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One week in April 1/2 around Portland, OR and 1/2 around Seattle

One week in April 1/2 around Portland, OR and 1/2 around Seattle

Feb 15th, 2009, 12:55 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 108
One week in April 1/2 around Portland, OR and 1/2 around Seattle

We will be be in the Pacific NW for the week after Easter arriving in Seattle midday 4/11 and departing early morning 4/18. We would like to only stay in two apartments and want to run some ideas past you the Fodor's experts.

We are experienced travelers who are never frantic to see/do "everything". We always assume we'll be back. Our primary interests are people watching, museums, fine food and wine, great vistas but we're not adventurous hikers. We will be traveling with our 13 year old daughter who is a nightowl and has traveled extensively in Europe.

I've reviewed the many posts regarding Seattle and Portland and am trying to wrap my arms around how much we might fit into one week.

Here are my assumptions. Kindly interject if we're way off base.

Arrive in Seattle and drive south to the Portland area. We expect to have an apartment so we'll get the lay of the land that first afternoon/evening

Sunday - Easter - drive out to the Pacific Coast since most urban activities will be shut for Easter. Leave early come back late. Can we visit gorges area on the way to the coast?

Monday - Explore Portland proper. Want to definitely see the Japanese gardens, wander the streets, find a great lunch spot, other urban activities. Maybe a great gastropub for dinner

Tuesday - Explore Willamette wineries (I'm in the wine business). Can we leave early, spend the day in wine country, have dinner at a winery and get back to Portland without being frantic?

Wednesday - Leave early for Seattle. Get in and settled and visit Seattle in late afternoon and have dinner in the city.

Thurs - Explore downtown Seattle (Pikes, museums, etc.)

Friday - should be plan another full day in Seattle or is it worth taking a ferry to one of the islands for the day.

Saturday - 7:30 am flight out

ANy suggestions are appreciated. I can cut the Willamette Valley day as we've visited our fair share of wineries around the world.

Thanks for sharing.

BDM is offline  
Feb 15th, 2009, 01:35 PM
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I think what you've planned is quite doable, to get a taste of Seattle, Portland, and the Oregon Coast.

The Columbia River Gorge is on the east side of Portland, so it's in the wrong direction to be exploring it on the way to the Oregon Coast. You can get a quick taste of the Gorge in 3-4 hours from Portland, giving you a chance to take in great views (if the weather is nice) and explore the main waterfalls. Multnomah Falls is only maybe 40 minutes from Portland, so at worst you could drive out I-84 to see that and just come back, but you don't get great views from I-84. If it's lousy weather, though (no views), you could do just Multnomah Falls I guess. It is worth seeing. Other falls nearby (not accessible from I-84) are also worth seeing, however.

Wine country (Newberg/Dundee/McMinville) is only about an hour each way to/from Portland although traffic on 99W can be awful at various times of the day, so plan extra time for that. But you can certainly do that as a day trip, yes.

Too bad you can't fly into Portland and out of Seattle? It is generally only a 3-hour drive each way but traffic can be awful especially between Seattle and Olympia. Not sure how it will be Easter Weekend. Could be fine - cross your fingers.

Portland may seem pretty sleepy compared to the capitols of Europe. Easter Sunday will be pretty empty - good day to visit the Coast.

Andrew is online now  
Feb 15th, 2009, 01:38 PM
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Firstly, let me say that with your small window of a visit, it might make most sense to merely take a round-trip ferry ride across "Puget Sound" from Seattle... without even getting off on the other side.

The views can be grand on a sunny, clear day, but I don't think you have enough time on your trip to allocate serious time to the island or the mainland on the other side.

With regard to the ("Columbia River"?) Gorge, it is in the opposite direction from Portland than the coast/ocean.

Here is a general mapped overview:


Indeed a person COULD see a reasonable amount of both the northern Oregon coast and some of the gorge on the same day, but it would have to be well orchestrated.

Thankfully the distances from Portland to these eastern locales are not overwhelming.

It is a drive of about 165 miles from The Dalles (east, along the Columbia River) to Seaside (Oregon coast).

Given Easter, I do indeed think it is a good match to do lots of driving-related sight-seeing on that Sunday. Tourism should be at a dull roar on such a day and the drives will go smoothly.

I think your two full days in Seattle would be very welcome by you once you get here and consider the many things to see and do.

But again, do the round-trip ferry ride in the event of clear weather AND a window of 2 or 2.5 hours to take that round-trip without ever leaving the boat or the terminal on the other side.

NorthwestMale is offline  
Feb 15th, 2009, 02:33 PM
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I would go straight to the Coast on one day, staying all day, coming back to Portland before dark.
90 minutes from downtown to Cannon Beach, an easy and beautiful drive.
The Gorge is about 30-45 min from downtown Portland so you could do it in the morning and be back after lunch if you want to just see the falls .. it is worth it if you can do it.

The wine part is a waste of time to me. . but you can do it in a couple of hours and still be back in town by late afternoon.
Go to In Good Taste on a Saturday and you can enjoy a great wine tasting. In the Pearl District.

