How to Find Fun in Portland,OR

Although Chicago is lovely in the summer, I love to travel. Romantic weekends, visits to friends’ houses and family vacations all appeal to me.

A Chicago Beach

Late summer is a great time for a family vacation; most camps and classes have come to an end.  Traveling with a teenager is most enjoyable when there is a balance of indoor and outdoor activities.

A Pacific Northwest Beach

The cities of the Pacific Northwest offer a combination of easy access to nature, and fun urban neighborhoods. In late summer the weather is perfect for exploring the natural beauty as well as the vibrant city scenes.

Oregon Distance Sign

My introduction to the area began with a visit to Portland after college. I loved it’s food-centric culture then, and it has only grown as a destination. A small city, it offers shady streets and a free streetcar within the downtown. It’s also easy to enjoy outdoor adventure at the Columbia River Gorge or Mount Hood.

Portland Waterfront

Our family visit to the city was fueled by trips to popular coffee bars. Coffee roasters and small batch artisanal brewers are everywhere. One of our favorites, Stumptown has gone national. It can be found on grocery shelves and is opening locations throughout the country.

A Cappuccino

No visit to Portland would be complete without a visit to Powell’s. A book emporium,  it became our oasis as we investigated the city on hot summer days.

So Many Books

The many craft microbreweries and farm-to-table restaurants are evidence of  Portland’s dedication to the indie aesthetic. We tried to sample everything, both the new and the famous. The donuts at Voodoo Donut are worth the line. It satisfied my craving for every variation of decadent treat. We also fell in love with Andy Ricker’s Thai food. The rice and noodle dishes at Whisky Soda Lounge make a perfect lunch.

Voodoo Donut

Rugged individualism was also evident at nearby stores. The shops in the West End (an easy walk or streetcar ride from downtown) carry pieces by local artists and designers. The influences range from vintage to Northwest lumberjack.

Portland Jewelry Design

Although stores featuring clothes for outdoor adventure are found throughout the city, the Pearl District has every brand. The centrally located area also offers boutiques and art galleries.

How to Find Fun in Portland, Or - A Portland Rose
Portland’s Rose Garden

Known as the “City of Roses,” Portland has beautiful rose and Japanese gardens in its west hills. They can be reached by public transportation, and are noticeably cooler on a hot day.

Portland Japanese Garden

For more serious adventure Mount Hood and the Columbia River Gorge are both just outside the city.

The Columbia Gorge

Few things bring back the clever creations of Portland baristas more vividly than a refreshing Iced Espresso & Tonic. Although I love iced lattés, replacing the milk with tonic creates a light lemony drink. I find it the perfect refreshment on a summer day. Choose coffee with citrus notes to heighten the flavor of the tangy quinine. Sometimes I use cold brew instead of espresso. My favorite drink combines the two, with a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Tonic Water

Iced Espresso & Tonic

1 drink

2 shots espresso

1 teaspoon maple syrup

Tonic water

Cold brew coffee ice cubes

1 slice of lemon

Brewing Espresso

Mix the espresso with the maple syrup. Add to a mug filled with cold brew ice cubes. Add an equal amount of tonic to the mug. Squeeze the lemon into the drink and enjoy!

Maple Syrup

When a busy night follows a busy day, start the evening with an Espresso Gin & Tonic.


Espresso Gin & Tonic

1 drink

2 shots espresso

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1 1/2 ounces gin

Tonic water

Cold brew coffee ice cubes

1 slice of lime

Shake the espresso, maple syrup and gin with ice until chilled. Pour over cold brew ice cubes. Add an equal amount of tonic to the glass. Finish with a squeeze of lime.

A Lime

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