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Portland black book: An insider's guide to Oregon

Author: Elle Canada

Travel

Portland black book: An insider's guide to Oregon

Keen is a Oregon institution. In addition to outfitting residents in hiking gear for exploring the gorgeous Columbia River Gorge, its headquarters in Portland is a destination in itself: a sustainably refurbished pre-war warehouse in the Pearl District. We spoke to brand director Linda Balfour about where else first-time visitors should add to their must-see list. (You won't find these under-the-radar gems in typical tourist guides.) "Portland is so special and the community of people is one of the reasons Keen is headquartered here," she says. "It's got the perfect mix of being a great, fun city, with amazing rural landscapes."

RISE AND SHINE "Brunch is a big thing here. Put your name on the list, then grab a coffee and maybe a Blue Star donut to tide you over while you wait. Kin in Northeast Portland is really good, but there are all kinds of brunch places tucked away. You really can't go wrong with food in Portland." 

TAKE A HIKE "Portland has great access to the outdoors: Within an hour and 15 minutes you can be surfing in the Pacific Ocean or skiing on Mount Hood. One of my top-five hikes on Mount Hood is called Paradise Park. There are breathtaking views, and when you finish you can have cocktails at Timberland Lodge!"

ADMIRE SOME ARCHITECTURE "The Keen Garage is repurposed in ways you would never imagine: car hoods, glass electrical caps and high school bleechers have all become really beautiful fixtures and furniture. Our staff at the store also make it a really great visit: Not only do you have experts who will help you find the right shoe for the right activity (see above), but they also have different passions in Portland and can tell you where to go for great food or good music."

INDULGE IN RETAIL THERAPY "Make sure to bring reusable shopping bags. Bring-your-own-bag is a pretty big thing here, and there's tax-free shopping, which means there are a lot of opportunities you won't want to pass up. I really enjoy the shops on Mississippi Avenue – there's a unique collection of items that range from locally made to international brands."

BE YOUR OWN TOUR GUIDE "If you're a beer drinker, definitely take time to check out a number of local breweries. You can create a quick DIY beer tour in the Pearl District, where you'll find Ten Barrel, Cascade Brewery and Rogue, among others."

STOP AND SMELL THE ROSES "One of the things that's really cool about Portland is there are so many gardens. There's a place called the Grotto, which is a hiden gem in Portland. Then there's the Hoite Arboretum and, of course, the rose gardens."

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Weekend getaway: Portland

Explore Portland: Hotel Monaco

STAY The Hotel Monaco in downtown Portland proves that it's possible to be both pet-friendly and fashionable. Whether or not you're travelling with Fido, this boutique hotel offers the perfect balance of laidback luxury – with spacious suites, colourful eclectic decor and, best of all, complimentary happy hour. (Plus, treats for your dog at the check-in desk – just don't mistake it for a cookie jar!) Steps from many of Portland's main attractions, Hotel Monaco is the ideal starting point for a walking tour of the city. READ MORE: ELLE editors' favourite Canadian brunch spots

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Charlotte Herrold Source: Kimpton Hotels

Weekend getaway: Portland

Explore Portland: Crafty Wonderland

SHOP After strolling through Union Way, the modern arcade alley featuring American shops like Steven Alan and Oregon’s own Will Leather, head about five minutes south to Crafty Wonderland, a pop-up showcase of wares from more than 180 local artisans. Here you’ll find unique gifts (cat-shaped pillows, anyone?), jewellery, hand-printed cards and locally sourced apothecary items. READ MORE: Weekend getaway to Las Vegas

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Charlotte Herrold Source: Crafty Wonderland

Weekend getaway: Portland

Explore Portland: Barista

FUEL Like nearby Seattle, Portland is known for good coffee – and options for an expertly roasted cup of Joe abound. You'll no doubt try the popular Stumptown Coffee Roasters, but make sure to also check out the more under-the-radar Barista, which has outposts in the Pearl District, downtown, in Nob Hill and in the artist district. After a cup or two, you'll have enough pep in your step to walk to all four. READ MORE: Weekend getaway to Miami

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Charlotte Herrold Source: Instagram.com/baristapdx

Weekend getaway: Portland

Explore Portland: Keen Garage

GEAR UP Getting around by any means other than biking or walking may as well be illegal in Portland for how uncommon it is to drive a car or even take a cab. So make like the the locals and gear up with functional walking shoes and a light rain jacket (because, yes, it will rain) at the Keen headquarters in the Pearl District. A converted industrial warehouse dating back to 1907, the Keen Garage is worth checking out just to marvel at its awesome architecture: When the brand restored it, turning it into their head office and an adjacent retail space, they reused all the materials on site, disposing of only one dumpster of waste. The results are breathtaking – not to mention an inspiring example of sustainable development. READ MORE: Weekend getaway to Brooklyn

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Charlotte Herrold Source: Keen

Weekend getaway: Portland

Explore Portland: Columbia River Trail

HIKE No trip to Oregon would be complete without a hike through the exquisite Columbia River gorge. Just an hour by car from downtown Portland, the trails are shaded by beautiful moss-covered trees and punctuated with stunning waterfalls. With options from 'easy' to 'difficult,' there is a picturesque route for every level of althlete – so make sure to pack your hiking boots, or pick up a pair when you visit Keen. READ MORE: Weekend getaway to Long Island City

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Charlotte Herrold Source: Charlotte Herrold

Weekend getaway: Portland

Explore Portland: Powell's City of Books

PERUSE Bibliophiles will want to plan at least two hours to wander around Powell's City of Books – and don't scoff when a sales associate offers you a map of the store, you'll need it! The largest indepenent book store in the world, it takes up a full city block and stocks rare treasures, hard-to-find used books and a good selection of indie and self-published chapbooks. Plan your visit around one of the daily author events listed on their website, or simply pop in to marvel at the maze of stacks. READ MORE: Tales from an adventuress

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Charlotte Herrold Source: Powell's Books

Weekend getaway: Portland

Explore Portland: Departure at the Nines Hotel

DRINK Set atop the glitzy Nines Hotel in the former Meier & Frank department store building, Departure's rooftop lounge is the perfect place to start your night out in Portland. Take in the view of the city, river and mountains beyond at sunset, while sipping on the yuzu-based 'Running Wakamomo' cocktail with refreshing peach, lime and mint. READ MORE: A stylish tour of Denmark's cool capital

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Charlotte Herrold Source: The Nines Hotel

Weekend getaway: Portland

Explore Portland: Mediterranean Exploration Company

DINE Tucked away in the Pearl District, Mediterranean Exploration Company is a culinary gem, serving mouth-watering modern takes on traditional Israeli and eastern Mediterranean dishes in a cool industrial atmosphere. Order the Moroccan baked eggs and Lebanese eggplant to share at this family-style joint, and make sure to save room for the cardamom ice cream affogato. READ MORE: Enter another era at Ballyfin

Image by: ELLE Canada By: Charlotte Herrold Source: Mediterranean Exploration Company

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Portland black book: An insider's guide to Oregon