A few week’s ago I partnered with Toyota for a kid and pet friendly adventure to Portland. We spent 4 days over Memorial Day weekend exploring the City of Roses – finding the best in fine dining (that also offered a kid’s menu!) and where to stay and play with our little pup, George!
For the trip we test drove a 2017 Toyota Highlander in the color ‘salsa.’ We were able to fit two adults, two kids, a dog crate (with George inside), and 4 small suitcases…among many other things – including books, toys and a mini cooler full of snacks.
Besides the ample room (seating for up to 8 people), I loved the interior features including 5 USB ports (we could charge both of our cell phones, a back up charger and the iPad), along with the rear-seat entertainment with wireless headphones for the kiddos. Since Portland is a 3-4 hour drive from Seattle, they had time to watch 2 of their favorite movies while my husband and I listened to XM (a feature our current car doesn’t have).
Once we arrived in downtown Portland, our first stop was Old Town Pizza, named one of the best pizzeria and brewpubs in America (also rumored to be haunted!).
If you know me then it won’t surprise you that I did a ton of research before this trip – I wanted to find the best of the best – and Old Town Pizza came highly regarded as a great spot for kids…
We tried two of their specialty pizzas – the Vegetarian on gluten-free crust and BBQ Chicken. Both lived up to their delicious Italian pie legends, especially paired with their Old Town Flagship Series ales.
Old Town Pizza is a definite must on your foodie itinerary next time you’re in Portland – p.s. they also deliver!
After dinner we headed to the AC Hotel Portland Downtown, which was just 5 minutes from Old Town Pizza.
AC Hotel, part of the Marriott family, provided a warm welcome to both our kids and George – as they are known to be one of the newest (& best!) pet-friendly hotels in the city.
The hotel is stylishly luxurious – its minimalist European design and smart in-room features, provide an experience unparalleled with your typical family (& pet) friendly hotel.
We spent the rest of the evening snuggled in bed watching Netflix, thanks to their Smart TV (it’s the little things, right?)!
The next morning we enjoyed breakfast in their restaurant, AC Kitchen which provided sweet and savory Spanish egg tarts, freshly sliced Iberico ham and French croissants, fresh fruits, cheeses, muesli, yogurt, Nespresso coffee and more. AC Hotel also has their own walk-up coffee house, The Slab, which serves Water Avenue Coffee, specially curated for the hotel.
Our adventure continued with a stroll through the Portland Saturday Market on Burnside St., which also allows leashed dogs! Since Memorial Day weekend was hot (nearly 100 degrees), the girl’s took full advantage of the fountains/splash pads.
We visit the Market every time we’re in Portland and love discovering the new vendors, makers and yummy food purveyors sharing the best in their craft.
Obviously we worked up an appetite…which is easy to do in PDX, one of the ultimate foodie cities!
We stopped in Coco Donuts, located within walking distance downtown and picked up a dozen of their top-selling treats. Here’s why I like Coco Donuts vs. the rest of the hyped up donut shops. They don’t have lines out the door, they offer classic varieties and also serve delicious coffee paired with a sweet little donut hole for good measure. It’s a small shop with pops of pink, a killer staff and the philosophy that coffee and donuts are best when shared together. Plus, there’s a bench right outside so we could hang with little George as my girl’s ate their donuts, one sprinkle at a time.
We kept the party going by heading to OMSI, The Oregon Museum of Science & Industry which was just a short drive across the bridge.
Heads up – you could literally spend an entire week at OMSI, there are over 200 interactive exhibits, 8 labs combining science, art and technology, a planetarium, science playground, motion simulator, theatre, special traveling exhibits and a submarine!
One our highlights was seeing The Art of the Brick by artist Nathan Sawaya, who created the largest display of LEGO® brick original pieces of artwork. The exhibit ended on May 29th, but the next feature is Pompeii which launches on June 24th! You can visit the OMSI calendar HERE!
For the past year, Adalyn (my 6 year old) has been documenting our adventures in a journal, and this trip she brought along her own camera. It’s pure magic to watch how she explores behind the lens. I definitely recommend bringing a camera along to the OMSI!
We loved OMSI so much that we stopped by the next day to grab a few more photos and one with our pup George (who stayed in the air conditioned hotel during our first visit there).
That evening we had the opportunity of dining at Southpark Seafood, a sustainable seafood and oyster bar which came highly recommended by the AC Hotel concierge.
