July is Craft Beer Month

If you have not heard by now, Portland is a beer city.  Portland’s craft beer tradition got started 30 years ago with breweries like Bridgeport and Widmer.  Today, Portland has more breweries than any other city in the world.  You can hardly turn a corner in this city without running into a brewery, take a look here.

July is our designated craft beer month.  All month long there is some sort of event, special tasting, or gathering nearly everyday.  OregonCraftBeer.org has the full list here.  In this post however, I want to highlight the festivals, starting with the Portland Craft Beer Fest which starts today.

PORTLAND CRAFT BEER FEST JULY 3 – 5.

The Portland Craft Beer Festival takes place in the Pearl at Fields Park.  The PCBF is a celebration of Portland beer and features only beer brewed within Portland city limits. Given that there are 50+ breweries in town, there will be no shortage of beer.  The PCBF starts today at 4 (although may open early) and admission is $20.

SOUR BEER FESTIVAL JULY 14 – 20

The Sour Beer Festival is hosted by the best bottle shop in Portland, Belmont Station.  If you have yet to try sour beer I highly recommend giving the sour beer festival a try.  Sour beer is actually pretty good and it is fun to try something from brewers who are not trying to out hop each other.

OREGON BREWERS FESTIVAL JULY 22 – 26

The Oregon Brewers Festival is the granddaddy of all Oregon beer festivals.  What started out as a couple of brewers tapping some kegs on the waterfront has turned into a premier beer event attracting people from all over the world.  This year’s event will feature 90 craft beers from across the country and 15 international beers.  Admission is free, however, to taste beer you will need to purchase a $7 mug and $1 tasting tokens.  As all always the event will be on the Waterfront.

 

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Where to Watch Mayweather vs. Pacquiao Fight

If you want to watch the fight here in Portland and do not want to spend $100 for the fight on Pay Per View your options, unfortunately, are limited. Yesterday I called around to the major sports bars and some of my favorite small ones to see if any would be showing the fight.  Thus far it would appear that only 4 sports bars are showing the fight and all will have a decent cover charge.

Buffalo Wild Wings js showing the fight at their Downtown Portland, Beaverton, and Wood Village locations.  The cover will be $20 and a reservation is required.  As of yesterday the only place that still had tables that could be reserved was Wood Village. Beaverton and Downtown were down to standing room only.

On Deck Sports Bar at their Broadway location will also be showing the fight.  They are charging a cover of $30 and seating will be on a first come first serve basis.

The cover at these places is high enough that if you can get five or six of your friends together it may become more economical to order it on PPV.  I will update this post as I learn of more places showing the fight.  If you are aware of others please add them in the comments.

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Portland Day Hike: Latourell Falls Columbia River Gorge

Latourell Falls Lower Falls Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge, 30 minutes east of Portland, is filled with lots of great hiking. You could easily spend a couple of days hiking all the different trails.  I love the Columbia River Gorge and having it in Portland’s backyard is one of the many reasons to love this city.  A really great hike, and the closest of the Columbia River Gorge waterfalls to Portland, is Latourell Falls.  Latourell Falls is a easy to moderate hike just past Vista House on the Historic Columbia River Highway.

To get to Latourell Falls, head east on I-84 out of Portland.  Take exit 22 (Corbet) and drive up to the Historic Columbia River Highway and turn left.  If you have the time the Portland Women’s Forum and Vista House are on the way and worth stopping at.  If you are crunched for time, keep driving.  Latourell Falls is on the right side of the highway past the Vista House.  The parking lot is marked Latourell Falls.  If you are going to hike the falls I suggest heading out early because the parking lot can fill up fast.  If you get to Latourell Falls by 9:30 you should be able to find plenty of parking.  If you get there too late you will need to park on the shoulder of the highway.

The hike to view both Lower Latourell Falls and Upper Latourell Falls is a little over 2 miles. The hike is easy/moderate in difficulty. The beginning to the hike is a bit steep but after that it levels off.  if you are not interested in the hike but just want to view the falls you can get a pretty good view from a trail just below the parking lot.

