We first experienced what Downtown Portland had to offer over the course of a short weekend back in October 2014. My wife Theresa and I took the train down from Bellingham and stayed in the heart of the entertainment district. We spent our entire stay traveling on foot, exploring the Pearl District and walking along the river all the way to South Waterfront. We had such an amazing time that we knew the day would come that we would have the chance to venture back again and experience more of what Portland has to offer. It’s Quirky, Weird and FULL of delicious craft beer!
We decided to stretch this trip into an extended long weekend from October 7th-11th. The first thing we needed to do was find somewhere to say at a reasonable price. We had decided to drive down this time. Having a car would allow us a little more freedom to explore beyond the city. We had our good friends Doug and Shelly travelling with us too so our costs for travel and accommodations would be split. After many hours on the Home Away app we decided on a classic Portland home in the Brooklyn Neighbourhood. It is on the east side of the Willamette River adjacent to South Waterfront but still walking distance to Downtown. It was the perfect launching pad for our daily adventures.
The drive from where we live to Portland is 475 kilometres or 295 miles and according to Google Maps it was going to take us 5.5 hours plus the wait time at the border so I did a little Yelp research to find somewhere to stop along the way for lunch. I chose a place called the Tiki Tap House in historic Centralia, WA as it was half way between Seattle and Portland. That would leave us only about an hour drive to complete after lunch. It’s a Hawaiian themed restaurant with glowing reviews on their pizza and a solid craft list. We arrived just as they were opening for the day and settled in for a nice lunch and a flight. The owner Jordan was a super nice guy and we chatted about his “must sees” while in Portland. He told us of the McMenamin’s chain of restaurants and brewpubs and their unconventional building choices. One specifically, called Edgefield in Troutdale, about 30 minutes outside of town, sounded pretty cool. More on that later. With our bellies full, we set out to finish off our drive.
We arrived at our rental house, AKA The Green Gate City Retreat and got settled in.
It was really cool and had all the amenities you could possibly need. With our bags unpacked, it was time to get out and explore the neighbourhood and find some PDX beer. A two minute walk from our place was the Aladdin Theatre and a small pub called The Lamp Tavern. We popped in there and it was empty but we sat down for a quick pint and some happy hour appies to get our bearings. A quick search on Yelp (you’ll read this a lot as I find it a vital tool in discovering and previewing all the great spots!) turned up a massive list of options but one stood out that I had previously bookmarked, Beer Mongers! Off we went.
Beer Mongers is a craft beer store that also has draft beer, so you can not only walk up and order a pint or a flight but you can also walk over to a fridge, grab a beer and for $1.00 over the retail price, you can pop the top and enjoy it on premise. They don’t have any food available that I saw but many of the places here allow you to bring in your own if you’re drinking. Being early in October, it was Fresh Hop Beer mania so Doug and I lined up a flight and the wives enjoyed their pear cider. We were starting to get hungry again so we asked one of the staff where they recommended we go for dinner. He told us of a place across the street called Double Dragon that had great food and a cool atmosphere and we were sold.
We got there at about 8pm and the place was packed. We lucked out and got a seat at the bar right away. Timing is everything! I had a pork belly rice bowl as my meal and for $9.00, it was outstanding. Everyone else was super impressed with their food too but the attitude from the bartender was not very inviting so we decided to head back, hit the gas station and grab a few more beer to throw in the fridge.
BEER: Day One
- Huckleberry Ale – River City Brewing
- Dark O’The Moon Pumpkin StoutThundercon
- Funkadelicious Fresh Hop Ale – River City Brewing
- Proletariat Red – Lompoc Brewing
- Born Yesterday W/Simcoe + Citra – Lagunitas Brewing
- Rye’n FitzPICKtrick Pale – StormBreaker
- Helldorado – Firestone Walker
- Fukton Fresh Hop – 10 Barrell Brewing Co.
- Chai-Spiced Imperial Russian Stout – Stone Brewing
- Gull Harbor Gose – Three Magnets Brewing
- Vortex IPA – Fort George Brewery
Saturday was the best forecasted weather day so it was time to put on the hiking shoes and head out for a drive east through the Columbia River Valley. I had mapped out a couple waterfalls (again using Yelp) and figured we would spend the day in the great outdoors. With fall upon us, I figured the colours would be spectacular and they didn’t disappoint. The waterfalls that I put on the list were Multnomah Falls and Latourell Falls.
