One Pass to See Them All: Portland’s Best Cultural & Historical Sites, Museums, Gardens, and Attractions

Collective

Whether you’re visiting Portland from another city, or you live here and have a few days off to explore your own city, our friends over at Travel Portland can help you get the most bang for your buck while seeing some of the city’s most notable points of interest. They have created four different Attraction Passes that give you entry into all or a curated selection of Portland’s best museums, gardens, and cultural & historical sites. The passes are good for five days from the date of purchase, and can only be purchased online. The Attraction Passes cater to the needs of the traveler whether you want it all (the Big Pass) or just want a select few from the list (the Washington Park Pass,  the Downtown Pass, or the Garden Pass). Continue reading

Portland’s top restaurants & chefs offer $29 3-course meals for Portland Dining Month

One of Portland’s most anticipated culinary events is Portland Dining Month. For the entire month of March, over 100 Portland restaurants will be offering three-course meals for just $29 per person. Some of the participating restaurants scarcely offer one entree at that price, let alone THREE courses! Now’s the perfect time to try some of those restaurants that everyone’s been talking about, or that have been on your foodie to-do list since you read their acclaimed yelp reviews.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a truly Portland event unless there was a non-profit beneficiary involved. If you book your reservation using the provided Open Table links for the various restaurants below, Portland Dining Month will make a donation to the Oregon Food Bank. 72 of the 100+ Portland Dining Month restaurants are participating in the Open Table reservation system, and you’ll find the complete list by clicking here. To see the complete list of all restaurants participating in Portland Dining Month, including each of their 3-course menus, click here.

All of the restaurants are accessible by public transportation, but featured below are 31 of my favorites, along with TriMet links to the nearest bus, MAX, and streetcar stops. Don’t worry if the restaurant you want to visit isn’t on my list; just use TriMet’s trip planning page to enter your starting location, then the ending address of your desired Portland Dining Month participating restaurant and you’ll get a detailed trip itinerary. Enjoy!


Acadia 1303 N.E. Fremont St., Portland, OR 97212

acadia

Photo by Pearl P.

4.5 stars on Yelp $$

Accessibility by bus:


Accanto 2838 S.E. Belmont St., Portland, OR 97214

accanto

Photo by Feuy S. 

4 stars on Yelp $$ ~ Click here to make OpenTable reservations

Accessibility by bus:


Al Amir 223 S.W. Stark St., Portland, OR 97204

Photo by Al Amir on Facebook

4 Stars on Yelp $$

Accessibility by bus:

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Winter Hiking on Mt. Talbert

talbertgooglemapsImage courtesy of Google Maps

A funny thing happens when I mention the hike on Mt. Talbert: whomever I am speaking with tries to correct me by saying, “You mean Mt Tabor…” Nope. I mean Mt. Talbert, one of the many dormant or extinct volcanoes that dot the southeast region of the city. The fact that not many know about its existence inspired me to feature this little gem of a walk in the woods. Mt. Talbert is a forest-covered, 750-foot-tall, ancient, worn-down shield volcano located just a few miles southeast of Portland near Sunnyside, and resides within the Kellogg-Mt Scott watershed. With over 250 acres of conserved natural area, it is one of the most healthy wildlife habitats in the urban Portland metropolitan region.

154038183.R8wudzgmPhoto by Frank Paris

Mt. Talbert is seen by tens of thousands of commuters every day along Interstate 205, likely most of them not knowing that a beautiful park resides at the top. A network of 4 miles of trail covers the Mt. Talbert Nature Park. Even though the hiking trails are just feet away from neighborhoods and businesses, there is an abundance of wildlife that can be seen on this hike, including deer, western gray squirrels, pileated and hairy woodpeckers, white-breasted nuthatches and western tanagers. The forest is comprised of Douglas Firs and groves of Western Red Cedars and Oregon White Oaks. Continue reading

