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.

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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.

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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.

Zermatt

One of the most well-known resorts in the Swiss Alps, Zermatt’s car free mountain village sits at the base of the iconic Matterhorn. With stunning views and slopes that pass into Italy, this spot should be high on your list!

Taking the train is the easiest option as it is just three hours from Zürich. It is also possible to drive to Täsch, park and take the regional shuttle train to the village.

EAT

Chez Heini Traditional Swiss restaurant in the village.

Chez Vrony No better place on mountain. This chic alpine hut can be reached by skiing or via the winter hiking trails near Findeln. The views are incredible and the food is to die for! Try the tart flambée. Booking needed.

Findlerhof This rustic mountain restaurant near Chez Vrony is right off the Sunegga/Findeln lift. It has unmatched views of the Matterhorn, excellent service and a variety of go-to mountain dishes. Try the rösti. Booking needed. 

Giuseppe A change of pace from the traditional Swiss menus, this Italian eatery will not disappoint!

Schäferstube Alpine chalet restaurant with huge cowbells and a traditional menu. Go for the fondue or the raclette.

DRINK

Drink like a local and order a Schümli Plümli, the perfect way to warm up while skiing in the Swiss Alps!

Cervo Alpine-chic chalet at the bottom of Sunnega with live music and local beers

Champagne bar As the name states, this little champagne hut is the perfect apreski stop for views of the matterhorn and flutes of champagne. Located on the ski slope down from Sunnega.

Gee's Bar Nice cocktails and live music nightly. One of the few spots in the village open late

Hennu Stall Cosy drinks at the bottom of Furi-Zermatt slope.

Papperla Pub Mix with the locals with listening to live music and DJs.

PLAY

Zermat offers year-round mountain activities, and the mountain is accessible from the village by multiple lifts: Rothhorn, Gornergrat and Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. If you are not keen on mountain sports, the village also offers other activities like wellness spas and shopping.  

Hiking (summer season) With a 400 kilometer network of hiking trails, Zermatt is famous for views at every stop. Our local favorite is the Five Lakes Trail (4-6 hours).

Mountain biking, climbing, etc.

Ski or snowboard Zermatt has over 360 kilometers of the most amazing ski slopes at affordable prices. The average price per lift pass is CHF 75. Here for a few days? Opt for the International pass which includes access to Breuil-Cervinia and Valtournenche in Italy.

Snowshoe or winter hiking 70 kilometers of prepared winter hiking trails for non-skiers. Hike up to Findeln (1.5 hours) and enjoy a lunch or coffee break in the small mountain village.

STAY

Chalet Castor This chalet sleeps a large group of up to eight friends. Book through Mountain Exposure Zermatt.

Hotel Bellerive One of our first experiences in Zermatt and still one of our favorites. Book early!  

Panorama Ski Lodge Chic and modern alpine flats with Matterhorn views. Dog friendly =)

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