How to: Spend a child-free weekend in Portland

I know everyone does not live within a two-hour flight of Portland, Oregon. And some of you even live right there, so a weekend in Portland probably holds less interest for you.  But if you are in possession of the same magical combination that I have – a set of willing grandparents, two children who don’t need to nurse, and a husband who is good at making reservations – then off we go. (And yes, it rained.)

it's raining and pouring

After having dinner with Heidi and looking at her post about Portland, I had some things on my list I wanted to do. Mostly, however, I just wanted to relax — in a new city.

We stayed at the Hotel Lucia downtown. My friend Amanda, who lives in Portland, had stayed overnight there with her husband as a mini-getaway earlier in the year, so I had been warned about the small rooms. Luckily, the aforementioned reservation-making husband had already requested a corner room, so our quarters were just perfect. The Hotel Lucia is very cool and centrally located.

Our first meal was at Clyde Common, a restaurant in the bottom of the trendy Ace Hotel.  It is a lovely place for lunch because the huge windows let the light right through to the stylish communal table at which you are seated, probably next to some guys with beards, because in Portland all the men wear beards.


Next we walked around the Pearl District, stopping at cute shops like Dig and Oblations where we bought Julian a tape measure on a keychain, two of his favorite objects rolled up into one.

After resting in our hotel room for an hour or so, we got picked up by friends and headed to Toro Bravo for dinner, where I felt totally cool because so many readers mentioned it on 101cookbooks.com.  The food was great, but I really loved that the bar upstairs accommodated everyone who was waiting for a table. Somehow it was way less stressful than waiting for a table in San Francisco.  (Maybe cause all the dudes have beards. Except my husband.)

Ryan and I stopped for a post-dinner drink at Saucebox which is a hipster bar that serves amazing cocktails and some food that I didn’t try. Ryan ordered a snack that involved tofu and I don’t eat that stuff.

The next day we had breakfast at Mother’s which I definitely recommend. The (bearded) waiter was overly enthusiastic about everything, but it gave us a good laugh at the Portland pride surrounding coffee.  Um, they have a lot of coffee pride.

Coffee menu at Mother's in Portland

After hours of strolling around downtown, including a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Craft where a woman was live knitting with thread that had been unraveled from mass marketed clothing, like Gap and American Eagle sweaters, as a gesture of resistance, we ate lunch at the Pearl Bakery and went to a movie.  You fellow parents surely understand that we did not feel we needed to see every sight in the city. Skipping from location to location without bringing snack traps or looking at the clock was so liberating. The nostalgia of all the other vacations in Ryan and my shared past bubbled up throughout our aimless wandering.

City Island with Andy Garcia and Juliana Marguilies. That’s the movie we saw. Very very good. And safe to see with your parents. We played Boggle and tasted a flight of beers at Bailey’s Tap Room after that. I think Ryan mostly beat me, but only because I’ve taught him how to play so well.

That night we had dinner at Davis Street Tavern where I ordered scallops. Dark chocolate bread pudding with cardamom and black pepper for dessert. Yes, it was that good.

In the morning, Ryan’s high school friend Brian picked us up from our hotel with his wife Debbie and their 7-year old son, Hawk.  They used to live near us in the East Bay. We ate more delicious food and got to hear about Brian’s soccer camps for kids and Debbie’s photography business.

They dropped us at the light rail station and we headed back to the airport.  That is all.

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RookieMoms.com co-founder Whitney lives with her husband, son, and daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area where she writes about parenting, crafts, and activities that moms can do with babies in tow. She and Heather also publish 510Families.com, a site for East Bay parents and are the authors of The Rookie Mom's Handbook and Stuff Every Mom Should Know.

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