by Derek Topper
Editors note: My son took a weekend trip to Portland and these are his recommendations.
There are two Asian inspired gardens in Portland. There are a Chinese garden downtown and a Japanese garden in the nearby hills. the Chinese garden has beautiful buildings inspired by Chinese architecture. It’s an urban oasis of peace and tranquility. It’s very atypical of most modern metropolitan centers to have a place with such tranquility. The garden which was a little small for the price of admission offers various cultural activities and is certainly something not to miss.
The other garden is a Japanese inspired garden, located in Washington Park (equivalent to Central Park), about a 15-minute drive from downtown and perfect if you want more of that peaceful feeling. The garden has various trails to walk along and be one with nature as well as a rock garden, sculpture garden, and a Zen garden. It also overlooks the city on top of a hill. It is certainly a pretty view of downtown.
There is also a rose garden that is supposed to be nice during the summer.
Walk around Downtown
Downtown Portland or the Pearl District as it’s known is filled with a plethora of cool bars, restaurants that you may want to poke your head in. There’s always something going on. Some days you will see live music from 2 band and other days you will see a pop-up Ramon store. Some days you will see street festivals that take up many blocks.
The area features many of the things you would expect from a city with that designation such as huge independent bookstores, donut shops, and a large scale outdoor market. Powell’s Books is in the center of the Pearl District. This is the largest bookstore in the country and contains four floors packed to the brim filled with books. They have every book imaginable. With nearly 2 acres of shelf space, it is certainly a place to get lost for hours. There are 35,000 different sections and an entire area for rare books.
The Saturday market is on Saturdays in Portland. It takes over a large part of the city on Saturdays and Sundays. This market has local businesses selling their goods. You will see some of the strangest things you ever want to imagine. I don’t want to spoil it because it changes every week. They also have a large number of great food options from different cultures all over the world for you to buy and enjoy.
Portland’s Best Brunch
The best brunch in Portland is a place called Screen Door, located. It is a southern-style restaurant that has been rated the Best Brunch in Portland by many magazines. There’s always a line so get there early. Even when I went and asked for a table for 1 I waited 30 minutes.
They have interesting options like Banana Foster French Toast, Preyline bacon Waffles. Here I ordered Fred Oyster Benedict, which was three corn-meal crusted local Oysters, with pouched eggs, bacon and cheese grits. It was quite delicious and a great way to start the day. I also highly recommend the canal street coffee, which was Iced Coffee with Hazelnut Vodka, Creme de Cocoa and house-made whipped cream. This was my last day in Portland and I followed brunch up with a quick walk to Mt. Tabor park, which was nearby and offered tremendous views of the city.
I loved Portland, Oregon and would highly recommend going there for a mini-vacation!