I haven’t been to Portland since I was a child but have always wanted to go since it’s basically like an American version of Vancouver (in a way, sort of). Also, I loved the Portlandia videos. Finally, no sales tax. Retire by 40 lives there. And lots of shopping.
Although I didn’t get a chance to spend very much time in Portland (was just there one night), I think I was able to capture the flavour of the city anyway. It reminded me of Vancouver, very much so!
Here are some ways to visit Portland on a Budget:
I wouldn’t recommend where we stayed. It was a Studio 6 motel that smelled a bit funny and we were worried about bed bugs (probably just paranoia) and still cost $100 CAD after taxes. If you are organized, Airbnb would have been a much better option. Cleaner, cuter, and probably less pricey.
Food trucks galore. Lots of great places to eat for under $10. Unfortunately I was too full from lunch and dinner to fit in a food truck stop. There’s always next time.
We were craving some Vietnamese beef noodle soup and stumbled upon Pho Hung. Little did we know it is one of the popular pho places in town and even on Thrillist’s top ten list of best asian noodles in Portland. The broth was delicious and I would say comparable (or even better than) Vancouver. Great pho for under $10.
With all the rave reviews from my friends who have been to Portland, I thought it was mandatory to try the famous chicken wings at Pok Pok. My boyfriend hates waiting in lines (especially lines on a Monday night for 45 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes) so I ordered take out in advance. Although the ambiance seemed great (it feels like you are in Thailand) and the cocktails seemed great as well, instead of paying 15-18% gratuity and waiting for 1 hour plus, we got take out instead and had a nice picnic dinner. Definitely not a bargain (probably amounts to under $20 to $25 per person), but it is a ‘must try’ (at least once). The sticky rice was good! I found the chicken wings to be a bit too salty, however.
Things to Do
Powell’s Book Store
For some reason, when I saw Powell’s book store, I expected it to look run down, to smell like an old book store (e.g. musty), and to look like a Value Village but for books. However, I was pleasantly surprised. There was so much there I could have stayed for hours, perusing through books. Used books were reasonably priced.
Just a few blocks from Powell’s book store, Waterfront Park leads you to a beautiful view of the different bridges that Portland is renowned for. Lots of cyclists commuting here… grab a blanket and enjoy the view because it is free!
Woodburn Premium Outlets
Woodburn is a must-stop shop for anyone heading to Portland (especially if you like to shop at outlets like me). It is about an hour or so south of Portland. Woodburn is part of the Simon Premium Outlets group. Before you go, make sure you sign up to be a VIP shopper, you can get a booklet or print out coupons for your favourite stores before you get there for additional discounts. Although the Canadian dollar isn’t up to snuff against the US Dollar, I still found that there were some good deals to be had.
I also went to Nordstrom Rack in downtown Portland, which is one of my favourite stores (because I can’t afford to shop at regular Nordstrom, especially the one that just opened up here in Vancouver).
Portland Children Museum
Although I didn’t check this out, admission is free for the entire family for the first Friday of the month between 4pm to 8pm.
Grab a Bike
Portland is super-bike friendly and people seem to be on more commuter bikes than expensive road bikes (like the snobbish Vancouver road bike culture here). I think I might have actually counted more bikes in a one minute timeframe than in Vancouver. Lots of places to see on a bike.
Readers, have you been to Portland? What food trucks do you recommend?