Eco Trip: Greenista Guide to Portland, Oregon – Part I

Short and spontaneous weekend getaways are one of the best parts of summer.  If you’re looking for a fun spot to explore, book a flight to Portland, OR.  And don’t be scared off by the comedy series “Portlandia” – sure the city has its quirkiness, but the ‘City of Roses’ is an awesome destination for flavorful coffee, locally-produced fashion, melt-in-your-mouth meals and a love for all things sustainable.

Where to Stay

Portland has lots of eco-friendly lodging options.  For something undeniably hip, stay at The Ace Hotel.  Located a block from Powell’s Books, the hotel has its own Stumptown coffee shop and borders the trendy Pearl District.  The interiors showcase the work of local artists – our wall was an ode to the Oregonian gentleman – and the modern-bohemian hotel includes green features like low VOC paint, vintage furniture and bicycles to borrow and ride around town.

Clockwise from left: Ace Hotel exterior; artwork by local artist in hotel room; barista at Stumptown c/o Stumptown Coffee Roasters

This is also where I discovered the incredible charcoal soap by Pearl+.  However, bring your own shampoo and conditioner.  The in-room products by Malin+Goetz were filled with some of the most toxic personal care ingredients, so I had to run to the nearby Whole Foods to get healthy replacements.

Eating at a cool restaurant for every meal can be taxing on your travel budget, so we took advantage of The Ace’s yummy and affordable European style continental breakfast ($8 per person).  Local pastries, artisanal cheeses, fruit, nuts and yogurt were set up alongside house-made pickles, granola and fresh, organic juices and Stumptown coffee.

Whether you prefer privacy or a more communal vibe, The Ace has a number of room options that include shared, hostel-like rooms and private ones.  We stayed in the Standard Front room with private shower and it was worth it.  In the mood for higher-end accommodations?  The Heathman Hotel in downtown Portland offers a luxury eco suite and “Go Green” package.

Where to Shop

Carefully curated boutiques and homegrown design talent influence the fashion scene in Portland.  The most stylish shops can be found in the Pearl District, SE Hawthorne Boulevard and North Mississippi Avenue.  For handmade products, cards and art, visit Tender Loving Empire.  The adorable shop carries unique and locally-produced items like handmade LISS glass earrings by Alissa Friedman, natural lip balm from Portland Bee Company, fragrant soap bars from Prunella’s (I love the sweet orange and cornmeal bar), and non-toxic deodorant from local Etsy seller Schmidt’s.

Clockwise from left: Prunella soap; Bridge and Burn button-down; Portland Bee Balm. All images c/o respective companies

Browse the selection of cool and diverse brands at Lizard Lounge for an edgy top or sweet sundress.  The boutique also carries a limited number of pieces from Bridge and Burn, a bonafide Portland-based fashion design company.  I splurged on Bridge and Burn’s twist on the nautical sweater (think voluminous sleeves and organic cotton material) and a classic button-down shirt perfect for work and play.

Local jewelry is abundant in Portland, but the recycled sterling silver line from Minoux is gorgeous and definitely not run-of-the-mill.  Utilizing eco-friendly processes (minimizing chemical use, recycling packaging, etc) and creating designs with unconventional shapes and lines is Minoux’s specialty.

So what else does Portland have to offer?  Check back soon for Part II: Tips on What to See and Where to Eat and Drink.


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