This post is part of the “Weekend Inspiration Wednesday” series, meant to provide some adventure-planning inspiration in the middle of a long week. Let me know if you’d like to guest post and share an adventure of your own!
Touring Portland on a Tandem
Pairing travel and cycling is one of our favorite ways to vacation. Spending a long weekend tooling around Portland on a tandem proved to be an excellent way to see a new city and experience its ins an outs while getting a little exercise and breathing in some fresh air (very fresh compared to LA). We did get lucky and ended up with a beautiful sunny weekend, which seemed totally normal to us coming from Southern California. It was almost immediately obvious how long-awaited that particular sunny weekend was to the locals though – everyone was out and about and the city was abuzz with excitement and happy energy.
Here are the basics to get you started on planning a cycling weekend of your own. Oh, and have a beer for us!
- Bike maps (and walking maps) – The City of Portland’s web site is a great starting point.
- Bike sharing program – Sign up for Biketown; a day pass is just $12.
- Portland Bicycle Tours – offers both rentals and tours.
We decided to rent one from Portland Bicycle Tours to get a tandem, and to get great advice and maps on local routes. We didn’t pay for a bike tour, but the customer service for the rental was excellent. I was wary about the tandem – we are semi-serious road cyclists and the heavy, cruiser tandem seemed cheesy and clunky. I have to say, for what we had in mind–a slow-paced, relaxing weekend via a self-guided city bike tour–the tandem was perfect. We felt like tourists, and it was ok!
We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott City Center, which was affordable for its central location and the rooms were clean and renovated.
These spots seemed loved by both locals and tourists alike, and definitely won our admiration when we visited.
Springwater Corridor Trail – This is part of a 40-mile trail system that encircles Portland, and you can access it right from Downtown. It goes along the Willamette River a ways, which is quite scenic. I have to say this is the one place where the heavy tandem got a bit tiring on the longer distance route.
Powell’s City of Books – A must-do for book lovers. The more time the better to check out the levels and levels of new and used books.
Washington Park – This park has everything you or your kids could possibly want in a park! It is near Downtown, contains a zoo, an arboretum, and Japanese garden, and has trails that connect to Forest Park, among other attractions. We loved our time walking the trails there, checking out the rose garden, and seeing the peaceful Japanese garden.
We also visited the Oregon state Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the park. Set amidst the impressive urban forest, the memorial felt sacred, beautiful, and melancholy. I was grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the sacrifice made by veterans I know, and by so many others (57,000 Oregonians served during Vietnam).
The Pearl District – Great shopping, breweries, restaurants, and streetscapes, as well as some unique urban park space. On a long weekend of beer and bar food, we had our only proper (and excellent) real meal at Andina Restaurant, featuring Peruvian and other South American dishes.
Voodoo Doughnut – Yes, we did. This one probably falls more into the touristy category, and yes we waited in the line around the block. The donuts were certainly one-of-a-kind. Would I do it again? Honestly, I may fit in an extra brewery for the superfluous calories instead…
I wanted to put the brewery list first, but you know, I had to make it seem like beer wasn’t the only reason we went to Portland. You can judge for yourself based on the enthusiasm on our faces though. 🙂
Cascade Brewing – This was our favorite by far. We are suckers for sours, and Cascade did not disappoint. Its low-key patio/parking lot of picnic tables was marvelous and full of smiling faces on the sunny day we visited. Plus, there were urban goats grazing in a lot nearby.
Deschutes Brewery – I would go back to Deschutes just for the Ponzu Beer Nuts on the small plates menu. I can’t stop thinking about them! Also, excellent beer that will please those who want to try new things and those who already have Deschutes faves in mind.
Rogue – Low-key, dog-friendly patio, free wi-fi, and a variety of yummy beer. Can’t go wrong with a taster here.
Bridgeport Brewing – We liked this spot because it was open and airy, though it was larger than many of the breweries so if small holes in the wall are you thing, this place may not be. It’s in the Pearl District, so if you find yourself there it’s worth a pop in.
Lucky Lab – Everyone and everywhere in Portland just seems so relaxed! This place was no exception. Another picnic table patio, dog friendly, yummy tasters.
When We Go Back
In doing research for this post, I came across a Yoga and Beer community. I have to go back to check this out! I mean, their website is cheersandnamaste.com – ha! Also, we’ll need to visit more breweries, bike through new neighborhoods, and get outside the City to the Olympic Gorge. We really felt almost ready to pick up and leave LA for Portland like so many do, and then it rained for the entire last day of our visit. Hmm….well it’s definitely an amazing spot if you like bikes and beer (and yoga too, apparently)!
What else should we add to the list for our next trip?