Portland

This relaxed, hipster city is the largest in Oregon and definitely worth a visit when in the Pacific Northwest. Portland is brimming with independently-owned shops, microbreweries, farm-to-table restaurants and has no shortage of wilderness escapes. The city is home to the Columbia and Willamette rivers, and is about 1.5 hours from the famous Mount Hood. Portland’s surrounding national parks offer plenty of adventure for hikers, kite-surfers, skiers, and more.

The Portland airport is about 35 minutes from city center. Take the MAX light rail or an Uber. If you plan on exploring the region, we highly recommend renting a car for a few days to check out some of the national parks nearby.

EAT

Portland is well-known for its restaurant scene, craft beer and food truck (cart) culture. The food carts are located in “pods” sprinkled throughout the city. Wandering around downtown? Head to the food pod between 9th & 10th Avenues on Adler Street, and don’t miss the Grilled Cheese Grill for their famous, cheesy sandwiches.

Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom Brick oven pizza and beer? Our kinda place. Try the Truffle Shuffle.

Imperial Located Downtown, this American style eatery from Chef Vitaly Paley is a delicious brunch spot. On the hungrier side? Opt for the Fried Chicken or French Toast.

Ox Restuarant Argentinian steakhouse famous for its wood-fired grill.

Paley's Place Upscale yet casual dinner in Nob Hill. The chef’s focus is on sustainable, locally-sourced Pacific Northwest plates.

Pine State Biscuits Famous breakfast eatery with three locations in the city. Go for the signature homemade biscuits and gravy or fried chicken.

Pok Pok Authentic, Thai cuisine in a chill, outdoor atmosphere. We like the original location on Division.

Salt & Straw Not your average ice cream shop. This creamery offers eclectic flavours like Arbequina Olive Oil and Honey Lavender with homemade waffle cones. Plain Vanilla kinda guy? No worries, they have it all!

Toro Bravo Spain meets Portland. Expect to find a mix of pintxos, tapas, charcuteria and a seasonal menu that changes daily based on local produce. A delicious, modern and local take on traditional Spanish dishes.

DRINK

Barista Little coffee shop on Alberta Street.

Breakside Brewery Craft beers and delicious bar food.

Great Notion Brewing Award-winning brewery with funky and fruity IPAs. We love the cans to-go.

Stumptown Sustainable coffee homegrown in Portland. Try the cold-brew!

PLAY

Downtown Like most downtown areas, Portland has it all. We love wandering around downtown as there are always new shops that are a bit unique and quirky in their own right. As an added bonus, the state has no sales-tax!

Japanese Garden Over five acres of beautiful gardens on the west side of the city.

Powell's Largest collection of new and used books in the US.

Union Way A little shopping quarter with various boutiques. Definitely check out All Good and Bridge & Burn for stylish and functional outerwear.

Waterfront Park If visiting for a weekend, check out this area on Saturday for the weekly market with locals selling a bit of everything. Portland at its finest.

DAY TRIPS

Canon Beach Home of the famous Haystack Rock, this beach is a perfect day trip from the city. Enjoy the beach, go for a hike in Ecola State Park, or explore this small seaside village for local food and shopping.

Columbia River Gorge National Park 30 minutes outside of Portland, this national park hosts an outdoor playground with several hiking trails and beautiful views of the Columbia River Gorge. Check here for trail information.

Mount Hood 1.5 hour drive from Portland, Mount Hood offers a variety of activities no matter the time of year. We visited during December and took advantage of the snow sports. We recommend booking a chalet in Government Camp and driving up to the mountain during the day. Airbnb had great options for our family. Government Camps offers a village-feel, and is within walking distance to shops, restaurants, and bars. For skiing, there are three options: Ski Bowl, Meadows and Timberline. We skied Meadows and loved skiing in the tree-line.

Tamanawas Falls This 6 kilometer hike is east of Mount Hood and begins at the Sherwood Trailhead. This is an easy path straight to the falls and back. Proper hiking shoes are recommended.

Timberline Lodge Check out (or stay in) this historic landmark lodge constructed in 1937 during the Great Depression. This lodge offers ski in/out access to the slopes and on site restaurants & bars. The lodge is also famous for its role in the movie, The Shining.

Multnomah Falls Iconic waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge. The trail is currently under repair after the forest fires so check here for the latest updates on trails.

