Posted on

The Ultimate Portland, Oregon Bucket List

Portland, a place where the beer is dark, and the land is green and being weird is cool. The ‘City of Roses’ is the largest city in Oregon and a growing destination for travelers. There are plenty of outdoor activities, but even if you visit during the rainy season, you will find delicious food, fresh coffee, and friendly people. There’s so much to do and see in this ever-growing city, that the hardest challenge will be figuring out where to start. Read on for our ultimate Portland, Oregon bucket list.

Grab a donut and coffee

You may know that your Portland bucket list is not complete without waiting in line to get yourself a bacon maple bar at Voodoo Donuts. The shop is famous for its one-of-a-kind concoctions. However, the locals know that the best donuts are at Blue Star Donuts. Check out the PB and J for a blast from the past, or a Hard Apple Cider Fritter for an adult treat.
What goes better with donuts than a great cup of coffee? Portland has no shortage of coffee shops. Whether an independent cart, Starbucks, or Dutch Brothers, you can’t go five minutes without passing a coffee shop. But your best bet is to skip the big-name stores and head for a local joint. If you are downtown, Barista and Stumptown are both great options. For something more unique, try Tov, nestled inside a double-decker bus.

Visit Powell’s Books

It’s frustrating to see a place pop up on every destination guide, only to arrive and be disappointed. Fortunately, Powell’s City of Books is one place that lives up to expectations. Encompassing an entire city block and housing one million books, you’ll want to grab a map to navigate through the store’s three stories. Powell’s opened its flagship store in 1971 and has since grown to become the world’s largest independent bookstore. Though there are now five Portland locations, the original location in the Pearl District is the place to go. Browse through the 3500 sections, grab a cup of coffee (there’s no such thing as too much coffee in Portland), and enjoy one of the 500 author events hosted by the store each year.

Grab a bite at a food cart pod

Street food may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Portland, so it may come as a surprise to learn that CNN and Food and Wine have ranked Portland among their top 20 cities in the world for street food. Travel through Portland, and you will find a large selection of food carts. Unlike the traditional food cart, most carts in Portland are housed in food pods. Here you will find a selection of foods from across the globe. Whether you are in the mood for Thai food, Mexican, or the simple grilled cheese, there’s a spot for you. If you are coming from Powell’s, stop by the Alder pod and grab a bite from Bing Mi!, Dump Truck, or The Frying Scotsman. In Southeast Portland, visit Cartlandia and sample the cuisine from over 30 different countries.

Check out a brewery

Did you know that Portland has more breweries than any other city in the world? In fact, 53% of the beer consumed in Oregon comes from one of the state’s 281 breweries. Sit down for a Black Butte Porter and burger at Deschutes Brewery or a seasonal ale at Burnside Brewing Company. Can’t decide where to go? Take a tour. Brewvana provides many tours throughout the city. Take the Beers and Barrels tour for beer and whiskey, Down to Ferment for some cider and Kombucha, or create your own tour.

Go on a day trip

Many great getaways are a short drive from downtown Portland. While you are in the area you should really try to make it to the Oregon Coast. The Oregon Coast provides breathtaking scenery and many activities for adventure lovers and families.
Tillamook is a great place to take the kids. Take a tour to see the cheese making process. After, grab a sample from the variety of flavors. Finish the day with a cone of your favorite Tillamook ice cream.
If you are looking for some quiet time on the beach, head down the road to Cape Meares where the crowds are smaller. While at the beach, take a trip to the Cape Meares Lighthouse, built in the 1890’s. The lighthouse provides a panoramic view, 200 feet above the sea.
For some adventure, head south on 101 to Florence. Rent a 4-wheeler and explore the Oregon Dunes or hike the dunes and watch for local wildlife.
Once you have hit the beach, visit one of Portland’s most photographed landmarks. A 35-minute drive east of Portland will take you to Multnomah Falls. This 611-foot waterfall is a favorite, not just with visitors, but locals as well. For the best view of the falls, hike up to Benson Bridge. From here you will get the perfect view of the 542-foot top tier and the 69-foot tier below.