I tried two of their signature cocktails (research for you guys!) – the Resolution (Citrus Vodka, Lime, House Made Grenadine, Sparkling Wine) & the Marionberry Mule (Wild Root Vodka, Lime, Ginger Beer) which is made from a local distillery. Both were AMAZING. I definitely suggest you order them.
For starters we had a sampling of their raw and baked oysters which rotate daily. I prefer them baked, while my husband loves them raw.
For my main entree I opted for the King Salmon (Freekah, Carrots, Asparagus, Mint, Pistachio, Chile Flake) which was cooked to perfection, with the ideal balance of sweet and savory.
My husband had the Snake River Farms Rib Eye (Cauliflower, Fingerling Potatoes, Almonds, Caper Raisin Vinaigrette) which he regarded as one of the best meals…of his life. Cooking is his favorite pastime so this is quite the endorsement.
p.s. They also offer a kid’s menu!
The next morning we enjoyed another breakfast in the AC Kitchen, followed by a walk along the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Portland is filled with (leashed) dog friendly parks in the city, though this one is my favorite. Definitely bring a ball or frisbee, there’s a ton of room for your pup to run!
For our mid-morning snack we ventured to Salt & Straw, known for their handmade ice cream featuring local flavors like Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper (obsessed!) & Honey Lavender. Again, there were benches right outside, so we could still hang with George.
(btw…rumor has it Salt & Straw is coming to Seattle in the fall!)
Our next destination was Sauvie Island which I discovered via Portland Family Adventures, said to be perfect for both kids and dogs. But first, we grabbed lunch to go at Garden Bar (again a highly suggested place)! Their philosophy is to give the underrated salad the love and respect it deserves. Their gorgeous bowls of green goodness are made with locally sourced vegetables, fruits, meats and cheeses. The presentation measures up to every delicious bite. I recommend the Bliss Detox, Chicken Kale Caesar and Northwest Bowl. It was enough to feed our family of 4 (plus leftovers for later!). I also picked up a few kombucha drinks and their signature Fire Brew juice shots (to rev my Portland metabolism!).
Once we arrived on Sauvie Island, we headed to Walton Beach, proclaimed to be one of the best sandy beaches in Portland, alongside the Columbia River. Note: Collins Beach, which is just down the road is a clothing-optional beach so keep that in mind regardless of your preference. There’s visible signage at each beach – so no worries!
After a few hours we headed back to the AC Hotel to refresh and recharge for dinner at the hyper-seasonal and locally sourced, Q Restaurant & Bar, just a block down from the hotel. We sat in the lounge area which featured an open-air concept, perfect for the warm weekend.
On my mission to find the best cocktails in the city – I tried the B.F.D. (Rose City Vodka, Blackberry Puree, Lime Juice, Mint, Cava Float, Rocks). You guys…it was summer in a glass. It was just the right amount of fancy with a pretty little dose of tart sweetness.
My entree blew my mind – the Grilled Hawaiian Walu with Coconut Sticky Rice (fresh mango, avocado, lime, herbs, red chile, flowers, cashews, crispy shallots) is by far the best Polynesian dish known to mankind. In fact, I recommend you drive straight to Portland for this dish alone.
My husband also loved his dish, and my girl’s ordered some new faves off the kid’s menu including grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on thick toast (we all had a bite and now I’m obsessed).
That evening we headed back to the AC Hotel to relax (and digest from the bountiful weekend!) and spend a little time with George, who thoroughly enjoyed his weekend digs.
The next day we soaked up our last few hours in Portland, the city that stole our hearts for the weekend and created the sweetest memories in just 4 days!
This is the face of a little boy that prefers hotel living (I feel ya buddy!)…
And I must share this photo…the only one of all 5 of us and sweet little George is being so good sitting for the camera…but facing the wrong way. I can’t help but laugh and cherish it because we only get so many moments as a family – so I vote we enjoy them.
Side note: I forgot to mention AC Hotel has a fantastic fitness center which I utilized every morning after my run (before the family woke up). Downtown Portland is nice and flat with plenty of waterfront paths to run along!
*Photos edited by Jasmine Klein Photography
Disclosure: We were graciously provided complimentary experiences in exchange for this post. The opinions expressed here represent my own, which I take great pride in providing pure honesty…because I’m OBSESSED with sharing the Good!