One of the many perks of being in the travel industry is, well, traveling. Can you imagine? And when Starwood’s annual brand marketing conference landed in Portland this summer, I was excited to visit this city and dig deeper into the Portlandia culture, but even more excited to head out West early to visit family and get the true local flavor, literally and figuratively. Here are the highlights!
One travel tip I do have when visiting Portland is to try to make a connection to get a pass into the Nike Employee Store. I have been there twice and it’s an amazing store filled with awesome gear at 50% off! Plus, there is no tax so for Chicagoans, it’s actually 60% off.
While this hike to Wahclella Falls wouldn’t warrant a trip to Patagonia for a GPS device or a $400 backpack, it was a perfect way to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon with the family. And being from Chicago where the highest hill is likely a skateboard ramp set up by some high-schoolers trying to be cool for their girlfriends, I was impressed, it was a good workout and the views were gorgeous!
Thanks to my awesome brother and sister-in-law, we were able to witness the Portland Timbers taking on the LA Galaxy (ahem, David Beckham’s team). If you are from Portland, you get it. If you are not, let me just say it was one of the most fun sporting events (and soccer nonetheless!) I have ever been to. Put this on your bucket list immediately.
You know, I never take enough time to stop and smell the roses. So, my dear friend and colleague Suzanne and I decided to do just that at The Rose Garden (FYI Portland is named the City of Roses or as some say, Rose City). This was a personal favorite excursion of mine on the trip!
Salt and Straw. A farm-to-cone ice cream shop located in the Nob Hill neighborhood of Portland. Ice cream with goat cheese and habaneros? Honey lavender? Sea salt with caramel ribbon? Okay, you had me at farm-to-cone. I went with another friend and colleague, Sean, and we experienced this place the local way. We waited in line for about 35 minutes just to order (and not one person was annoyed…it is expected at this joint). We decided to try some of the weirdest flavors. We dined in. And Sean even bought an ice cream scooper. Yep, another Portlandia highlight for me.
I follow a blog called Restored Style and the writer is based in Portland. She always has great posts about the Portland antique stores and markets and so I was excited when my sister-in-law took me into her neighborhood to explore some of the shops. While we didn’t tackle many of them, one that was noteworthy was called Stars Antiques. I snagged up a few really great gifts and of course, one or two things for myself 🙂
The conference was held at The Nines Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel. Apart from the fact that David Beckham stayed here while we were there, what I loved most about this property was the decor and design, specifically the colors. The location was central (ahem, J.Crew was across the street) and just a few blocks from the river where I was able to get a couple of runs in. There is also an amazing restaurant and bar on the top floor of the hotel called Departures Restaurant and it was there I experienced one of my favorite meals of the trip. I don’t have pics, but you can trust me…the food was outstanding.
And speaking of food, when I travel the local flair typically lands as a top highlight and this trip was no different. Portland’s food is delicious – local, organic and very much a ‘farm-to-table’ cuisine. Here are a few shots of great dining experiences I had.
Noho’s Hawaiian Cafe – my first loco moco!
One restaurant I would highly recommend is Paley’s Place. Boasting head chef, owner and James Beard Award winner, Vitaly Paley, this charming 50-seat restaurant has local and organic cuisine that is sure to put a smile on your taste buds. Admittedly, this picture isn’t the most appealing of food shots, but let me explain what it was: Alaskan dungeness & snow crab pasta alla chitarra, sugar snap peas, parmesan, preserved lemon. It was DE-LISH!
Finally, there were just a few moments during the trip that warmed my heart.