How to do Portland in 48 hours

Last Friday felt like a Monday. I was knee-deep in customer service and suffering from a cold when I heard our office door open and close. Our office doesn’t get a lot of traffic so my first thought was “oh great…who is it now” – and yes, I was admittedly crabby from my cold. I slowly peered out of my cube only to see my little sister walking towards me…camera in hand…snapping a picture of my reaction.

Suddenly my cold didn’t matter. My sister was here. Oh…my…god….my sister is here!  I have been nagging her to visit me for the past year and a half and now she is here! I have to show her Portland and it has to be good. My mind started racing with all the things we could do in just 48 hours. In reality it was more like 52 but we spent at least 4 hours in the car so just go with it.

Oktoberfest at Gustav's RheinlanderWhether she knew it or not,  my sister landed in Portland during Oktoberfest so we hit up one of the best German pubs in town – Gustav’s Rheinlander. I can only say “one of the best” because Prost is right up there with them, not in terms of food but definitely in beer. I mean who can beat a two liter das boot filled to the brim with authentic German beer? We spent the next few hours enjoying an array of biers, sausage, fondue, kraut roulade, and jagerschnitzel in our newly acquired Oktoberfest shirts.

We ended the night at McMenamins Kennedy School. I know, you probably got stuck on the word “McMenamins”. It’s a mouthful but something worth learning about. By definition (courtesy of Wikipedia), McMenamins is a chain of nearly sixty brewpubs, microbreweries, music venues, historic hotels, and theater pubs founded by the McMenamin brothers. This is a fairly accurate description although I find it hard to classify them as a “chain” because none of the locations look remotely alike. To date there are over 37 unique McMenamins locations in Oregon and so far I have been to 12 of them (Crystal Ballroom, St John’s Theatre, Cornelius Pass RoadhouseRinglers PubGrand Lodge, Mission Theatre, Ram’s Head, Rock Creek, Bagdad Theatre, McMenamins on the Columbia, Kennedy School, Hotel Oregon).

McMenamins Kennedy School Boiler RoomI chose Kennedy school on this night because it is one of my favorites. It is a renovated elementary school that has been turned into a hotel with numerous bars, a soaking pool, and a movie theatre with couches. Yes- couches and they will deliver food and beer to your seat and the movies are only $3. My kind of place! The entire school/hotel is decorated with original artwork, ceramic tiling, and photographs. After a quick self-guided tour, we had a few drinks in the school’s most unusually creative bar – the Boiler Room.

Saint CupcakesThe next morning we drove downtown to the Portland Farmer’s Market in search of an amazing breakfast burrito we heard about from my friend Melanie. After scouring the booths – filled with mounds of produce, fresh-cut flowers, and baked goods – we finally stumbled upon Enchanted Sun Burritos. Sausage, seasoned potatoes, Tillamook cheese, green chilies, and salsa all wrapped up in a warm tortilla…YUM. We browsed through the market a little more before heading to what might be my favorite indulgence in Portland – Saint Cupcake.

Trailblazer GameWe spent the afternoon bowling at a company party at Big Al’s sports bar - one of the coolest (and biggest) sports bars I’ve ever been to. Then we headed into town for my sister’s first NBA game, Blazers vs. Golden State. Being so last-minute and all you’d think we wouldn’t have been able to get a hold of tickets but I happen to have the greatest friend ever. He scored us 100 level tickets, less than a dozen rows from the court. Wow. I have never sat closer than the 300 level. These seats were amazing and even had cup holders (it’s all about the little things).

Sauvie Island Pumpkin PatchWe rounded out the night at a house party for my friend Sarah’s birthday and a little carousing at Someday Lounge. We had a late night but we were at it again Sunday morning with a trip out to Sauvie’s pumpkin patch. I have carved pumpkins every year since I can remember but surprisingly had never been to a pumpkin patch. It was everything I hoped for and more…the smell of kettle corn in the air, a corn maze, endless fields of pumpkins, and a hay ride. We found two round pumpkins and headed back into town for our last adventure: the Oregon Zoo.

We met some good friends who were in town for a wedding and spent the entire afternoon exploring the zoo. I had been to the Oregon zoo once before but it was so much better seeing it through the eyes of a six-year-old. We got lots of pictures, mainly of animals butts (thanks to our future photographer, Shayla) and had a great time. We were all thankful for the rain-free weekend in Portland. That doesn’t happen very often but it let up just in time for my sister’s visit.

What a weekend! What a surprise! It’s amazing what you can accomplish in 48 hours! Love you sister!