Little Boxes: Shopping by Bus on Black Friday & Small Business Saturday

Shopping at Flora, photo by Mikola Accuardi

There are countless reasons why I am completely in love with Portland, and the Little Boxes shopping event has just been added to that long list. Little Boxes is a two-day shopping event on November 28th and 29th that supports local businesses. Personally, I love shopping, but I can do without the crowds, urban sprawl, and gluttonous nature of the “Big Box” superstores. I also love keeping my money in my community by purchasing at independent and neighborhood shops. So often the quality and uniqueness of the things you’ll find at these shops ends up being the most auspicious and memorable gifts for those lucky enough to be on your holiday gift list. As if the benefits of supporting your community and finding perfect gifts for your friends and family wasn’t rewarding enough, the Little Boxes event also has a raffle tied into the mix, with a chance to win huge prizes. Watch this fun video for a great visual presentation on how to play while you shop. Continue reading

Holiday Tree Lightings & Festivals in Portland

Even though big retail stores have had Christmas decorations out since the end of October, for many of us, the real harbinger of the holidays is the annual holiday tree lighting. And no matter where you live in Portland, there’s a tree lighting or festival just an easy bus ride away. I’ve even included a couple lightings in the nearby cities of Gresham and Milwaukie. Each listing below includes the closest TriMet stops to the corresponding tree lighting. Take advantage of TriMet’s trip planner to enter your starting location and the event’s address as the ending location for a detailed trip itinerary. Happy Holidays!


1. Pioneer Courthouse Square 701 SW 6th Ave., Portland, OR 97204

Friday, November 28th 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. 

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Photo by Travel Portland

“Thousands of Portlanders will gather at the Square to celebrate 30 years of lighting of the spectacular 75ft Tree provided by Stimson Lumber Company.  This year’s event will feature a holiday sing-a-long featuring Thomas Lauderdale with members of Pink Martini, “Oregon’s Own” 234th Army Band and the Pacific Youth Choir.  A pre-show with the NW Community Gospel Choir will begin at 5:00pm.” Click here for more information.

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The Spirits of Portland: 10 distilleries accessible by bus

Whether you’re from Portland or not, most people know of our exceptional craft beers and locally produced wines. But did you know that the greater Portland metropolitan area is home to almost twenty local distilleries? And just as you’d expect, the distilling practices that create Portland spirits fall right in line with our usual high standards for quality, including small batch productions and seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Featured here are ten of Portland’s easily accessible distilleries, complete with the closest bus, MAX, or Streetcar stops. Tasting room hours vary at each location, so visit distillery websites for more information before making your journey. Take advantage of TriMet’s trip planner to enter your starting location and the distillery’s address as the ending location for a detailed trip itinerary. Enjoy!


1. Bull Run Distilling Company 2259 NW Quimby St, Portland, OR 97210

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Photo by Bull Run on Yelp

4.5 Stars on Yelp $$

“The Bull Run watershed is the primary drinking water supply for the City of Portland. It’s the same beautiful, raw water we add to each of our spirits – and it’s the same soft water that helps create the great mouth feel in each of our spirits. Arriving in 2015: Bull Run has dedicated two 800-gallon distilling vats to this Oregon-made whiskey. That’s right — not Scotch, not Irish, not Bourbon, but “Oregon Whiskey” distilled using local water and grains and aged in the unique Oregon climate. While it’s expected to be released in 2015, the whiskey will decide when it’s good n’ ready.” ~Bull Run Distilling Company

Accessibility by bus:


2. Clear Creek Distillery 2389 NW Wilson St, Portland, OR 97210

ClearCreek

Photo by Kenn Wilson on flickr

4.5 Stars on Yelp $$

“Founded in 1985 by Steve McCarthy, today Clear Creek Distillery carries forward a world renowned portfolio of eaux de vie, grappa, liqueurs and whiskey all distilled in our Portland facility from Pacific Northwest fruits and Scottish barley. We use traditional European pot stills along with techniques learned in Alsace and Switzerland, then perfected through 30 years of Oregon craftsmanship. Our products are served in the World’s best restaurants and appreciated by connoisseurs everywhere.” ~Clear Creek Distillery

Accessibility by bus:


3. Eastside Distilling 1512 SE 7th Ave, Portland, OR 97214

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Photo by Eastside Distilling on Yelp

