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10 Activities for a Girls’ Weekend in Portland

Need to get away? Portland is a mecca of beautiful scenery, droolworthy food and tons to do! I spent a weekend in Portland and was shown all the best places by a local. Time to plan a girls weekend and get away?  Here are 10 activities to put on your travel itinerary. Need a girls getaway? 10 FUN activities to do in Portland. Tips for great sweets, excursions and where to go wine tasting!

Saturday morning  of Labor Day weekend, I hopped on a plane with one of my best friends, Bridget, to spend some much needed time with our good friend Anne who moved to Portland eight years ago.  Confession time… I’ve known these wonderful ladies for over 20 years now.  

Here’s what we did:

Urban Adventure Quest

Completely on your cell phone, this hunt starts you in the middle of downtown Portland and takes you throughout the city using only walking and public transportation.  What I loved about this tour is that I learned so many little quirks about the buildings and Portland history. 

This hunt would be appropriate for kids 6 and up.  Many of the tasks involve using code like strategies to figure out the next clue.  You get points based on what you get right and then your team appears on the site’s leader board at the end to see how you compared to others in the challenge.

Ira Keller Fountain

The roar of the water was almost deafening.  I was awestruck that this could be in the middle of a city!  Erected in 1970, this beautiful structure was designed by architect Angela Danajieva who took her inspiration from a book on waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge.  The book was given to her by Ira Keller – the Portland Development Commission Chairman at the time. 

It's a waterfall! In the middle of downtown! Can I move here?

A photo posted by JoAnn (@awhimsiclelife) on

This fountain also has tons of little nooks and crannies to explore and you can even venture behind the waterfalls. 

Powell’s City of Books

Powell’s City of Books downtown is a must see on any visit to Portland.  Simply enormous, it is the largest used and new bookstore in the world and occupies an entire city block.  You can peruse the aisles for hours and still not see everything.

And if you are a fan of fantasy and young adult fiction (think Harry Potter) you might want to check out the book series Wildwood.  Penned by the frontman of the Decemberists, Colin Meloy, Wildwood is big in Portland as it takes much of its inspiration from Portland landmarks and geography.  

Salt and Straw

One of my MUST stops for my visit.  Salt and Straw is an ice cream chain but currently only has locations in Los Angeles and Portland.  The store uses seasonal and local ingredients to make it’s ice cream flavors and is known for unusual and delicious combinations.

Hello Portland!! Strawberry balsamic and almond brittle from @saltandstraw

A photo posted by JoAnn (@awhimsiclelife) on

Don’t let the line that wraps around the outside of the store intimidate you.  This ice cream is well worth the wait.  Plus, once inside at the counter, feel free to taste as many varieties as possible before making your decision. In fact, it’s encouraged. 

Blue Star Donuts

Another one of my must-dos.  Blue Star is the lesser known of the Portland donuts but incredibly delicious. Each donut is made fresh and the store remains open until the supply runs out.  The donut selections change daily and run out quickly.

Blue Star Donuts checked off bucket list!

A photo posted by JoAnn (@awhimsiclelife) on

The day we went, we got a Strawberry Buttermilk, Apple rum fritter and Chocolate Ganache to go. 

Wine Tasting

The Oregon region is known for its Pinot Noir.  Due to soil conditions and mild climate, Pinot grapes do incredibly well here.  We made our way to three beautiful vineyards in Newberg, OR – about an hour outside of Portland.

Anam Cara was the perfect place to start our wine journey.  Mark, the owner’s son, was incredibly knowledgeable on everything Oregon Wine.  He schooled us on which Pinot Noir years were his favorite.  Little did I know that a year’s weather could produce a different taste in the wine.

Need a girls getaway? 10 FUN activities to do in Portland. Tips for great sweets, excursions and where to go wine tasting!

We also tasted Pinot at Trisaetum which was part art gallery, part winery.  The owner creates all the art work that graces the walls.  His art also appears on select Trisaetum wine bottles.  And the view!  

Oregon has no lack of beautiful scenery.  Our last stop, Penner Ash  winery sat on top of a hill and had the best view by far.  

We had the perfect setting to sip some Riesling and eat our donuts.

The lunch of champions. Being an adult rocks.

A photo posted by JoAnn (@awhimsiclelife) on

VooDoo Doughnuts

The most famous donuts in Portland!  The line is usually long, but we decided to hit the Davis St. location Monday morning before our flight and found no wait whatsoever.  

VooDoo has such creative doughnut combination.  I took my daughter to Portland when she was 2.  She remembers nothing else about the trip except the blue and pink doughnut that she ate from VooDoo.  VooDoo does not accept card so bring cash or use the ATM before approaching the counter. 

Vaux Swifts in September

Every September, thousands of Vaux Swifts gather in Portland as they prepare to migrate to Central America for the Winter.  What is amazing is that they have chosen one spot to roost every night – the chimney of Chapman Elementary School.  Each night in September, an hour before sunset, the birds start to circle the school and then as if someone has given the signal, cyclone down into the chimney all at once. 

Moonstruck chocolates

As I searched for a gift to bring back to my daughter, I asked Anne if there was any sweet definitively Portland.   She brought us to Moonstruck Chocolates, a chain of chocolate shops within the city,  Each handcrafted chocolate is delicious and beautiful.  I brought back a blueberry truffle for both my daughter and son.  For my hubby, I gifted him with truffles filled with whiskey. 

4T trail

I’ll need to save this trail for my next journey to Portland.  The 4T’s stand for Trolley, Tram, Trail and Train.  You can start by the Oregon Zoo and hike on a trail through the trees of Council Crest Park until you reach the OHSU campus.  From there, take the aerial tram downhill where you catch a trolley that will deliver you into the middle of downtown Portland.  Finally, take the light rail train back to the Oregon Zoo to complete the loop.

Portland is a fantastic city to visit with friends or as a family destination.  The weather is gorgeous with cloudy skies and a light drizzle.  Since I’m a native Arizonan, this was a very welcome change! 

JoAnn Crohn

CEO/Founder at No Guilt Mom
JoAnn Crohn, M. Ed is a parenting educator and life coach who helps moms feel confident in raising empowered, self-sufficient kid while pursuing their own goals & passions.

She’s an accomplished writer, author, podcast host of the No Guilt Mom podcast, and speaker who appears in national media. Work with her personally in Balance VIP

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