STAY

We recommend using Downtown or the Pearl District for a base. The Pearl is known for its art galleries, boutique shopping, and dining nearby. Staying in Downtown? Check out The Nines on Morrison Street for its location, comfort, and friendly staff.

LOCATIONS NEARBY

San Francisco

The sparkling jewel of northern California, SF has wine, food, beautiful architecture and world-class parks. While there is much to do in the city itself, we highly recommend tacking on a day or two to visit the surrounding areas.

Depending on time of day and traffic, take a cab or Uber from the Airport to the city, or the local BART train (30 minutes).

EAT


Akiko's Sushi (Bush St.) Unassuming from the outside, this small Japanese restaurant serves excellent, fresh sushi sourced daily from local purveyors or directly from Japan.

Bar Bocce Great food, wine and outdoor seating with a fire-pit on the waterside in Sausalito.

Brenda`s French Soul Food hearty brunch spot near the Tenderloin. Unpredictable wait times so plan accordingly.

Ferry Building Marketplace Stalls, gourmet food stuffs and a farmers market are all inside this historic building.

Good Mong Kok Cantonese bakery and dim sum in Chinatown.

Leo’s Oyster Bar Old school vibes, cool cocktails and oysters. Recommended by a friend.

Murray Circle Restaurant Admire the view from across the Golden Gate Bridge at this restaurant on Cavallo Point. Go for brunch, sit on the deck and order the pastry basket (a friend’s brother is the pastry chef!)

Taqueria El Buen Sabor An unassuming taqueria in the Mission District.

DRINK

Mikkeller Bar industrial craft beer bar in the Tenderloin district.

Napa Valley and Sonoma Just an hour north of the city, it is worth exploring California’s most famous wine regions. We love Patz & Hall and Three Sticks in Sonoma.

The Pour House Wine bar and tasting room in Nob Hill.

Vertigo Bar Cash-only dive with dancing on Polk Street.

PLAY

Alcatraz Island Tour the island’s old military and federal prison. Book tickets in advance!

Big Basin Redwoods State Park Make a day trip to visit these gentle giants two hours south of the city.

Golden Gate Park This urban park offers stunning views of the world’s most famous bridge.

Fisherman’s Wharf While touristy, it does offer a great vantage of the bridge and Alcatraz. Pick up a few homegrown chocolates from Ghirardelli Square.

Mission District “The Mission” is a vibrant, eclectic neighborhood with Latino roots, street art and no short supply of tacos and hipsters. Spend an hour people watching in Mission Dolores Park or take a stroll down Valencia Street.

The Painted Ladies For children of the 80s and 90s, these Victorian houses were made famous by the Full House sitcom.

Presidio This former military post is a large park at the tip top of the peninsula with beautiful views of the bay and bridge.

Sausalito This cute, artsy town overlooking the water lies directly across the bay. Bikee from Golden Gate Park and take the ferry back, or take the ferry both directions from the Ferry Terminal in the Embarcadero.

STAY

If you are just in town for a long weekend, choose an AirBnb in Pacific Heights or Russian Hill to be near the sights, restaurants and nightlife.

LOCATIONS NEARBY

Nashville

Music CIty is famous for its whisky, honky tonk, live music, southern cooking and hipsters. It’s also a college town, with Vanderbilt and Belmont just a few of the universities that have campuses in the city. Be sure to pack your cowboy boots, or at least your dancing shoes!


EAT

Cabana Upscale dining with big, dreamy windows and a lovely patio near Belmont University.

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken You’ve not had fried chicken until you’ve had Hattie B’s.

The Southern Steak & Oyster Southern food in the SoBro district. Excellent for brunch.


DRINK

Bluebird Cafe Famous for turning out talent, many Nashville stars got there start here. Recommended by friends.

Honky Tonk Central Fun, three-story bar on Broadway Street with pub grub and live music.

Printer’s Alley A cute alley off of Broadway Street with karaoke bars and pubs.

Tootsies Orchid Lounge A Nashville institution. Turn up for honky tonk!


PLAY

Broadway Street The lower end of this street, close to the river, is referred to as Nashville’s Honky Tonk Highway.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Grand Ole Opry The most famous country music hall in the world.

Riverfront Park Nice spot for a walk along the Cumberland River.