Enjoy a glass of wine at a local vineyard

Speaking of day trips, why not make a day of visiting one (or more) of the area’s local wineries. The Willamette Valley is home to over 200 wineries and produces 81% of the state’s pinot noir. Oregon’s long summer days and cool nights provide a climate that creates a balanced, flavorful wine. Not only will a visit allow you to taste some of the country’s best wine, but many vineyards will provide magnificent views of Mt. Hood and Oregon’s coastal range.
The Domaine Drouhin estate encompasses 225 upon the Dundee Hills, providing stunning panoramic views of the Willamette Valley. The tasting room is open daily from 11-4. Sit on the terrace and enjoy their taste flight, offering five different wines.
If you want to take in multiple wineries, try a tour. Life at Root provides an array of options. Take the Phenomenology Tour and discover the soil that nourishes the grapes or opt for luxury and take a ride to the wineries in style on the Tesla Model X Tour. Of course, there are many options to visit all over Oregon so you will have no problem choosing the one for you.
Portland is eclectic, beautiful, and one-of-a-kind. No matter what brought you to Portland, it’s cultural diversity, amazing food, and gorgeous landscapes are sure to make you want to stay.

Posted on

Skip the Hotel: 7 Lodging Options That are Anything but Boring

hotel alternatives treehouse

It’s time to mix things up. Whether you choose a house, a castle, or even a converted jail, thinking outside the box will reward you with a trip you’ll be talking about long after you return home. Take a look at some of our picks for unique places to stay on your next vacation.

Live like the locals and rent a house

It should be clear by now that we think that one of the best ways to experience a new location is to live like the locals. To really experience the local life, skip the hotel and rent a house or apartment outside of town. It may be convenient to stay at a hotel on Main Street, close to the popular attractions, but staying in town often limits you to seeing the area as a tourist. When you stay in the residential areas, you will have the opportunity to chat with your neighbors, visit the local grocery store, and explore the quaint little cafes that only the locals know about. From your standard 3-bedroom house in the suburbs to a penthouse apartment in Asia, there’s something to please everyone. Head to Airbnb or VRBO to get started.

Camp in style in a Yurt

If you want to be outdoors but aren’t sold on the idea of sleeping in the standard tent, consider a yurt. The yurt has been around for thousands of years, originally used in Mongolia. The structure has many key features including portability, a cloth roof, and circular shape. If you want peace and seclusion in the Colorado mountains, consider a yurt where you’ll have a fireplace, kitchen, and the ability to ski and hike to your heart’s desire. Looking to try a yurt but still have some of the luxuries you would find at a hotel? Try the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls where you will have a private bathroom, hardwood floors, and of course access to a luxurious spa.

Embrace your inner child in a treehouse

Sleeping in a treehouse is no longer just a childhood dream, it’s an adult reality. But unlike the treehouse of your childhood, these treehouses are not small constructions nestled in the backyard oak tree. Instead, some of the most luxurious treehouses feature amenities like jetted tubs, king size beds, balconies, and fireplaces.
If you want to relax and immerse yourself in nature check out this remote treehouse on the Big Island of Hawaii. The floor to ceiling windows will surround you with the lush greens of the island. If you are looking for something with more of a funky vibe, head to Canada and rent a tree sphere. Free Spirit Spheres offers the tree house experience with a more sophisticated touch. These houses feature a unique spherical design and are suspended by heavy duty cables. Choose one of the three designs and fall asleep to the sound of the outdoors.

Live like royalty in an ancient castle

If you’re traveling abroad, consider staying in a castle, because let’s be honest, who hasn’t dreamt of living like royalty at least once in their life? If you are looking for a truly magical experience, visit the Ashford Castle. Located in Ireland, this 800-year-old castle was once the home to the Guinness family. It now features 83 rooms, a world-class spa, and dining in its 16th-century wine cellars. Guests can enjoy a wide range of activities on the 350-acre estate. Take in a movie at The Cinema, enjoy a round of golf, or go ziplining.

Choose a lighthouse and fall asleep to the crashing waves

Is there really any more soothing sound to fall asleep to than crashing waves? Sure you can rent a hotel room that is kind of close to the beach and vaguely hear the waves in the distance, but if you really want to experience the coast, look into renting a lighthouse.
There are many options available. Stay at a bed and breakfast in renovated keepers quarters or be the keeper and take on duties like raising the flag, doing minor maintenance, and keeping a log. From atop the lighthouse, you will experience breathtaking panoramic views and see the ocean in a way many others do not. From Oregon to New York, it’s easy to find a lighthouse that will welcome you as a guest. Just be sure to plan ahead as room is limited and the experience is in high demand.

