Monday, January 07, 2008

Best Of...PDX (our version)

My friend Candace asked me if I would do a "Best of PDX" post on our blog just for fun. She is also asking several other bloggers to do this in various here if you'd like to see them all.
I wasn't sure that we even knew the best of anything in Portland, but Candace seems to think we do...needless to say, this task was a little intimidating! So I've been wracking my brain the past few days and the following is what I came up with...
Since PDX seems to have two seasons: Rain and No Rain, those are the classifications I have given things...I hope you enjoy reading this--I had a lot of fun putting it together (caution: it's really long!).

Playing in No Rain:
  • Jameson Square is by far in our family's top five things to do on No Rain days (and hot is even better). After the kids play in the water fountain for a while we often walk to get either gelato, pizza, or coffee at one of the many fun eateries in the Pearl District.
  • Biking as a family continues to be one of our favorite things to do, and Portland is one of the best cities in the world for bikers. We didn't get to do any biking last summer (new baby!) but some of the paths we like are: Eastbank Esplanade, Columbia River bike paths on either the Oregon or Washington side (right on the water), Springwater Corridor from Oaks Bottom to Downtown, and Poppop and Nana took the kids from Hood River to Mosier last summer on a paved, closed road just for bikes and had a blast. One trail I for sure want to try this summer is from Eagle Creek to Cascade Locks on another closed road just for bikes.
  • Our kids love the Oregon Zoo and we used to take them there all the time Rain or No Rain!) when we had an annual pass...we've let that expire so we could try other memberships...but there are always 2-Buck Tuesdays! On "2-Buck Tuesdays" (the second Tuesday of every month) you can tour the zoo for just $2 a person (kids under three are always free). But it's stinkin' crowded on those plan accordingly.
  • Grant Park has a great fountain, playground, track (run or walk while kids ride bikes), and tennis courts.
  • Mt. Tabor Park has a great playground, scenery, walking trails, and a dormant volcano to read about it you feel like it.
  • Rocky Butte is beautiful and the kids run all around the circular paths while you take in the gorgeous panoramic views.
  • Hiking can be a good option if it's just lightly raining, but we like to go when it's not raining at all... There are tons of easy kid-friendly hikes in the Columbia River Gorge (I only know of a few, however) and our favorite last summer was Wahclella Falls. Not a good option for entertainment when it's cold, though, since it's always colder and more windy in the Gorge than in Portland.
  • The Fish Hatchery is not too far and although it's outdoors it can be a good option if you're desperate for something to do to get the kids energies out. Also pretty educational if you feel like talking to them about the fishies.
Playing in the Rain:
  • OMSI is super fun for those Rainy days. Jonah says it's his favorite place to go. They recently (within the past two years) renovated their entire children's section so there are things to do and explore for all ages. There's so much to do I couldn't even hope to list it all...some things include dress-up and role play areas, water experiments, a huge sand area (really clean and nice white sand), flubber or playdough area, kitchen and grocery store play area, a roll around area for babies, blocks, vacuum discovery area (put the ball in, watch it shoot out), and more and more...Plus there's the Planetarium and Omnimax theatres and special exhibits and the huge Turbine Hall where you can battle the High school field trip groups and make your hair stand up when you touch the static ball.
  • I love to go to Target. Walk up and down the toy aisles. I guess you can do this in almost any city, but it is one of my favorite things to do of all time so I thought I'd include it here. I don't know any mom who doesn't like going to Target! This provides at least an hour of entertainment for my kids. I just tell them before we go in that they're not allowed to ask to buy anything. If I can rustle up $1.20 from the bottom of my purse I get the kids a dollar special with an icee (bottomless icees with a huge bag of popcorn). Guaranteed to get you some wild, sugared up kiddos.
If you know our family at all you know that we LOVE pizza. Here are our favorite pizza options:
  • Yummiest Pizza: Apizza Scholls on Hawthorne. Even just the classic margherita is to die for. Brick oven; yummy tomato sauce--need I say more??? It's also the picture up above...
  • Most Family Friendly (aka: The Kids Fav): Flying Pie. Video games and tons of toppings. It's pretty much a heart-attack on a plate but the kids can be as loud as they want and no one cares.
  • Good Ol' Stand-byes: Pizzicato and Hot Lips. They both have several locations all over PDX, both sell slices, and Hot Lips has vegan and organic options.
Date Night:
Jon and I always are up for a date-night and when Nana calls to say "Can I take the kids overnight?" we jump at the chance to get out for a quiet dinner. Here are our favorite places to go:
  • Nuestra Cocina. Yummy Mexican food with a newer, gourmet flair.
  • Jakes Grill. We just tried this one for the first time on our anniversary and both had a great meal. We'll definitely be back, plus we hear it's where the Trailblazers eat...hmmm...
  • Screen Door. Southern comfort food with a gourmet twist. Comfortable atmosphere, yummy desserts, and the best pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw on the planet. We've taken the kids here two times as well and they love the mac 'n cheese.
  • Apizza Scholls. Are you sensing a pattern here?
  • We go thru food-phases, and for a while we really liked Laurelwood Public House and their burgers or fish 'n chips. They also have really good beer. We've kind of burned out on it currently...
  • And speaking of good beer, how can I leave out McMenamin's? They always have good food, cajun tots, cool atmosphere, and their yummy Hammerhead brew is one of Jon's all-time favorites.
  • Pho van has really consistent, great vietnamese food and we've been eating there since before they were so popular and before they had ten million locations. Try the salad rolls with peanut sauce and the pork skewers over noodles. They are also famous for their soups and their avocado smoothies. (Thanks, April, for the suggestion!)
Best Breakfast:

