Tips for the Perfect Portland Day Trip

whitestag2576The students are gone. Corvallis feels like the best kind of ghost town, but you’re growing tired of your old haunts. Sure, it’s great that there’s no swarm at Crowbar, and that you can visit bars on Monroe without running into sorority girls and frat boys on the prowl, but what comes next? Isn’t there more to summer vacation and weekends than the usual spots?

Of course there is, silly! Corvallis is only 72 miles from one of the best cities in the US. But it can be overwhelming. You could easily spend all day in one part of town, and you’d have fun, but you’d miss out on a lot.

So, what you have here is a day in Portland crafted just for the visiting Corvallisite. We’ll hit all the quadrants of Portland and include bars, restaurants, shopping, and, of course, coffee. Most of these places are open all day so if you want to trade out lunch for dinner, you should be good! (But remember, the Internet is your friend. Check for hours/locations/etc).

And as no small aside, a quick pitch for staying the night and getting an early start: Airbnb finally came to Portland.

For your morning coffee, try Dapper & Wise coffee roasters on SE Division Street. They’ve been roasting in Beaverton for the last few years, but opened their first PDX shop this spring. They feature a medium-ish roast and all kinds of delicious single-origin coffees, and some crazy awesome cold drinks. Try the coffee lemonade, seriously. Like an Arnold Palmer, but better because it’s coffee.

Then, if you’re hungry, either eat a Bakeshop pastry from D&W, or head over a couple blocks to Broder on SE Clinton. They’re a Swedish/Scandinavian restaurant that has gotten a lot of press since it opened in 2007, and for good reason. Try the seasonal fritters or Swedish hash. At this point, you’ll be full of delicious food and coffee and may want to walk it off a bit. Head on up to Mt. Tabor for a nice hike. Tons of space to sit and chill, or walk or bike around. Also, in August, there’s an adult soapbox derby race.

Your lunch recommendation is as follows: Big-Ass Sandwiches on NE Glisan. Also a favorite of the local press, this cart-turned-restaurant is so damn good and delivers on its promises. Their Big-Ass Sandwiches average a pound each. But if you want something a little lighter, they’ve got amazing meatballs (called Brian’s Meaty Balls) served either on a sandwich or penne, salads, and Cold-Ass Sandwiches (cold cuts!). Something for everyone, and they have five taps and a full bar! So good.

Again, you’re likely on the verge of an oh-so-welcome food coma, so nap if you’d like. Or, for an afternoon perk, head across the Willamette River to Sterling Coffee Roasters on NW 21st Avenue. They serve amazing coffee, and it’s where the Schnieders of Tried and True Coffee Co. hail from. Corvallis connection in Portland—it’s a beautiful thing. Take it to go and wander aimlessly through the city block-sized Powell’s Books. Find a new favorite!

So you’ve been eating delicious food, drinking amazing coffee, but it’s time for my favorite part of the day: happy hour.

There are so many options, all of them (well, most of them) are great, but some of my favorites are Saucebox and Bailey’s Taproom. Both are downtown and only a few blocks from Powell’s and Sterling. Saucebox is an Asian-fusion restaurant with one of the best happy hours, IMHO. Creatively infused and crafted cocktails from talented bartenders (mixologists if you’re nasty), and if you’re hungry, they serve quality food for cheap. Bailey’s Taproom has what seems like 7,000 taps (think Beer:30), with something for everyone. Keep an eye out for a Corvallis brew!

Now, nothing against Happy Trails, but the Corvallis record store scene just isn’t quite as poppin’. Mostly, just because it’s the one store. But just an hour or so north, there is a veritable mecca for record and record store lovers. And most of them sell CDs (and tapes if you ask nicely), too, so if you’re rocking a CD player in your car like I am, they’ve got you covered. My favorites are Everyday Music on West Burnside and Music Millennium on East Burnside.

Portland is totally a food town. There is no shortage of great places to eat with menus that cater to even the fussiest of eaters. While there’s no way to eat at all of them, or even most of them in a day, we sure are trying.

Which brings us to dinner. Head north to Mississippi Avenue—a street with bars, restaurants, and shopping—one of those places where you could spend an entire day and feel like you’ve only scratched the surface. Try dinner at the food cart pod on Mississippi and try one (or more) of the 15 carts assembled there, including the famed Koi Fusion. Then catch a show at Mississippi Studios and dessert at Ruby Jewel—funky flavors of ice cream and, at least for now, less of a line than Salt & Straw. Plus, they will make you a fresh ice cream sandwich with local cookies in funky flavors.

If you’re still up and looking for something to do, get a drink up the street at Prost!, a bar specializing in German bier.

And if you’re not too sauced after Prost!, head south to Sassy’s, a SE strip club with girls that are impressively flexible, strong, and tattooed. Or if you’d rather dance, and not on a pole, Holocene is across the street. This dance space is basically the opposite of the Top of the (Pea)Cock—good music, clean floors, strong drinks. And more hipster than bro. It’s a good time either way.


Of course, this is not a comprehensive list. It’s a cherry-picked, planned day based on what Portland is known for and what a Corvallisite may want to do up there. Maybe this is just a jumping-off point, or maybe it’s the best day ever. In any case, Portland has a lot to offer. Did we miss anything? Want to see a second version—maybe a themed version? Send us an email.


By Rachel Sandstrom