After we left the high Sierras, we made our way through Central Oregon. It was my first time in the area and I have to say Oregon in the fall is absolutely stunning. I think it might be one of my favorite regions in the US. There's a mix of pine forests and acres and acres of farmland (complete with the most charming farmhouses and barns). And lots of happy cows grazing on open range. We spent 3 full days in Bull Bend campground (pictured below), about an hour south of Bend, OR. It was just us and our dogs there the whole time (though we did hear and see some hunters on the other side of the river on one of the days). Though I'm a city gal through and through, 3 days in the forest is somehow calming. Really, quite a perfect vacation.
Then we hit Bend, which was having some of the best fall colors yet. And like I said I'm a city girl, so I appreciated being back in civilization (even if it's a smallish city). Bend actually had a lot to offer (especially for beer lovers) and I wish we had spent more time there. But I will be back!
We went to the Deschutes Brewery tour where I learned that they specialized in English type ales and have only fresh hop beer for a limited time after hop harvest (so around later summer-early fall). My favorite fresh hop beers were the Chasin Freshies and the Hop a Trip. I also really liked their Deschutes River Ale.
Also, we ate at Spork for lunch and it was some of the best international fusion food I've had. I had a peruvian stir fry and my husband has korean style fried chicken. I am definitely coming back to Bend and I'm definitely going to eat there again.
From there we went to Silver Falls State Park and again we were one of the few people there. Fall camping is absolutely the best--the most peaceful and stress free (we never have to make campground reservations ahead of time). I know California has some nice campgrounds but Oregon, I think you beat us by a mile.
And from there some wine tasting at Willamette Valley Vineyards, known for their Pinot Noir. Again, Oregon put on quite the beautiful scene for us.
From there we went to Portland, quite possibly my favorite city on the West Coast (well I guess after my own city, SF). I just love love love the many awesome restaurants and small boutiques. We first visited Portland 3 years ago and have come back yearly ever since.
Here are some of my must-visit shops in Portland (the first 3 shops are all in the same area):
Tender Loving Empire: a cute stationary/homegoods/knick-knack store with mostly Oregon-made products at an affordable price. This year I purchased a new scent and a cute pin
Woonwinkel: up-scale homegoods/knick-knack store with Oregon-made products as well as other artisan items. I go there mostly to browse and get inspiration
And while you're in the area I'll check out the shops in Union Way (Steven Alan and Danner goods), and then stop in at Powell's books and smell the new books (I know I'm weird).
Menagerie: natural indie beauty products in a renovated Airstream shop
My favorite places to eat in Portland:
Le Pigeon: My number one favorite restaurant in Portland, and definitely in my top 5 favorite in all of the US. Get ready for communal tables in a tiny restaurant and the most innovative tasting menu I've ever seen (foie gras root beer float was a highlight--tastes better than it sounds). We went here last year but was unable to make a reservation so we instead tried Beast (also a communal table tasting menu set-up, but save your money, I wouldn't recommend it).
Little Bird: And since we couldn't get a reservation at Le Pigeon, we tried their sister casual restaurant Little Bird this time around. And this bistro was also amazing (pictured below). The highlights of their charcuterie board were the deviled eggs, home made pork rinds, and beef tongue pastrami (I loved this last one so much I almost want to learn how to make it myself but then I realized I have to cut up a whole cow's tongue and I'm not sure I'm down for that).
Pok pok: One of my favorite Thai restaurants
Mirakutei: My favorite ramen joint in Portland
Blue Star donuts: the most interesting-flavored donuts I've encountered. I love their creme brûlée and their blueberry bourbon basil. And skip the lines at Voodoo donuts (they may be an institution but their donuts are not great).
Salt and Straw: and no Portland trip is complete without some Portland made ice cream!