4.5 Stars on Yelp $$

“Eastside Distilling has been producing high-quality, hand-crafted spirits in Southeast Portland’s Distillery Row since 2008. We believe that locally-produced spirits simply taste better, so all of our unique products are made right here in Portland, Oregon from natural ingredients in small batches for unparalleled quality and taste.” ~Eastside Distilling 


4. House Spirits Distillery 2025 SE 7th Ave, Portland, OR 97214

House

Photo by Kenn Wilson on flickr

4.5 Stars on Yelp $$

“Founded in 2004 in Oregon, House Spirits Distillery is a leader of America’s craft distilling movement. Our award-winning products are batch-distilled and are inspired by a passion for quality spirits and delicious cocktails. Located in the heart of Portland’s famous Distillery Row, each of our spirits has the richness and craftsmanship to be enjoyed on their own and also lend themselves beautifully to your best-loved drinks and cocktails.” ~House Spirits Distillery


5. Industrial Row Distillery 645 N Tillamook St #3, Portland, OR 97277

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Photo by Industrial Row Distillery 

Not yet on Yelp

IRD is a grain to bottle distillery that believes in quality above all. At IRD, our first spirit is Vodka. We perfected the process and the result is Dystopia Vodka. Our vodka retains a characteristic aroma with a subtle hint of flavor originating from the grain it was made from. On top of this we leave it unfiltered – just pure distillate and crystal mountain water.” ~Industrial Row Distillery


6. New Deal Distillery 900 SE Salmon St, Portland, OR 97214

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Photo by New Deal Distillery on Yelp

4.5 Stars on Yelp $$

“New Deal Distillery provides high quality, craft-distilled spirits, inspired by the DIY spirit of Portland. All of our artisan vodkas are made locally in small batches with Bull Run water and natural and organic ingredients, sourced locally whenever possible.” ~New Deal Distillery 


7. Rogue Distillery and Public House 1339 NW Flanders St, Portland, OR 97209

Rogue

Photo by Will Vanlue on flickr

3.5 Stars on Yelp $$

“Before any Rogue Spirit heads out the door, we give it a final look over to check on quality and flavor. At each step along the way, we know our ingredients because we planted them, we grew them, we harvested them, we floor malted, roasted and smoked them, and because we took the extra time to bottle them by hand. Spirits made from scratch deserve to be bottled by hand. Taste the difference it makes the next time you open a bottle of Rogue Spirits.” ~Rogue Distillery 


8. Rolling River Spirits 1215 SE 8th Ave Ste H, Portland, OR 97214

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Photo by Rolling River on Yelp

No reviews on Yelp

“Rolling River Spirits is a family-owned and operated craft distillery located in Portland, Oregon. Our Rolling River Vodkas, Gins, and Whiskeys are handcrafted in Portland, Oregon, with only the finest ingredients. Our family’s Master Distiller, Tim Rickard, personally creates each blend using his own custom-built stills and Portland’s renowned pure water, which stems from our tallest peaks and one of the city’s most revered icons– Mt. Hood.” ~Rolling River Spirits


9. Stone Barn Brandyworks 3315 SE 19th, Portland, OR 97202

StoneBarn

Photo by Stone Barn Brandyworks

4.5 Stars on Yelp $$

“Stone Barn Brandyworks produces craft distilled, regional fruit brandies, brandy-based liqueurs, and when fruit is not in season, we keep making whiskey.” ~Stone Barn Brandyworks


10. Vinn Distillery 833 SE Main St, Portland, OR 97214

Vinn

Photo by Vinn Distillery

4.5 Stars on Yelp $$

“Vinn Distillery is a family-owned local distiller of rice-based products. We craft our products by hand right here in Oregon, using methods passed down for generations. Since our spirits are made entirely from rice, they have the added benefit of being gluten-free. We are excited to have our tasting room located right in the heart of Distillery Row in southeast Portland. Come visit us there and sample all our products!” ~Vinn Distillery


Article by Stephanie Paris

Cover photo by Thomas Heyman on flickr

Beyond Portland: Historic McMinnville and the heart of Oregon Wine Country

StreetPhoto by star5112 on flickr

Sometimes there can be a place so unique and charming that gets overlooked merely because larger, more boastful cities reside nearby. I never thought much of McMinnville, Oregon, but that’s only because I had never been. However knowing that it’s in the heart of Oregon Wine Country, I became increasingly curious as to what this small town had to offer. Once I learned that it was accessible by bus from Portland, it was settled. I had to visit.

