Portland, OR: beersbikesbeersbikes

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Portland is constantly touted as a livable city in the transportation advocacy world, and I finally made the pilgrimage to the Rose City for a Net Impact conference in 2011.  Experiencing the city in a mere 3 days was a tease, and I knew I had to come back with my husband and daughter to fully explore it by bike.  Then in 2013, with plane tickets purchased, a family vacation to Portland was happening and it was serendipitous that I would find a book that would forever influence my vacation planning and ultimately lead to the creation of Bikabout.

Hop in the Saddle - BUY THIS BOOK TODAY!

Getting an issue of Momentum Magazine is an event in the Ramey household. I squeal when I see it in the mailbox and immediately have to find a quiet corner so I can flip through it. The editorials, photography, and even the advertisements are inspiring for all riding levels.  If you don't have a subscription, get one, you won't regret it. 

 Map of SE neighborhood route in Hop in the Saddle guidebook.

Map of SE neighborhood route in Hop in the Saddle guidebook.

It was while reading the magazine that I discovered the book, Hop in the Saddle, a Guide to Portland's Craft Beer Scene, by Bike. My jaw dropped in reading the description because it was like someone wrote the book just for Kyle and I. I immediately bought the book, made lodging reservations (Tiny Airbnb house in North, Kennedy School and Jupiter Hotel), reserved a bakfiets and city bike rental at Clever Cycles, and we were set.  When we arrived, it was like we had a personal tour guide with Hop in the Saddle.  With the turn by turn directions, beautifully designed maps, fun descriptions of the destinations, and other resources, I barely had to take out a phone to plan anything the entire trip.  We just biked wherever the three lovely authors told us to go and my husband got to drink some of the best beer in America, our daughter had fun at the playgrounds and parks, and I got my fill of the bike porn.

Because we had such an amazing time on that trip and it was so easy, I wanted other people to experience that type of vacation in great biking cities, which is why I credit Hop in the Saddle and Portland as the inspiration behind Bikabout.  Please buy this book and support the ingenuity of the three ladies who put it together.

Why is it so magical to visit Portland by bike?

Portland and the whole state of Oregon do the most to seduce bike tourists, and it shows.  In the city, you have a network of scenic bicycle paths, neighborhood greenways, and on-road bike lanes, and every major destination is signed for way-finding.  Along the signed bicycle routes are unique, local restaurants, coffee shops, retail stores, and it seems you can't bike a mile without passing a high grade brewery, craft beer bar, wine room or cocktail watering hole.  Even the bike corrals are well designed and plentiful allowing for last minute pull overs when a rest stop is spotted.

Lodging

 Ace Hotel has complimentary city cruisers for guests and a nice, huge bike corral and green bike lane out front.

Ace Hotel has complimentary city cruisers for guests and a nice, huge bike corral and green bike lane out front.

Anybody who has ever browsed the Airbnb inventory for Portland knows that there are more properties than any other city and many of them look like they could be in a design magazine.  The city breathes creativity and it shows in this community of hosts.

There is also a nice selection of hotels and inns that offer bike friendly lodging like McMenamin’s Kennedy School and the Crystal, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Rose, Hotel Vintage, Riverplace and Ace Hotel.  All but the two McMenamins provide complimentary bikes for guests, but McMenamin’s makes up for it with their unbelievable “club med for hipsters” amenities.

Bike Rentals & Shops

 Clever Cycles rents bakfiets, Brompton folding bikes and city bikes and they have a huge selection of accessories and a kids play area!

Clever Cycles rents bakfiets, Brompton folding bikes and city bikes and they have a huge selection of accessories and a kids play area!

Hands down, our favorite bike shop in America is Clever Cycles with a nice selection of rentals: Dutch city bikes, bakfiets (aka the minivan), and Brompton folding bikes.

A fun and tasty shop to visit is Velo Cult that offers maintenance, bike sales, and 12 local beers on tap.

Transportation

Amtrak’s Cascade line has the closest thing to roll-on service for a long distance train in America and connects you to both Seattle and Vancouver. You have to remove your bags and panniers and the baggage car takes it and hangs it in vertical racks. Make sure to pay the $5 bike fee in advance to confirm your space.

Portland’s buses all have bike racks and the light rail is outfitted with vertical hanging racks.

Other Resources

Travel Oregon is the machine behind all the fantastic bike tourism and their site has a wealth of resources for traveling around the state by bike.

Places to Visit by Bike

to eat

to drink

  • Hair of the Dog - best beer that Kyle tried in Portland
  • Ground Breaker (formerly Harvester) - best American made gluten free beer with a menu to match
  • Hop & Vine - great wine and beer selection and fantastic backyard patio
  • Saravesa - tugs at our heartstrings with the Wisconsin connection and decor

to see

  • Washington Park - Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, playground and Zoo.  We recommend taking the light rail up and biking down the hill.
  • Eastbank Esplanade - Scenic and full of neat biking infrastructure
 Biking to Washington Park's Rose Garden is extremely vertical, but you can alternatively take the light rail to the zoo and bike down the hill.

Biking to Washington Park's Rose Garden is extremely vertical, but you can alternatively take the light rail to the zoo and bike down the hill.