How to spend the ultimate spring day in PortlandWhile Portlanders are quick to point out that it REALLY DOES NOT RAIN that much here, 2017 has made liars of us all. This February was the wettest February on record in Portland, according to the National Weather Service. And March is shaping up to be a record-breaking precipitation month as well.
But spring is here and - God willing and the creek literally don't rise - sunny spring days are on the horizon. Once that precipitation finally lets up, Portland will literally blossom - we don't put up with all of that rain for nuthin'.
Here are my suggestions - from dawn 'til dusk - for spending the Ultimate Spring Day in beautiful Bridge City.
Start your day with a European flair
The sun is smiling - sidewalk cafe anyone? Caffe D'arte, in the Lloyd District, has a delightful outdoor terrace, excellent espresso drinks and croissants. What better way to begin a sunny spring day?
A quick trip to the Elf Garden
Since you're already in northeast Portland, take a few minutes to check out the Elf Garden. Nothing will propel you into a spring mood quicker than this whimsical ode-to-elves village that stretches across the entire front yard (and into the parking strip) of some very creative (and anonymous) Portland residents. You'll find an elf hotel, an elf hospital, elf-size Ferris wheel, elf playground and more. A make-believe, playful pixie land (on steroids) that will remind you that you are, after all, in Portland.
Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
Next you're heading to Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden to see the fruit of all of that precipitation. The rhodies and azaleas are at their peak in April and May. A spring-fed lake envelops the garden and ensures that, along with the flowers, you'll enjoy a host of waterfowl. Wander around, cross the two foot bridges, enjoy the waterfalls - and savor this blessed oasis within the city.
Prost and Mississippi Marketplace
Croissants and coffee won't fuel you forever. Let's opt again for outdoor seating, this time at Prost on popular Mississippi Avenue. The beauty of this German beer haven is that it's situated next to Mississippi Marketplace, a food cart pod. If you're not in the mood for German food (not a craving that hits many of us), you can select entrees from one of the 10 food carts next door, with choices from burgers and vegan BBQ to sushi and Mexican. With a purchase of a German beverage (and who doesn't like German beer?), you can sit in Prost's amazing patio. Indeed, you may linger here all afternoon...
Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge
...OR you can opt to work off those calories with an easy walk at another of Portland's urban oases. Head to Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, where the city of Portland's official bird, the Great Blue Heron, can be seen year round (among almost 200 other wildlife species). Catch the herons as they land or take flight - it's a hypnotic, almost magical, treat.
If you chose not to have that second Doppelbock at Prost, you might be up for a ride on Portland's favorite bike path, the Springwater Corridor. All but about one of the 21-mile long paved track is separate from city streets. A good place to hop on is the Eastbank Esplanade, a passageway that hugs the Willamette River and offers stunning views of Portland's bridges and downtown. (A little history: Springwater Corridor was originally a railroad line that connected numerous Portland neighborhoods and suburbs. It's been reclaimed and developed into an urban pathway with the ultimate goal of connecting to the Pacific Crest Trail some day in the future.)
Rent an Orange Bike (BIKETOWNpdx) and find out why Portland is hailed as one of the top bike-friendly cities in the country.
Take in night-time, to-die-for city views at Departure Lounge
Departure Lounge is a splurge - but a splurge that delivers. The rooftop eatery, located above The Nines Hotel building in downtown, offers high end Asian fusion food. The true reason to visit, however, is to relax on the patio and savor a cocktail (specialties are American rye whiskeys and sake) while taking in one of the best views of the city you'll find. If you can catch a seat during happy hour (4 to 6 p.m.), all the better (caveat: even happy hour prices are pretty steep).
A glorious and fitting end to your Ultimate Spring Day in Portland.
Marie Sherlock has resided in Portland, Oregon for three-plus decades during which time she practiced law, married, and then raised kids while writing, editing and authoring a parenting book. She knows, loves and embraces every inch of Portland's weirdness.