For those of you who aren't familiar with IFC’s show Portlandia, it is the network’s hilarious sketch comedy show – featuring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein as multiple Portland-based characters – that is the most insanely adorable love letter to one of North America’s quirkiest, funnest and exciting cities.
Watching Portlandia, you can’t help but wonder: Can they pickle everything in Portland? Do hotels give out free type-writers? Do they put a bird on everything? And is everyone really a dj?
Never one to pass up a travel opportunity, we set out to find out all those things… and whether the dream of the 90s is still alive in Portland.
Stepping off the Airport, one can't help but reference Portlandia sketches in everything you see or do. Here are some of our favourite things about Portland, the show and in real life:
“Is the chicken local?” sketch has to be one of the funniest Portlandia sketches from the first season. In it, Armisen and Brownstein play a couple obsessed with knowing whether or not the chicken they’re about to enjoy at a fancy restaurant is local, and they go to great lengths to find out. The restaurant this scene was filmed in is none other than Portland’s delicious Gilt Club, where the majority of its’ meats are, indeed, raised on farms within a 100 or so kilometres of Portland. It says so on their menu. Hilarious Portlandia sketch aside, the Gilt club is a must-do for any foodie simply because of their tantalizing menu. As for their happy hour? It is a concept we've never seen better executed anywhere else than here ($2 specials on drinks and appetizers?! sign.us.up!). Try their fried rabbit paws if you dare (disclosure: we didn’t), and you should also probably go use their unisex restroom, but don’t get too distracted inside… ; )
The Food Trucks
You can’t talk about Portland’s food scene without mentioning its food trucks. The city might very well be the birth place of this trend. From Southern-style fried chicken to to Hawaiian Kalu Pork to Korean BBQ, you can find everything in this city served from the inside of a truck! There are even tons of websites and twitter accounts dedicated to helping you find what you’re craving. How's that for amazing?!
As every city should, Portland takes its cocktails very seriously. The city's Sweet Hereafter bar won us (and our liver) over immediately upon entering. But the great vibe of the place was just the beginning. Their extensive list of delicious cocktails is generously poured and served in mason jars and their menu boasts the most delicious vegan food this side of Tibet (probably!)
The city's thriving entrepreneurial culture is impressive. It seemed like every other coffee shop or store is independently owned, selling the most unique and fabulous things.
Two of our favourite D.I.Y. style finds in Portland?
Portland Saturday Market
Located in the city’s Old Town, the market is the largest of it’s kind in the United States. Featuring food booths and local artists’ works, it’s definitely a must-do on a weekend visit to Portland.
Tender Loving Empire
This place is pure magic! Located across the street from the Ace hotel, Tender Loving Empire is an independent record and retail store dedicated to promoting local talent. If you want your friends to think you’re even more thoughtful and awesome than they already do, you hit up this shop and the market for souvenirs.
The Ace Hotel is everything you’ve ever dreamed a hotel being. Plus a record player more.
On one of our next future visit,s we've already decided to dedicate a trip solely to hanging out at the Ace. Afterall, what more could you possible need than isn’t already located inside the hotel: the best place to sleep, super good food and drinks and the most delicious coffee in all of North America!
Watch the opening credits of Portlandia if you're curious on the layout of the city. A perfect mix of city life and natural scenic beauty, Portland is something for everyone. Some of my favourite look out points in the city include:
Japanese Rose Garden – They don’t call this the city of roses for nothing, people! Take a walk around the neighbhourhood to gawk at your dream homes and don’t forget to check out the view of the city from this pretty lil’ stunner!
Pittock Mansion – The Pittock Mansion offers another stunning view of the city. Fun fact: it was also used as the finish line for the 13th Season of the Amazing Race.
Crown Point Vista House – About 25km outside of the city, you can see both Portland and Vancouver from this vantage point!
For more information:
Travel Portland is the greatest resource ever to help plan your amazing trip to this ridiculously awesome city
TriMet is the city’s public transportation system that offers FREE (you read right) transportation in the downtown core, or a $5 all day pass outside the freezones for adults. A super duper bike-friendly haven, there are also plenty of places you can rent a bike for the duration of your trip.
PDX Airport – staffed by the world’s friendliest employees, this gem of an airport is where you’ll be flying into.