A weekend in Portland is an excellent way to experience a city that is as bustling as it is relaxing. This mini-metropolis values art, nature, and food—not always in that order. There’s no shortage of culinary delights, fabulous brunch spots, award-winning microbrews, and coffee that rivals Seattle’s sacred beans. Portland also has more movie theaters, restaurants, microbreweries, and bookstores per capita than any other U.S. city.

Here’s a two-day travel itinerary packed with the best of the city to get you started.

Day 1

Start with a hearty breakfast at downtown’s Mother’s Bistro & Bar. If you’re here on Saturday, peruse the Portland Saturday Market. Then follow the paved waterfront trail south to the stern-wheeler Portland and step aboard to tour the Oregon Maritime Museum.

Head to historic Pioneer Courthouse Square at the corner of SW Broadway and Yamhill to catch the whimsical noon forecast of the Weather Machine. If skies are clear, eat lunch like the locals do: Head to SW 10th Avenue and Alder Street and grab a tasty bite from downtown’s largest collection of food carts.

Next, ride the streetcar (Central Loop Line) to NW 10th and Johnson in the Pearl District. Shop the Pearl’s many boutiques and art galleries, or explore the Lan Su Chinese Garden. Walk two blocks past the Old Town-Chinatown MAX light-rail station to the otherworldy Hoodoo Antiques & Design. Then walk a few blocks to Voodoo Doughnut for a well-deserved sugar rush.

Once you’re reenergized, stroll the cobblestone streets of Ankeny Alley, then head north toward West Burnside to spend the afternoon browsing the endless aisles at Powell’s City of Books. When you’ve had your fill of books, fill your stomach with creative Pac Northwest cuisine at Park Kitchen. End the day with live music at Jimmy Mak’s and a nightcap at the Teardrop Lounge.

Some of the creative delights served at Voodoo Doughnut. Photo © Lisa Robinson/The Department of Creativity.

Some of the creative delights served at Voodoo Doughnut. Photo © Lisa Robinson/The Department of Creativity.

Day 2

Start with breakfast at the Bijou Café. Then it’s off to spend the morning at the Portland Art Museum, followed by lunch at Nel Centro. If science is more to your interest, take a detour across the Hawthorne Bridge to the river’s west bank and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

The afternoon will take you to the west end of the city to explore Portland’s greener side. First, follow the street signs off West Burnside to Pittock Mansion, worth a stop for its French-Renaissance architecture and panoramic views. Then it’s off to Washington Park, where 160-plus acres and multiple attractions can occupy your time. Choose the Oregon Zoo, the International Rose Test Garden, the Portland Children’s Museum, or all of the above. Plan to end your time in the park at the Japanese Garden to enjoy its striking sunset views of Mount Hood. As night descends, head back downtown for a homemade Italian dinner at Piazza Italia.

The Pittock Mansion. Photo © Tushar Koley/Dollar Photo Club.

The Pittock Mansion. Photo © Tushar Koley/Dollar Photo Club.


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip.