United States

Weekend in Portland, Oregon: Hiking, Tiki Bars, Shopping and Coffee

The Pacific Northwest United States is one of my favorite summertime destinations (after Colorado). I recently spent a long weekend in the Portland, Oregon area and want to share some highlights!

Wander Opal Creek Trail

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That’s my mom in orange. We found a great spot to eat lunch by the water!

According to AllTrails, Opal Creek Trail is 6.4 miles out and back and rated easy. Take a relaxing hike through lush forest trails, explore an abandoned saw mill and stop for lunch or take a dip in emerald colored pools. This was a fun and easy hike. After about 4 miles, we veered down to the creek for a relaxing lunch near some falls. I couldn’t believe the color of the water! We arrived to the trail parking lot around noon on a Friday. There was plenty of parking lot and the trail was not crowded at all.

Have Dinner at a Tiki Bar

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So, Tiki Bars aren’t really a thing in Dallas (where I live now), but they totally are in Portland. I’m not mad about it. We had dinner and drinks at Hale Pele and it did not disappoint! They have an overwhelming cocktail list with  more than 50 exotic choices. Honestly, I don’t even recall what I ordered but I don’t think you can go wrong. We ordered an array of small plates for dinner – I loved the wings, tacos and Hawaiian bread! The atmosphere is fun and intimate – I won’t give away all the surprises though!

After Dinner Coffee

Weird = awesome. And Rimsky-Korsakoffee House is totally that. They only serve coffee and dessert (not even booze) and don’t open until 7 p.m. It’s intimate, weird and fun with delicious coffee. We came on a Saturday night and there was live music which was nice! I had a cappuccino with hemp milk. If you’re in Portland – go here for your after dinner drinks!

Eat Oysters at EaT: An Oyster Bar

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I had a blast at EaT: An Oyster Bar – not to mention delicious fresh oysters, fried oysters and maybe a couple oyster shooters! Whenever I’m in a region with fresh seafood, I love to indulge. This is the perfect place for that and in an adorable neighborhood in Portland.

Sprinkle in Some Shopping, Coffee and Lunch on 23rd Street

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I spent the morning and afternoon exploring 23rd street with my mom and had so much fun! I started the day off with a cortado from Barista and some treats from Blue Star Donuts. The injectable creme brulee donut was fun, and I LOVED the lavender and pear fritter. Yum!

Then we shopped around the numerous boutiques – I really liked 3 Monkeys, Ipnosi and Hip Hound. Hip Hound is a pet store that also has a coffee bar called Java Hound, how cool is that? They have a great selection of flavored lattes with house-made syrups and will add CBD oil to any drink. Probably the most Portland thing ever. If you bring your pup and get a drink, he/she gets a free puppaccino!

We took a break between shopping with brunch at The Fireside. They had a cool atmosphere, great menu, tasty food. It was a little overpriced in my opinion, but hey, I’m on vacation.

That was my whirlwind of a trip in Portland. I’ll definitely be back, so let me know what you recommend for next time in the comments below!

 

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4 things to do in Colorado that aren’t hiking (or skiing)

About exactly a year ago, I went on my first summertime trip to Colorado and fell in love! I’m reminiscing now and hoping to go back in August but wanted to share the other things we did in Durango, Colorado that weren’t hiking. If you’re into hiking, click here for 4 must-see trails in Durango! 

Wine Tasting

We had a lovely time at Four Leaves Winery in downtown Durango! They have a wine tasting option on the menu which I strongly recommend. Between four people, we sipped through almost the entire list. They have a big selection of fruit wines which were delicious and so fun to taste. You also have the option to make your own blend and take it home!

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Dinner and a Show

For a fun and family friendly evening, complete with singing cowboys and food on a metal tray, go to Bar D Chuckwagon! I had never been to something like this but it was pretty fun for a relaxing night out! Click here for reservation and ticket information.

Good Coffee

Duh. Be sure to visit 81301 Coffee Roasters. Their cold brew on tap is some of the best I’ve had! We bought a bag of beans to brew while staying in Colorado and another to take home. Great coffee!

Train

We planned to ride the Durango Train for a fun rest day and some photography opportunities. However, we all opted for MORE HIKING instead! This will be part of a future itinerary of mine. However, I’m including it here because it looks like a fun way to see some gorgeous scenery without the hike. Check out the website for details, schedule, ticket pricing and more.

Do you have anything to add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!

Here’s a bonus picture of my dog… because he’s the best!

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Three Days Among the Waterfalls of Havasupai

“Water is the driving force of all nature.” – Leonardo da Vinci

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Taking a dip in one of the many aqua colored pools under Havasu Falls

I’ve always been drawn to the element of water. A small stream or quiet pond will draw my eyes and make me pause for a second to admire its beauty. The weeping rock at Zion National Park really had me mesmerized. So can you imagine three days surrounded by the most turquoise water and multiple gorgeous waterfalls? The Havasupai Reservation was a dream. Below is a full itinerary of our trip (three days) so you can learn what to expect. Or, click here for tips on planning your own trip!

