Travel Portland

Trip Report: 3 Oregon Hotels + 1 Cool Restaurant

The Seattle-based Stuck at the Airport team took a short road trip to Oregon last week to join a special dinner hosted by Humble Spirit.

The new(ish) farm-to-table restaurant in historic downtown McMinnville celebrates the wonderful wines and seasonal bounty of the Willamette Valley.

On our winter tasting menu: Hazelnuts and Pork Belly, Whole Trout, Winter Braised Vegetables, as well as meatballs, burgers, and other dishes made with beef, chicken, and pork attentively raised and harvested on Tabula Rasa Farms in nearby Carlton, OR.

Farm products even make it into the restaurant’s version of Oreo cookies. Evidently, the recipe for the now-classic snack called for sweetened pork lard, an ingredient later replaced with hydrogenated cottonseed oil. The Humble Spirit chef has his own oreo cookie-like dessert (complete with milk for dipping) that puts sweetened pork lard from Tabula Rasa Farm hogs back into the mix.

Hotels That Embrace History With Wit and Charm. And Books

It’s a small town, but there’s plenty to do, see, and learn about in McMinnville and surrounding Yamhill County. There are oodles of wine-tasting rooms, plenty of charming restaurants, and a thriving art scene. And if you time it right, you can land in town during the annual UFO Fest, honoring a 1950 UFO sighting documented with some pretty believable photographs.

It’s impossible to take it all in during a quick visit. So we were delighted that our home for the night, the 36-room Atticus Hotel in historic downtown McMinnville, is filled with locally-made products, specially-commissioned artwork, lots of handmade furnishings, and Oregon-made products (including Pendleton bathrobes) at every turn.

We loved that each of the hotel’s 36 rooms has an antique door knocker, that guests are offered a complimentary glass of bubbly before they even check in, and that the front desk will make you an espresso drink any time of the day or night.

But what we truly loved about the Atticus Hotel is the history lesson front and center in the lobby.

In the early 1900s, McMinnville was known as Walnut City and walnuts galore were grown and shipped from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. A Columbus Day storm in 1963 took out almost all of the region’s walnut trees and now the region is known for its hazelnuts.

In 1908 McMinnville’s Walnut Club built a promotional archway of walnuts and in 1909 that charming display made its way to the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exhibition, the first World’s Fair held in Seattle. That archway has been recreated in the lobby of the Atticus, complete with constantly refilled bowls of walnuts and hazelnuts. (Each room has a bowl of nuts and a nutcracker as well.)

2 Choices to Stay in Portland, Oregon

The pandemic may have kept people from visiting Portland, OR, but it didn’t do much to slow down the construction of new hotels already underway. So if you head to the Rose City now, you’ll have an even wider choice of lodging options.

We stopped briefly in Portland on our way to and from McMinnville and did return visits to two of our favorite hotels.

The Sentinel

The Sentinel, which calls itself Portland’s ‘most storied’ hotel is made from two historic downtown buildings. The hotel’s east wing is the former Seward Hotel, built a few years after the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition. (That hotel later became The Governer Hotel).

The Sentinel’s west wing was once the very grand Elks Lodge.

We love the murals, the ornate lobby ceiling, the fitness center in the former ‘vault room’ complete with a punching bag in the safe, and the faux library and cozy touches in the “Room at the End of the Hall.”

The Heathman Hotel

Located smack dab in the middle of Portland’s cultural district, the Heathman Hotel, which opened in 1927, has been an iconic go-to spot for musicians, artists, celebrities, and other performers.

One of the key features of the hotel is the restored former Tea Court Lounge. It is surrounded by the hotel’s two-story library. Go ahead, take a book off a shelf. The collection is filled with close to 3000 signed editions of books by Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, U.S. Poet Laureates, a former U.S. President, and hundreds of other noted authors who have been guests of the hotel.

With the hotel’s permission, we made sure there is now a copy of our new guidebook, “111 Places in Seattle That You Must Not Miss,” on the shelves.

It looked like Stephen King’s book needed some company.

Souvenir Sunday at Portland Int’l Airport

Elves for sale at Portland International Airport

Elves for sale at Portland International Airport

I had the great pleasure of visiting Portland International Airport this week to help Travel Portland welcome the tallest freestanding cuckoo clock in the country to the spot where it will entertainingly tell time till the end of March 2015.

PDX CLOCK

I also had a chance to see, smell and taste some of the Oregon-sourced delicacies offered up at the farmer’s market that pops up twice a week at the airport.

PDX MARKET TABLE

The market is the brainchild of Christian and Annette Joly, who own Caper’s Cafe at the airport, and they were on hand during my visit offering tastes of cheese and freshly sauteed mushrooms as well as intoxicating whiffs of Oregon truffles, from a table also laden with fresh Oregon produce and other tasty treats.

PDX Oregon market

Souvenir Sunday at Portland International Airport

PDX_Oregon Tablecloth

It’s Souvenir Sunday and time to take a look at some of the fun, inexpensive, locally-linked items you can find when you’re stuck at the airport.

This week’s treasures come from Oregon’s Portland International Airport (PDX), which I visited while trying to collect on all the offers included in the Portland Passport that Travel Portland is offering visitors as a perk with hotel rooms booked through its site from now through April 1st. The freebies include tasty treats such as a cream doughnut from Voodoo Doughnuts (their slogan is “The magic is in the hole.”) and a YouCanHasCheeseburger from Brunch Box, one of the 500 or so food carts in a city known now as “Food Cart Heaven.”

PDX Brunch box

For some reason, a plate of meatballs from the cafeteria at IKEA is one of the items on the passport. And while I don’t eat meat, (they offered a nice Greek salad instead) I was all too happy to make the trek out there because IKEA is just one stop on the MAX light rail before the airport.

Portland International Airport is one of my favorite airports partly because I used live nearby, but also because among the many amenities it offers is a pre-security shopping street with outlets from some of the city’s most popular local stores. And because in Oregon, there is no sales tax.

I found the Oregon-themed table cloth pictured up top at the airport’s Pendleton store, which carries a wide variety of iconic Pendleton apparel and blankets as well a nice variety of accessories and items for children.

PDX_Pendleton stuffed animals

A bit out of my price range at $185 but, as another shopper was quick to point out, definitely offered at market price, were these Dr. Martens boots, a cool collaboration between the two companies.

PDX_PendltetonDocMartens

Do you poke around the shops when you’re stuck at the airport? If so, please be on the look-out for items that are fun, inexpensive and “of” the city or region. If you do, please snap a photo and send it along. If your airport souvenir is featured on StuckatTheAirport.com, I’ll send you a travel souvenir.

pdx thermos