Spend the night behind bars

Did you know that prison hotels are a thing? In fact, you can find these unique renovations all across the globe. But these upgraded clinks are far from dingy cells, hard mattress, and questionable food. On the contrary. Take the Lawyer Suite at the Het Arresthuis just outside of Amsterdam. Chic decor, top of the line amenities, and onsite world-class dining will make you forget that this hotel once housed dangerous criminals.
Traveling down under? Do some time at The Old Mount Gambier Gaol in Australia. The high brick walls and bars throughout the building will give you a more authentic experience. Most rooms have been converted from actual jail cells. The rooms are small, as the original cells were, but they do come with additional amenities like electric blankets and private bathrooms. If you are looking for more space, book The Cottage or The Lodge, former homes to the warden and his staff. Don’t worry, this visit won’t stay on your record.

Experience tiny living in a capsule hotel

If you’ve ever seen the movie, Ready Player One, the look of a capsule hotel will be somewhat reminiscent to “the stacks.” Rooms are lined up, one next to another, one on top of the other. The capsule hotel is not your typical hotel room. It’s not really a room at all. Instead, guests stay in small pods, or capsules. Each capsule typically contains a bed, electrical outlets, and possibly a tv or alarm clock. There is usually a communal bathroom area and often a shared kitchen, living space, and sauna. The design is minimalistic, providing a simple, affordable option for travelers.
Capsule hotels originated in Japan. Today the hotels are found most prominently throughout Asia, but locations are beginning to show up in areas like the US and Russia. Though the same basic design stays consistent throughout most hotels, many capsules are being decked out in unique and fun designs. Book and Bed in Tokyo will make you feel like you are sleeping in the middle of a bookstore with each capsule situated behind shelves of books. The books are available for guests to purchase and each pod has its own reading light. The City Hub in Amsterdam goes for the futuristic feel with sleek colors, high speed internet, touch screens throughout, and it’s very own app to help users check in.
Keep in mind, a capsule may not be the best choice if you are claustrophobic, are traveling with a large group, or are carrying a lot of luggage. However, these hotels are great for solo travelers, business travelers, or lodgers looking for a quick, cheap place to stay.
Shake things up on your next stay. Choose an adventure above or find something of your own. Bundle up in an igloo, or resist the temptation to eat a house made out of chocolate. Get creative and have fun. Adventure can be had inside the lodging you choose, just as much as it can be outside your accommodations.

Posted on

Best Road Trips to View Fall Leaves

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from an autumn tree.”— Emily Bronte
Brilliant fall foliage, winding country roads, cider and donuts, antique stores, and little mom and pop shops. What’s not to love about a scenic autumn road trip? We’ve gathered information about some of the routes to use so you can have the best fall road trip yet, full of trees bursting with color.

Maine, The Bold Coast Scenic Byway, 125 miles

This scenic drive follows the rocky coast and offers stunning views of the restless sea. On the other side, trees display their riotous autumn colors. The experience begins (or ends) at Lubec, the easternmost village in the United States. Visit Lubec’s lighthouse. Attractions along the way include little museums that showcase maritime, agricultural, and Native American History. Famous local tastes are blueberries and seafood. This is one of America’s less traveled roads for fall foliage, and the landscape is pristine. Stay in a quaint inn like West Quoddy Station on the water and be one of the first Americans to greet the rising sun.

Vermont, Scenic Route 100 Byway, 217 miles

fall-leaves-vermont-worldvia
Vermont

This drive that runs along the center of the state is recognized by Yankee magazine as the most scenic route in New England. It attracts many international visitors eager to see blazes of autumn beauty. Brilliant yellow, red, and orange boughs frame little country churches, old-fashioned stores, turn-of-the-century farms, and plenty of places to indulge in New England cuisine and everything maple syrup. Don’t miss the charming, old-fashioned cider mill and gift shop in quaint Waterbury Center and the nearby Ben and Jerry Ice Cream factory.
vermont-leaves-worldvia
Vermont

The legendary Vermont Country Store, 657 Main Street, Weston, invites a leisurely stroll through a yesterday shopping experience. This store is stocked to the rafters with a variety of goods including penny candy, local cheeses, jams and jellies, maple syrup, and even old-time products re-created. Next door, the Bryant House restaurant has an antique soda fountain and 1885 barroom. The food is homemade and of special note are the chicken pot pie and Mildred Orton’s original gingerbread. The family-friendly Swiss Farm Inn offers cozy accommodations and an acclaimed breakfast.

