Take a hike!

I was never one to wander the flat paths of the Midwest where my allergies ran roughshod. That said, I am a top 10 list adventurer and Multnomah Falls almost always makes the list in Portland.  What started as a trip to a tourist attraction taught me that Portland offers more than a path through the woods and I was hooked.


Here is my list of favorite (mostly family friendly) hikes so far.


The Classic- Multnomah Falls

This place is a tourist trap for sure.  If you are glass half-full that means there’s coffee and a nice bathroom.  The people who come to see the falls vs. hike them drop off quickly and you are left with a less crowded path the higher you go.  We took a picnic and played in the water at the top mid-summer.  It was glorious.


The Lazy Sunday-Wahclella Falls

This is a lazy Sunday hike because it’s mid-gorge (exit 40) so there is a little more drive time than the Western Gorge hikes.  You can see some beautiful scenery from the car though and the hike offers amazing views in less than a 2 mile jaunt.


The City Hike- Forrest Park

Although there are several shorter hikes in Forrest Park my favorite is Lower Macleay trail to the Pittock Mansion.  It’s 5 miles round trip but even my kids can tackle this one.  Best of all, when you are finished you’re already in Portland and minutes from a delicious brunch.

Runner up: Mt. Tabor– You can take a fully paved path or mix in some trails.  I like to run these urban paths for beautiful views of the west hills.


The Quick Payoff- Ponytail Falls

(from Horsetail Falls trailhead)

This is a great one for tired kids or less physically fit guests who want to do a waterfall hike.  The first mini-waterfall is close to the start of the hike and wets their whistle to keep them going to the larger payoff less than a mile further.


The Date Hike- Angel’s Rest

This is a 5 mile hike close to the city that gives you over 1,000 ft. of elevation gain and amazing views of the Gorge from the top.  There is a large rocky area where many people stop to have a snack and visit with the chipmunks.  The summit is breathtaking.


The Excuse to Wear Water Shoes- Oneonta Falls

Put on your ugly water shoes because this one is a hike in water, over logs submerged in water, to a larger bit of water where you can amble up some rocks and dive in to the cheers of onlookers.   It’s cold and can get pretty deep for kids in parts but it’s well worth it.  Note: there is no bathroom or porta-potty at the trailhead.


Happy Hiking!






Shop local in Portland (with a coupon)

There is so much good food in Portland not to mention awesome bike shops, museums, etc.  I’m the type of person who likes to dive right in and see everything but that can be a drain on the wallet.

Whether you are moving to Portland or just visit often you should get the Chinook Book.  We were given the Chinook book as a housewarming gift by one of my husband’s co-workers.  I’m now obsessed and have both the app and the paper book. Unlike the big coupon books I’m used to with gross fast food chains and box stores the Chinook Book is so Portland. It’s largely local businesses and all businesses have to meet their sustainability criteria.  I’ve become a huge fan of the app because I’m still getting to know Portland and you can search what’s “near me”.  Sometimes I do it just to see what local businesses are around for a quick snapshot of a neighborhood I’m less familiar with.  Sometimes it shows a 2-for-1 coffee coupon and I have to debate whether to save it for when I’m with a friend or slam two right then.  This is Portland after all.




Portland in 2 days

We deemed this the “summer of fun”.   We had a house full of visitors which made everyone less homesick.  It also provided the perfect excuse to explore Portland like a tourist.  We made sure to try at least one new adventure or restaurant with each visitor too.  Sometimes it was a huge success and sometimes an epic fail but when I go to (or past) the places we tried I get the warm feeling of friendship all over again.

Here is my list of staples for visitors:


Powell’s is a hit with all visitors but especially the young ones.  Getting to hold books in your hands is a lost pleasure in the age of Amazon & ebooks.  The employees at Powell’s are top notch professionals.  When my daughter requested a non-fiction book on Mermaids, the info. desk personnel tried very hard to find her one.  My friend even found the obscure books written by two of his friends on the shelves.

*tip- Powell’s has used books too.  They are co-mingled with the new ones so dig through the stack and you may find your selection at a discount.

VooDoo Donuts

My husband finds VooDoo to be grossly overrated.  Here is why you need to go anyway.  The downtown location allows you to stand in line in front of a porn theatre and make cream filling jokes to pass the time.  The flavors are unique and there is even a rapper series you can try to complete (Marshall Mathers, ODB and the blunt).  When you say you went to Portland, people will ask if you went to VooDoo so you might as well go and have a donut & some Stumptown coffee.

*tip- Go to the location on the East side of the river for a shorter line and a mechanical elephant to ride if you are under 150 lbs.

Salt and Straw

Salt and Straw is a foodie ice cream shop.  There is a reason there’s a line and there is a reason it’s not full of kids (unless you count hipsters).  You will often find local harvest items or even local brews in these unique concoctions.  When you do reach the front of the line they are happy to give you a taste of some flavors to help you make a good decision.

*tip -You can skip the line if you are just grabbing pints from the freezer and head straight to the register.

Food  Carts

Admittedly I never really trusted the food trucks in Chicago, exempt the cupcake truck which I loved.  I didn’t like that I had to follow them on twitter to know where they were or that there was exhaust involved.  Now that I am here I get the Portland Food Cart obsession.  The food carts in Portland have a lease and generally stay put in a designated lot.  They can be found in almost every neighborhood in Portland.  Many of them have amazing food and the lots offer something for everyone in one place.  Just don’t expect it to be quick.  You can expect about the same timing as ordering in a restaurant.




Back to School

Portland Public Schools are back in session.  Fortunately my kids got the teachers they wanted and they are off and running.  Now it’s my turn to get through the mountain of papers and get a system down for the year.  To ease in, l’ll start with when I can plan a vacation based on the PPS calendar.

We were a cold lunch family last year and this year this year my first grader has decided he’s a hot lunch kid (annual menu).  PPS participates in an online payment system so you can load up those lunch accounts.  I registered then discovered that there is a $1.95 fee every time I add money via the system.  I’m still glad I registered just to see the account balance but I’m going to drop off my cash with the lunch lady instead.

At the start of school each school sends home a Family and Student handbook.  If you want to read about the acceptable skirt length or that they will not be telling you when lice are rampant in your classroom that’s the place to do it.

If you are new to PPS you will need a background check on file before you can volunteer.

Happy back to school!