My journey began in downtown Portland at Pioneer Courthouse Square. From there we boarded the MAX Blue Line to Hillsboro, and got off at the Hillsboro Central/SE 3rd Transit Center. We then connected to Yamhill County Transit Area bus line 33, which took us right into historic downtown McMinnville. Eager to get to my home for the next couple of days, we began the easy walk to the Oregon Wine Cottage.

OregonWineCottagePhoto by Stephanie Paris

I’ve stayed in many hotels, B&Bs, cabins, and vacation homes. Until you’ve been to a place, you just can’t be sure what you’re going to get. The Oregon Wine Cottage exceeded my expectations in many ways. It was clean, inviting, and quaint. But not quaint in the way your grandmother’s house is quaint. More like your best friend’s house where you immediately feel comfortable and at home. This is the perfect place for a double date weekend, featuring two bedrooms, each with their own bathroom. Although you may just have to rock/paper/scissors to decide who gets the room with the fabulous soaking tub.

In addition to the cottage being simply adorable, the location was perfect. It’s close enough to the main drag that you feel like you’re still part of the action, but far enough away that you get that secluded privacy that a hotel just can’t offer. The owners gave recommendations for dinner and breakfast, and trusting they knew what they were talking about, we went with a couple of their recommendations, which ended up enhancing our weekend experience.

Both restaurants were located in historic downtown McMinnville, which is a short, pleasant walk from the cottage. For dinner, we tried Nick’s Italian Cafe, where the Lasagna Bolognese was absolutely heavenly. After dinner we ended up spending the rest of the evening in The Back Room, their appropriately named bar. Whether you dine in the main restaurant or the bar in the back, they offer a huge wine selection, and refreshingly inventive cocktails.

CommunityCoffeePhoto by Stephanie Paris

The next morning we had breakfast at Community Plate, where I was pleased to enjoy my home city’s Stumptown Coffee. It was a pretty busy morning in the cafe, so with our coffee we opted for one of their savory bacon-cheddar-chive scones from the pastry case to hold us over before our order was up. That was a good move, because it was super tasty, but not necessary because despite the crowd, our food arrived surprisingly fast. Both restaurants were as good as promised! Having great dining options close to the cottage was a huge plus for our stay.

Now it was time to do one of the activities that was the main inspiration for our trip. It was time to taste some wine! The greatest thing about McMinnville by bus is that there is a plethora of good wine tasting options right in the heart of walkable downtown. Visit any or all of the tasting rooms listed below, and your palate will thank you!

Wine Tasting in historic downtown McMinnville

  • R. Stuart and Co. Wine Bar – 528 NE 3rd St – “R. Stuart & Co. is a winery specializing in Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, located in McMinnville, Oregon. Winemaker Rob Stuart gathers the best fruit possible to make wines that are friendly and approachable for real people to enjoy with their friends, family and good food. Our Wine Bar is the perfect setting to taste through our wines, linger over a glass, have a snack, and purchase wine to take home. For a little variety we also offer a couple of local microbrews, and espresso from our favorite Portland roaster.”
  • Willamette Valley Vineyards – 300 NE 3rd St –  “Our mission in growing cool-climate varietals is to create elegant, classic Oregon wines from the Willamette Valley Appellation. As native Oregonians, we treasure our environment and use sustainable practices in growing and vinifying our winegrapes. The Willamette Valley Vineyards Tasting Room in McMinnville provides an opportunity to experience our award-winning Pinot Noirs right in the heart of Downtown McMinnville.”
  • Terra Vina Wines – 585 NE 3rd St – “Delicious! Is the adjective we hear the most when describing our wines. Many different varietals crafted in small lots showcase the purity of each varietal’s flavor and uniqueness of the terroir of the finest Northwest vineyards. Consistently recognized by the NW Wine Summit, and receiving numerous gold medals over the years, in 2007, our 2005 Amore, Late Harvest Semillon, received a gold medal and “Best Dessert Wine.” We are honored by the awards our wines have received showing the consistency in our winemaking.”
  • Dominio IV – 845 NE 5th St – “At Dominio Wines, we practice Biodynamic™ farming to ensure that the land which feeds our grapes remains viable and fruitful for future generations. Our winery resides in the thriving Granary District of McMinnville, Oregon. What was once a dilapidated, agricultural storage building has since been renovated into the perfect home for creating and enjoying wines. During the warmer seasons, the doors to our tasting room spill out to an outdoor patio. There, you can explore our wines while enjoying the sunshine.”
  • Eyrie Vineyards – 935 NE 10th Ave – “The Eyrie Vineyards has been known for elegant, classic wines since 1970, when we produced the first Pinot noir and Chardonnay in the Willamette Valley, and the New World’s first Pinot gris. Join us in McMinnville, at Yamhill County’s original winery, to enjoy current Eyrie releases and a taste of Oregon wine history!”
  • Remy Wines – 905 NE 10th Ave – “Remy Wines is a small, urban winery producing Old World Style Italian varietals including Sangiovese, Barbera, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo and Lagrien. We are also home to the Three Wives Wines.  baR (pronounced R bar) is open every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we offer fantastic small plates, wines by the glass, and outdoor seating. Ciao!”

