Will you be attending The NTEN Conference March 13-15, 2019 in Portland, Oregon?
If so, we would love to meet you! We will be hanging out at the NTEN Conference and attending a few sessions. Please do reach out to us via email or through our social channels. We would love to say hello, grab a coffee, and chat with you about your non-profit technology needs.
Portland, Oregon is one of our all-time favorite cities! We actually lived there for about 18 months and have lots of suggestions on things you should eat, see, and do if you’re visiting the city for vacation or for NTEN.
Here’s what we suggest:
EAT ALL THE DONUTS + GO FOR COFFEE
Portland is known for some pretty cool donut shops. The most famous is the 24-hour Voodoo Doughnut with their crazy flavors and toppings. You’ll see people carrying the pink boxes and a line-up around the building.
The locals generally head to Blue Star Donuts for their pillowly brioche donut recipe and flavors like matcha, blood orange, and blueberry basil bourbon. Make sure to pair with a local coffee from shops like Heart Coffee Roasters, Nossa Familia, or Stumptown.
BROWSE THE BOOKSTORE OF ALL BOOKSTORES
Powell’s Books is pretty much a Portland institution and spans a full city block. We love going here, browsing new books and shopping their super cute souvenir section. The bookstore also holds regular author readings – so DO check the calendar and see if anyone fun is there during your trip. Don’t forget – Oregon is tax-free shopping!
WALK THE PEARL DISTRICT
While you’re at Powell’s, take some time to walk around the historic Pearl District (our old neighborhood!). There are lots of great local shops, restaurants, and breweries to explore – all within an easy walking distance of each other. Look for the second largest Anthropologie store in the country and my fave store, Porchlight for cute home decor.
If you need a break from conference food, there’s a huge Whole Foods Market here to stock up on healthy snacks during your stay.
WHERE TO EAT
Ok, it’s seriously tough to narrow down a list of our favorites – but if it’s your FIRST time visiting Portland, these are sort of the fun essentials:
Pok Pok – Everyone loves the fish sauce wings and their spicy Northern Thai menu. Their Division street location is their original, but also the busiest.
Por Que No – Even though we live in LA now, I still dream about their tacos and margaritas. A local gem, usually a line (it’s quick serve) – but it moves fast. I usually order the fish tacos here, but they are all amazing. Make sure to hit-up the self-serve salsa bar.
Pine Street Market – A food hall in the heart of downtown featuring a curation of a few local Portland faves. I’m a big fan of Wiz Bang Bar for soft-serve, pizza from Checkerboard, ramen from Marukin (they are from Tokyo!) or Spanish-style rotisserie chicken from Pollo Bravo.
Ava Gene’s – A fantastic Italian place where they make all their pastas from scratch. Great place to take clients and reservations are a must. If you can’t get in here, I love Tusk – their sister restaurant with a Mediterranean-focused menu.
Nong’s Khao Man Gai – Sublime Thai chicken and rice and a local fave. They went from a food cart to a brick and mortar! Quick-serve format.
Deschutes Brewery – I just love the PNW vibe here and the warmth of their dining room. A great place to order a flight of microbrews and a pretzel with cheese dipping sauce with a group. Central location is also a bonus! But seriously, there are 70+ micro breweries in and around Portland – go discover them all and have a tasting flight.
Portland Food Carts – You’ll see food carts parked all over Portland – they look like TINY homes and the homemade food is delicious, super affordable and cooked with so much care. Some of the food carts grow such a big local following that they eventually graduate to multiple locations or into a brick and mortar.
Tasty ‘N Alder – If you have time to graze over brunch and have a nice breakfast on your last day, head here for some hearty fare.
Salt & Straw Ice Cream – Our beloved local ice cream chain has gone big in other cities including Seattle, LA, and SF. It’s worth ALL the hype! Look for the line and sample all the flavors!
Smith Tea – Is it raining? Head to one of the Smith Teamakers Tasting Rooms and order a flight of artisanal teas that are blended right in Portalnd and get warm and cozy.
SEE THE GARDENS
If you happen to have some downtime or are arriving into Portland early or staying after the NTEN Conference, be sure to visit the gardens! The International Rose Test Garden is free and there are pretty views of Mount Hood. From here, the paid (and totally worth it) Portland Japanese Garden is great place to find your moment of zen. Stay for a tea and snack in their new teahouse. You could also head up to Pittock Mansion (if you have a car, it’s a close drive) for another great view of the city.
GO FOR A SOAK OR SPA
One of my fave places to wind down in PDX is at Knot Springs (above).Go for a soak and get a massage while overlooking the city skyline and wearing a Pendleton towel hoodie. If you’re in need of a mani/pedi, I like Zama Massage where you can chill out in a salt room on weekdays (call ahead for salt room availability) after your treatment. Loyly is a Scandinavian sauna concept that also offers massages and spa treatments. Admission to the sauna is only $26.
Want more suggestions or got more time? See my in-depth Portland Travel Guide and my post on Things To Do When It Rains In Portland.