Green, affordable, and easy to get around, Portland, Oregon will appeal to casual couples on a honeymoon or romantic holiday who want the conveniences of a city plus the pleasures of the outdoors. Nature is never far away; count down the blocks as you stroll to the Willamette River waterfront esplanade. Rent a car or bikes and head to nearby Mount Tabor or Multnomah Falls. And as befitting a truly romantic destination, there are three exquisite gardens in Portland, Oregon where two people in love can literally stop and smell the roses.
1. Go to the Gardens in Romantic Portland, Oregon
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There's a reason Portland is called the Rose City. Its mild, misty weather is the ideal climate for romantics' favorite flower to bloom. Portland has three major rose gardens: The International Rose Test Garden
is a place to marvel at the variety of new hybrid species cultivated here. It contains more than 10,000 plants, and the best time to view them is between June and mid-October. Weddings are permitted here. The serene, 5.5-acre Japanese Rose Garden
is a place for reflection. It's composed of five distinct garden styles, each designed to instill a feeling of peace and tranquility. Lan Su Yan
, Portland's classical Chinese Garden, occupies a square block in the city center and features an enchanting teahouse.
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An extinct volcano on Portland, Oregon's east side, Mount Tabor is now a park that provides a perspective on the city. (Pick a clear day to peer through the thick foliage.) Hiking trails lead to the summit, and romantic couples can find places of solitude to kiss. Birding is a popular activity; couples who can tear themselves away from gazing into one another's eyes may spot jays, crows, swallows, chickadees, sparrows, orioles, blackbirds, finches, and the love-song serenades of thrushes and warblers. Mount Tabor can be reserved as a wedding spot.
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A sprawling, French Renaissance-style château completed in 1914, Pittock Mansion stands 1,000 feet above Portland in the West Hills, offering another picturesque aerie for landscape lovers. Tour the house built by tycoon Henry Lewis Pittock and his wife Georgiana, who had a love of architecture, design, and the outdoors.
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Portland's famed donuteria, Voodoo Donuts is an original with flavors you won't find anywhere else. Delicious selections include Voodoo Doll (filled with raspberry jelly topped with chocolate frosting and a pretzel stake), the legendary Bacon Maple Bar (maple frosting topped with two crisp pieces of bacon), and Triple Chocolate Penetration (chocolate cake doughnut with chocolate frosting topped with coco-puffs). Love doughnuts as much as each other? You can get legally married inside the Voodoo Doughnuts shop in Old Town. The website details the various wedding packages available. Voodoo Doughnuts' owner is an authorized if offbeat officiant.
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What's a doughnut without coffee? Stumptown, with multiple locations throughout Portland, is the established name among Oregon's indie coffee roasters. In many shops, you can linger romantically over a cup of limited-edition, hand-roasted, fair-trade coffee. At The Annex, 3352 SE Belmont Street, two doors away from Stumptown's Belmont location, free coffee tastings are held between noon and 2 pm daily. Find locations of other indie coffee roasters
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Portland, Oregon's artisanal chocolate scene is where coffee's was 15 years ago. One of the city's best-known chocolate purveyors, Cacao has two locations, one beside the Heathman Hotel
lobby. Since there's no denying here that chocolate is an aphrodisiac, romantic couples can sample local and imported bars, choose handmade chocolates and caramels (a sprinkling of coarse salt brings out the flavor of the latter), and drink Cacao's ambrosial liquid chocolate.
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Cascading down 620 feet, Multnomah Falls is the second highest year-round waterfall in the United States. A half-hour drive from Portland, it's located on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. A paved trail leads to Benson Bridge, which spans the falls and provides a dramatic view. Afterwards, pause at the Multnomah Falls Lodge
for a snack, a souvenir, and a pit stop. Less than four miles away, Bridal Veil Falls also rushes down the Columbia River Gorge, but from a less dramatic height. The local post office is a popular stop for couples mailing wedding invitations.
© Susan Breslow Sardone.
Food carts (tiny trailers on wheels where food is prepared) dot downtown Portland. Whether your taste runs to ethnic, hearty, healthy, or another type of fare, it's likely you can find a food cart vendor who will prepare a dish to your liking. Cheap, fresh, and handmade, food cart food is Portlanders' first choice for Mex (and every other type of cuisine) in the city.
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Oregon's climate is as salutary for grapes -- particularly pinot noir -- as it is for roses. Stretching south from Portland, the Willamette Valley is home to some 200 winemakers, and most feature a tasting room. And these are not boxy little areas: Many have well-designed outdoor spaces with views almost intoxicating at their wines.
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Save on dinner by savoring a happy hour meal. These abbreviated menus are available at dozens of Portland restaurants. Grazing on smaller portions with inventive flavors for a few dollars a plate and opting to drink a house wine, local brew, or daily cocktail specials will help romantic couples on a budget to stay within their limit.