GETTING A LYFT & A TOUR
STEP GOAL: ~5,000
INTENSITY LEVEL: EASY
DISTANCE: ~2.5 MILES
This was my second time in Portland and I thought I’d do something different...instead of my usual research to curate my own schedule, I decided to just take some recommendations while I was there. I didn’t abandon my planning tendencies completely, however; I had already scheduled to go on an official walking tour and head over to see the Japanese Gardens the following day.
I didn’t have to go far for a few great recommendations. It turned out that my Lyft driver Chelsea was the perfect person to talk to. We bonded over how we both thought the best way to see a city is on foot. She is originally from Oregon, but not Portland, but has lived in the area for several years. She was actually joking about making a Chelsea’s recommendation list for her passengers, since she gets asked A LOT about things to do.
So, Chelsea, if you read this, here’s a start to that list!
After checking in and dropping off luggage, I headed out into the sunshine...which no one was taking for granted. It was about 80 degrees in early May, which was very unusual. And I had plans thanks to Chelsea to soak up as much of that sunshine as possible, especially since I was coming from an extremely rainy spring season in Connecticut.
Portland changes quite a bit as you walk from the hustle and bustle of the main downtown area, which I’d say is near Pioneer Square. Once you get to Burnside (which I learned is the street that delineates the north side from the south side), things aren’t quite as polished; the buildings and trees, however, still give you lots to look at. Portland is known for its city planning and you can see for at least 4 blocks in each direction!
Enter the Wonderland
That phrase “Enter the Wonderland” is literally inscribed on one of the main entrances to the Lan Su Chinese Garden and it’s absolutely true. It’s like a meditative oasis in the middle of a bustling and fluctuating city. Opened in 2000 and built as a scholar’s garden, this highly authentic bit of fenced in greenery includes a 60+ year old wisteria, a mini bonsai forest, a moored “ship”, poems, bamboo and more. I happened to arrive just before 1pm, in time to join a guided walking tour that is included with the cost of admission. Definitely worth the time if you’re not familiar with traditional gardens like these, which I can definitely say I was not at all.
I concluded my visit with an afternoon tea in the tea house that looked out into the garden. (If you go, order the green tea pumpkin seeds. So tasty! I am now on the hunt to find back here on the east coast!)
Walking into a walking tour
As I walked to my next destination, I noticed these interesting bronze plaques on the ground. (I tribute seeing them in the first place to being more present and aware given the peaceful state I was in after leaving the garden!).
As I stopped to look at the plaque more closely, a woman named Deborah or Debra (didn’t catch the spelling) came out of the nearby shop to see if I wanted more information about it. She handed me a brochure. Apparently, there is a whole series of plaques around the Historic Old Town Chinatown that highlight the many cultures (African American, Chinese, Filipino, Greek, Japanese, Jewish, Native American, Roma and Scandinavian) that shaped the area. By following the 20 plaques, you get a free walking tour of a few blocks between 3rd and 4th Avenues.
Magic is in the hole
While not a direct recommendation by Chelsea, I had to stop at Voodoo Doughnut by request from a friend. Thankfully, the line wasn’t too long (though if you know me, I used the time for some leg lifts :)). While they have crazy doughnuts topped with things like fruit loops, oreo cookies, and graham crackers and x-rated versions, which I won’t describe here (since this is really more of a G-rated blog post. haha.). I went with the Voodoo Doll aka jelly doughnut. I thought the pretzel stick in the heart was as wild as I wanted to get that day. And it was magically delicious!
Room with a view
I decided to wash it down with a glass of wine at the next place Chelsea had recommended. (I know not typically the pairing you think of for a doughnut! Haha.) I pulled out my phone to find directions and then realized I could see the Big Pink building I needed to go to just a few blocks away. So, I navigated without any technology and was really proud of myself (it was literally like 3 blocks away, but still, in a new place, I can get turned around in a heartbeat).
The Portland City Grill was my next destination. While the interior is a bit dark and the drinks good; the menu isn’t anything to write home about, but the views certainly are. On the 30th floor of the U.S. Bancorp Tower, you can easily see for miles!
You couldn’t take the stairs, but I did practice by balance in the elevator on the way down. The last leg of my walking tour was even more freeform. While Chelsea had some other good suggestions, I decided to go with one of her final suggestions to just wander around downtown and see what you find. I stumbled upon a local artisan co-op called Artistic Portland and a beautiful park, which was originally built as a women’s only park! The trees all around this city make it so comfortable to walk around, but I did eventually head back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.
My Step Count: ~5,391
Get in line at Voodoo Doughnut.
Walk a few blocks over to the Portland City Grill.
Wander around downtown.
Link to a google map of the route.
Step It Up!
Here are a few fun ways to add more fitstyle to this urban experience:
Take the Willamette River Walkway back downtown.
Add on an excursion to the other side of the river for dinner and walk across one of the pedestrian friendly bridges like the Tilikum Bridge.
Sign up for a brew tour via the Portland Barge, where you’ll get moving with some pedal power!
Other Useful Link(s):
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