Hey everyone! If you follow me on Instagram, then you know Cury and I just returned from a trip to Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington. We don’t get to travel as much as we would like to, so I tend to get intimidated by it. Not so much the traveling part, but the ‘what heck are we going to do when we get to this place we’ve never been to’ part. As all of you would agree, I want to make the most of my trip – eat good food, see all the sights, take a bunch of pictures, and simply have a stress-free, busy, happy time. 🙂
Let me tell you, this trip was an adventure we will hold onto forever. We had the best time! Each day was packed full. We ate the good food, saw incredible sights, took hundreds of pictures, and still had time to feel stress-free and happy. We did everything we set out to do, so when our trip came to an end, we didn’t feel sad to leave… of course we wouldn’t have minded a longer stay… but we felt so accomplished that we were okay with going back home and back to our real life.
There is no way we could have accomplished all that we did if it wasn’t for all of the incredible travel blogs, Instagram accounts, and friend’s advice. I would like to pay it forward and share the details behind our beautiful trip. I will share our booking process, budgeting system, travel tips, (ha! 3 trips in 2 years and I’m giving tips) and of course pictures… so many pictures! 🙂
b o o k i n g
Everyone has a different method. I’m not sure if I would call my little system a method, but it has worked from me on all of the last three trips I have booked.
I usually book 5-7 months before our trip. I know thats early, but it works for us. We save and save our money while shopping around so that our trip can be completely paid for before we leave for it, and we still have time to save spending money for while we’re there.
I typically book through Expedia. from all the comparing I’ve done, they always come out on top. Especially if your trying to book multiple things. They have great bundling deals which came in handy for this trip. We needed our flight, hotel, and a car. All of which can be super pricey! So, for about a month or so, I will type in a few different departure and return scenarios. I feel like this is a key step to get the best deal. We left for Portland on a Sunday. If we had left on Friday or Saturday, our price went up between $100 and $200. Then we took the red eye on Friday night – which also saved us some money. We had all day Friday, but we didn’t have to pay for another night at the hotel. Plus, leaving on a Friday still gave us the weekend to recover, unpack, and (let’s be honest) be as lazy as we wanted to be.
Another way we saved money on this trip, was by not checking our bags. We flew Delta so, our carryon luggage was free. There are some downsides to doing this (especially if you buy too many souvenirs) but you can always go to the local post office, get a flat rate box, and ship your goodies home. You’ll end up spending $10-$20 instead of $80 to check your bag.
I have also found that the hotels near the airport are usually cheaper. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Airport. Everything was clean, decor was up to date, and they had a restaurant available. I think a lot of airport hotels cater to people who travel for work, so they don’t have all the fancy extras, but it makes for a fine place to sleep. Plus we were only a 10-15 minute drive from downtown Portland. Staying at this hotel vs. the cheapest one downtown saved us about $200.
We also did something on this trip that we have never done before, and it was a very rare that it even worked out this way… We purchased roundtrip tickets to fly out of and return to O’hare in Chicago. This saved us $275/person! Cody (Cury’s brother) was kind enough to drive us there, (3.5 hour trip) but we could have of course taken the train. Then on the way home our flight had a layover in Detroit! yay! So we just grabbed our bags and hopped off the plane and my mom picked us up 🙂
In summary, our trip cost us a total of $1517.92 – that price was for two travelers so $758.96/person) round trip plane tickets, a hotel room for 5 nights, a four door economy car, (through enterprise) and travel protection. Not bad!
b u d g e t
There isn’t near as much to say about this. We don’t really “budget” on our trips. We don’t worry about money at all because we stress, worry, and save before the trip. Basically, we make sure the trip is completely paid for a few months before we leave. Then we save as much as we can and only spend that. A lot of times we go with $1000.00 and come back with $200-$300. But if we don’t com back with any, we are fine with that too since it was meant to spend on the trip. We don’t use credit cards! That’s just asking for trouble in our case 😉
t i p s
As far as tips go, I don’t have many. lol
We packed light. Any toiletries we couldn’t carry on, we just bought at the pharmacy after we landed.
