To See & Do in Portland

While we can almost guarantee you dreary weather for our event in March, there is really no better time or place to get cozy.  Like so many things, Portland and its bounties are best experienced at leisure, regardless of the season.  However, we know some of you like to pack a lot in when you're visiting foreign lands, so here is our suggestion for a comfortably full day:

(Image courtesy of Sarah Gilbert.)

The Utopia Café: PDX is a great town for breakfast, so it's hard to choose just one place to recommend, but the Utopia is probably our favorite, and it's definitely an excellent place to start your day.  And, once you've eaten your fill of the daily special pancakes or one of their trademark scrambles, you can stagger right out the door and into...

Noun: Noun's tag line is "A Person's Place for Things," and, even that level of cleverness doesn't begin to capture the beauty and wonder you'll find inside this little shop.  Although (almost) everything inside is for sale, wandering around in Noun feels more like spending time in a tiny, lovingly curated museum than going shopping.  Then, for a mid-morning eye-opener, try...

Stumptown Coffee: We're probably the only Portlanders who don't really drink coffee, but we would be remiss if we didn't mention Stumptown.  They are pretty much the crème de la crema, both in terms of flavor and politics, so you might as well have a cup while you're in town.  And why not take it with you while you ride...

The Portland Aerial Tram: The Aerial Tram is not only a useful part of Portland's public transit infrastructure, it's a great way to get a bird's eye view of our lovely city, as well as the surrounding mountains and countryside (weather permitting, of course :).  And, once you've gotten a good dose of the Air Element, why not dive into the Water, Earth, and Tea Snacks Elements at...

parchinese.jpg(Image courtesy of Sarah Gilbert.)

The Chinese Garden:
A downtown city block suffused with amazing tranquility, Portland's Classical Chinese Garden exists on a very rare plane indeed.  It's relatively quite small for a park, but once you're inside, the courtyards and corridors seem to expand around you like a dream-space.  The tea house at the heart of the garden makes this a place in which you can lose yourself delightfully for hours.  Much like...

parpowells.jpg(Image courtesy of Adam Fagen.)

Powell's City of Books: Powell's Books was - and, really, remains - Emily's second home.  Whatever your special love or curiosity, Powell's most likely has a shelf-full of treats in store for you.  There's even a gallery space on the top floor, and a coffee shop with free Wi-Fi.  As when visiting a casino, it's best to keep any time or budgetary parameters you may have held firmly in mind.

Half & Half:
After a few hours in the stacks, you're probably starting to feel a bit peckish; so why not walk across Burnside for one of the best sandwiches in Portland, at the very tiny, always hopping Half & Half.  And, if they happen to have one of their homemade pies on offer, don't forget to save room!

The Japanese Garden: Just up the street from this urban paradise is a beautiful, austere, and contemplative natural one.  The Japanese Garden has many different facets, nooks, and crannies, each with its own special character.  We haven't seen anything like this garden outside of Japan.

parpied.jpg(Image courtesy of Zack Lee.)

The Pied Cow: The Pied Cow is something of a Portland institution, and is definitely a "David & Emily's Portland" institution.  Whether you want coffee, beer, light food, dessert, or just the Victorian-cum-Dark Hippie ambiance, this is a great place to curl up on a couch for a long evening's pseudo-philosophical conversation.  And, when you decide to shake off the cobwebs, just up the street you'll find...

The Avalon Theater:
The Avalon features all the finest in ski-ball-rolling, prize-ticket-winning, little-kid-running-amok action.  Apparently one of Tom Waits' favorite Portland hangouts, we used use Avalon as our winter workout spot, until they got rid of the Japanese Dancing Game...  But, even without Append JParadise in the house, it's still a fun way to spend an evening on the cheap.

The Farm: The Farm Café is our top pick for special occasion dinners out.  Fancy but affordable, their fresh, local ingredients and a special flare in the kitchen really make this place consistently wonderful.  (They also have some of the best vegetarian options in town!)

The Beaker & Flask: And, if you want to top off your day with few amazing, unique cocktails, served in a setting of mid-century laborat'ry-like beauty, look no further than the Beaker & Flask.  I'm not sure I know of any other bar that uses Cynar to such brilliant effect!  (They have some great items on the food menu, as well.)  Not in the mood for cocktails?  Well, if you're in the mood for chocolate, you must try...

Pix Pâtisserie: Pix is a unique and wonderful establishment serving slightly eccentric spins on classic French pastries and chocolates, as well as a few homemade ice creams in deliciously exotic flavors.  It might just be the perfect way to say goodnight to Portland.

Well!  What a day it's been.  If you do want to make a day of this, here's a handy map of your route.

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