Early on, Nate and I discovered that unforgettable experiences make great gifts. Currently, we’re knee-deep in family life and so this often involves picnics on the porch, friends around our table or simply exploring our corner of the world. It also means we don’t always get to travel together. I embrace the challenge of traveling as a family but it is an extra special adventure to take a break from soccer practice, pre-school lunches, carpool and the grocery store to get dropped off at the airport by myself! Recently, we both admitted the realities of life were getting overwhelming and our tanks were running empty. So my husband cashed in our frequent flyer miles and we each picked out a different solo-trip created around decompressing and inspiration.
Portland’s an excellent retreat for busy mama’s for several reasons.
1.) Pack your play clothes. Stay in your active wear. Seriously, the easiest trip I’ve ever packed for. I’m typically in work out clothes or a cute outfit that revolves around some kind of trendy running shoe. Thank heavens for Converse! One tip I got for Portland–bring a rain coat with a hood. Hiking, exploring, doing yoga. The dress code is serious about relaxation, warmth and doing anything but stressing about your outfit.
2.) Epic Scenery. It’s so easy to get off the beaten and let the vistas bring you back to a place of wonder. Whether you want to stand and admire the view from Colombia River Gorge Crown Point Vista House while exploring from your car. Or a simple hike to Bridal Veil Falls or Beacon Rock to get the blood pumping. The beauty of nature is guaranteed to sweep you away.
If you’re a Goonies fan or have a friend who’s willing to pretend you’re still kids. Head out to Cannon Beach on the coast. About 90 minutes west of Portland. The ocean is always restorative to the soul. Stop at get a scone at the Sleepy Monk Coffee Roasters. Park next door in the public parking and put on your heavy duty play-clothes for beach combing until you’re starving and then stop in a Mo’s for their famous Clam Chowder. Mama tip-if you happen to bring a bag of sand back with you in your suitcase TSA might need to do some extra screening.
3.) Come for the food, stay for the wine/beer. Portland is a hub of great food. (Don’t believe me ask my friend and world class foodie the Food Bitch for her top places to eat in Portland.) After a day of hiking we headed over to Alberta Street in Portland and tumbled in to the Tin Shed drooling with hunger. Try the Salm I Am scramble with smoked salmon capers. Don’t miss their homemade biscuits and jam or rosemary gravy. Speaking of rosemary, locals will help you find the nearest Burgerville and let you know if their Rosemary fries are in season. This is fast food Portland style.
4.) Wander, explore, shop. Portland is special for slowing down. It might be the weather, the book stores, or the fact that you don’t have kids in tow. But there are tons of places to explore that are filled with breakables or kid friendly. Grab the kids and stroll through the Vancouver Farmers Market . Kid free? Wander over to The French Door where you’ll find everything from a vintage piece of blue china, a Parisian Street sign or a dining table for a great price then head next door to the Urban Barnhouse In Portland proper, lose yourself in Powell’s Books after a stop at the Portland Farmer’s Market.
5.) Everywhere you look there’s a place serving great coffee! Busy mama’s run on coffee and excellent coffee feeds the soul. Grab a latte at Compass Coffee Roasting and take along walk through Fort Vancouver or check out the Vancouver Library for excellent architecture and great views. In Portland, check out Stumptown Coffee or Floyd’s Coffee Old Town both are walking distance to Voodoo Donuts. Mama tip-bring cash if you’ve got a donut craving, Voodoo doesn’t take cards.
Thankfully by the time I reached the airport I felt recharged and ready to head home. I missed my people.
Until next time Portland!