Hi, Friends! I hope you all are having an amazing week. I had a fun-filled weekend with my family, playing tourists in our city. Recently, we had the pleasure of reading and reviewing a wonderful book called “100 Things to Do In Portland, Oregon Before You Die.”
“100 Things to Do In Portland, Oregon Before You Die” was written by Ann Smith and Allison Symonds, who wanted to give readers a glimpse of what Portland has to offer.
Ann is an Oregon native who has lived in Portland since the early 2000’s. She also owns a local PR company called A.wordsmith PR in downtown Portland. Being centrally located, Ann knows all the wonders this city has to offer.
Allison only moved to the Pacific Northwest in 2014, but it didn’t take long for our wonderful state to win her over.
I, myself, have lived in Portland since 2000, but have yet to experience everything the city has to offer. Honestly, I was not even aware of many of the experiences highlighted in this book. Fortunately, I do now.
This book is perfect for anyone, whether you live here or are just visiting the area. It has a suggestion for just about anything one could need, from food and entertainment to culture and shopping. The authors also provide tips for some of the attractions, such as when to visit (in order to skip lines) and what to order from certain eateries. Fortunately, many of the activities contained within the book can be done year-round.
My family and I have decided to try and make it a point, each month, of picking at least one activity from the book to gain a new experience or revisit a previous one. Keep in mind, though, that not all of the activities are appropriate for children – so use those as opportunities for a date night with your partner, or just a night out with friends.
The Oregon Zoo is a must-see for any visitor, no matter what time of the year. My kids and I had not visited the zoo in a while but took the opportunity to do so last month. The zoo offered free admission to everyone on that day, and it was pretty packed – but very much worth the visit.
**On the second Tuesday of every month is a discount day**
EAT ON THE STREET:
One thing Portland is known for is the abundance of food carts. It’s no wonder then, that they are also the first activity in the book. With over 600 food carts to choose from, you are guaranteed to find something you like. My fiancé and I are avid foodies, yet we have barely scratched the surface. We have some go-to favorites, of course, but with so many options available we began making it a rule to try a new one each time we have a food cart date. Anything’s PASTAble and The Grilled Cheese Grill are just a couple of our favorites.
**Anything’s PASTAble closed down this month, with the hopes of coming back in the spring of 2017**
GET INSTAGRAM-WORTHY SHOTS:
Visiting Tom McCall Waterfront park is probably one of my favorite things to do. Many things happen at the waterfront – getting great pictures, riding KERR bikes, visiting the Saturday market, or even taking a jog. No matter the time of year, though, there’s always a beautiful view.
TASTE PORTLAND’S BEST DONUTS
This is a controversial topic depending on who you are talking to. Many will say Voodoo Doughnuts have the best. Others will say Blue Star Donuts. Voodoo Doughnuts are nostalgic and creative, but I also love heading to the little mom & pop donut shops – like Sesame Donuts or Donut Land. Donut Land is a newly discovered favorite, recommended by Ann herself. Her favorite donut is the cinnamon crunch donut; and speaking from personal experience, it does not disappoint! The doughnut itself was fresh and soft on the inside and had just the right amount of crunch on the outside.
These are just a handful of the attractions and experiences the book has to offer. The book even offers “activities by season,” and I can’t wait to take part in some of these seasonal recommendations.
Interview with Author: Ann Smith
I also had the honor of interviewing Ann herself on the book research, writing process, and some of her Portland favorites!
– What was the inspiration behind creating the book?
I was fortunate to have been contacted directly the publisher, Reedy Press, which is based in St. Louis. They were looking for someone to write a Portland-focused book and a former colleague of mine (from my time in St. Louis) sent them my way. How could I say no?!
– Did you find the writing process to be long? Or was it quick once all the research was complete?
For me coming up with the list of 100 items was the easy part. In reality, we could have filled many more pages! The writing process was supported heavily by my co-author Allison Wofsey Symonds who made sure that we stayed on course and within the deadlines.
-The book is full of amazing activities with a wide range of options. How did you narrow down your list?
The narrowing down part was hard! Like I said we could have easily come up with hundreds of more great suggestions for things to do in Portland. To come up with the list I started by brainstorming my favorite things in Portland and then had a larger meeting of the minds with everyone on my team at work. It was important to me that the book didn’t just include my favorite things as that wouldn’t be a very well-rounded list!
– Is there an activity or place that did not make the cut, but deserves an honorable mention?
Most definitely. I keep thinking of additional experiences that would have been great in the book. Darcelle XV as one of the city’s most iconic performances; what’s the Scoop for great (and fun!) ice cream; and Wildfang for girl-power clothing.
– How long did the research process take?
Not long, really. We already knew something about every place on the list and for those needing a little more research; we dug in as we went along.
– When it comes to Portland and donuts, people automatically think Voodoo Donuts. What donut shop is your favorite? If any.
I actually live out in Tualatin and my absolute favorite donut shop is Donut Land, located in a nondescript strip mall out there. If you go, you must try the cinnamon crunch donut!
– Portland is also known for food carts. Is there one food cart that is an absolute must try?
It’s impossible to pick just one! I work downtown so my go-to carts are in that area. Chez Dodo on the corner of 4th and SW Stark; I highly recommend the chicken curry over Chef Shyam’s world-famous pan-friend noodles. I’m also a big fan of Tito’s Burritos on the corner of 3rd and SW Washington; three Asada tacos for less than $5! And while you’re in the neighborhood, visit El Pilon on SW 2nd and Oak. Their handcrafted Colombian arepas, empanadas, and patacones are unbelievably good.
– Using the activities in the book, what would a day in Portland look like for you?
Get a jump on the day by taking in an early-morning ride at Burncycle. After a quick shower, head out for breakfast at Waffle Window on Hawthorne Blvd. After breakfast stroll down Hawthorne and check out some of the vintage shops for something uniquely Portland. From there we can head out to the Columbia Gorge for a day hike at Multnomah Falls. Stop at McMenamins Edgefield for some tots and a pint of Ruby ale.
After a mid-day bite, head back toward town. Swing by the Adidas employee store in North Portland and pick up some new swag for half price before heading to the Pearl District to meet up with friends for a swanky cocktail at Teardrop (look for the extra-large ice cubes) before a fun evening of tapas-style Peruvian fare and the infamous Sacsayhuaman (aka Sexy Woman) drink at Andina. If you still have energy after all of that, catch some live jazz at the nearby Jimmy Mak’s before calling it a day.
-Do you think there is a “thing to do” that Portland is missing, but should consider having?
I lived in St. Louis for three years so would advocate for major league baseball and frozen custard!
-Do you see a second book in the making? If so, would you consider expanding to activities in Oregon as a whole?
Whew, I don’t think so, but you never know! I’m from southern Oregon originally so would love feature activities across the state if there’s ever a book number two.
If you intend on visiting Portland or are currently living in the area, I highly recommend picking up “100 Things To Do in Portland, Oregon Before You Die.” As a Portlander myself, it has opened my eyes to so many great things the city has to offer, just waiting for me to find and experience. I would like to thank Ann and Allison for giving me the opportunity to work with them, and for providing all of us with so many ideas of how to experience Portland. My family and I will continue to enjoy many new adventures with the help of their book.