Latourell Falls Lower Falls Trail Columbia River Gorge

However, I think the hike is well worth it.  It is good exercise and Upper Latourell Falls is a pretty waterfall that is not overly crowded thanks to the uphill hike to get there.

Latourell Falls Upper Falls Columbia River Gorge

Another reason why I think the Upper Latourell Falls hike is worth it is for the view.  After you walk past the falls there is a split in the trail.  One goes up (the way back) and one goes down.  The downhill trail will take you to a lookout with a great view of the Columbia River Gorge below.

View from Latourell Upper Falls Trail Columbia River Gorge

 

If you are looking for a day hike from Portland and don’t have all day to spend in the Columbia River Gorge, then Latourell Falls may be the hike for you.

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Oregon Brewers Festival Starts Wednesday

Here in Portland, we love our craft beer.  With 40+ individual breweries and counting Portland is definitely a beer destination.  Throughout the year there are a variety of beer festivals.  The grandaddy of them all is the Oregon Brewers Festival, which starts on Wednesday.  The festival has come a long way since it started in 1988 when there were just 22 breweries represented.  This year there will be 85 different breweries from across the world sharing their beer with us.

If you have never been to this event, I highly encourage you given it a try.  While it can get a little busy, weekday afternoons are usually mellow enough.  The largest crowds will be Friday night and on Saturday and Sunday.

Admission to the brewers festival is free.  However, if you want to taste the beer you need to buy a tasting mug and wooden tokens.  The mug is $7 and tasting tokens are $1.   A taste will cost you one token and a full mug will cost you four.  The exception is the speciality tent which only serves tastes for two tokens.  There are food vendors, music, and best of all children are welcome.  It is a great event and a Portland must.

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Fleet Week 2014 Starts Wednesday

To be honest, I am not a huge fan of the Rose Festival which started over memorial weekend.  That is why there wasn’t a post announcing the start of the festival last weekend.  The Rose Festival is essentially a carnival on the waterfront and a series of parades.  I have a hard time getting excited about that stuff.

Fleet Week is also a part of the Rose Festival but my attitude about Fleet Week is different. I like Fleet Week.  I like seeing all those ships docked along the river and touring them can be fun and informative.

Last year Fleet Week was a bit of a let down because the Navy cancelled their participation thanks to sequestration.  This year, however, the Navy returns which is good news.

One of my favorite activities, and if I didn’t have to work I would be doing this with the kids, is going to Cathedral Park and watching the ships sail in.

USS Ingraham

The Navy and the other ships generally do not announce their arrival schedule so timing this can be tricky.  However, there is a great website that makes this possible, Marine Traffic.  Ships will arrive between June 4th and 5th.  With this website you can search for ships by name and it will show you the ship’s last location.  I will also use Marine Traffic to watch ships on the Columbia river in real time as they sail into Portland.  Another helpful website is the Ship Report.  The Ship Report lists ships that are inbound and outbound from Astoria, which is the point of entry on the Columbia River.

Between these two website you can get a general idea of when the ships will be sailing past Cathedral Park.  Cathedral Park is in North Portland under the St. Johns Bridge.  The easiest way to get there is to take I-5 north, take the Rosa Parks exit west and stay on Rosa Parks.  Rosa Parks eventually turns into N. Willamette and N. Willamette will take you right under the bridge.  Pretty simple.  The park is one of my favorite’s in Portland.

Here is a list of ships that will be docked along the waterfront during Fleet Week.

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Five Amazing Alternatives To Portland’s Top Five Tourist Attractions

Ok, I don’t actually know if these are Portland’s top 5 tourist attractions but they sure do get talked about a lot.

5.  Voodoo Doughnuts

If there is one business in Portland that has come to exemplify the “Portlandia” image of Portland, it’s Voodoo.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  This place is the biggest tourist trap in Portland.  The donuts are good, but certainly not worth waiting in a line like this:

Alternative:  Blue Star Donuts

If you want the actual best donuts in town and not wait in line forever, only to find out they are cash only…try Blue Star.  You will not be disappointed.

4. Portland Saturday Market

I like the Saturday Market, however, is it really any different than any other saturday market in any other city?  A bunch of hippies get together to sell some arts and crafts.  It’s fun, but not that special.

