What breakfast is more mouth-wateringly delicious than eggs Benedict made with a perfectly flaky croissant? Find out at Petite Provence. This French bakery and café is a great place to start a perfect family day in Southeast Portland. Kids love the multigrain Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes with almond crème brûlée sauce. And the fresh-baked French toast stuffed with cream cheese and topped with berries- Très Bon! All this while the French-speaking bakers walk past carrying trays loaded with fresh pastries to restock the busy bakery section.
You may have gained five pounds at breakfast, but that’s okay because the next destination is Mt. Tabor Park, a 196-acre forested dormant volcano. Walking up the winding slope while catching glimpses of the surrounding city is the perfect way to dissolve buttery pastry calories.
If you head to the top, you will have climbed to about 500 feet, which is worth a few hundred calories. There are miles of trails weaving through the park, along with fantastic playgrounds, covered picnic areas, an amphitheater, volleyball, basketball and tennis courts, fenced dog parks, and more. Download a map online beforehand, or if you have some technology with you, the park is blanketed in free WI-FI. Portland must be the only city in the world with a dormant volcano city park that has free WI-FI!
Making it to the top is worth the effort. The views that were hinted at earlier are exposed in full here. To the east you can see Mt. Hood and to the west is a stunning view over the park’s reservoirs to the Portland skyline, and below is Hawthorne Boulevard, your next destination.
It’s all downhill to Hawthorne’s business district. With the notable lack of national chain stores, this is a wonderfully unique place to shop and eat. If you are with your kids you’ll have to skip the Sapphire Hotel, a very cool bar that is set in an old brothel. Just check it out as you make your way past the coffee shops and a sprinkling of funky little shops. Soon, you’ll come to Powell’s Books for Cooks & Gardeners. Here you’ll find shelves lined with new and used books exclusively on those subjects. Nearby is Powell’s Books; small only when compared to the full city block store downtown. Big Powell’s little sister has an amazing selection of new and used books for grown-ups and children.
Tucked beside Powell’s Cooks and Gardener’s is Pastaworks, a gourmet food, and kitchen store. Wandering around the store you will discover a mix of unique local and European foods as well as fresh pasta made on-site. The butcher shop has a selection of sustainable raised local meat as well as European imports. Kids will be fascinated to watch sausages being made before their eyes. Pastaworks also has a huge selection of wines, breads, and everything pickled. Their chocolates and cookies are top-notch. A woman from Paris recently told me that treats found in Pastaworks made it bearable to be so far away from her home city.
Across the street is McMenamins Bagdad Theater & Pub, a great place for a movie and a slice of pizza. In addition to the cheap nightly movies, they have children’s matinees on the weekends. The beautiful Bagdad is one of Portland’s best-known McMenamin Brothers projects. The brothers are famous for renovating old buildings and turning them into community-friendly brewpubs. They use local artists and craftspeople to make each one of their restaurants or establishments unique.
A little further down is The Red Light, a gigantic resale shop that has everything from ordinary used clothing, to wild sexy outfits and some very tasteful vintage clothes. Last year, I found my son an entire Sherlock Holmes costume hidden in the racks, including the much sought after deerstalker cap. (All for about 10 bucks!)
Memento PDX and Presents of Mind are gift shops that each have their own distinctive flavor. Both have a selection of fun, kitschy toys and collectables in addition to the locally made items that set them apart. Memento PDX carries the locally made and beloved Queen Bee Bags, along with local art, soaps and candles. Presents of Mind has locally made tee-shirts, jewelry, stationery and a selection of fun and high-end baby gifts.
Kids-at-Heart Toys is another independent shop that makes shopping on Hawthorne so distinctive and fun. The toys are high quality, well made and of course lots of fun.
While there are more places to shop and eat if you head further west down Hawthorne, a good stopping point and one that the kids will thank you for might be Dairy Hill Ice Cream, whose hippie atmosphere seems particularly well suited to Southeast Portland.
Southeast is not brimming with hotels, especially not the big chain type. If your children are 4 and older, The Bluebird Guesthouse is adorable and affordable and has a kitchen available if you would like to cook your own meals. A little bit farther, but still in Southeast, is Brooklyn Center Suites.
This whole day can easily be navigated without ever stepping foot in a car. Check out www.trimet.org for bus maps and schedules. Bus Number 14 will drop you at or near all of these places.
What and Where:
Petite Provence (4834 SE Division St; 503-233-1121)
Mt Tabor Park (SE 60th and SE Salmon; http://www.portlandonline.com/parks/finder/index.cfm?action=ViewPark&PropertyID=275)
The Sapphire Hotel (5008 Southeast Hawthorne Blvd; 503-232-6333)
Powell’s Books for Cooks & Gardeners (3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd; 503-235-3802)
Powell’s On Hawthorne (3723 SE Hawthorne Blvd; 503-235-3802)
Pastaworks (3735 SE Hawthorne Blvd; 503-232-1010)
Red Light Clothing Exchange (3590 SE Hawthorne; 503-963-8888)
McMenamins Bagdad Theater & Pub (3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd; 503-236-9234)
Memento PDX (3707 SE Hawthorne; 503-235-1257)
Presents of Mind (3633 SE Hawthorne; 503-230-7740)
Kids At Heart (3445 SE Hawthorne; 503-231-2954)
Dairy Hill Ice Cream (1428 S.E. 36th Avenue; 503-234-2223)
Bluebird Guesthouse (3517 SE Division St: 503-238-4333)
Brooklyn Center Suites (3717 S.E. Milwaukie; 503-231-1858)
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