarves, glass-work, sculpted succulent pots, pottery mugs, gyros, and much more.
It was truly a remarkable market -- there were so many booths showcasing a wide variety of talents and artwork. It was difficult for me to not stop at every single booth, as each one was so endearingly unique. The Portland Saturday Market is a great place to find the perfect souvenir from your trip -- and to find lunch!
Portland is known for being a weird city -- seeing as the city's slogan is "Keep Portland Weird." In my opinion, that saying is reflected in the four sights I have recommended. Going to all four of these places, however, my eyes have been opened and my mind has been stretched. It's always a beneficial learning experience to be exposed to new ways of seeing, thinking, and eating. If this is something you're interested in-- the city of Portland, Oregon is for you!