Road Trip: Portland, Oregon

Officially the “City of Roses,” Portland has many nicknames:  Stumptown (referring to the city’s rapid growth in the mid-1800s when development was happening so fast there was only time to cut trees without clearing their stumps), Bridgetown (this one is obvious since multiple bridges cross the Willamette and Columbia rivers within Portland’s city limits), and Beervana (Portland boasts more brewpubs per capita than any other US city) to name a few. However, I was surprised to learn there isn’t a name referring to the kindness of the locals.

Friendliness is easy to find in Portland. We saw it in the driving etiquette when Mommy forgot she was at a four-way stop and not a red light, we encountered it when the Hotel Vintage Plaza staff was extremely patient with our not-always-perfect-children, and we were pleased when waiters recommended sharing menu items (therefore saving money) for the kids when we had dinner at Pazzo Ristorante and breakfast at Mother’s.

Public Art near Powell's Books

While admiring public art outside Powell’s, the world’s largest independently owned bookstore, a commuter offered to help us reach the part that made the artwork move. Even inside busy Powell’s the staff was eager to help find books when I wasn’t sure of the entire title or the author. Yes, I’m afraid I am often that traveler, not always 100% prepared but willing to ask questions and very grateful to receive guidance and compassion along the way.

Liberal-minded Portlanders are understandably proud of their environmental friendliness too. Plentiful bike couriers and rows of bike racks line the roads.

Bike Delivery Person

Approximately 8% of commuters bike to work in Portland, the highest proportion of any major US city and about 10 times the national average. William was startled to see a bike without its seat or wheels locked to a rack, “there must be a lot of robbers in this town!” he exclaimed but I quickly explained it was an attempt to avoid having one’s bike stolen.

Bike without wheels or seat

Feeling the need for a little getaway from the gray gloominess of the Seattle area but not able to spend the time or dollars it would take to really find warmth and sunshine, I planned this two-night trip to Portland with the kids, my Mom and her little dog, Happy. Traveling with Cuckoo Grandma (another great nickname while we’re on the subject… hers is after her Cuckoo clock) and Happy Dog was a big thrill in itself for the kids. Even though it wasn’t anything close to a tropical getaway, we were excited to pile ourselves into my car and head south–turns out we actually got lucky with some sunshine there too!

Recommended for Planning a trip to Portland with Kids: Out & About With Kids, The Ultimate Family Guide for Fun and Learning, Portland by Nelle Nix and Shawn M. Jones.