Oregon, Columbia River Highway, 75 miles

America’s oldest scenic highway (the early 1900s) climbs the Oregon cliffs glowing with ash, cottonwood, and maple trees. In one, eight-mile stretch, the road skirts the bases of five dramatic waterfalls including the 620 foot Multnomah, one of the nation’s tallest waterfalls. Viewing areas allow a closer look and fine showers of mist mixing with the falling leaves.
Before or after hitting the road from Troutdale, plan to visit Lewis and Clark State Park and enjoy a picnic in the flat, grassy, tree-dotted park. Stay at Cousins’ Country Inn in The Dallas in a cozy room with a gas fireplace plates of homemade cookies. The Cousins’ Restaurant offers home cooking with locally raised sirloin and local produce served with micro-brews crafted nearby. Their in-house bakery, renowned for giant cinnamon rolls, bakes pies and biscuits daily.

Virginia and North Carolina, Blue Ridge Parkway, 469 miles

Spanning the southern and central Appalachians, this legendary road climbs to great heights and crosses historic valleys. The leaf-peeping season is all of October as the trees at various elevations change at different times. Leaves of the dogwood and black gum trees turn deep red. Poplars and hickories burst into yellow, maples turn red, and sassafras turn orange. At the end of the season, oaks turn brown and deep red.

fall-virgina-worldvia
Virginia

Roadside stands offer just-picked apples, cider, pumpkins, and pastries. It is easy to find corn mazes, hay rides, and festivals. A good starting point for your road trip is the Virginia Fall Foliage Festival that is held the first two weeks of October in Waynesboro. Its historic district gives a pioneering vibe to the lively festival filled with music, food, and crafts. Floyd, Virginia, population 500, has some quaint inns in the surrounding area and inviting down-home eateries.
Don’t miss Natural Bridge (milepost 61.6) a twenty-story, naturally-occurring, solid-rock bridge; Marbry Mill (Milepost 176.1) and its famous buckwheat pancakes, mill, and blacksmith shop; and Southern Highland Folk Art Center (milepost 382) that showcases traditional and contemporary Appalachian crafts.

Wisconsin, Great River Road, 250 miles

fall_leaves_wisconsin_worldvia
Wisconsin

Wisconsin claims to be the best in the Midwest for fall foliage, and the Great River Road was voted the Prettiest Drive in America by the Huffington Post in 2012. It winds through 33 Wisconsin historic towns along the Mississippi River. Visit the Fort Crawford Museum in Prairie du Chien for a peek at life in the early 1800s, a slice of history, and a dose of old-time medical care at the Fort Crawford Military Hospital. Go “off road” in Rush Creek Park on two miles of old service roads to the top of a 400-foot high bluff.
Eleven wineries along the way offer tasting opportunities beneath the vivid leaves of America’s newest wine region. Pair your wine with famous Wisconsin cheeses. Great River B&B in Stockholm is a fine place to relax from the road and enjoy nature at its best. The inn is an 1869 renovated pioneer Swedish stone cottage. One of the largest groupings of American eagles builds nests above the 45-acre wooded grounds.
The road rolls on to the Gulf of Mexico, but leaf peepers head in another direction when the leaves turn green.

New Mexico, The Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, 85 miles

Begin and end in Taos for a journey through mountains, mesas, and valleys. Aspen trees turn shades of brilliant yellow, cottonwoods are red and gold, and purple cinquefoil adds a new color to the autumn palette. Bear and elk roam freely. Stay at The Historic Taos Inn, which has 44 individually decorated bedrooms with fireplaces, rough-hewn ceilings, and antique furnishings. It is rooted in the 1890s and is on the U.S. and the State of New Mexico’s Registrars of Historic Places. Eat at Doc Martins for southwest food sourced from local gardens. In Taos and along its byways, Native American, Spanish, and Anglo cultures are preserved through art and architecture, music and dance, and food and festivals year-round. Taos is a major center for the arts.
Make reservations well in advance if you want to stay overnight close to these scenic roads during the fall foliage season and be sure to pack your patience. The traffic usually goes slow, so just relax and enjoy the autumn’s beauty.
Where’s your favorite place to see fall leaves?