STAY

If you are in town purely to enjoy the music scene and nightlife, stay downtown. Consider the Courtyard by Marriott Nashville Downtown, it’s affordable and just two blocks from Honky Tonk Highway.

 

LOCATIONS NEARBY

Asheville

Ashvillle is a bohemian town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Known for its artist enclaves, live music venues, craft beer breweries and delicious food, Asheville is just sparkling with southern charm!

Asheville’s airport is small and flights in and out can be pricey. Another option is to fly to Charlotte and drive two hours through the mountains.

Given the loveliness of the surrounding area, we recommend renting a car. If you’d rather not drive, Uber is available and an easy option for getting from the downtown area to the River Arts District, Biltmore Estate, and Biltmore Village.

EAT

Green Sage Cafe Healthy, organic cafe in downtown.

Tupelo Honey Perhaps Asheville’s most famous restaurant, serving up Southern food from scratch. Try the South Asheville location, likely to be less crowded.

Twisted Laurel Mediterranean food in an industrial-style setting.

Well-Bred Bakery & Cafe Tasty bakery in Biltmore Village with outdoor seating.

DRINK

Wicked Weed Brewing Pub Friendly brewery in downtown Asheville with outdoor seating.

New Belgium Brewing Company Industrial brewery and taproom near the River Arts District. Grab a seat on the deck for lovely views of the French Broad River.

Village Wayside Bar & Grille Local dive open late night in Biltmore Village.

PLAY

Biltmore Estate A historic, Chateau-style home built by George Vanderbilt with gardens and sprawling grounds at the seat of the Blue Mountains.

Blue Ridge Parkway A 496 mile drive through North Carolina and Virginia offering stunning vistas of the Appalachians. There are lots of hiking trails near the Parkway.

North Lexington Avenue A street in downtown with antique and eclectic shopping.

River Arts District Just west of downtown, this industrial area along the river is home to artist studios and galleries.


STAY

For a weekend stay, base yourself within walking distance of the downtown area.

If you have a car and intend to hike or visit surrounding areas, parking could be tricky downtown. We stayed in the very affordable Hampton Inn & Suites Asheville, just south of and within walking distance of Biltmore Village.

The Biltmore Estate offers luxury accommodation, a lovely option for a romantic weekend.

LOCATIONS NEARBY

Whistler Blackcomb

The twin peaks of Whistler and Blackcomb are one of the largest ski and snowboard resorts in North America, and just 120 kilometers north of Vancouver.

The mountain offers quite the winter playground with over 200 marked trails. Ski season runs from November through May and lift tickets can be booked in advance to save on the peak price. Alternatively, visit the mountains in off-season for excellent hiking and mountain biking.

EAT

Creekbread Wood-fired pizza.

COWS Whistler Amazing ice cream… treat yourself!

Earl’s Kitchen American-style bar with food. Go for happy hour.

Nagomi Sushi Good sushi in a cozy Japanese restaurant. Convenient if you are staying in the upper village.

DRINK

The Fitzsimmons Pub Neighborhood bar with craft beers and board games.

Garibaldi Lift Co. Bar & Grill Après-ski bar with an outdoor patio.

Merlins Bar & Grill Après-ski bar at the base of Blackcomb.

PLAY

Ski, snowboard, hike, etc. The mountains have it all! The PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola allows easy access between Whistler and Blackcomb.

High Note Trail Take the Whistler Gondola and Peak Chairlift to the trailhead, which begins at the top of Whistler Mountain. At the top, you have 360 degree views of hundreds of snow covered peaks! Distance is 9.4 kilometers (moderate difficulty).

Joffre Lakes Trail Hike near Pemberton A 10 kilometer hike through forests with beautiful mountain and lake views (moderate difficulty)

For more information on these hikes and others, check out the Whistler trail map here.

Relax and unwind After a day on the mountains enjoy one of the many spa options in the villages.

STAY

Upper Village and Whistler Village are both easily accessible by car and have their own lifts, making both locations desirable. They are also both connected by a pedestrian walkway (5-10 minute walk).

Whistler Village is more commercial with more restaurants, bars and shops. There are also several Airbnb options in the area which we opted for as we prefer the space. With regards to hotels, we have been recommended the Four Seasons Resort Whistler or Fairmont Chateau Whistler, which has ski-in ski-out access.