The drive along the Historic Columbia River Highway is very peaceful but might not be popular with those that get car sick. The road is a little windy and gains a fair amount of elevation. I loved the tree lined roads where the foliage creates a canopy over the street A sure sign that you aren’t in the city any more. Along the way we discovered the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and a place called The Vista House that sits perched on a cliff high above the valley. It was a nice place to stop and take in some panoramic views of the valley and read up on the history of the area. It really was fascinating. We continued a bit further along and came upon the trail head to Latourell Falls. You can see the Lower Falls from the parking lot but there is a 2 mile loop trail here that takes you in to the Upper Falls. This was to be our workout for the day.
The hike was very manageable and all though it had some sections of decent incline, I would only give it a 3/10 for difficulty. The colours of the trees, the sound of the babbling stream and the moist chill in the air were a delight on my senses. We got to the Upper Falls in about 30 minutes and it was certainly worth the effort. With the recent rains, it had a pretty good flow going. We took it in for a couple minutes and then continued along the loop back to the car.
We continued along the windy road and it came back out on the Main Highway. I realized then that we stumbled upon the Vista House because I took a wrong turn on the way to the Multnomah Falls but we had had our fill and were content to head back to the house and get ready for a night on the town. That was until we saw a sign that said Troutdale, next exit!
Hmmm… didn’t Jordan at Tiki Tap House tell us something about a McMenamin’s in Troutdale? I took the exit and pulled over to look it up. Edgefield was only a short drive away. Now I’m telling you, if you only click on one link on this entire blog post, click the link to Edgefield. All four of us were blown away by this place. It actually deserves its own blog post! The Cole’s notes here is that it is a 74 acre plantation with a hotel, a golf course, a pool hall, a theater, a spa, a winery, a brewery, a distillery, multiple restaurants and bars, an outdoor concert amphitheater, a garden that supplies the restaurants with herbs and vegetables and the entire place is licensed, so you can walk from place to place with your drink in hand! The property is steep in history. It was built is 1911 and still to this day its decked out in turn of the century decor and whimsical features and artwork. It’s like nothing I have ever experienced. Oh, did I mention that at one point in it’s history it was known as Edgefield Manor, a hospital that treated tuberculosis and then became Edgefield Lodge, a place for emotionally disturbed children!?! That would explain the creepy painting of the young girl with the rabbit on the door behind the counter in the winery tasting room (that used to be an infirmary!) You get the idea. It’s cool and is a definite must on any trip to Portland. I feel we barely scratched the surface in our couple hours there so I am planning on a one night stay there next time we go to Portland.
While we were there we ate at The Power Station where we were served by a guy that I swear looked just like Eddie Vedder from the band Pearl Jam when he recorded their first album ‘Ten’. Doug and I enjoyed a flight of fresh beer while the ladies had a glass of wine and helped me sample my beers as I was the driver. We ordered up some appies too. The Scooby Snacks (mini corn dogs) were a big hit as were the truffle oil fries. Doug and I toured around the property trying to take it all in while the wives parked themselves at the wine tasting room. An hour or so later we headed back to our base camp to get ready for our night out.
Our final destination for the night was a place called The Barrel Room. It is a bar with dueling pianos and all I knew was that from my research, we would be finishing our night off singing at the top of our lungs and enjoying a great show. We decided to walk the 2.6 miles to get there (because I thought it said kilometers and didn’t think that was too far!) It took us nearly an hour but the walk along the East Boardwalk of the Willamette at night was a beauty with the lights of the Downtown reflecting off the calm waters. Plus, crossing the Burnside Bridge and seeing the famous Portland Oregon sign was a bonus. The evening didn’t disappoint. The two guy that play the pianos were not only phenomenal singers but absolutely hilarious too. It was the perfect end to one of my best vacation days ever!
Beer: Day two
- Thunder Cone Fresh Hop – McMenamin’s Brewing
- Boom Gose The Dynamite – McMenamin’s Brewing
- Hammerhead Pale Ale – McMenamin’s Brewing
- Ruby (Raspberry) – McMenamin’s Brewing
- Terminator Stout – McMenamin’s Brewing
- India Pale Ale – McMenamin’s Brewing
- Union Jack IPA – Firestone Walker Brewing
- Hopworks IPA – Hopworks Urban Brewery
To be continued…