Sunday, September 14, 2014

My favorite summer things to do in Oregon

I’ve been spending most of my time doing things rather than writing about them, and I’m a bit sorry but not sorry for doing so. This tends to happen most during the summer time, and since the end is near I’ve been saying YES to every opportunity in or around town that arises for me to bask in summer adventures in all her glory. Here are some activities I highly recommend to do, in no particular order, in case you wanna live in Oregon for a summer (or forever):

-Driving and hiking around the Columbia River Gorge: Along the border of Washington and Oregon, these are my favorite views of the Pacific Northwest. Drive up a smooth highway carved off the edge of endless forest-covered mountains, with a sparkling river below, and stop at trailheads to begin your hike. There are numerous hikes up along this Gorge and they are all fantastic. My favorite is still Angel’s Rest, because the views are spectacular and I’ve seen the most chipmunks there. The Multnomah Falls are in this area as well, so is Crown Point and you can continue up to Hood River. Check out these hikes:

-Floating down the Sandy River. It’s a thing. This is the perfect adventure with your friends on a sizzling hot summer day, when you’ve got the whole day to worry about nothing. Make sure you have at least two cars, one to park at the start (wherever you choose to start, Dabney is the most popular lot) and one at the end (Lewis and Clark is where most people turn in). Grab a cooler, stock it with beverages, bring rope to tie your group together, load up your tubes and get your tan on. I love dipping into the water when it gets too hot, toasting to new friends along the way, and extra kudos if you’ve got waterproof speakers! Beware; you may be sunburnt with a midday hangover by the time you pull your inner tubes out of the water. Prepare to spend the majority of your day in the river, the float can take anywhere between 3-4 hours to 7 hours depending on the current. Make sure not to leave any litter behind!

-Beer festivals. No summer in town is complete without spending numerous weekends chipping in those tokens for multiple tasters of delicious beer. I think I’ve hit almost every major beer fest this summer, from the organic, local, specialties and internationals. I usually hear about them by word of mouth. I love the white tents, the drunken old people, the confused lines for tapped out editions, the accompanying concerts in parking lots and parks, and running into everyone from high school. Most of all I love how they’re always outside and beer just tastes better when you can drink it outside! Here’s a nifty guide:

-Movies at the park. They’re free, play classics, and you can have a dinner picnic with your friends! Perfect weekday activity for a chill evening, plus the location is always changing so you can explore new parks. Make sure to bring a blanket, lawn chairs if you’re smart, and munchies! The only downside is that you can’t drink alcohol, because it’s a park and you might be watching Nemo with little kids. Upside, the little kids might give you their glow sticks for no reason. It’s happened to me. Looks like the season just ended, but there’s always next year!

-Drinking on bar patios. I’m really good at drinking beer when there are so many amazing brews just steps from my door. I love sitting in the back patios where they have strings of little Christmas lights above the tables and you can gather tons of your friends or go on causal dates. There are plenty of these patios all around Portland, but the ones on 21st are the most convenient for me cause I live there. The warm summer night breeze combined with a chilled mojito is just perfect for hanging out on those wooden bench tables. Decks close at 10pm. I also love catching up with friends down by the Brewery blocks at Rogue, Deschutes and Bridgeport. I have also been introduced to Bailey’s Taproom this summer and it’s changed my life a little. The possibilities are endless, so you’ll never go thirsty. Below left is the patio outside of Valentine's, and right is White Owl Society. 

-Running up Washington Park to see the Rose Garden. I do this at least once a week, and I know its cliché but it’s my happy place. The Portland International Rose Garden draws visitors from all over to admire the vast rows of roses in all colors and variations. It’s just a beautiful sight and there are always people with big cameras and couples strolling through. There are numerous trail paths weaving around the garden and I will sometimes continue on running into the woods. I think the time to go is in June/July, but it’s September now and there are still plenty of roses in full bloom. Don’t miss the Japanese Gardens while you’re there.

-Heading out to the Oregon Coast. I hesitate in putting this one in cause I’ve only made it out to the coast once this summer, but I hope to get out there again soon, plus I grew up making multiple trips a year. The Coast is about 2-3 hours out from Portland, depending on which beach you have chosen. Seaside is my favorite for a touristy beach, and Pacific City is my favorite getaway beach. The Pacific Ocean is NOT warm, but the sand is hot in the summer time, and I LOVE the little towns and seaside cottages. The seafood is phenomenal (have oysters! Clam chowder! Crab omelets!), have an ice cream and rent a funky bike. The sunsets are gorgeous on the coast, and remember to bring a windbreaker.

-Going to Timbers Games. I went to my first game on a whim, and I knew it wasn’t going to be my last. The Portland Army is a fierce and passionate crowd as any-if you come to a game you must sit in the Army section. We have our own war chants and victory songs, and the audience is so captivated and fueled on microbrews that no one sits down. If you love soccer, you will have a blast. If you don’t, you will still have a blast and probably leave as a lifelong Timbers fan. Season is almost over, so grab your tickets! Here are some chants for your entertainment:

-Skipping brunch to go for pho or ramen. I’m not going to go too far into the crazy food scene here, so I’ll just stick to this. As much as I love a nice omelet and hashBROWNS, after a wild night out on the town all I want is broth and noodles. It might be an Asian thing, and it’s a good thing cause the lines for the best noodle joints aren’t 2-3 hours long and the worse thing when you’re hung over is having to wait for food. My favorite place for wonton noodles is Good Taste in Chinatwon. For pho it’s gotta be Pho Hung on 82nd although Luc Loc is trendier and closer so I go there too. I just discovered Boxer Ramen and I’m so happy it’s down the street from my house, and definitely hits the spot.  My picks are confirmed here, under the 10 Best Asian Noodles in Portland:

-Always having back up indoor activities. Remember it still rains here, that’s why we have living room theaters, Glowing Greens 3D underground mini-golf ranges, DIY painting studios, Powell’s Bookstore, Ground Kontrol Arcade, and of course our cozy homes. I suppose beer can also be consumed indoors once we have to. I’ve spent so much time outside this summer I’ve barely been home. Right now I’m in bed on a Sunday and I wanna stay here all day.

There is still SO, so much more to do in and around the city that I don’t know about or haven’t gone to yet. That’s another thing I love about this place, that it’s a new city to me because it’s evolved so much but the roots are still where I remembered them. I am looking forward to Autumn, and all that entails. Pumpkin beer, haunted corn mazes, OSU football games…I’m ready for you.

**All photos are my own except the the movies in the park one. Mine all turned out too dark for those :) 

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