Walking from tasting room to tasting room made for a fun and relaxing day. We met so many wonderful people, and whether they were locals or fellow travelers, the conversation was always lively and interesting. And if you’re looking for a guided tour experience with a chance to visit some of the actual vineyards, sign yourself up for the Tour and Taste Daytrip offered by Grape Escape Winery Tours. Their joinable tours begin at McMenamin’s Hotel Oregon in downtown McMinnville one Saturday per month, and ticket packages can be purchased through the Hotel Oregon website.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPhoto by Adam Sawyer

With all of these amazing experiences, it’s easy to say that my stay in McMinnville was nothing less than fantastic. The community, the sense of history in the town, and the great food and drink were all things that contributed to creating a memorable trip. As I boarded the bus to return to my Portland home, I found myself wishing we had booked more days at the Oregon Wine Cottage. I have a feeling that the next trip I take to McMinnville will end with me thinking, “Just one more day …”.

Alternative bus routes and lodging

For a unique hotel experience, try the McMenamin’s Hotel Oregon. The building is a wonderful piece of McMinnville’s history. They even offer a self-guided walking tour of art and history that provides detailed information about the furniture and interior design, architecture and room detail, and art and old photos that grace the walls. Their European-style rooms feature original porcelain sinks, with shared bathrooms exclusively for hotel guests conveniently located down the hall. For a bit more privacy, they also offer King and Queen rooms with private bathrooms. Dining and nightlife options at the hotel include their McMenamin’s Pub where you can get daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner, their Cellar Bar which is described as a “20s-style speakeasy meets modern day wine bar,” and finally their Rooftop Bar where the views offer an unobstructed look at Oregon’s lush wine country, the impressive Coast Range and beyond.

As an alternative to the route described in the article, you can also take TriMet line 12-Barbur to the Tigard TC and then the Yamhill County Transit Area line 44 on Weekdays, or 46S on Saturdays, to the downtown McMinnville TC. Making this trip on a Sunday is less convenient, so if you’d like your travel plans to include part or all of the weekend, I’d recommend making sure that both your arrival and departure days fall on a Monday through Saturday. For example, bus in on a Friday or Saturday and leave on a Monday. For more information visit the websites of TriMet and Yamhill County Transit Area for trip planning assistance. You can also plan your trip using google maps and choose the bus option when finding directions from a beginning and ending location.

Article written by Stephanie Paris

Pickathon Indie Roots Music Festival

The Pickathon Indie Roots Music Festival at Pendarvis Farm in Portland, Oregon is like no other music festival you’ve been to. When I began to write this article, I sat for a long time staring at a blank page, wondering how I could possibly translate its awesomeness into a few-hundred-word blog post. And I’ve come to realize, I just can’t. This event more than others is something that you simply must experience to really get it. Hopefully the words I did come up with will suffice, and leave you wanting to go out and get the experience.

Here is a list of the top seven things that make Pickathon the greatest music festival I have ever attended.

