On January 13th my boyfriend and I flew Spirit Airlines for the first time. We were headed to Portland, Oregon for MLK weekend and I couldn’t be more excited. Not for flying Spirit… but for heading to the land of donuts, coffee, strip clubs, and hipsters.
- THE FLIGHT
Flying Spirit worked out surprisingly well for us. Granted, I was preparing myself for the worst, but the plane took me to and from my destination safely and on time which is all I really need a plane to do. Spirit makes it clear that your ticket grants you a bare fare – no baggage check-ins (only two small carry-ons), no reclining seats, and no complimentary beverages. Since we were headed to Portland for just 3 days, it was easy to pack light and I made sure to eat and buy water beforehand. It also helped that our flight from LAX to PDX was a short one – roughly 2 hours. So for the price of $90, I couldn’t complain.
- THE HOTEL
The hotel was by far the highlight of our trip. We stayed at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco and I loved every minute of it. Centrally located in downtown Portland, the hotel fulfilled all my basic girl needs: quirky wallpaper, wine hour, free bike rentals, and pet friendly rooms. Upon checking in, my boyfriend awkwardly muttered the secret password. If you didn’t already know, every Kimpton Hotel has a secret password that unlocks freebies and gifts. At the time, for Kimpton Monaco, it was “Feeling Toasty?”. My boyfriend drew a card from the deck and managed to unlock a free upgrade to a Monaco King Suite!
Aside from our awesome room, I especially loved wine hour hosted every night from 5-6 PM. We only had time to check it out once but I would definitely recommend taking advantage of this perk. Live music, free beer and wine, a fireplace, giant board games, and a room full of cool people… what more can a girl ask for? And all for the price of $150 a night, I would definitely come back and stay at this hotel again.
Playing chess in the lobby. Man, this really brought out the competitiveness in me… especially because my boyfriend kept creaming me.
I managed to get back at him in connect four! My first time playing too 😀
The beautiful fireplace located in the Kimpton Monaco Lobby.
Classy robes provided by the hotel.
Quirky wall paper!
A better view of the wall paper. I felt like I was living inside a giant Anthropologie Ad.
Where the magic of wine hour took place.
Dan lounging on our last day.
Portland’s infrastructure is extremely well thought-out. It’s small but compact which makes getting around on foot easy. The tall buildings and visible pedestrians reminded me of New York (coming from LA, tall buildings and walking are not things I’m used to). A well-oiled transit system is available which made it easy to get from PDX to our hotel without paying for an expensive cab or uber. For the most part, we were able to get around on foot… although we were hoping to take advantage of Kimpton’s free bike rental but the icy streets made that difficult. Apparently a snow storm had hit the city the day before we arrived which made even just walking around on foot difficult. We did end up renting a car from Dollar Rent a Car on our last full day in order to drive to Multnomah Falls. I would highly recommend Dollar Rent a Car. The service was quick and helpful and we had no problems with our car.
- THE FOOD
Blue Star – Hands down my favorite donut of all time. The Blueberry Bourbon Basil donut is to die for. Its flavors are so rich and the dough of the donut is so dense and chewey. I would recommend Blue Star over VooDoo but the price is high. Make sure to stop by earlier in the day as they sell out quickly. We were also able to enjoy a donut at the airport store before boarding our flight.
VooDoo – Ehhh. The store is cute, the donuts are cute, and the price is cheap. But the taste is not there for me. Too sweet and I feel like the donut relies more on the novelty of the creation than any actual culinary skill. It’s definitely worth checking out once though! Cash only and open 24/7.
A pic of the goods.
No shame. Chowing down on the VooDoo Doll Donut
Lardo – Was recommended to eat at Lardo by my friend who had previously gone. The restaurant serves sandwiches and fries heavy in pork. We ordered a Porcchetta Sandwich, Korean Pork Shoulder, and shared some Dirty Fries. The price was right and the food was decent. The overall problem I had was that everything was too salty but I would still recommend.
Screen Door – The best meal I had in Portland. We ended up waiting for an hour and half in the snow but it was worth every minute. We ordered the Shrimp and Grits, Chicken and Waffles, and a side of Praline Bacon. WOW! Every item of food on my dish was amazing, from the biscuit to the eggs. No bite was wasted. I would definitely recommend ordering the Praline Bacon, their signature dish. Do yourself a favor and check this place out. The earlier the better so you can avoid the crowd.
Le Pegion – Supposedly Portland’s best restaurant. The interior is extremely small and dim. The open kitchen is in the center of the restaurant, lined by the bar. I would recommend getting reservations well in advance if you prefer to sit at a table. If not, the bar is usually available on a first come first serve basis. Overall the food was OK and the service was decent but nothing to make me think this was Portland’s best restaurant. It may depend on what you order, speaking of which, I would advise against getting the burger. I did like that the final bill included the tip so there was no fumbling around and calculating. If you have $100 plus to toss I would say check it out. If not, don’t worry because you’re not missing anything amazing.
- THE SIGHTS
Paul Bunyan – It’s there and you can look at it… haha that’s really all you can do with Paul Bunyan’s statue.
Portlandia – It’s there and you can look at it… again, that’s really all you can do with the Portlandia statue.
White Stag – It’s there and you can look at it… and yet again, that’s really all you can do with the White Stag sign.
The above three are good photo ops though, if you are an avid instagrammer like myself!
Pioneer Couthouse Square: Not very much action in the midst of winter. It is located in the heart of Down Town Portland and there is a nice Starbucks right across the street that has large glass windows to people watch from.
Burnside Bride – Walk across and explore the bridge. We took some shots at the center of the bridge for fun. I really enjoyed walking across this bridge on foot and was able to get a different perspective of the city as there are definitely a lot more homeless people near the bridge.
Multnomah Falls – This is a no brainer. You definitely need to go and at least take a picture, if not hike up to the top. We tried to hike but the snow was so icy that I kept slipping. I would recommending getting snow chains for your shoes or better hiking boots for the winter. If not, maybe wait it out for the summer and enjoy a different experience.
Saturday Market – Closed in the winter! Still a nice place to walk and view the river.
Keep Portland Weird – The red sign is right across Voodoo Donuts.
Powell’s City of Books – Probably the best bookstore I’ve been to. It’s literally the Pan’s Labyrinth of books, with three to four floors filled with thousands of books and knick knacks. If I was allowed more bags on my return flight I would have gone to town since there is no sales tax in Oregon!
Japanese Garden – Was closed due to the weather conditions. Check ahead of time on their website.
- THE SUMMARY
Portland stole my heart and I would love to live there for a year or two sometime in the future. Experiencing the city in the winter was amazing as I’ve never had any real exposure to the cold, but I would love to experience the city in the summer as well. I’m sure the city has an entirely different feel to it and I think that is the beauty of living somewhere with four seasons. For now, I’ll enjoy my California winter’s in denim shorts and Ugg boots.
Hope this helpful for anyone interested in traveling to Portland!