24-Hours in Portland, Oregon

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portland in 24 hoursWhen fellow TravelingMom Teresa told me she was extending a business trip in Portland to do some site seeing, I jumped at the chance to meet up and visit my neighbors to the south. I’m a native Seattleite, but honestly haven’t spent a lot of time exploring the Rose City just a few hours away.  Having the opportunity to visit on a solo trip, just two moms taking on the city, was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. 

5pm – Mom Time Begins

I stayed at the Hotel Modera, a beautiful boutique-style hotel providing lux accommodations in the heart of the city.  A cellophane bag of chocolate-covered hazelnuts and a bottle of wine greeting me was the perfect antidote to a day of traveling.  The comfy beds made with fine linens, heavenly pillows and a fluffy down comforter all to myself guaranteed a great night of sleep later that night.

hotel modera portland

6pm – Art and Wine

The Hotel Modera is surrounded by galleries, restaurants, and shopping – First Thursdays in the Pearl is the perfect way to enjoy them.  Walk from gallery to gallery to see new art, enjoy some wine tasting with the backdrop of music and nightlife.


9pm – Happy Hour with a View

See the city from a new perspective.  Portland City Grill sits on the 30th floor of Portland’s tallest building, and boasts an amazing view of the city, river and mountains beyond. It’s definitely the place to be.  To get a window seat and take full advantage of the view, you will either need to make a reservation in the dining room or strategically watch for tables to empty in the bar, which is what we did.  The delicious food served in generous Happy Hour portions at great prices, and yummy cocktails, were only surpassed by the bird’s eye view of watching night fall on the city.

9am – Walking Tour
After a great night of sleep selfishly taking up the entire bed, a luxury not afforded at home, I woke up refreshed and ready for a day of exploration.  First stop, Portland Walking Tours’ Best of Portland tour.  This proved to be a great way to get to know the history and layout of Portland.  I learned so many things that I didn’t know about my neighboring city.  The tour guide was informative, and interesting.  I learned more about Portland’s history and city planning, innovative recycling and transportation programs, extensive collections of public art, and love of bicycles, local wine, and craft beer.  We covered a lot of territory, but everything was accessible for wheelchairs or scooters.

portlandia discovering Portland Oregon

12 noon – Lunch!

After a morning walking tour we were ready for lunch. Portland is known for it’s food carts, we found a collection of carts, and walked by all of the carts to try and decide what we wanted.  It was a tough call – everything looked so fresh and tasty.  We made our selections and took our food to Pioneer Courthouse Square, soaking up the Northwest sun while eating al fresco.

foodcarts in Portland

1pm – Rose Garden via the Zoo

Several people recommended the Rose Garden – Portland is, after all, the Rose City.  When investigating the best way to get there, we were told to take the Max Light Rail to the Oregon Zoo, then take the train to the Rose Garden. The Max was easy to use and took us from Pioneer Courthouse Square directly to the zoo, which wasn’t on our mom trip agenda, but revealed the best surprise.  The Oregon Zoo is beautiful, well laid out and wheelchair friendly.  And then we found the train.  Two retro trains take a long loop around the zoo, and to the Rose Garden.  Better than Thomas, they would be the highlight of most any child’s trip.  One of the trains has a car with wheelchair accommodations.  My special needs daughter would love feeling the wind, hearing the sound of the train whistle and chug of the steam engine as it passed through trees and wound around peaceful, secluded areas of the park.

zooliner at Oregon zoo in Portland

At the Rose Garden, we saw hundreds of rose varieties, and saw the test gardens.  I definitely do not have a green thumb, but the beauty of this location was worth the trip.  There are hidden gardens and an amphitheater that hosts events throughout the summer.  Below the gardens is a huge play area made for children of all abilities.  I didn’t go down there, we were running out of time, but I was told that there was an accessible path down to it.

5pm – Head for Home

My 24 hours was up and I was back on the road headed for home.  Portland is a unique city, and I fell in love with its quirkiness in a short 24-hours.  Lucky for me it is a quick trip, I look forward to come back with my family.

Disclaimer: The hotel stay, zoo admission and walking tour were provided for our review. The opinions and experiences are my own.

Karin Sheets is a techie, travel writer and mother of two teens, one of them with special needs. She encourages all families to live the adventure of life. Her personal blog is www.specialneedstravelmom.com and you can follow her @ionMyAdventures on Twitter or www.facebook.com/SpecialNeedsTravelMom.

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