1. The Vibe:

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While I am no stranger to music festivals, I am also not a music festival junkie. Sometimes when I think of the term “music festival,” I get visions of thousands of college-aged kids in a large field in the sun, drugged out of their minds, trance dancing, and drinking booze out of plastic cups. While those kinds of music festivals certainly exist, Pickathon is an entirely different breed. There is definitely alcohol consumption, but the collective consciousness of the folks in attendance somehow manages to keep everyone respectful of others, and the overall vibe of the group is unparalleled. It feels safe, because it is, and the people there are people that you actually want to hang out with. This is just one factor that helps this festival be the most family friendly festival around.

2. Kids are FREE:

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Another way Pickathon welcomes families is that children 12 and under get in free. And once they’re in, children’s itineraries can be just as full as any grownup’s, with organized craft projects, circus classes, performances geared especially towards kids. Here’s an example of the Kids & Family Schedule from 2014.  There’s even a designated quiet and family camping zone (silence not guaranteed). Oh, did I mention that this is a weekend festival with the (strongly recommended!) option to camp?!

3. Camping:

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Purchasing the weekend ticket gets you camping access for the whole weekend. Music takes place all day long and into the wee hours of the night on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. With an early bird pass, you can camp Thursday night, which helps ensure you have your pick of the campsites. Monday morning campers must leave, and most are already longingly looking forward to doing it all again next year.

4. Sustainability:

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Pickathon is the nation’s greenest music festival. It’s the first festival in the country to eliminate single-use plastic cups and containers from their vendors. They have been replaced with reusable Klean Kanteen stainless steel cups, and have used Bambooware dishes and utensils. Both are available for purchase at Pickathon, and they’ve even got a cool token system for the dishes so you don’t even have to clean them yourself. Alternatively, you can also bring your own reusable dishware, and they have convenient dish washing stations to make things easy. Here’s a great infographic about how it works. Pickathon makes great use of solar power. They have a permanently installed solar array on the rooftop of the Galaxy Barn (one of their stages is located inside). According to their website, “the energy generated during the year offsets 100% of the energy used during the festival in the Galaxy Barn plus 100% of the electricity used by the food and craft vendors.” They also host three portable solar power generators throughout the festival to help with their electricity needs, including powering a cell phone charging station for festival-goers. They also offer free drinking water all weekend long. Have they really thought if everything? I think they have.

5. It’s relatively small:

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Pickathon only sells a limited amount of tickets, which means that between ticket-holders, volunteers, staff, and children, the festival caps out at about 7,000, as opposed to the 20,000-person capacity that they could accommodate if they wanted to cram people in like what happens at other music festivals. The smaller crowds makes the festival more intimate, clean, safe, and overall a much more enjoyable experience.

6. Great Music:

One of the countries greatest music festival isn’t great without talented musicians! One of my favorite things about Pickathon is that you won’t find just one genre of music. In the past I have seen folk, blues, rockabilly, African, funk, indie pop, bluegrass, and so much more. They’ve had lineups with musical greats like The Avett Brothers, Andrew Bird, Feist, Neko Case, Mavis Staples, X, and Nickel Creek. Besides the more well known performers, each year I discover new bands that I’ve never heard of, but that blow my mind when I see them live at Pickathon. After 11 years of attending this festival, I absolutely know without a doubt that I will enjoy the music, even if I’m not familiar with many of the bands in the lineup.

7. Public Transportation:

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Pickathon makes alternatives modes of transportation a breeze. They want as many people as possible to leave their cars at home, and have made this easy by providing frequent EcoShuttle service between Clackamas Town Center (near the MAX station) and the Pickathon at Pendarvis Farm. Clackamas Town Center is served by the MAX Green Line, and bus lines 28, 29, 30, 33, 71, 72, 79, 152, 155, and 156. Alternatively, if you don’t want to pay the EcoShuttle fee, you can take TriMet line 155 from the Clackamas Town Center TC, get off at SE Misty & 162nd, and walk just under a mile to the festival site (16581 SE Hagen Rd.) For assistance in getting to the Clackamas Town Center, just visit TriMet’s trip planner, and enter in your starting location, use Clackamas Town Center TC (Stop ID 13247) for your ending location if you’ll be using the EcoShuttle, or use stop ID 13159 if you’ll be bussing then walking. Pickathon also encourages commuting by bike, and even offer gear shuttles. Check their website for more info.

