travel advice needed: what up, portland?


OK, I’m headed with the fam to Portland, Oregon this weekend. And I want to hit the best spots. Where should I go? What are the can’t-miss hot spots? And no, I don’t want to know where to go for the best indie rock shows. Unfortunately, I haven’t been that girl since 1992. I’m looking for the can’t-miss boutiques for handmade, original mama-made-this gear for me and the toddler for fall. Cute sweaters, dolls, toys, bags. You know — great, quality¬†goodies.

It seems whenever I’m deep into the blogosphere, I stumble across a crafty woman with an “about me” all about her and her store in Portland. Since I’m headed to the city for the first time, I don’t want to miss this unique group of crafters. Advice? — Beth J.

From our partners

don’t have any crafty advice but check out this hotel…i’m dying to stay there sometime

Asphalt Flower

Ask CityMama!
She’s one of my favorite bloggers and she lived in Portland for almost two years with a toddler and a preschooler.

Check out the new Rachael Ray magazine (Aug/Sept issue). It has a nice article on Portland “12 Reasons to Love Portland.” Atleast it will get you started…

Beth J.

I’ll definitely run out and buy the Rachael Ray magazine today. Re: CityMama — I just checked out the site and I think she’s based in San Francisco. Is this her? –Beth


I wouldn’t miss “donna & toots”, 1631 NE Alberta. She’s an amazing designer with lots of local wares. After visiting her shop, the street is lined with great places to visit. Enjoy!

I second the recommendation to check out The Kennedy School. A night’s stay there is very reasonable and worth every penny. If you already have a place to crash, it’s worth a visit to see the beautiful space and maybe have a snack and a beer in the courtyard.

Oh, and if you want to eat at a lovely and amazing restaurant, try The Veritable Quandary,


Luckily, the best shops tend to be clumped on the same streets. Start at one end of NE Alberta St. and work your way down. Ditto for N. Mississippi St., SE Hawthorne, and NW 23rd Avenue. There are TONS of amazing shops and boutiques in the Pearl District, scattered about, but are walking distance from each other. Hopefully you have enough time to hit them all, and still see the amazing sights!

Yeah! Portland is the best! I’ll never leave! Here are some ideas:

1. Take a walk on NE Alberta between 14th-28th – hidden boutiques with handcrafted, one of a kinds, and just very high style/reasonable price. Several great kids stores, plus BOLT – a great fabric shop. The street looks iffy at times (hey – this was the hood just a couple of years ago) but really talented people are taking advantage of the low rent to show off some cool stuff. This street is VERY close to the Kennedy School. And don’t miss the soaking pool at the Kennedy School – we go up there from our house once in a while – very relaxing.

2. To see the high end market of boutiques in Portland, talk a walk on NW 23rd Ave from Burnside to Overlook – crammed with shoppes big and small. Very trendy – not quite as unique as Alberta.

3. Another great shopping walk is SE Hawthorne between 41st and 23rd. Tons of shops – great eating. Sort of hippy dippy in a charming way. Powell’s Bookstore for Cooks and Gardeners can take up lots of your time!

The ultimate in good eating in Portland is at Higgins – expensive but completely a “Portland” experience. A great bargain with lots of atmosphere is Bistro Montage – under the Morrison Bridge in inner SE. Roux is a hot fairly new place somewhat near the Kennedy School that gets lots of press. Also, take a drive down Mississippi Ave. for some hot spots to eat.

I hope you have a great weekend!


I second PDXKatie, especially on the NE Alberta (starting around 33rd and walking down to 15thish). Definitely hit Mississippi for more unique boutiques loaded with goodies, like Flutter, Pin Me, there are too many to list. And while on Mississippi you want to eat at Lovely Hula Hands if you have a chance! Run by two sisters, in a big pink house, delish food and even more delish “vintage” cocktails.

Unfortunately Ella/Posie (roseylittlethings) is closed. But she did have a great blog post about things to do in Portland from people in Portland.
I personally would avoid St Cupcake – they are cute, and they have a great variety, but their cupcakes are no rival for those of NY cupcakeries and seeing as how you’re coming for some Portland action, you’d be better off visiting a Northwesty coffee shop (like Stumptown or the Fresh Pot) or Pix Patisserie, which is certainly worth a visit if you have a sweet tooth.

I agree about the Rachel Ray mag, it has some goodies this month. And also, if you can find a Portland Monthly ( this month’s issue is Best of the City. Also nab a Willamette Week (our Village Voice?) because this week’s issue is Best of Portland.

If you go to NW 23rd you should definitely hit Gilt, they have the most beautiful selection of vintage jewelry.

A few crafty mom bloggers in Portland:

Enjoy Portland, it is such a wonderful city. I’m from NY, and I’d never move back having lived here. I’ve tried, twice, but I always coming running back to Portland.

Asphalt Flower

Yes, CityMama just moved back to SF. But she used to live in Portland with two kids (in Ramona the Pest’s old ‘hood, no less).


Voodoo Doughnuts is an institution. It’s hipster but even dorks like me go their on occasion.


wait! More! for cool kids

Black Wagon just opened a store on Mississippi (3964 N. Mississippi)

Jaminga (1439 NE Alberta St)

Beth J.

You guys are amazing! These are wonderful suggestions — now I’m even more exciting about my trip. Thank you, thank you!


I love Portland! It’s my favorite city.
The best cup of coffee I’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking (and it was take-out!):
The Japanese Garden is gorgeous and serene:
And I second the recommendation for Bistro Montage.

second sunday at dougfir lounge (home to hip indie music but i know you aren’t that kinda girl) i haven’t been myself but it might be worthy of checking out.

near dougfir there is a stretch of local shops along burnside (btw 7th and 10th ish???)

i’m not much of a shopper, so i’ve only seen them in passing.

tinshed or helsers on alberta (15th or so) has a great breakfast to fortify you.


DO NOT miss out on Pix! Little dessert bar on Division SE and I think about 34th or 36th. They are totally adorable and have some of the best pastries on the earth! Also, they are right next door to the Hedge House, also tasty and cute–beer and sandwich-y sorts of things.

I lived in Portland for a few years and miss it like mad!


My absolute favorite kids store is Polliwog on Belmont near 30th.

I wrote a little crafty round-up guide to Portland for my getcrafty column last summer, if you have a minute to check that out, too.

I definitely recommend stopping by Crafty Wonderland on Sunday! There are 40+ crafters selling their work, including cool handmade kids’ clothes–plus they have a free make-your-own-craft table (very kid-friendly). This month’s project is vintage chenille flowers.

And Stumptown coffee is the best thing ever. If you want cupcakes, stop by Bakery Bar in inner SE Portland, very close to the river.

The Portland Zine Symposium is going on this weekend…

But there might be an overload of black glasses and opression. (or depression, you never know!)

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[…] and what to see. Even suggestions on which websites to trust would be helpful. You all offered such wonderful advice when fellow contributor Beth J. was looking for places to go in Portland, I know you won’t […]