Extended Weekend in Portland, OR

Until now, I hadn’t vistied Portland Oregon in the all the 20+ year span that I have lived on the West Coast…Over the years, I’ve conjured up many ideas about this city including what it looks like and how it I imagined it was laid out. Well, I was completely wrong.

One of the first things I learned about the city shortly after I arrived was that it was designed in the same style as New York City. Had no idea, but it’s true, in many ways, I felt like I was in a quieter, smaller NY (NY back from the days when there was a grittier edgier feel like it was way back to the late 80’s/early 90’s).

I loved the down to earth creative vibe yet, I see the changes that are happening reminiscent of changes everywhere but most like the Mission district in SF where an increasingly more upscale mainstream aka chain stores and fancy housing are encroaching on the sacred artsy funkiness.

And it come as no surprise that in the past bunch of years, more and more Californians are moving to Portland to escape the prices and crowds, i.e. traffic…I imagine that those who have lived in Portland a while are feeling increasingly on edge abut us Californians continuously flowing in adding to the traffic which was I imagine was non existent until fairly recently. As the SFO/LAX to PDX encroachment is gains momentum, i.e. Google employees have recently arrived in Portland from CA, I know prices will inevitably go up…Sorry Portlanders.

And yes, I see why Portland is a draw, I could certainly live in Portland across  the river in the residential area that is still the city but feels like anything but with it’s super appealing architecture, large swaths of green parks with incredible trees and hills that are just off in the distance covered in decadent pines. I have been wanting to escape the the dry CA landscape that has been getting to me more and more every year- and with an ongoing drought that leaves the NorCal rivers dry for most of the year, I crave wet, green and yes, even the gray more than ever!!! (can’t believe this sunshine CA girl is admitting this).  Yup Portland, it’s true, your prices are better, you are a lot less packed in, and your food is phenomenal.

Here is a bit of what I love:

For simple nourishing food on a gray Portland day go to Prasad which is attached to a Yoga Studio…do not miss the Turmeric Latte, Trailmix or Peanut Butter Cookie and brown rice/ quinoa bowl. Perfect vegetarian gluten free food and drink. (Also has a sister restaurant Harlow across the bridge)

Walking around The Pearl district day and night

The Portland Art Museum: Great collection of native art and good exhibitions and a fun well-priced gift shop.

Famous breakfast/brunch spot, “Mothers”- my sweetie loved the food here although I found it a bit heavy but definitely popular!

Checking out Portland hip hotels such as The Ace Hotel, The Sentinel and one on my list for next time, the infamous hotel/bar McManims/Kennedy School that was a high school and now serves food and alcohol as well as has overnight guests.

For a way to warm up on a December day (it was chilly when I was there) jump in a the hot tub at Common Ground Wellness Center and get a massage if you can.

Latourell Falls: Incredible waterfall and hike in the enchanting forest near the Columbia River Gorge.

I was lucky to have a full day of clear skies after some early morning fog/mist. And little did I know it at first (due to the gray), I stayed in a spot where I was able to view Mt. Saint Helens, I couldn’t take my eyes off her. Mt. Hood was not in sight but I saw it on the drive to the airport, it was pretty amazing too all decked out in a thick layer of snow. Lucky for me who didn’t know it, I stayed in an AirBandB with a view.

I loved the neon signs (there are a lot in Portland) I was able to capture a lot (many while wandering alone at night which at times felt totally safe and at other’s questionable). My favorites were the awesome neon theater signs. See my Instagram feed for more photos. @maryserphos

Places I didn’t go but that are on my list for next time.

Restaurants: Tusk/Le Pigeon/Aviv

Sights: Japanese Garden/Rose Garden/Tram

Portland, I’ll see you soon.

With love,





As a photographer, writer, psychotherapist and nature lover, I am passionate about living in Marin County, CA. The perfect home base, Fairfax, CA is where I get out daily on the miles and miles of open space and find inspiration and plot my next journey out of Marin into the world. More about Mary... Mary is a New York Native who has been living in Northern CA for the past 20 years. She is a "Creative Image Photographer" infusing digital images with innovative techniques. Her favorite spot to take photos is muddled amidst the trees of Marin County CA, or in an exotic urban environment near the ocean, under the sky, and completely in awe. Mary's goal is to capture this scenery, to reach into the mystery of life, into the everyday magic, use the light and the dark as guides, delve into the chaos or the quiet and capture and whittle away at these snapshots, without disrupting their original essence, until they come alive and rich with depth and mood. Her mission is to create unique works of art that bring this depth, mystery, upheaval or serenity to people's walls and homes and ultimately that her work becomes a catalyst to help shift onlookers mood and outlook even if for a moment in time. Her work has been described as dreamy, ethereal, mysterious and mythical and yet also simple and straightforward. Currently her photos are on display at Google Headquarters in California.

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