Friday, July 5, 2013

Looking for a Family Vacation Destination?


A few family and friends use the hashtag #PDXlove when posting pictures or posts when in Portland, Oregon. The pictures were either of yummy food, beautiful scenery, or look happenings in and around town. My curiosity got the best of me so we planned our family vacation to Portland or, as its referred to everywhere around town, PDX (the airport code for the city's airport).
I have to admit, when planning our summer vacation, I had a budget in mind. With my two boys now both needing airplane tickets, I was not ready to pay close to $2000 for just airfare to the popular summer vacation spots like Hawaii or Florida. After all, we do live in San Diego which has just as much surf and sand, if not better, as the aforementioned! So, with tickets at $141 round trip for each of us, Portland was a GO!

Day One:
We started our first day in Portland at Mother's Bistro and realized it was the Bites For Rights day where a portion of the proceeds from our breakfast would go towards programs to promote equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Oregonians.  Our breakfast was yum!
Yummy banana and chocolate pancake
Breakfast Frittata
Short walk through Portland's "Old Town" brought us to Chinatown and Lan Su Garden. This place was beauty and serenity in the middle of downtown. There were about a dozen people practicing Tai-Chi so we had to keep the boys quiet which is always hard to do. This Chinese garden had much more detail than any other Chinese garden I've been to. The entire walkaway was a design made out of stone, rocks, and pebbles. Visitors are encouraged to walk the grounds on barefoot to experience the garden through all senses.




As we continued to walk through Old Town Portland, we did a little bit of shopping and ended up with visit to Ground Kontrol Arcade. This place was on hubby's Portland to-do list and I'm so glad we stopped by. My boys haven't been to a video game arcade before so this was a treat. We played 4-player PacMan which was so much fun! Frogger, Centipede, and The Simpsons were a few other classic video games we played. We could've spend the entire day there!



Our walk through downtown exposed us to the vast food stand establishments in downtown Portland. Almost every street corner has a cluster of Food Stands with all the different kinds of you could imagine!  Big Ass Sandwiches was another item on hubby's to do list and these sandwiches definitely lived up to their name! I had the Caesar Chicken Sandwich was on a huge roll, huge pieces of chicken, and jam packed with lettuce, cheese, and french fries. I took most of the french fries out of my sandwich otherwise I wouldn't be able to wrap my mouth around it.




The cupcake connoisseur I am, a visit to a local cupcakery was a must. My always trusty Yelp app brought us to Saint Cupcake. The collection of cupcakes, cookies, brownies, and ice cream had enough choices to make our entire family happy.



Things From Another World was the geek stop for the day. Once hubby walked in, he didn't know what to do with himself. Comic books and things related had him wide eyed as he went up and down the aisles. The boys found a play area with kiddie friendly comic books. The boys chose a Mickey Mouse comic book and a Disney Jr. Magazine as their souvenir from our visit to TFAW.





The Hawthorne District  was a highlight for me for our first day in Portland. Hubby had heard about Sorel's on a podcast he listens to. I was neat to see antique furniture and knick knacks that brought back some memories of growing up. We did a bit more shopping and browsing the different shops. My boys saw a restaurant with the word "rice" in the sign and all of a sudden they were hungry. So a stop for "rice and chicken", our boys' favorite, was a must.



On our drive back to the hotel, we stopped for a photo op at the White Stag Sign. The sign is so much cooler to take pictures at night, but the sun doesn't set until past 10PM in the summer so this was the best we could get.


Day Two:
Reading Portland Monthly Magazine in our hotel room,  Blue Star Donuts was a recommended visit. So I picked up a  few donuts for us to eat as we drove to the Oregon Coast for the day. My favorite was a passion fruit donut, oh so YUM! My boys had some of the chocolate ones and they were delighted as well.




Hubby is a big Nike fan so a trip to Oregon needed a stop at Nike Headquarters which was on our way to the coast. There wasn't much to see but signs pointing to the different buildings which were named after Nike superstars. We also saw parking spaces reserved for the Nike superstars as well. We tried to find Kobe Bryant's space, but to luck. We snapped a few pictures as we drove around the huge Nike campus.







A few minutes away was the Nike Employee Store. We got there around 9AM and the store didn't open until 10AM. There was a small line outside the store already. Yelp mentioned that this store was exclusive only for Nike employees and the public needed a special invite from a Nike employee. I asked a few of the people in line and the Yelp tips were proven correct. Hubby was super disappointed because, apparently, the latest and greatest Nike merchandise is available at 50% off.  I tried to check Craigslist to see if there were any offers to the Nike Employee Store from a kind employee. No luck. I guess we'll have to plan this part of of visit better next time!


The Drive through Tillamook State Forest to the coast was beautiful. The scenery was so green and the trees were huge! There were miles and miles of huge trees and hills of green.



Our first destinatation on the Oregon coast was Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock. Haystack Rock may look familiar as it was featured in the 80's movie, The Goonies. The rock was huge and awesome, I couldn't stop staring. During low tide, the tidepools around the rock are fun to explore. Unfortunately, we didn't make low tide, but the scenery was awesome nonetheless. A relaxing walk on the beach with Haystack Rock on one side and beautiful beachside homes on the other was a great way to start our adventures on the coast.








