Portland, My Love.

I fell in love with Portland the first time I visited towards the end of spring in June 2010. My husband and I took the Amtrak Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Portland. It was a 29-hour train ride. I will save that part of the trip for another blog =)

I remember saying that there are so many trees and they’re all lush green! I guess we came at the perfect time.

The second time I visited Portland was in the last week of March 2013. This time my husband and I drove from Los Angeles and convinced 3 friends to join us in the road trip. I hope they are glad that they did.

Portland Oregon sign
Portland Oregon sign

To read about our drive from Los Angeles to Portland, click below :

Day 1 : Los Angeles to Portland

Day 2 : Los Angeles to Portland

We only stayed 2.5 days in Portland and as I am sure it is not enough, but we managed to see some sights. Here are some of the places we visited :

1. St. Helens, Oregon

St. Helens is about 28 miles north of Portland. We visited this area to see some of the filming locations of the original Twilight movie.

On our way to St. Helens, we drove past the St. John’s Bridge, which is one of the many bridges in this city.

St. Johns Bridge, Portland Oregon
St. Johns Bridge, Portland Oregon

If you are familiar with the Twilight movie, here are some of the film locations we visited in St. Helens :

  • Parking Lot where Edward saves Bella
  • Thunderbird & Whale Bookstore
  • Alley
  • Bloated Toad Restaurant
  • Petite Jolie /Angel Hair Salon

And last but not the least,

The Swan House in Twilight
The Swan House in Twilight
Message to Twilight Fans
Message to Twilight Fans

2. Powell’s City of Books

If you love books as much as I do,  a visit to Portland won’t be complete without a trip to Powell’s City of Books. It’s heaven for book lovers.

Powell's City of Books | 1005 W Burnside St. Portland, OR 97209
Powell’s City of Books | 1005 W Burnside St. Portland, OR 97209

3. Wahkeena Falls

If you’re coming from Portland, this is the first you will see from the many falls on the Historic Columbia River Hwy I-84. Unlike Multnomah Falls, Wahkeena is more of a cascading flow but still beautiful in my book.

Wahkeena Falls
Wahkeena Falls
Wahkeena Falls
Wahkeena Falls

4. Multnomah Falls & Lodge

Multnomah Falls Lodge

Multnomah Falls Lodge
Multnomah Falls Lodge

Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in the State of Oregon and it is BEAUTIFUL. It is definitely worth the 30-minute drive from the city and you have to see it to appreciate it’s beauty.

Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls

5. Columbia River Gorge

Unfortunately we didn’t have the time to drive the 80-mile Columbia River Gorge but we stopped at one of the viewing point to take in it’s beauty.

Columbia River Gorge
Columbia River Gorge

6. The Grotto

The National Sanctuary of our Sorrowful Mother, popularly known as The Grotto, is a Catholic shrine and sanctuary in Portland. Located on Sandy Blvd. at NE 85th Avenue and occupying an area of 62 acres (25 ha), the sanctuary is set both at the foot of and on top of a cliff. A large meditation hall whose main chamber is at clifftop level extends down to the foot of the cliff; the cross on the hall is visible many miles away. In addition to a church, there are several thousand feet of trails, including a trail of the Stations of the Cross, along which the faithful may pass in contemplation. – Wikipedia

The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother - The Grotto
The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother – The Grotto
The Elevator to go to the upper level of The Grotto
The Elevator to go to the upper level of The Grotto

7. International Rose Test Garden

Tip : If you want to see the roses in bloom, check and call them first before going. We didn’t, and so we came a little too early and was not able to see the roses at it’s best.

International Rose Test Garden
International Rose Test Garden

8. Portland Japanese Garden

Proclaimed the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan, the Portland Japanese Garden is a 5.5- acre haven of tranquil beauty nestled in the scenic west hills of Portland, Oregon.

Admission Fee is $9.50 for adults.