I am genuinely elated when it’s time for Pickathon each year. Those of you that have been before know exactly what I’m talking about. And for those of you that may be going for the first time, whether you go for just one day, or camp the entire weekend to get the full experience, I am certain that it will be one of the best things you will do all year.

Pickathon is an annual event that takes place the first weekend in August. For more information, including this year’s musical lineup, please visit the Pickathon.com.

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All photos copyright Stephanie Paris

The 4T Trail: A Quintessential Portland Experience

Portland’s 4T Trail is quite possibly the coolest city/forest/transit adventure in existence. The T’s of the 4T Trail stand for Train (MAX), Trail, Tram, and Trolley (Portland Streetcar). When combined, these T’s create an approximately nine-mile loop and a quintessential Portland experience. The 4T highlights some of the city’s best assets: urban parks and trails, stunning views of volcanoes and cityscapes, a tram ride, and our legendary public transportation. For all these reasons and more, the 4T makes for an excellent outing for adventurers of all ages.

There are four different trailheads, one for each T of the trip. And although you can begin the trip at any of the trailheads, I prefer to start and finish downtown, making the Train the first T segment of the trip. Before you begin your journey, you’ll want to purchase a TriMet Day Pass at one of the fareboxes located at any MAX stop. Put your ticket in a safe place, as it is valid on the Portland Streetcar as well.

train

Hop on a westbound MAX train, either the Red Line towards Beaverton or the Blue Line towards Hillsboro. Both will get you to your stop at Washington Park/Oregon Zoo. If you’re travelling with children, you might want to alert them of the awesomeness that you are about experience as you enter a tunnel that takes you deep beneath the zoo. At 260 feet below the surface, the MAX station at Washington Park is the deepest transit station in North America! Get off here and take the elevator up to the zoo parking area where you will begin the second T of your trip.

highway26     4t trail sign

The Trail segment of the loop departs from the Washington Park MAX station and takes you on a 4.5-mile hike up to OHSU. Begin the hike by walking over to the zoo entrance, but not into the zoo. We’ll save that for another trip. Follow the sidewalk as it leads you downhill and out of the parking area. Remember to watch for the 4T signs. The sidewalk will lead you over Highway 26. Cross the eastbound onramp to the shoulder and take a left, hiking east down the onramp a short distance. Don’t be fooled by the unmarked boot path off to the right. Wait until you see the sign marking the 4T Trail and begin hiking up the Marquam Trail towards Council Crest. Even though you’re within city limits, you’d never know it by the lush beauty of this forest. Once you reach the summit of Council Crest, the highest point in Portland proper, soak up the views and take a well-earned breather before descending into the Marquam Nature Park. Follow the 4T Trail signs, which eventually lead you to Fairmount Blvd where you will turn right to take the Urban Shortcut to the Tram.

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The Tram from OHSU is the third T segment of your journey. Hours vary, but the ride is free since you’re heading down. The ride is brief but breathtaking, especially on a clear day when the volcanic peaks are visible. Although the tram’s main purpose is the daily commute of hospital staff, it sure is a fun 5 minutes for those of us that don’t get to take the ride every day!

Once you exit the Tram, the OHSU Commons streetcar (Trolley) stop is just steps away. The streetcar signifies the end of hiking or standing, and your final T segment of the day, so take a load off. Enjoy the ride for ten full stops, exiting the streetcar at the Central Library (SW 10th & SW Yamhill). I love finishing at this downtown location because it is an optimal spot to grab lunch or dinner. If you’re looking for a tasty bite, Elephants in the Park, located at Director Park (SW Taylor and SW 9th) is a crowdpleaser. If you want a sweet treat, try TartBerry for delicious self-serve frozen yogurt (SW 9th & SW Taylor). There are a number of options here, including the food cart pod at SW 9th and SW Alder, so you should be able to find many tasty ways to reward your day’s efforts.

TartBerry

For maps and detailed directions, please check out the 4T website.

(Original story by Adam Sawyer, adapted with permission by Stephanie Paris)