Day 0: On the road and Hualapai Lodge
My boyfriend and I flew into Las Vegas after work so it was late when we landed. We spared no time jumping in our car, grabbing a coffee at Grouchy John’s and hitting the road. After a 2.5 hour drive, we checked into Hualapai Lodge for a last night in a soft bed. I originally planned to stay at the trail head, but I am SO glad we didn’t sleep in the car. Staying at the lodge allowed us to get a good night’s sleep and spread out to pack our camping gear. I would highly recommend this – worth the $99.

Day 1: Havasu Village, Falls and Campground
After researching Havasupai for months before the trip, I knew I wanted to make the most of our time there. So we were up before the sun to make the 1.5 hour drive to the hilltop and start on the trail early. I typed “Havasupai Trailhead” into Google Maps and got there with no trouble. Watch out for animals in the road! We ended up getting there a little later than I wanted, about 7 a.m.

The trek down is 10 miles, mostly downhill and flat. Eager to jump in the bright blue waters, we booked it down the trail in about 4 hours only taking two breaks. One was at the tourist office where you check in, show your reservation print out and get your wrist band. From the office, it’s another two miles to the campground. The first sight of Havasu Falls will be from above and is such a magical moment seeing it for the first time. So close… keep going toward the campground!

Looking onto Havasu Falls

Taking one last look at Havasu Falls before the hike back up to the parking lot.

The campsites are first come, first serve. Keep exploring past the fern spring for campsites. We were so happy with our site across the creek! After setting up our tent, we made lunch and headed over to Havasu Falls. It was around noon and the falls were in the shade, but some of the pools still had great sun. We spent a few hours enjoying the chilly water and views.

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After a long day, we made a quick dinner, settled into our tent, fell fast asleep and were up at 3 a.m. to practice with some night photography. I brought a tripod just to practice these shots. They turned out OK and it was worth the extra weight .

Day 2: Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls
If you make the trip, I urge you to take the time and effort to hike to Mooney and Beaver Falls! We were up at 6 a.m. to start our eight mile (each way) trip to Beaver Falls.

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To Mooney Falls, continue to the end of the campground and keep following the trail. You’ll see the waterfall from above and it’s quite the sight! Now follow the trail down to the waterfall. You’ll see a sign that says “Descend at Your Own Risk.” This is where we lost the trail and wandered around a bit. I finally noticed a white arrow painted on the rock and pointing down into a tunnel. Look for the arrow pictured below… this is where the fun begins! Now you start the exciting descent to Mooney with metal chains and wooden ladders as your aides. If you’re new to hiking or afraid of heights, it can be intimidating, but I promise it was SO fun! Just take your time and remember that the climb up is easier than the climb down. I am so thankful that the reservation has maintained the way down so visitors can experience the falls.

The descent to Mooney Falls

The descent to Mooney Falls

Once down, you’ll admire the beauty of Mooney Falls and feel so accomplished you made it down alive. Get ready to get soaked in mist from the sheer power of this falls! The falls was in the shade allowing us to have fun with the tripod and long exposures here too.

 

We continued to the trail to Beaver Falls. The trail splits several times, but as long as you’re on the clearly marked trail, it will take you to the right place. Then you’ll come to your first creek crossing. I changed from my hiking boots to my water shoes and rolled up my pants. Keep your water shoes on after the first creek crossing, because there’s another shortly after that. After the second one, you can put your hiking shoes back on because you’ll hike for a while before the next creek crossing. Or, you can just wear your water shoes the entire time. I saw many hikers doing this, but I didn’t want to risk getting blisters.

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This hike was so fun! You’ll run into a palm tree at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. How cool is that? This is when you know you’re getting close. There’s a few ladders up and then you’ll have a view of Beaver Falls! Continue down to have access to the water and enjoy the hard earned dip in the cool water. We arrived around noon and had plenty of sun for swimming and a snack. This was the best falls to swim in!

When we made it back to camp, we enjoyed fry bread at the hut near the ranger’s station – this was just our appetizer before a meal at camp! Bring cash on your trip, because this was SO good after a 16+ mile day.

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Day 3: The trek up and a night in Las Vegas
I didn’t want to leave, but we made breakfast and packed up camp early.  Then we carried all our crap on our backs UP the canyon for 10 miles. Honestly, it was harder than I thought it would be. It’s flat for most of the way, until you get to the switchbacks that we had just bolted down 48 hours earlier. The switchbacks were in the sun by the time we got there which made for a tiring trek. We took several breaks. This was 70 degrees in the beginning of April. How do people do this in the summer? We made it up in about 5 hours and were exhausted and dirty. Again, worth it.

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We found our car, switched to flip flops and started the drive back to Vegas. We stopped for Taco Bell on the way and of course, Grouchy John’s coffee again. We stayed at the Westgate Hotel off the strip (it was just meh..). Bonus tip… after taking a much needed shower, we walked to Lotus of Siam (thanks to Anthony Bourdain) for AMAZING Thai food.

Then we were up at 4 a.m. to make a 6 a.m. flight home. The trip flew by but I LOVED every single second. I would love to go back to the Havasupai Reservation one day!

Plan your own trip to Havasupai – check out 13 Things I Wish I Knew Before Visiting Havasu Falls! 

Click here for my complete packing list!

New to backpacking? Check out my training guide!