Updated: Feb 26, 2021
Hey look! Pretty pictures from my vacation back in July. Ooooooh, nature!
My girlfriend, Ashley, started PA school last August. As a last hurrah before she went back to consistently being graded on everything, we planned a week long trip to the Pacific Northwest.
Like true millennials, we decided to vlog our trip. I was initially worried that filming would take away from fully appreciating our trip and the breathtaking views. But, I quickly learned Oregon and Washington have plenty of nature to both record and just stare at for awhile. I recommend vlogging trips, if possible. It adds a fun, artistic component to your trip and now we forever have video to remember how receding my hairline was at 24 years old. The link to the video is at the bottom of the page. If you like nature and want to see Ashley fall out of a tree, check it out.
The trip itself was seven days and six nights. We met up with five friends in four different cities, slept in three Airbnb's after two connecting flights and drove around in one BAD ASS Kia Soul. Hamsters did not come with the rental.
FIRST STOP: Portland, OR
We started in Portland. Portland is.... interesting. In two words; hipster vagabonds. There's an excess of both and often hard to distinguish which is which. While we had an Airbnb outside of the city, most of our time was spent downtown in the Pearl District and Old Town Chinatown. The town gave us many ups and downs. We got delicious specialty doughnuts at Voodoo Doughnuts, but less than a block away witnessed a homeless man loudly and very publicly threaten another homeless man with a crow bar. Good ol' Portland.
As odd as the two days in Portland were, it is pretty. Nature is seamlessly incorporated throughout the city and there are many booming neighborhoods around downtown to explore. We even wandered into an EXTREMELY wealthy neighborhood called Kings Heights. It sits on a hill overseeing all of Portland. It has absurdly windy roads, massive mansions and gorgeous views.
Two places we didn't get a chance to check out, but caught our eyes were the Portland Japanese Garden and the Lan Su Chinese Garden. If we ever go back (quite unlikely), we'll make sure to visit them.
SECOND STOP: Albany, OR
Our second stop was in Albany where we visited our first friend, Caitlyn. She grew up in Oregon and knows how to truly experience the area. We spent most of the day drinking in inner-tubes (that eventually deflated) in a lake surrounded by evergreens. 'Twas glorious. Later, we drove around Oregon State University's lovely and HUGE campus. Did you know Oregon State University has over 30,000 students? I sure as hell didn't. All I knew is that their mascot is a beaver.
On our last day there, we stopped by the Albany Historic Carousel and Museum in downtown Albany. The museum features a carousel with over 50 intricately designed and full size animals all made by volunteers. New animals are being consistently made and you can watch the entire process in the backroom. While I didn't expect to ride a carousel on this trip, I was in no way against it.
Also, for those of you counting, we also met up with Caitlyn's parents which counts as two more friends.
THIRD STOP: Bend, OR
Bend, Oregon was up next. This town is surrounded by mountains which made driving there its own adventure. Skyscraping evergreens lined the roads as we traveled up and down towering snowcapped mountains. Bend itself, felt like a vacation town. For Midwesterners, think Lake Geneva with pine needles. Everyone there was young, good-looking and had the cutest gosh darn dogs. Also, it felt like at any point during the day, half the population was going on a run.
If you're a fan of breweries, Bend is the place for you. GoodLife Brewing Company, Silver Moon Brewing, Bend Brewing Company, 10 Barrel Brewing, Sunriver Brewing Company, Deschutes Brewery and MANY more all call Bend home. Unfortunately, we did not visit any because we were there only one night and got sucked into a local street festival where we got to scream Bon Jovi songs in unison with strangers.
Our Airbnb was at a small house called the Tudor Inn. It was a home turned hotel with five bedrooms, communal kitchen, living room and courtyard. While we never saw any other guests who stayed there, we heard people several times through the walls. Being the easily paranoid people we are, we became convinced it was haunted. I still left a lovely review, but between you and me... someone had previously died there for sure.
Before we left, we took a scenic lazy river ride down the Deschutes River. It lasted about two hours and basically showed us all of the town. It reminded me that getting in and out of inner tubes in gently flowing water is deceivingly difficult and that coming within five feet of a goose is terrifying.
LAST STOP: Seattle, WA
Seattle is the best. Comparing it to Portland would be like comparing The Beatles to that guy playing "Wonderwall" at a college party. It has an unbelievable combination of nature and city life. Just walking around downtown Seattle is enjoyable in and of itself. The streets are SO steep that if you trip, you will roll for several blocks. Mount Rainier also seems to always be in sight like it's watching over the city.
On the first night there we visited the Skyview Observatory in the Columbia Tower. Despite popular belief, this is a better and higher view of the city than the Space Needle (do I sound like a Seattle native yet?). This breathtaking view will cost you $20 and is well worth it. After Columbia Tower, we got dinner in Seattle's Chinatown that's only a five minute walk to the baseball and football stadium. We got AMAZING dumplings at Dough Zone and for dessert we crossed the street to Ping's Dumpling House for more dumplings.
The next day we went hiking at Discovery Park. Fairly North of Seattle, but still on the coast of the Sound, the hiking trail offers endless breathtaking views. While it can be crowded on the beach portion of the hike, it is easy to feel isolated and get lost in the woods. After that, we saw the Seattle Mariners play the Detriot Tigers. We sat high up behind home plate at T-Mobile Park. We got to watch a beautiful sunset and two terrible teams combine for 12 runs. Towards the end of the game, we snuck down to the right field side, only a few rows behind the warning track. They were awesome seats. However, we must have gotten lucky because only a few minutes after we sat down, a family of eight sitting in front of was asked by security to show their tickets. When the Dad finally admitted they weren't in their seats, they were promptly escorted away. Ashley and I stayed frozen the whole ordeal as if the security guards were T-Rex's and could only detect us if we moved.
The last two days we met up with our college friend Dom and his friend Jill. Together, we went to Chihuly Garden and Glass and Pike Place Market. Chihuly Garden and Glass is right next to the Space Needle. It features the intricate work of local artist Dale Chihuly. His blown glass pieces seamlessly weave into nature throughout the museum. The website and online photos honestly don't do it justice. So, if you somehow end up in Seattle on a layover and only have time to visit one place, make it this glass garden. You won't regret it.
But if your next flight gets delayed, and you have time to stop at a second place, make it Pike Place Market. It has over 150 stands and stores selling flowers, fish, kinck-knacks, and anything else you can think of. The original Starbucks can be found here and still has the original logo, which to my surprise, is basically just a naked mermaid.
Lastly, shoutout to Dom and Jill for discovering Dick's Drive-In which has the best burgers I've ever had outside of Small Cheval.
Overall, I could not recommend the Pacific Northwest enough. Ashley and I fell in love and have since contemplated moving there one day. Even if you're not looking for a new place to call home, it will be one of the best vacations you go on. Just make sure to not stay in Portland too long.
Below is our PNW vlog. Ashley did a great job editing and I did a great job watching her edit. Beware, I'm briefly shirtless and often out of breath. Try not to fall in love with me.