I would definitely carry a small backpack. Cury had a little one on his back the whole time incase we purchased anything. He carried my wallet and our phone chargers on there. And I was able to carry the camera bag (which is also a backpack)
We had a rule that we couldn’t eat food from any restaurant we could get back home. This may have saved us from E. coli lol seriously! 40 some Chipotle’s in Oregon and Washington had to close their doors the week we were there because of an E. coli outbreak! yikes! So try new foods, see how the locals eat, absorb the culture! I will provide a list of the fabulous restaurants we visited while we were there.
Tips about Portland specifically – one, you’re not allowed to pump your own gas. Two, no sales tax! so do all your shopping there 🙂
Take tons of pictures. Thats’s a given, but be sure to live in the moment as well. The memories you make that you can’t possibly record are sweeter than looking back at images that are beautiful but hold no meaning.
Now.. onto our trip!
m o n d a y
Monday started out at Bushel & Peck Bakeshop. I got the blueberry lavender muffin and Cury got a sausage biscuit breakfast sandwich. Both of which were wonderful. I heard about Bushel & Peck from an article I read by Kinfolk magazine (my favorite magazine) Plus I even got to see their office since it is right around the corner from the bakeshop.
We then decided to drive around a bit since our only thing to do for the day was to see the city. Plus, it rains a lot in Portland and Seattle, so be prepared for that. It’s not a constant rain, but the sky usually looks like it could rain at any second.
I had a pretty good cold going on for the majority of our trip, so we stopped at a little juice bar called Green Leaf Juicing Company and ordered a wheatgrass shot and a drink called the garden. Both were good… for juice.
After checking out a few vintage shops, (one on every corner) we were ready to try some food from a food truck. In portland, there are food trucks lined up for blocks. The smell was insanely good. I can’t imagine walking around there without eating! We stopped at Grilled Cheese Grill. I got “the Gabby” with tomatoes added and Cury ordered “the hunter” Both were SO good! The toasted, buttery bread and variety of melty cheeses were matched up and cooked up perfectly.
After lunch we got all the shopping our of our systems.. well, Cury let me get all the shopping out of my system I suppose. I have to visit Anthropologie in every city that has one! I usually don’t buy anything, but each one is set up differently and I feel so inspired when I see how it’s decorated. If you are interested in any shopping while in Portland, there’s a lot of great stuff downtown. Here is a mall with all the typical mall stores. Plus Anthropologie, Madewell, Sur la Table, etc. are on/around Couch Street. As far as parking goes, it’s pretty simple. Portland isn’t a chaotic town. There are plenty of parking garages. Some you pay at the end of your stay and some you can park for 4 hours only. It’s reasonable too. I believe we parked for 4 hours for $10.
It was close to sunset by the time we left downtown and we were getting hungry again, so we decided to find St. John’s bridge I had seen a few photos of it on Pinterest and decided it would be worth seeing.
After seeing the bridge, (which is worth seeing by the way) we decided to be random and walk into the first bar we saw, have a beer, and some food. I like not having a plan from time to time. That’s how you find those hole in the wall places. The bar we chose was in St. John’s (the little town on the other side of the bridge) it was called, The Fixin To – very cool atmosphere. Small town pub feel. I think literally everyone there knew each other which was kinda cool since that’s what we’re used to after living in a small town for our whole lives. They had an outside patio covered in lights and filled with picnic tables. In the corner there was a stage for the local bands that play on the weekends. The menu was basic and they had your typical brews along with several craft beers on tap. I don’t know if you want to go out of your way to visit The Fixin to, but if you are in St. John’s, I would definitely recommend it.
t u e s d a y
Tuesday morning started out with another great breakfast spot. Tasty and Sons was incredible. They are a very unique, hip little place outside of downtown Portland (yay! for free parking) Not only is their menu filled with unique creations, but everything is “served to share” It pretty much means how it sounds.. after Cury and I ordered, our waitress only brought one entree at a time so that we could share each dish with one another. I ordered the open faced Monte Cristo which was french toast covered in thinly sliced ham and topped with jalapeño maple bacon. (sounds weird but was incredible) Cury ordered the fried chicken cheddar biscuit which was exactly as it sounds with an egg thrown on there. We decided to try their famous chocolate potato doughnut. Again, it sounds so strange, but everything tasted fantastic. After breakfast, we walked around the block and went into a couple local shops for some souvenirs.