Portland Japanese Garden
Portland Japanese Garden
Portland Japanese Garden
Portland Japanese Garden

9. Voodoo Doughnuts, Location: 22 SW 3rd Ave., Portland, OR 97205

I say go for the experience. It took us 45min-1 hr to finally get our doughnuts. If you don’t have the time to spare, they have another location not too far and there’s hardly any line there and they have better parking situation.

Voodoo Doughnut 2, Location: 1501 NE Davis, Portland, OR

My favorite doughnut from Voodoo : Portland Cream


Notice on the left side is the semi-famous sign “Keep Portland Weird”.

Voodoo Doughnut
Voodoo Doughnut
Voodoo Doughnut
Voodoo Doughnut

10. The Cullen House, Twilight

This house was not too far from the International Test Garden & the Japanese Garden so we also went to see it. It’s a beautiful house and the architecture is really amazing.

The Cullen House, Twilight
The Cullen House, Twilight

11. Cargo, Well Travelled Goods

Cargo carries a lot of goods from different parts of the world. I like these kind of stores. It’s a cheap way to travel =)

Cargo. 380 NW 13th Portland, Ore 97205  |  Mon-Sun 11 am - 6 pm
Cargo. 380 NW 13th Portland, Ore 97205 | Mon-Sun 11 am – 6 pm
Cargo. Well travelled goods.
Cargo. Well travelled goods.

There’s more to see and hopefully someday, we will move and live in Portland. 

See you again, Portland.

I Love Portland!
I Love Portland!
Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon

Driving Los Angeles to Portland, Day 2: Ashland to Portland

To read Driving Los Angeles to Portland, Day 1 to Ashland Oregon, click here.

We started our drive from Ashland around 6 am. There’s 285 miles and about 5 hours drive ahead of us so it’s definitely best to start early.


We stopped for breakfast in Grants Pass, Oregon. Again, it’s McDonald’s oatmeal!


The view during the drive was spectacular. Too bad I was just using an iPhone 4s to take pictures.



And finally, PORTLAND! Woohoo!


To read Driving Los Angeles to Portland, Day 1 to Ashland Oregon, click here.

Driving Los Angeles to Portland, Day 1 to Ashland Oregon

We started our drive from Hollywood at 6 am and with 5 people in the car, it took us at least 2 stops to synchronize our need to use the restroom and when to get food. We made numerous stops and McDonald seems to be our favorite in this road trip.

We decided to take the I-5 North despite the California  farm smell along the way because it is a straight shot. For a more scenic route, 101 North is an option.


First stop from LA is Buttonwillow, CA.


And then Coalinga, CA.


We had lunch in Sacramento and we even stopped at the state Capitol to take some pictures.



We continued on the I-5 and again stopped at a rest area in Colusa, CA.


In Lakehead, CA is where we met a very friendly dog who hangs out at the local Chevron gasoline station. We stopped by at the same place on our way back to LA but we didn’t see him again.



And after 674 miles, 12 hours driving and numerous stops, we finally reached Ashland, Oregon which is about 20 miles past the California-Oregon border. And this was our first overnight stop.


Ashland, Oregon is a beautiful little town. Quaint and magical. I am glad we stayed here and maybe we will come back in the future and stay longer. I love the catch phrase from this website http://visitingashlandoregon.com/ : “Ashland, Oregon, Easy to miss, hard to forget”.    It is so true for me.

For my review of Flagship Inn of Ashland, where we stayed at, please click here:




  • For this trip, we filled up gas 3 times at least, on a V6 cross-over SUV.
  • As you drive north on I5, Mount Shasta will be on your right. But the view going south on I5 was better for me when we passed by it.
  • The “Oregon Welcomes You” sign is located a few miles once you pass the border (check your google map or GPS). It is on an up hill part of Interstate 5 and is on your right. There is an emergency parking area so you can stop and take a quick picture of the sign.

To read Day 2, click here.