I don't know why I always wait til this late in the Fall season to go on my "big trip." It's cold and there's less daylight... but I did it again.
This time, I called upon the BFF to help me through rough times and escape for a few days to uncharted territory in my life: The Northwest. I told myself it wouldn't be that cold. I believed that 50 degrees as a high was just jacket weather. Once again, like last year's trip to Europe, I was way under-prepared for mostly 30-something degree wet weather.
When life gives you rain, dance in it... or.... something.
First stop: Portland.
We didn't really know anyone there and everything I found was like "try this beer" or "you've gotta eat this." So that's what we did. We drank and we ate, and stumbled around the city. [Hey, we were doing the buddy system so it's totally okay, Mom!] There are MULTIPLE breweries on every block it seems, and we tried to go to as many as possible but I'm going to blame the altitude and the higher ABV percentage on our relatively early night. [Don't you look at me like that.]
On Saturday, we got to walk through the Saturday Market which helped me pick up some Christmas gifts for myself, and then Powell's Books which I figured would not be for me, a girl who doesn't read.... but they had some fun journal-style books that I've been wanting to check out. YAY for a daily journal that only makes me write one line a day!
When you walk everywhere, even if it's a couple miles away, you stumble across things you may not have found otherwise. I spent a solid 20+ minutes on this bridge just taking pictures of a park. [I love a good park in the city.]
Pinterest helped me find a bunch of "Insta-Worthy Spot in Portland," so we looked for a few of those. Including a fountain park [that ended up having zero water working at the time] and the smallest park in the world- Mills End Park. Really- it's just a plant in the middle of the road as if that's a safe place for humans to hang out in.
Thanks to Facebook friends, I was told about Salt and Straw, an ice cream place with seriously unique flavors. We're talking Thanksgiving Turkey and cranberry-apple stuffing flavors [which I'm eating over there], plus olive oil, basil, mashed potatoes and more that you can see in the menu below. Luckily they let you taste everything and it was FANTASTIC. The BFF loved the mashed potatoes and olive oil flavors, and I was shocked to be ordering the turkey that tasted like a salty maple syrup of sorts. If you go to Portland, skip the Voodoo Doughnuts and check this out instead. There will likely be a line, but it's more unique than the semi- decent doughnuts.
As for other Portland food options, make sure you check out one of the food cart areas [lots of Greek and Asian food, but so good!] and don't think it's weird to eat at a brewery.
Portland has all sorts of places for #views, but if you want all of it, the five minute aerial tram is lovely.
After a solid 40 hours in Portland, it was off to Seattle. Renting a car was only about $30 for the day, which is cheaper than most Uber rides to downtown. There are SO many places I wish we could have stopped at along the way, but we were antsy and low on time in each city. Plus- when it's cold and rainy- hiking to a waterfall isn't high on my want to do list.
Seattle came with a tour guide for us- one of my closest high school friends. He helped us feel a little like a local [which is one of my favorite things to do/feel when visiting a city] then we hit the things Pinterest and Facebook told me to. After proudly cheering on my Redskins to a victory in their city, we did some bar hopping.
One of my favorite things about Portland and Seattle [and really a lot of other cities outside of DC in general] is how much character all the bars have. There's something about the decor that always makes me amazed, even if it's a local sports bar.
|From left, then clockwise- Al's Den in Portland, which was a tiny basement bar in the middle of the street/median. 10 Barrel Brewing in Portland. A punching bag in Sam's Taven's bathroom in Seattle. Nacho Borracho in Seattle.|
One of the most beautiful bars I've ever stepped foot in was in Seattle, though. Someone told me about it on Facebook and my friend said it's normally dead unless it's late on a weekend night. That was perfect. I had all of the room to take all of the pictures of Unicorn.
|Just bring a good camera and someone with not-wasted eyeballs to take some great pics.|
Speaking of drinks, I had also read about a place called Canon, which was tagged with all sorts of Insta-worthy drinks on Instagram so duh, had to go there. Why would anyone travel without planning everything around their Instagram pics?!
Turns out, you need a reservation just to try out their $18 drinks... but LOOK AT THESE THINGS.
|The Pop Art, Warhol and Bitter Petals. Elementary and Child's Play. Campfire in Georgia.|
Then it was all about the touristy things. Luckily, most of them are really close together in Seattle and we did a lot of walking [and commenting about how rough it was to walk in the cold mountains].
Let's first acknowledge the most beautiful wall to ever exist.. at the Museum of Pop Culture. It's right next to the Space Needle and I saw someone with a perfect picture/reflection and wanted to recreate it, but instead took a couple dozen tries of different angles.
The rest I'm sure you've heard of or seen plenty of so I'll do what everyone wants: Less words, more pictures.
|The very first Starbucks... that was packed the first time I went, but was a fairly normal line at about 9:30 on a Tuesday before my flight.|
|The Market... which you've probably seen endless videos of fish being thrown, but I was amazed that it was such an old building, that smelled old, and so many random shops! Also, it was interesting to see the set up happening around 9:30.|
|The Gum Wall, which had unfortunately been cleaned recently. HOW DO YOU CLEAN A LANDMARK LIKE THAT?!|
|The Fremont Troll, which is amazingly huge when you're driving straight for it.|
|The nighttime view from Gas Works Park is breathtaking.|
We drank a lot of Rainier beer and heard all about the mountain, but hadn't had clear enough weather to see it. I'm so glad I went on the morning walk before my flight. I walked down Pier 66 and saw it reaching over the stadiums and up to the clouds and just like everyone says- no picture truly captures what your eyeball sees.
There were also some pretty incredible views on the way home.. which ALMOST makes the fact that you're going home a little better.
In review, in case you're looking to make this mini road trip that's less than three hours between the cities.. [As always, I recommend flagging places that you've seen or been given as recommendations so it's easy to figure out the closest and also the best routes.]
- Uber drivers LOVE to give recommendations
- I stayed at the Hyatt House. It's easy walking to plenty of places, and gives a fantastic free breakfast.
- Go to as many breweries as possible. Walk around, walk into places that seem intriguing. They won't let you down.
- Skip Voodoo Doughnuts, get Salt and Straw ice cream
- Eat at a food cart park. Yelp will give you nearby recommendations
- Giggle at Mills End Park
- Walk over Hawthorne Bridge
- Take the aerial tram for a quick and cheap view of the whole city from above
- Check out the market if you're there on Saturday. It's right next to the famous "White Stag" sign and an easy walk to Powell's Books and other things the internet will say are "must-see."
- I stayed at Belltown Inn which was GREAT location, but not the nicest hotel.
- Eat breakfast at Biscuit Bitch
- Pier 66 has a great view of the stadiums, Wheel, Mt. Rainier and more.
- Go to the Market early [before 10], get your Starbucks if you need to, then go back a little later for the shopping if you must.
- Gas Works Park has a breathtaking view of the city at night.
- Get drinks at Unicorn and Canon... if you're into drinks and vibes worth photographing.
- Museum of Pop's wall is also fun to take pictures in
THINGS I WISH I DID INBETWEEN: [We wanted a straight shot drive, but if you can take a day to drive, do these things]
- Multnomah Falls
- Cannon Beach
- Mt Rainier National Park/High Rock lookout
- Snoqualmie Falls
Okay you have fun pretending like you're gonna do all of these things too, okay? Or making me feel like you're pretending such things.