The Portland Japanese Gardens are beautiful no matter what time of year or what kind of weather. Odds are , it will be cool and damp in April.. but that won't matter.
The Portland Art Museum is really nice, we went there often and always enjoyed it.portlandartmuseum.org

Do you know where you are staying? which apt?

Scarlett is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 03:27 AM
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So far - all very helpful. Thank for the input. Will let you know about apts. when we find one. Usually use VRBO.
BDM is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 06:17 AM
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Try to rent a car or hire a limo tour of the Columbia River Gorge. The scenery is fantastic, and there are some wonderfull waterfalls, several different kinds. I forget the name of the main waterfall, but the hotel will know the name- it's the most visited place in Oregon.
There are numerous places to park, and many of them are attached to trails. Only the trails that go up to the top of the waterfalls seem difficult.
Lots of geological significance if you're into that kind of thing.
Laura and Steve
lauramsgarden is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 06:33 AM
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Lots of good advice has already been given, so I will just say "ditto"

Multnomah Falls is the one that was referrenced, and yes, it is a must see. The trail to the very top is easy and not long at all. You can also do a loop so you don't have to come back down the same way.

As for the drive between Seattle and Portland...normally it takes about 3 hours. That said, we have made this drive more times than I can count on actual holidays and those days traffic takes MUCH longer. It is an easy drive, but just factor that in for your time on that day. Over Thanksgiving when we headed back up to Seattle, it took us 5 hours with heavy traffic and no accidents.
mms is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 07:29 AM
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Regarding car rental..
The Monaco always did it for us, the rates are not bad , in fact, I think the car rental for a day was less than the cost of parking at the hotel , lol.
Generally the car company will deliver to your door .. and pick up the next day.
Scarlett is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 09:11 AM
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Sounds like a nice plan, Park Kitchen would be a nice choice for lunch, we also love the Portland City Grill, beautiful views and yummy sushi here! Fenouil in the Pearl District is also good for lunch. If you are wandering around the Nob Hill neighborhood where the cool boutiques are, Wildwood is an excellent choice for lunch in this area. Have fun! ***kim***
kimamom is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 09:23 AM
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Portland City Grill made a huge impression on someone. I doubt it will thrill a 13 year old that much.
For anyone who has not been there- picture a large singles bar .. with a great view. So so food..
In April, odds of getting a look at the view are maybe 50-50.. with rain, mist and low clouds. When you only come through Portland in the summer, it is hard to visualize Portland at other times of the year.
If I were looking for sushi in Portland, one of the many excellent Japanese sushi restaurants would be better .

You all might like Miso Happy on NW23rd & Northrup..
If you want pizza with a ghost, go to Olde Town Pizza, the building is haunted ..
Portland has sooo many good places to eat, there are lists and lists and up to date lists too!
Henrys Tavern is a great restaurant, good food, good atmosphere, family friendly too ..
Go to Hot Lips Pizza, Piazza Italia for authentic Italian with no pretensions at all... which means some people will never be recommending them on here lol.

A 13 year old nightowl with European experience is something to be proud of !! how great so many adults can't even claim that lol.
She will love Portland.. I am sure of that ~

Scarlett is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 11:56 AM
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I'll chime in for Seattle. I would allow Wed evening and all day Thursday and Friday for Seattle.

No offense to my neighbors but with such a short time I don't think the islands would be a priority for me.

In Seattle I suggest seeing Pioneer Square historic district, the Smith Tower Chinese Room observation deck, International District (Chinatown), Seattle Public Library, Seattle Art Museum, the Pike Place Market, and Seattle Center/Space Needle. You can ride the ferry over to Bainbridge Island for lunch and back (you don't need an entire day). Ride the monorail and the new Seattle Streetcar.
suze is online now  
Feb 16th, 2009, 03:47 PM
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suze, is the Alibi Room still around? Tom Skerrit is the or one of the owners?

Scarlett is offline  
Feb 16th, 2009, 05:45 PM
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gosh Scarlett, I'm not sure. I'll ask around at work tomorrow. I haven't heard it mentioned in awhile, it used to be quite the place to be.
suze is online now  
Feb 19th, 2009, 03:35 PM
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This is fantastic. Thank you all for the input. I will make a vow to post our results so that others may benefit.

Regarding the 13 year old - we assume everyone travels a bit. She has a skewed view of the world. Started at 5 with a family birthday party in Portugal and has been back 8 times since then. We chalk it up to "expanding her horizons" and makes us feel less guilty traveling ourselves. i hope to get her to write a quick review from her prospective when she returns.

The one thing she has learned from travel is that the people of the world are more alike than they are different. Why do so many of us forget that as we become adults?

Again thanks,

BDM is offline  
Feb 19th, 2009, 05:23 PM
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Brian--So true! BTW, our kids first trip abroad was to Portugal as well. I look forward to hearing how the trip goes.
mms is offline  
Feb 19th, 2009, 06:06 PM
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Alibi Room is still alive and well...but don't know who the owner is. Still a great place to go for a cocktail and a bite!
beanweb24 is offline  

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