Alternative:  Saturday Farmer’s Market at PSU

The Farmers Market is definitely overshadowed by the Saturday Market, but for me this has come to embody Portland more than the Saturday Market.  Portland has developed such a foodie culture and the Farmers Market reflects that.  The number of vendors there is nearly endless and they are all local.  Local meats, cheeses, breads, fruits, and vegetables.  You name it, if you can cook with it, you will probably find it.  If you wanted to have picnic at the zoo or any one of our great parks, this would be the place to shop.

3.  The Pearl

Yes, there are lots of great places to eat.  Yes, there are lots of great bars.  Yes, this place is overhyped.   The Pearl has a lot of great qualities but the artsy soulfulness of the Pearl that once exemplified Portland is gone.  It has been replaced by million dollar condos and overpriced restaurants and shops.

Alternative:  North Mississippi / North Williams

There are probably more great restaurants and bars packed between these two streets than anywhere else in Portland.  In the last 5 years this neighborhood has exploded.  I swear everytime I look around there is something new going in and it is not going to stop anytime soon.  The next big thing in this area will be when the City reduces the two lane road that is N. Williams down to one lane so bicyclists can have their own lane.  How very Portland.

2. International Rose Test Garden

Rose Garden

The Rose Garden is awesome, but it is small and during the summer it can get pretty overcrowded.  It can be nearly impossible to find parking and good luck getting a picture without some strangers in it.

Alternative: Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden 

Crystal Springs Rhododendron

Crystal Springs, is definitely a local’s spot.  You will not see that many tourists here.  The garden is big, is built around a man made lake, and is just as pretty, maybe more so, than the Rose Garden.

1. Powells City of Books

IMG_0442

Powell’s City of Books is awesome, it is so big you need a map. If you read, this place is a must.  As far books go, there is no alternative.  But what about those folks who are not big readers?  Well, if you are a movie fan then let me suggest a different experience.

Alternative:  Cinetopia

Unfortunately, you will have to make a trek out to the suburbs, but for the movie fan this is an unrivaled viewing experience.  You can even drink one of Portland’s delicious craft beers while watching the film.  You know this place is over the top (but in a good way) when they are going to be putting in a movie theater on the Las Vegas Strip.

 

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Pioneer Square Turns 30

Courtesy Bruce Forster Photography http://bruceforsterphotography.com/

 

Today, 30 years ago marks the opening of Pioneer Square.  The red brick plaza in the heart of downtown.  I remember being at the opening ceremony of Pioneer Square when I was a kid.  At 4 years old I was just happy to have free mini ice cream cones and being outside.  Only as an adult, who has lived in Portland for most of my life, do I realize the significance of this simple plaza.   Continue reading

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Springtime in Portland: Gardens, Wildflower Hikes, and more

Finally, winter is over!  Does that mean we are done with the rain?  Of course not, this is still the Pacific Northwest after all.  However, expect more sunshine and warmer weather ahead.   Us Portlanders may complain about the rain a little bit, but one upside is that all this rain makes for some beautiful scenery come spring time.  The gardens in town are starting to bloom, the wildflowers are out in the gorge, the waterfalls are flowing, the saturday market and farmers markets are up and running.  It is a great time to visit and get outside…when the rain stops.  If you want to take in some of this gorgeous spring scenery here are a few suggestions.  Continue reading

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The Big Woody Barrel Aged Beer And Whiskey Festival

Taking place at the Leftbank Annex on January 17th and 18th will be Portland’s inaugural barrel aged beer and whiskey festival, The Big Woody. The Big Woody is an off shoot of a very successful beer and whiskey festival that takes places annually in Bend, Oregon, the Little Woody.   Continue reading

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New Year’s Eve In Portland

There are a lot of things going on in Portland on New Year’s Eve, too much for me to list it all.  If you are just looking to party pretty much any bar in town will have something going on.  For those looking for the clubbing/bar hopping crazy shenanigans I suggest the entertainment district.  That is not my scene, however, so I thought I would suggest few things other than going to a bar or club.   Continue reading

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