Fly-In Vacation: Portland

Fly-In Vacation: Portland

By Niki D’Andrea

Located on the Columbia and Willamette rivers with views of stratovolcano Mount Hood, Portland is the largest city in Oregon and home to growing cultural and culinary scenes. Nicknamed “PDX,” “Rose City,” and “Stumptown,” among other things, this is a city of plenty: Twelve bridges span the Willamette River, which flows north through downtown; according to oregoncraftbeer.org, there are 84 breweries in the Portland metro area; and quora.com lists more than 3,500 restaurants in the city. It’s also served by five various flight facilities, including general aviation Mulino State Airport, located roughly 20 miles south of Portland.


Mulino State Airport

Coordinates: 45°12’59″N 122°35’24″W
Distance from Scottsdale Airport: 1,267 miles
Aviation services: 24-hour cardlock fuel; 24 aircraft T-hangars; 25 tie-down spots
Flight time: Two hours, 35 minutes
Drive time: 20 hours, 11 minutes


A street artist at the Portland Saturday Market.

A street artist at the Portland Saturday Market.

Downtown Portland is packed with places to get great food and drink, browse and buy one-of-a-kind items and catch cultural displays and performances. A good starting point is Pine Street Market, a massive, multi-stall locavore food hall in the old Carriage & Baggage Building (constructed in 1886). Nine vendors share the 10,000-square-foot space, including Kim Jong Smokehouse (Korean-style street food), James Beard Award-winning baker Ken Folkish’s Trifecta Annex and Wizbangbar, the new soft-serve dessert station by Salt & Straw (it’s all good, but the lemon and rhubarb-honey iterations are mind-blowing).

The tour guide for Pedal Bike Tours talks about hops at Lucky Labrador Brewing Company.

The tour guide for Pedal Bike Tours talks about hops at Lucky Labrador Brewing Company.

The Pacific Northwest is known as the hops capital of the world, so perhaps it was inevitable Portland would have a booming craft beer scene. One way to discover a few of them – and see more of the city and hear a bit about its history – is with Pedal Bike Tours. Located across the street from Pine Street Market, Pedal Bike Tours provides bicycles, helmets and a three-hour tour of microbreweries.

If craft beer isn’t your thing, Pedal Bike Tours also gives three-hour history tours of the downtown area, a food cart crawl of three culinary “pods” containing around 50 food carts and even a “Portland Pot Tour” that explores the new retail industry of recreational marijuana in the state.

Another offbeat adventure is the Beyond Bizarre Tour, a pedestrian stroll through the streets of downtown, and even under some of them, to hear about Portland’s haunting history of police corruption, racism and drug smuggling, including anecdotes about the infamous “Shanghai Tunnels” that once ran underneath the city. The tunnels were walled off in the 1980s, but the remains are still visible in the basements of some buildings, including the subterranean space beneath the old Merchant Hotel building, where the tour begins and ends.

The Voodoo Doll doughnut is filled with raspberry jelly.

The Voodoo Doll doughnut is filled with raspberry jelly.

One notable stop on the tour is the famous Voodoo Doughnut, where the lines winding around the block are almost as notorious as the fun flavors and moxie-filled monikers (the “Old Dirty Bastard,” with Oreo cookies, peanut butter and chocolate frosting; the “Gay Bar,” filled with Bavarian crème and topped with Froot Loops organized in the colors of the rainbow). The best part about visiting Voodoo Doughnut as part of the Beyond Bizarre Tour? No waiting in line.

Urban Portland has many parks and places for people to relax in nature. One of the most popular is the Portland Japanese Garden, which blooms across 12 acres with eight separate gardens encompassing a variety of styles (Japanese tea house also included). This lush location’s tranquil streams, paved pathways and views of Mt. Hood make it a meditative treasure.

Once you’ve seen nature’s works of art, get an eyeful of creations by Portland and international artists at a few of the many galleries around the city. Visiting them all would take way more than a day, but if you’re staying in the Downtown Art Gallery District, must-peruses include contemporary Augen Gallery, which will have prints and ceramics by Pablo Picasso on exhibit throughout July; the Mark Woolley Gallery; and Shaffer Fine Art Gallery.

Conclude your creative sojourn at Portland Museum of Art, which hosts “Artist’s Choice” (photographs from the Judy Glickman Lauder Collection) through July 23 and “A New American Sculpture” show featuring the works of Lachaise, Laurent, Nadelman and Zorach through September 8.

Multnomah Falls is less than a 40-minute drive from downtown Portland.

Multnomah Falls is less than a 40-minute drive from downtown Portland.

As fun-filled as the city is, it’s well worth getting out of town to chase some waterfalls. Located less than a 40-minute drive from downtown Portland, majestic Multnomah Falls cascades 611 feet down forested mountains. The roaring sound and cooling mists are ubiquitous, and hikers who make the steep one-mile trek on the paved trail to the top are rewarded with verdant, vertiginous views of the Oregon wilderness.

This is scenic Columbia River Gorge country, and there are a handful of hot spots worth stopping at on the road trip to or from Multonomah Falls. They include Wahkeena Falls, a 242-foot waterfall meandering over moss-covered rocks; Rooster Rock State Park, with its namesake basalt obelisk; Lewis & Clark State Park, a water sport- and hiking trail-filled homage to the pioneering Pacific Northwest explorers; and Blue Lake State Park, a 64-acre body of water fed by underground springs.

Back in town, you’ll find no shortage of shops in Portland, but the best one-stop shop (and the best people watching) happens at Portland Saturday Market, held every Saturday and Sunday from March through Christmas. In addition to hosting hundreds of vendor stalls selling everything from local lavender and tie-dyed T-shirts to handmade jewelry and pet products, the market has a hoard of live entertainment, from marimba duos and didgeridoo players to old ragtime jams and smooth jazz.

Another retail icon of Portland, Powell’s City of Books, is like The Louvre of literature – three floors full of books, organized by genre (and there’s probably not a genre you can think of that’s not amply represented here). Poke your head in the Rare Book Room to peep such precious tomes as a two-volume first edition of the Journals of Lewis and Clark, the most expensive book in Powell’s collection, which can be yours for a mere $350,000.

Before heading home, be sure to hit up any outlet of Made in Oregon for fine local chocolates, Oregon wines and, of course, Tillamook cheeses.

Where to eat

Tusk: This healthful, Mediterranean fare served in a bright and bustling setting alongside artisanal cocktails is a local favorite. tuskpdx.com

The kitchen at Le Pigeon is in the dining room, so guests can see the cooks in action.

The kitchen at Le Pigeon is in the dining room, so guests can see the cooks in action.

Le Pigeon: Chef Gabriel Rucker’s French-inspired cuisine earned him the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Northwest nod in 2013. lepigeon.com

Tasty N Sons: Get a sense of the quirkiness of “New American diner” cuisine at this always-busy neighborhood restaurant. tastynsons.com

La Ruta PDS (July 13-16): This gastronomic festival features live music, wine seminars, an “Ambassador Dinner Series” with chefs from Spain and Portland collaborating with Stumptown’s finest, wine seminars, a “La Ruta Del Toro Dinner” prepared by five chefs from Spain and a “Grand Tasting” with bites from more than 15 local purveyors. larutapdx.com