Our agenda for the day required my camera and we were waiting on my memory card to come in from Amazon. so we decided to see St John’s bridge from underneath. It was gorgeous. There was a parking lot, trails to walk, and of course the river to look at. And it was all under the bridge.
After my memory card arrived, we were off to Multnomah Falls (about 40 minutes from Portland) Cury was giddy about the trip out there since it’s nothing but mountains and the Columbia River.
We were so excited to finally see the waterfall that I see all over Instagram and Pinterest. I highly recommend going. There is a paved trail to hike the mountain to the top of the falls. It’s about a mile uphill, but you’ve got to do it. The views are incredible. The mountain overlooks the Columbia River Gorge.
After our hike we used the pamphlets we grabbed to chose a place for dinner. Just up the road there was a town called Cascade Locks. There was a brewery right on the Columbia River called Thunder Island Brewing Company it will look like you’re pulling up to someone’s pull barns or storage units, but if you drive all the way until you see the river, you’ll see the brewery. This was the only picture we got, but you can see how great it is. The beer was awesome too! We got the Scotch Porter. It was close to sunset when we left and there were a few parks I wanted to see on the way back, so we took off and found this little abandoned nook. I can’t tell you exactly where we were, but any place you stop along the river is gorgeous like this. we were hungry (yet again) once we got back into town, and I had remembered an ice cream shop I read great things about, so we had to check it out. It’s called Salt and Straw there are several locations and I can’t remember which one we went to..
Cury ordered a double fold vanilla shake with crushed waffle cone on top. I ordered the strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper in a waffle cone. It. was. amazing! All the ice cream is made right there. The place was packed, and the atmosphere was typical hip Portland fashion. There was a guitarist right outside that we got to sit and listen to.You must pay them a visit if you are in Portland.
ROAD TRIP! Cury and I got up bright and early and made our way to Seattle, WA. Seattle has long been on my places to see list. I was a weird kid who stayed up late every night (I still do) and after I had watched all the I love Lucy marathons on Nick at Night that I could, I moved onto the show, Fraiser. I have no clue why, but since those days, I have wanted to see Seattle. It always seemed like such a chic, nautical, happening city to me.
Seattle is roughly three hours from Portland. The GPS said 2.5 hours, but after traffic (that I assume is always there) it was more like three hours.
Our first stop was Biscuit Bitch. I read only positive reviews about this place, and given the name, I had to see it. I like anything bold and sarcastic 🙂 We didn’t get great photos, but they lived up to the standard. There was a line out the door when we got there (that’s when you know it’s good) the inside was so cool – couches, mismatched chairs, edgy artwork, and great music. The menu was hilarious – Cury ordered the Easy Bitch and I ordered the Smokin’ hot Bitch. Both were so good so we took on the Tasty and Son’s method and shared our meals 🙂
We of course had to see Pike’s place. It was awesome. The king of all farmer’s markets 🙂 The only bummer about it was not being able to buy the fresh seafood! ugh.. but it was cool to watch them throw the fish. We saw the first ever Starbucks – which is pretty much like every other Starbucks 🙂 . And we had the best mac and cheese in the world at Beechers– where they make their own cheese right in front of you.
We saw the disgusting gum wall. and even added to it…
We were both kind of overwhelmed with Seattle as well as tired from our long day the day before. So, we wandered around for a little bit doing nothing. The space needle but it wasn’t a huge priority for us to see, plus it was a bit of a drive to get to it. We were recommended several restaurants to try, but we didn’t have the stomachs to just eat all day. We stopped at a Starbucks to take a break from walking and took a look at the newspaper to see if there was a play or anything we could go to, but nothing was going on on a Wednesday night. Looking back now, I wish we would have gone to the art museum, but it unfortunately didn’t cross my mind until later.
