usa | portland

presse agent Chantel Guertin

No longer the little sister to Seattle, Portland provides a long weekend getaway of good coffee, innovative food, and gorgeous vistas.

where to stay | The Nines is as posh as it sounds. Situated atop the beloved Meier & Frank Building in downtown Portland, it’s close to Pioneer Square and within walking distance to shopping and dining. Relax in the modern, spacious suites, or head up to Departure Restaurant on the top-floor. We enjoyed modern Asian fare alongside the largest sake menu in the city. Or one can simply choose from the list of creative cocktails, while taking in the stunning views of the city, mountains and the Willamette river from one of two outdoor decks. Breakfast, lunch and dinner is also served up at the hotel’s other resto – Urban Farmer.

where to eat + drink | Get your Stumptown coffee fix at Stark, located inside the trendy Ace Hotel. The ideal setting to read The NY Times on a rainy Sunday morning.

Brunch at Tasty n’ Sons for the small plates, Screen Door for the Bananas Foster and Cheese Grits (head next door to Heart Roasters for a coffee while you wait), or Broder for the Scandanavian influence – you may never eat another Ikea breakfast again!

For a mid-morning snack, join the line at Voodoo Doughnut, where you can choose from over two dozen doughy concoctions, like the Bacon Maple Bar, the Memphis Mafia (fried dough with banana chunks and cinnamon sugar covered in a glaze with chocolate frosting, peanut butter, peanuts and chocolate chips) or the signature Voodoo Doll (filled with raspberry jelly and topped with chocolate frosting and a pretzel stake). Delish!

Besides coffee and doughnuts, Portland is also known for its microbreweries and microdistilleries. We tried and loved a flight of four tasters at Hair of the Dog.

Get lunch at one of the more than 475 food carts parked around the city. To choose your truck of choice, check the listings and maps at Food Carts Portland. Or simply head to Bunk Sandwiches for their signature Pork Belly Cubano.

Book your reservation weeks (or more) in advance to get a table at Le Pigeon, where chef Gabriel Rucker is making such unexpected dishes as Bacon and Eggs and a summer “Thanksgiving”.

Before chef Andy Ricker brought Pok Pok (and hours’ long waits) to Brooklyn earlier this year, 2011’s Best Chef in the Northwest started his Thai hotspot in Portland. Order a fruit-flavoured “drinking vinegar” to drink, and be sure to get the chicken wings.

what to do | While away an afternoon in Powell’s City of Books,  the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world.  The store buys more than 3,000 books a day, and you can find them in the 1.6 acres of retail space, divided by topic (with used and new interspersed) into colour-coded rooms like the Rose Room, the Purple Room and the Green Room.

To see why this is the Rose City, walk around Portland’s Rose Gardens, which includes the International Rose Test Garden – the oldest public garden of its kind in the US and contains more than 500 varieties of roses.  For any rose-themed souvenir you could possibly think of, pop into the Rose Garden Store.

Get tickets to a Portland Timbers FC soccer game…just to see how crazy the fans are. But make sure to wear green, so you don’t totally stick out as a tourist.

road trip | Rent a car and head east for 30 miles along the historic Columbia River Highway, stopping at the Vista House for the view, and then continuing along until you get to Multnomah Falls, the most picturesque waterfall in Oregon.

The next day, head west to the coast. Stop in Astoria to see the sea lions and get your Goonies fix (the 80’s flick was filmed here). Then drive down the coast, stopping for a tour, cheese tasting and homemade ice cream (try Sticky Bun, Oregon Strawberry or Grandma’s Cake Batter) at the Tillamook Cheese Factory.

To break the drive into two days, overnight at the Newport Belle Bed & Breakfast, an actual houseboat docked in the Newport Harbour. While there, head to the source of Rogue Ales for a tasting at Rogue Meeting Hall, then line up for a table where the locals dine. At Local Ocean Seafoods caught-fresh-daily fish and seafood makes up most of the menu. In the morning, drive a few miles south of Florence to see the highest sand dunes in the country. Go for a spin with a professional driver for the ultimate real-life roller coaster experience at Sand Dunes Frontier.

Chantel Guertin is a Toronto-based bestselling author, editor-at-large at and beauty expert on The Marilyn Denis Show. Follow her on Twitter @chantelguertin.

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