Before we made the hour drive to Oregon’s Willamette Valley wine country for the festival, we spent a quick two nights in Portland to see some sights and get the tiniest taste of the local vibe. Luckily for our pop-culture brains, the City of Roses is as cool, fun and quirky as Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein made it seem in their hit comedy series.
We know we only got to scratch the surface of what Portland has to offer, but if you’re looking for a last-minute getaway in mid-July, we highly recommend escaping the Texas heat for Portland Pride Waterfront Festival and Parade. Round-trip flights on Alaska Airlines can still be snagged for as low as $249 each way.
Our Portland home base was a gorgeous boutique property, the Bidwell Mariott Portland. Located in the heart of the Pacific Northwest city, it’s easy to venture into the woods for a beautiful, shaded hike, down the street for some magically legal treats at a marijuana dispensary or for any number of tax-free shopping experiences.
Portland Pride events unfold mainly over Saturday, July 15 and Sunday, July 16, but you’ll find a number of other activations all over town leading up to the big weekend and in between official events. Definitely plan to go to C.C. Slaughters Portland (one of the best gay bars in Puerto Vallarta, also). Every Thursday night it’s home to Trans-UHHH-Licious, the longest-running trans drag show in the Pacific Northwest.
If you can snag tickets to the queer-owned immersive art experience, Hopscotch (the first location to debut outside the original in San Antonio). It’s an incredible way to spend an hour or two with themed cocktails and photo opportunities galore, including some awesome queer spaces. Tickets continue to sell out for most days, so if you don’t luck into any during Pride Weekend, it’s well worth a visit whenever you go to Portland next.
Our food-and-drink experience in Portland only briefly scratched the surface of what we wanted to try, but we had four outstanding meals that we can wholeheartedly recommend.
Start your day off with coffee at See See Motor Coffee, part java joint, part motorcycle shop. The breakfast sandwiches rock almost as much as the heavy-hitting soundtrack, but we recommend getting coffee then heading to Screen Door for a southern-style brunch to rival anything you’ll get in Texas. Particularly notable about this woman-owned business: Nearly half of their management positions are held by women and members of the LGBTQ community.
Grab lunch (or get your fill of decadent desserts) at Papa Haydn. The Northwest location sits within a really amazing shopping district, so you can easily do some damage at the nearby shops.
Dinner at Piccone’s Corner rose to the top of our brief culinary journey across Portland. For the best of everything, let the chef take control with a multi-course tasting menu at the bargain price of $55 per person. You will not leave hungry and we promise you’ll discover some new favorite dishes you’ll crave for days and weeks to come.
For a quintessential Portland dive bar experience, head to Sandy Hut, a few blocks away from Piccone’s Corner. The drinking institution celebrates 100 years in business in 2023, so you know they’re doing something right—including amazing bar food to soak up all those pints of Rainier Beer at midnight and beyond.
Trust us, we can’t wait to go back to spend way more time in Portland scoping out the culinary scene more extensively. Drop us a line with your recommendations, too.
In the coming weeks, we’ll give you the full scoop on where to go in Willamette Valley for a wine country getaway, but in the meantime, help support Queer Wine Fest by voting for the event in USA Today’s 10Best competition for Best Wine Festivals.
Portland and the surrounding areas really surprised us in the super-inclusive, welcoming atmosphere. We expected it to an extent, but we were blown away by the number of Pride flags and the general spirit of openness and love that permeates the city.
We have Portland Pride and we don’t even live there!