5 of the best things about Portland

Visitng Voodoo donuts, in Portland, Oregon

Seattle might have been the first stop on our honeymoon – but Portland was definitely my fave stop off, so that’s where we’re starting.

Visiting the Commons Brewery, in Portland, Oregon

  1. The beer! Portland has a reputation as a beer city (72 breweries in the city limits, 250 across Oregon State) and yeah…. it’s bloody good. We did a beer tour with Brewvana which was super fun. It was a easy way to get to explore multiple breweries, and our guide gave us tonnes of other recommendations for other spots to check out afterwards too (we loved Base Camp Brewing, The Commons and Deschutes in particular).
  2. Blue Star Donuts: Voodoo Donuts is all over instagram when you’re in Portland but Blue Star is apparently the local favourite, and worth seeking out if you’re in the city. I’m still dreaming about a blueberry basil one I had.
  3. Horsetail Falls: about 40 minutes drive out of Portland is a great little hike around Horsetails Falls – you get to walk right behind one of them and it’s way less crowded than Multnomah Falls. Not that it’s not worth stopping off there too – but it’s BUSY. 
  4. The Kimpton Hotel Vintage: we stayed here in one of their Skyloft rooms and it was such a perfect honeymoon treat. Incredible view out of the huge windows, the staff were great, and they had a free wine happy hour every evening.
  5. Stumptown Coffee Roasters: I think we ended up going here almost every single day we were in Portland. Great coffee, great iced coffees, great people watching. Loved it.

A Pacific North West Honeymoon

A pacific north west honeymoon: the Seattle skyline

On the surface of it, choosing to go to one of the rainiest corners of North America doesn’t seem like the most logical choice of honeymoon destinations. In reality, we had two of the best possible weeks of eating, drinking, hiking and biking in Seattle, Portland and Vancouver for our honeymoon.

Seattle is dominated by tech giants (I think there are 7 Amazon offices across the city), but 25 minutes across Elliott Bay, you can be on a beautiful wooded island that feels a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Starbucks is totally dominant though: downtown there really is one on every corner, although we also loved Seattle Coffee Works and Slate Coffee Roasters for our indie coffee fix. Pro tip: get your favourite Starbucks brew from the one around the corner from the ‘original’ and save yourself from standing in the huge queue for a coffee that tastes exactly the same.

Portland lives up to all the hipster stereotypes – food markets on every corner (not a patch on London’s Hawker House or Dinerama though), 72 craft breweries alone in the city limits, and just generally such a chilled atmosphere. Oh – and the doughnuts! Everyone will tell you to go to Voodoo, but I’m still thinking about the blueberry basil doughnut we picked up from Blue Star Donuts. Driving out along the Columbia River was incredible too: trees and rivers and valleys and mountains in every directions. Definitely one of my favourite cities I’ve ever visited.

And then Vancouver turned out to be just as breathtaking as everyone says it is. We were actually enjoying ourselves so much in the city that we ended up bailing on our plan to drive up to Whistler, and instead spent our days biking around the city and soaking up the views all around central Vancouver.

It was just the best two weeks: honestly, each city is well worth much longer visits in their own rights, but even with two weeks I still feel like we packed so much in (more posts on that to follow!)

A Minimoon at The Pig in the Forest, Brockenhurst

We really dithered about where to go on our minimoon after the wedding: we got engaged in Cornwall and while it would have been lovely to go back down to reminisce by the sea, over six hours of driving didn’t really scream relaxing break to either of us.

What we did want was to be somewhere beautiful, with great food, and to be totally looked after, which is how we ended up at The Pig. I always always going to be keen on their emphasis on food sourced from within 25 miles of the hotel, and it looked like a totally blissful place to relax in (those sofas and fires everywhere!). I was a little nervous after reading some of the tripadvisor reviews as it does seem like their service can be a little off at times, and it definitely hurts to be charged another £15 per head for breakfast when the room rate is over £200 per night, but all in all it was the perfect spot to celebrate – and recover from – the wedding.

We got the train down on the Monday afternoon and were delighted to discover that booking ourselves into one of their hideaways had been well worth the spluge – we had our own wood burning stove in the room, the comfiest bed, and a huge rolltop bath…. plus J’s parents had ordered us a bottle of champagne which was the nicest way to kick off our two nights away.

Champagne at the Pig in Brockenhurst

We ate in the main restaurant both nights and the food was great- beautifully cooked and presented, although unfortunately we had to wait so long on the first night for someone to take our dessert ordered that in the end we just abandoned it in the end in favour of a cocktail in front of the fire. The food was spot on though: beautifully presented piggy bits, fresh bread, perfectly cooked fish and the most incredible cheese board to finish our second evening.

You can book spa treatments while you’re down there but we opted to take advantages of the bikes for hire on site and cycle up to Lyndhurst for lunch. It might sound energetic but it really wasn’t. The ride is about half an hour each way if you don’t get lost or distracted by pony selfies, and it means the pub lunch half way round is marginally more justified.

minimoon9

Overall we couldn’t have picked a better spot for our minimoon. It was definitely a splurge but we both came back feeling so well rested (and well fed) that it was worth every penny.