The Pioneer Spirit of Exploration is Still Alive in Oregon’s Largest City

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There are more sides to Portland than seen in popular culture

Green hills surround the city of Portland.

Tualatin Valley

Sandwiched between Portland and the coast, the Tualatin Valley is known for its country and agricultural ambiance. Here, you will find wineries, farmers’ markets, and some of nature’s best bounty.

Start your culinary tour in the morning at Oyatsupan Bakers in Beaverton. Hiroyuki Horie brings some of his memories of Tokyo to the valley with traditional Japanese bread as well as cream puffs, sweet buns, and custard-filled pastries.

If you’ve never tried coffee cupping (tasting), you can do just that at Dapper & Wise Tasting Room. You can learn about coffee basics from bean to blend and, of course, sample some of its fine roasts.


Ron Stern

For lunch, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Cruise In Country Diner in Hillsboro. Run by Terry Hummel and his wife, Nancy, this is probably one of the few health-conscious diners in the country. The sign out front beckons, proudly proclaiming they have served 325,000 burgers since 2009.

Using fresh, grass-fed beef and potatoes fried in rice bran oil, Terry, whose other love appears to be nutritional science, says his customers rave about his food and how it has improved their health. His approach uses products that contain lower salt and sugar, and, whenever possible, are organically sourced.

In the afternoon, pay a visit to Bull Run Cider in Forest Grove. Using clean, local water, they produce ciders fresh from the grove to the glass. Choices include labels such as Powerhouse Dry, Gravenstein Single Varietal, and Pear Ice Wine.

The dining options in the Tualatin Valley are as varied as Oregon’s terrain. Here, there’s no need to go all the way to Peru to sample the local fare, but just to the Yellow Llama in Forest Grove. Start with a hand-crafted pisco sour and then authentic Peruvian dishes prepared from the co-owner’s home country.

Mount Hood Territory Cassima

Another part of The Greater Portland Region includes tulips and berries from the Willamette Valley, hip eateries, and outdoor recreational respites.

Start your morning off with a glass of the area’s liquid sunshine in the form of fresh-pressed juice at Renew Juice Co. in the town of West Linn. Try the Mint Berry Cooler made with strawberries, blueberries, coconut milk, coconut water, lime, honey, and fresh mint ($5.75 for 12 ounces).

At the Camassia Nature Preserve, you can stroll among the trees and local foliage, including Oregon grape (the state flower), white trillium, and 300 other species. Run by the Nature Conservancy, the preserve’s volunteers lead groups on nature walks. Tip: Experts can provide nuanced information about the local flora and fauna.

For some of the best sausages in Oregon, courtesy of Olympia Provisions products, head to Oregon City Brewing in Oregon City where you can enjoy a pint with any number of meaty, savory sausages. Purists will like their classic frank with mustard, ketchup, relish, onions, and optional sauerkraut ($7, plus the not-really-optional $1 for sauerkraut).

For some of the best liquid assets, head to Trail Distilling in Oregon City. The owners distill their own brands of vodka and gin located in a beautiful space right alongside the highway. Their award-winning Trillium Gin uses 14 locally sourced ingredients. Sample the results with excellent tonic or seltzer water.

You can end your journey where it all culminated for the pioneers who made their way from Missouri to the fertile valleys of Oregon. The National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center gives you a glimpse into what life was like for those daring enough to make such a long, arduous journey. Today, your trek will be easier and will allow you to experience the newest food, drink, and attractions the Greater Portland Region has to offer.

Where to Stay:

Portland — Hotel Lucia

Providing clean and comfortable accommodations with award-winning art photos, Hotel Lucia is centrally located in the heart of the city.

Tualatin Valley — McMenamin’s Grand Lodge Hotel

This historic hotel was formerly a home for retired Masons. Now it is a themed-room property with secret passageways and quirky artwork and lighting that will remind you of Alice in Wonderland.

Mount Hood Region — Lakeshore Inn

With stunning views of Lake Oswego, this property has comfortable rooms and suites with local walking access to some of the area’s latest eateries, such as Holy Taco.

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FTC Disclosure: This was a sponsored visit; however, all opinions herein are the author’s.