We had a yummy lunch al fresco at the Cannon Beach Hotel and Restaurant. As we chatted with our waitress, we come to learn she's from Temecula. She and the chef of the restaurant moved from California to start working at this venue. They had yummy sandwiches and every yummier cupcakes!




About an hour away, we next stop was the Goonies House in Astoria. We walked up the hill where the house was perched with a beautiful view of the ocean. The Goonies House put a big smile on hubby's face. Of course, our boys had no idea what the big deal was. There were a few other fans taking pictures and visiting as we were.




A drive south of the coast brought us to the city of Tillamook and the Tillamook Cheese Factory. As we arrived, we saw lots of people eating tall scoops of Tillamook ice cream on the warm day. The boys loved watching the machines move, cut, and wrap big blocks of cheese. The loved the samples even more! It was neat to learn the history of Tillamook Cheese.









While we were driving home, we came across Netarts Bay which was unplanned. We saw a little turn off on the road and a group of people getting out of these cars walking toward a huge bay area. We decided to park the car and check it out. Apparently, this was a popular clamming area and out in the distance we could see people knee deep in the water clamming. It was a beautiful sight on a clear day. The breeze was cool. I could've sat there all day!




Day Three:
Another recommendation from Portland Monthly MagazineSlappy Cakes was not only fun and yum! This DIY pancake place was so much fun for the boys. You pick the batter and the toppings, then go! The griddle on the table is ready for your pancake making talents! The boys had a buttermilk batter with chocolate chips and banana. Hubby and I had a whole wheat batter with mushrooms and chorizo. Yummo! Hubby and I also shared the pork belly benedict which had this crunchy slaw, triple YUM! This dish goes on my "best things I ever ate" list!




Our drive on this day was along the Columbia River Gorge, which is east of Portland.





Multnomah Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls to visit. The waterfall is visible from the parking lot. A short walk brings you to the foot of the waterfall. Another 1/4 of a mile walk takes you to a bridge about 1/3 up the waterfall.  If you continue to walk another 1/4 mile, you can reach the top of the waterfall. A sign warns of steep and slippery walkways at this point and suggests proper hiking shoes to ensure safety. We decided not to brave the walk with our two squirmy boys.




I love the panoramic function on  my smartphone!
A short drive up the mountain took us to the Womens Forum view point.



A few minutes down the road is the Vista House with more awesome views of the Columbia River Gorge.



Latourell Falls was our next stop. About a short hike took us to the foot of the waterfall. I'm so proud of our boys and all the walking they did! I couldn't resist taking off my shoes and putting my feet in the water. I wanted to walk closer to the actual foot of the waterfall but the rocks were slippery. I needed a walking stick! Hubby and my boys watched from the close by bridge. I guess I looked like I was having fun because they boys begged their daddy to join me. Once their feet hit the ice cold water, they said, "OK, I'm done! It's too cold!".








In the afternoon, we found ourselves at the International Rose Test Garden. The aroma of roses filled the entire garden. It smelled so good. Rows and rows of roses, in all colors, filled the garden.







Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe was a discovery on, again, Yelp. I loved the cute little truffles shaped like animals!



Day Four:
Breakfast at the The Original was a great recommendation from Portland Monthly Magazine. I loved how the waitress only filled my boys cups halfway. She must be a mom herself!



Powell's Bookstore is one of Portland's must sees. It's a huge bookstore with a map to help you get around. We only spent time in the children's section of the bookstore. The boys loved exploring. The could've spent all day there!



The morning was rain was on and off, so our trip to the Portland Saturday Market (on a Sunday) was a bit wet in the beginning but as the morning went on, the rain stopped and we were able to enjoy the vendors.
Can you spot our Jelo enjoying the live music, dancing along?

Gnome You - Personalized Garden Gnomes

No trip to Portland isn't complete without a visit to VooDoo Doughnuts, or so they say. We braved the rain and stood in line for about 30 minutes for the famous doughnuts. We bought a few for us, a few for home as souvenirs for family who were just as curious. Between Blue Star Donuts and VooDoo Doughnuts, Blue Star  Donuts will have a 2nd visit from me!



We stopped by Stumptown Coffee for an afternoon pick me up and some beans for our parentals.



The neighborhood of the Alphabet District was another area to window shop and grab some snacks.

PBJ PDX was bookmarked on my Yelp before we left San Diego. I loved my Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich with cream cheese, strawberry jelly, and bananas! We shared the one sandwich, it was more than enough to share, except or Jelo is is allergic for nuts.


One of Oprah's favorite things, Salt and Straw ice cream was another place I wanted to visit while in Portland. I had a olive oil ice cream, as well as a strawberry coconut beer ice cream, but yum and unique!
 Jelo, a fan of chocolate ice cream, didn't like his. It wasn't chocolate enough for him.





This picture was taken our last night in Portland. It summarizes how we felt toward the end of vacation:
1) Exhausted, we did A LOT!
2) Loved, to have spent this wonderful vacation with each other
3) Rested, vacations are a time to turn ourselves off from the day to day routines and responsibilities


We had a wonderful time in Portland! I highly recommend Portland for a family friendly vacation! We can't until our next family adventure!

What adventures did your family experience this summer?

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