  • Movies are so stinkin' expensive nowadays that we rarely pay full-price. Why would we when we have a wonderful second-run theater five minutes from our house? It's clean, newly redecorated, and can take the kids. They even have babysitting (we've never used that, though). Whether we are taking the kids or not, our fav place is The Academy Theater near our house. Locally owned and only $3 for adults, $2 for kids.
Best Arcade:
  • Ground Kontrol. If you're a regular reader to our blog, you know how much Joe and Jon love this place.

Gelato/Bubble Tea/Coffee (you know, Treats!):
  • Bubble Bubble Tea in Fubonn (82nd Ave between Division and Powell is the new China Town and this is a mall there) has the best Bubble Tea we have found in the area (without trying every place, but quite a few).
  • Via Delizia in the Pearl has good gelato. We also like Staccato Gelato on 28th near Burnside.
  • Dutch Bros Coffee is yum and is all drive-thrus (Great for moms!). Stumptown is the best in Portland, but very "hip" if you know what I mean...If you want to hang out in a coffee shop (with or without the kiddies) we think Bipartisan is the best place in our neighborhood to go. They serve Stumptown coffee but is family friendly and they even have a few baskets of toys.
Yarn and Knitting Accessories (What, you thought I'd leave it out?!)

Well, that's all I can think of right now...If you have anything to add or I left anything out, please leave a comment! Hope you enjoyed reading some of what we love to do in PDX. --e


The I to the A to the N. said...

Um. Ground Kontrol?

la femme elisabeth said...

Oh No! How could I leave out Ground Kontrol!!! I added it in...wheh! Thanks, I!

The Youth Pastor's Fam said...

AMAZING!!! Love your ideas too. Pdx has a million great restaurants- a very difficult task. One of my favorite italian restaurtants (and i am not even big into italian)is Lucy's Table on 21st- to die for goat cheese ravioli during happy hour to boot.
Many thanks!

la femme elisabeth said...

I agree--Lucy's Table is super yum and has a great happy hour! Thanks, Candace!

April said...

you did a great job...made me miss portland and oregon.
i'd also put hiking in the what to do when it isn't raining.
and what about crema for coffee or pastries?
pizzacato was a big hit with me, living so close to one. and you maybe should give escape on 23rd a holler just because it's immortalized in the halls of time.
also, FAT STRAW for bubble tea...i know you've found another place, but i have yet to go so much give my vote for what i know is good.
and, should you have some sort of asian food category? pho van?

The Youth Pastor's Fam said...

oh yeah- April's right, Asian food in the NW is like Mexican in the SW!

la femme elisabeth said...

i think you both are right...i added pho van in, thanks for the reminders!! :) --e

Jennifer said...

I've never been to Portland, but would like to visit someday. All of these place make me want to visit even more! That pizza looks yummy!

Angela said...

What?!? No one wants the "Best of Vancouver?" I am offended! I guess we're not trendy and hip enough over here! But now that we live here I understand why people like it! Shhhhhh....don't tell anyone! And guess what? Some people don't like PDX! LOL!

angela :-)

ps all in good fun!

Anonymous said...

Best of Mentone beach isn't quite so daunting. m & p

la femme elisabeth said...

haha! good one, Dad! I would definitely put Venezia Pizza on that list (if they're still around!). :) thanks, e

amber said...

Hi elisabeth! Amber Curry here, you left a comment on my best of blog I checked out yours, and really enjoyed it as well!! I appreciate all the great rain/no rain ideas...I'm always looking for things to do with the kiddos! Anyway, thanks!