It’s mid October and the high today is 99 degrees. This part of Arizona doesn’t really DO fall so it was a perfect time to head up to Oregon to visit family. Oregon is one of the most postcard perfect places I know, offering a huge swing in environmental diversity. It’s beauty ranges from the cliff-lined Pacific Coast to the high deserts of Eastern Oregon and in between, you will find lakes, waterfalls, rich farmland, snowy mountains and a vibrant urban scene in Portland. Oregon is kind of a smorgasbord of delights; something for everyone.
I flew into Eugene, Oregon which has a wonderfully compact and easy airport. It’s only about a 2 hour drive from Eugene to Seal Rock, Oregon where two of my favorite people live. The drive is stunning at this time of the year; bright oranges, reds and yellows breaking up the deep green of pine. We drove through Corvallis, home of Oregon State University (go Beavers!), which is the cutest college town EVER! Okay…in fairness, I must disclose that Eugene has a university too (University of Oregon) which is an OK school with average sport’s teams and the unfortunate luck of having a duck as their mascot. No bias here. Anyway…. onward to the salty air of the ocean.
There are tons of beautiful beaches along the Oregon coast but our stomping grounds tend to be between Yachats to the south and Newport to the north. Some beaches are rocky while others have prestine white sand. They are all on the chilly side so leave your bikini at home and opt for the fleece hoodie. Low tide reveals fantastic tide pools at both Yachats and Seal Rock where you will find an abundance of brightly colored starfish and sea anenomes. In Seal Rock, be sure to stop by Indulge Sweets and Fudge Shop for handmade candies, fudge, killer brownies, cookies and the BEST caramel corn ever.
To the north is the town of Newport which has a great main street (Bay Blvd) with shops, restaurants (Local Ocean is one of our favorites) and seals snoozing along the docks as fresh seafood is brought in daily. A trip to Newport is not complete without a visit to the Oregon Coast Aquarium and a piping hot bowl of the best clam chowder at Canyonway Restaurant and Bookstore.
Newport also has a fantastic Farmer’s Market on Saturdays where you can buy organic produce, fresh bread and bakery items, local honey, mushrooms and handmade goods. Be sure to bring cash and your appetite.
This part of Oregon moves at a much slower pace. Here, you can take time to sip coffee and read a good book, go for a walk on the beach or chat with neighbors; even the neighborhood animals are curious and friendly. There are no big agenda’s and I often find an afternoon nap is in good order.
Portland is about a 2.5 to 3 hour drive from Newport and has a vibe completely opposite of that on the coast. Portland is very urban with a little grunge and a lot of liberal attitude. It is divided up into dozens of community neighborhoods; each with their own feel and charm. Old, eclectic homes border narrow, tree-lined streets where parking is always a challenge.
Portland’s food and artisan cocktail scene is huge; you could probably eat at a different restaurant everyday, for every meal, for a year. There is a process to eating in Portland, however. First, you must be willing to parallel park your car and walk several blocks to the restaurant. Second, you must accept that you will wait anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours for a table. You must also understand that there is a high probability that you will wait in the rain…without an umbrella (because no one carries an umbrella in Portland). Third, you must know that your Portland dining experience will be loud. Most of the restaurants’ interiors have open kitchens, high ceilings with exposed ducting and are in old buildings…plus the fact that eating is how people socialize in Portland. If you are willing to accept all the above conditions you, or more specifically your taste buds, are in for an amazing treat.
Here is a list of some of our all time favorite restaurants in three of our favorite neighborhoods; Hawthorne, Irvington and Alberta. All of these are worth any amount of wait in any weather… Yes. Really.
Breakfast & Lunch: Jam on Hawthorne – loud and family friendly
Coffee, Toasts and Sandwiches: Upper Left Roasters – big airy environment and they roast their own coffee
Dinner: Three Doors Down – accepts reservations, slightly up-scale, fabulous foood
Tacos and Margaritas: Por Que No Tacos – worth the wait. worth the wait. worth the wait.
Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner: Milo’s City Cafe – we do breakfast here whenever we are in town
Dinner: Toro Bravo – pricey but worth it. Put your name in at Toro then head upstairs to Secret Society’s wood paneled lounge for a cocktail while you wait
Cocktails: The Secret Society – delicious artisan cocktails in a cozy 1920’s vibe lounge; live music & dance in the ballroom
Vegan Lunch & Dinner: Blossoming Lotus – delicious even by non-vegan standards
Breakfast: Pine State Biscuits – delicious southern food for the very hungry
Breakfast, Lunch and Pastries: Petite Provence – Muerette Benedict… amazing! Many locations, we like Alberta
Libations & Small Plates: Expatriate – cocktails, sake, beer, wine and unusually delicious munchies
Sushi & Sake: Zilla Sake – fresh, fantastic sushi and over 80 sake options
Ice Cream: Salt & Straw – some classic and some crazy flavors using local sourced ingredients
Accanto Bar + Cucina – Handmade pasta, seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, beautifully delicious cocktails and lemon ricotta donuts. Accepts reservations, which you will definitely want.
Well, I hope you have enjoyed this little taste of what Oregon has to offer. It really is a beautiful place with lots to see and do. Yes, it rains A LOT but as my husband likes to remind me, there is no bad weather only bad gear so dress appropriately and ENJOY!