Hot take: Portland is weird. One minute, you're in an industrial neighborhood, next, a bustling cityscape, and then suddenly, a quaint suburb...and that's just the short list. Portland is home to both big and small business, and vacillates between feeling like a major metropolitan hub and a small town in the Midwest. Having spent a significant portion of my life both living in a big city (Los Angeles) and visiting America's heartland (northwest Indiana), I feel uniquely qualified to make the assertion that finding these vastly different communities contained within a single city do, in fact, make Portland weird.
However, my equally hot take is that although the word "weird" has a traditionally negative connotation, Portland's weirdness is what makes it an amazing place to visit.
Where else can you find a Halloween-themed cocktail bar sandwiched in between the
infamous Voodoo Doughnuts and a burgeoning million dollar tech start up? In what town can you float down the Clackamas River at noon and be sipping hundred dollar scotch by five? Portland just refuses to be pigeonholed into a single category, and that's why I love it.
Our latest trip to the Pacific Northwest was no exception to wild vacillations in this little town.
We arrived late Friday night and successfully scared the crap out of my best friend, who had no idea we were coming in for the weekend to surprise her for her birthday. Saturday started with a swing dancing event at a local watering hole (our friends are avid dancers), then the girls split off from the boys to do an Instagram tour of downtown while the menfolk contented themselves with playing Magic the Gathering for five hours (see, Portland = weird). We reconvened for pizza and a Moana screening at home (...maybe my friends and I actually the weird ones, not Portland), then ended the night at the Scotch Lodge for a whiskey tasting.
Sunday was one of those rare, warm weather winter days in the city, so we grabbed coffee and cinnamon rolls at Cathedral Coffee Shop, and sought out the sunshine at Mt. Tabor.
In keeping with the theme of weird, the park patrons varied just as greatly as the boroughs within the city; fellow sun seekers included families with dogs and small children, couples, friends, exercise nuts, cyclists, slackliners, and the odd skateboarder. We played games and picnicked before heading home to watch the Super Bowl, which resulted in a Rams win, to my Niners-loving chagrin. After the game ended, it was off to Raven's Manor for an "elixir making experience," which was equal parts bartending class and escape room. All of the employees were dressed in spooky attire and were in character the entire time, even running around the restaurant to act out a scene, and it was the perfect way to celebrate my friend's birthday while also getting to see and do something new in the city.
Although it's certainly not the last time I'll be in the Pacific Northwest (I have a road trip up the coast planned for early April), it was easily one of my most memorable trips, and left this little travel weirdo feeling very happy.