We walked to the end of the pier around sunset and looked back at the city skyline as it started to light up. It was beautiful. We contemplated a ferry ride, which I know would have been gorgeous, but we were both so tired. So we left instead lol
t h u r s d a y
We started out Thursday with a new breakfast place. Sweedeedee was a cute little cafe that was packed to the brim with locals. They played all their music from an old record player which was kinda cool. the menu was on the smaller side, but I’m convinced that everything they serve is the best thing you’ve ever eaten 😉 Great prices and large portions. Cury got a breakfast wrap and I got the ham sandwich (mostly because it was on a pretzel bun) Everything was delicious. Before we left, we decided that we needed to try their famous salted honey pie with homemade whip cream. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about this, but it was surprisingly good.
After breakfast, we ventured on another road trip (a smaller one) to the coast. looking back, if I had to choose a favorite day, this one would be it. Everything about the day was so laid back and relaxing. We got to talk and laugh all the way there. Then when we go there, it was everything we were hoping it would be. Again, I mostly used the pamphlets from Multnomah Falls to plan this trip.
We drove from Portland to Hug Point- about an hour and a half drive. It was just us when we arrived – which was awesome. It was all misty and rocky. There was a really cool cave to the right of us. It was gorgeous.
Then we made our way up to Cannon Beach- about 15 minutes up the road. It was such a cute little town. It reminded me of a more town-y version of Traverse city, Michigan. We wanted to stay here a little longer than we did, but we had to make our way up the coast with plenty of daylight to spare, so we just walked around for a little bit. we would love to go back to Oregon and stay in Cannon Beach. From Cannon Beach, we stopped at another little ocean outlook at Ecola. From there we went to Astoria- about a 30-40 minute drive. We loved Astoria. It wasn’t as quaint as Cannon Beach, but they had all the good food. A guy at the wine shop in Cannon Beach recommended Bouy Beer Company (and I had read about it in my pamphlet) So, we decided to eat here and enjoy a few beverages. This was by far the coolest brewery we have ever been to. It was right on the water. The service and menu were great. The beer was unique and tasty. And to top it off, we got to watch wild seals hang out right outside the window we were at. They had also cut a small square out of the floor and replaced it with glass so you could look down and see them below your feet. It was so cool. Cury and I are already excited to make our next trip to Oregon all about the coast. We only saw two cities and were smitten, I can’t imagine how much the rest of it has to offer.
f r i d a y
As I mentioned before, we took the red eye home, so we had all day Friday. We took advantage of the 12pm checkout and slept in. We got up, backed our bags, and checked out of the hotel then headed to the last restaurant that we were dying to try- Pine State Biscuits. Again, we walked up to the restaurant only to find a line out the door, which must happen often because they have heaters under the awnings outside. After a 15 minute wait, we ordered the Reggie deluxe, which was fried chicken, cheese and egg on a biscuit with sausage gravy on top. I also ordered a side of fried green tomatoes (i’ve always wanted to try them) and a sweet tea. The biscuits were so fluffy, and i’m sure it’s pretty hard to mess up chicken, gravy, and an egg combo. The fried green tomatoes were so good! I may even try to make them myself. We were so happy with this place that we contemplated going back for lunch.. we were way to full still at lunch time to return 🙂
It was a windy, cold, rainy day, and to be honest, we were about worn out. So we decided to take it easy and go see a movie. We decided on The Martian starring Matt Damon. It was a great movie. Very intense, but not as horrifying as Gravity (I hated that movie)
Across the street from the theater was the Lloyd Center Mal. We needed to throw together some kind of Halloween costume for a party at our friend’s house the next day, so we spent some time there. After the mall, we hit up the post office to send out all of our goodies. We went for a drive to soak up the last bit of Portland’s views, then off toward the airport. There is a pretty big plaza next to the airport. There’s an Ikea, Target, and several other shops I can’t remember, plus food! We ordered a pizza, some breadsticks, and a soda from By Design Pizza (all for $15.00) and ate it in the car while we reminisced all the fun we had over the past week.
After that, we went to the airport, dropped off the car, and headed to our terminal.
We are both so grateful for this trip. We have talked about it at some point everyday since we left.
If you are heading to Portland anytime soon, I’d be happy to share any other information I can with you. I will soon post a list of the resources i found helpful.