A dense fog-blanketed morning gives way to rain. The Northwest wind pulls at Douglas Firs. It is the kind of day most people imagine who haven’t been to Portland, Oregon and know it mostly for its weather statistics. Officially known as the city of roses, Portland boasts much more than blooms and rain. This people-friendly city is a sophisticated urban playground best known for its microbrew beer, Stumptown coffee, bridges, bikes and books.

This visually stunning city is connected by 10 bridges that span the Willamette River and divide the city east and west. It is then further sectioned into five regions; NW, NE, SW, SE and North. Within each section are numerous little neighborhoods that are as diverse as the people who live in them. Today’s exploration focuses on the Westside which easily entertains art lovers, food connoisseurs, nature enthusiasts, as well as families looking for a day of fun.

And a perfect day on Portland’s Westside? It would start with breakfast at The Original Pancake House. Founded circa 1953, this modestly-furnished spot recently won the Portland City Search best breakfast award. There may be a wait and they only accept cash, but you are sure to fuel up on classic items like waffles, crepes and oven-baked omelets, as well as signature dishes like the lemon-sugar “Dutch Baby”, blueberry pancakes and giant cinnamon-glazed apple pancakes.

After breakfast head to Portland’s highest point- Council Crest Park- located in the Southwest hills. Walk the circular 1,073 foot summit – take in the sweeping panorama of the city, views of Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier or hike one of the three densely forested dirt paths.

From there head to Washington Park and visit the Japanese Gardens; a winding maze of stepping stones, wooden bridges, waterfalls, ponds filled with Koi and intricately designed sand gardens. Designed over 40 years ago, the garden’s mature landscaping is accented with pagodas, arbors and lanterns and surrounded by forest.

Next on the agenda islunch and shopping on one of Portland’s trendiest streets:
NW 23rd. Numerous high end shops, local chocolatiers, taverns, and eateries fill this quaint part of town known as Nob Hill. If you are in the mood for classic Thai, Typhoon! offers delicious traditional dishes in an open and airy space. For Mediterranean flavors try Serratto, and for a New York deli experience it has to be Kornblatt’s Delicatessen.

From there, head deeper into downtown to the Pearl district. Here you can tap into the Portland art scene at one the numerous galleries scattered throughout. Visit Blackfish Gallery: for over 25 years this cooperative artist-owned gallery has focused on contemporary artwork, or the Lawrence Gallery, showcasing over $5 million dollars of fine art in 14,000 square feet. Another spot worth checking out is the Attic Gallery; established in 1973, it is Portland’s oldest and largest fine art and framing gallery.

Happy hour at the Portland City Grill is a must, especially at sunset. Located on the 30th floor of one of Portland’s tallest buildings, the Grill offers outstanding views, as well as downright delicious appetizers and cocktails.

Next stop, Jimmy Mak’s Bar & Grill for dinner and live jazz. This quintessential spot was voted “One of the world’s top 100 places to hear jazz” by Down Beat Magazine. Northwest music scene fixtures as well as out of town big time acts combined with a menu offering Greek inspired entrees make this a club where the music and the food are noteworthy.

The nightcap to your evening is a walk through Waterfront Park, and an ideal place to behold Portland’s beauty. Take a moment, to watch the city’s light dance and reflect off the water, taking in the majesty and magnificence that is Portland.

What & Where:
The Original Pancake House (8601 SW 24th Ave; 503-246-9007)
Council Crest Park (SW Council Crest Dr)
The Japanese Gardens (611 S.W. Kingston Ave.; 503-223-1321)
NW 23rd Street (Located off Burnside at SW Vista and where Vista turns into Burnside)
Kornblatt’s Delicatessen (628 NW 23rd; 503-242-0055)
Typhoon! (2310 NW Everett; 503-243-7557)
Serratto (2112 NW Kearney; 503-221-1195)
The Pearl (Between 16th Avenue & 19th Avenue and Burnside & Lovejoy)
Blackfish Gallery (420 NW 9th Ave; 503-224-2634)
Lawrence Gallery (903 NW Davis; 503-228-1776)
The Attic Gallery (525-539 NW 10th Ave; 503-228-7830)
The Portland City Grill (111 SW Fifth Avenue, 30th Floor; 503.450.0030)
Jimmy Mak’s Bar & Grill (221 NW 10th Ave; 503-295-6542)
Waterfront Park (750 SW Front Ave)