Frugal Portland http://frugalportland.com Cheap. Fun. Portland Thu, 23 Jun 2016 16:03:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://frugalportland.com/wp-content/uploads/cropped-frugal-portland-logo-square1-32x32.png Frugal Portland http://frugalportland.com 32 32 Summer Getting Too Hot? Cool Off By Hiking Oneonta Gorge http://frugalportland.com/summer-getting-hot-visit-oneonta-gorge-cool-off/ http://frugalportland.com/summer-getting-hot-visit-oneonta-gorge-cool-off/#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2016 16:03:35 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7590 When summer heat rears its ugly, sweat-ridden head, what’s an Oregonian to do? Temperatures in the eighties and nineties, although anomalous in our area, can strike when we least expect it, attacking our beautiful, overcast, Pacific Northwest bubble made of sunshowers and rain clouds. I can do rain. I’m good, nay, great, at rain, but...

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When summer heat rears its ugly, sweat-ridden head, what’s an Oregonian to do? Temperatures in the eighties and nineties, although anomalous in our area, can strike when we least expect it, attacking our beautiful, overcast, Pacific Northwest bubble made of sunshowers and rain clouds. I can do rain. I’m good, nay, great, at rain, but when the sun is out, the fun is most certainly not out. Chances are, that trendy, post-grunge studio doesn’t have central AC and even the loftiest loft isn’t going to help you escape the heat.

So, I ask again: what’s an Oregonian to do?

First of all, stay calm. Stress elevates blood pressure which can lead to an increase in body temperature, we can’t afford that right now. Pull yourself together, focus on taking even breaths, and try to remember where you left that tank top you bought last July, it’s time to hit the great outdoors!

Now, don’t get too ahead of yourself, you’re not going to the coast. The beach is fun, I love the beach, but now is not the time. Take a look outside, see that bumper to bumper traffic on Highway 26 Westbound? That’s why we’re not going to the beach, we’re going in the opposite direction: The Columbia River Gorge! Although there are a multitude of fantastic destinations to check out on this stretch of rocky canyon, we will be focusing on Oneonta.

oneonta1

There are a multitude of trailheads through this area but one of the most popular and the most stunning is Oneonta Gorge. Sheer rock faces shoot up on either side of this quiet stream bed that serves as a hiking trail for adventurous locals. The trek is certainly a challenge but it is also accessible enough to be enjoyed by entire families.

When you first arrive, you will be met by a short descent from the Oneonta Gorge Bridge down into the water, there are some stairs on one side and a well-beaten path on the other, in case you’re feeling adventurous. Once you have reached the water, it might be time to take off your shoes and begin to acclimate yourself to the frigidity, this will come into play later on. After a few minutes of navigating the stream, you will come to an impasse, or in this case, a rock. The boulder that stands in your way is actually the key to progressing on your journey so start looking for the safest way up. Chances are, if you hit this spot on a weekend, there are many other people making the same climb so feel free to observe carefully before you attempt anything. After you get to the top, you will see a tangled network of fallen trees that you will need to cross in order to, once again, descend into the stream bed. If you’re anything like me, you might want to channel your inner Pocahontas, maybe hum the tune to “Colors of the Wind”, it seems to help.

oneonta2

Now that the climbing is out of the way, for the most part, it’s probably a good time to slip those shoes back on, even the smooth stones in Oneonta Gorge can do a number on unprotected arches.

One thing that I can’t stress enough, especially for first-timers, is that you should never forget to look up! It’s easy to focus so much on where your feet are going that you neglect to admire what is truly a gorge-ous (see what I did there?) area.

oneonta3

Remember all that time that you spent getting your toes used to the cold water? Here’s the part where those skills will really serve you well. Although Oneonta is, for the most part, a shallow stream, there is a stretch of about 30 yards or so (maybe more, I never said I was a scientist) that gets relatively deep. This stretch is definitely best enjoyed with friends, especially friends who are tall enough to carry the gear above their heads. I was especially lucky to be accompanied by a talented photographer by the name of Zachary Senn who took the photos you see here, he is also far taller than I am, which is a major plus. For some, like my friends, traversing this stretch is as simple as holding a backpack over their head and walking, for others, namely myself, the vertical challenge is just too much and swimming is the only option. Others attempt to shimmy across the rocks, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Slippery rock face is not fun to fall off of. Not to mention the fact that floating through a beautiful natural area on a clear summer day is kind of amazing. If you’re lucky, you might just see a few rainbow trout darting around.

oneonta5

Once you make it through what is, by far, the coldest part of the journey, you are not far from the payoff. A few fallen logs and carefully placed steps later, you have arrived. A picturesque waterfall, flowing with fresh, pristine, Oregon water signals the end of your Oneonta adventure, at least for now. But don’t get too excited, you still have to make it back to the car.

Photo Credits: Zachary Senn 

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Sun Spot: Learning About the Sun at Goldendale Observatory http://frugalportland.com/sun-spot-learning-sun-goldendale-observatory/ http://frugalportland.com/sun-spot-learning-sun-goldendale-observatory/#comments Thu, 16 Jun 2016 17:08:56 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7577 By some expert estimates, there are 70 billion trillion stars in the known universe – and, no, I do not know how many zeroes are involved in that number. There is, indeed, a reason why extremely large numbers are referred to as “astronomical.” But only one of those countless stars is responsible for life on...

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goldendale telescope

By some expert estimates, there are 70 billion trillion stars in the known universe – and, no, I do not know how many zeroes are involved in that number. There is, indeed, a reason why extremely large numbers are referred to as “astronomical.”

But only one of those countless stars is responsible for life on earth as we know it, for providing our planet with heat and light, allowing our food to grow and even generating our weather patterns. We owe our lives to our very own star, the sun. Might make sense to know more about it.

To that end many observatories – which normally cater to viewing nighttime luminaries like the moon, planets, galaxies and constellations – now also offer daytime solar viewing as well, along with a slew of trivia about our solar system’s main attraction.

One place to acquire an education about our sun is the Goldendale Observatory, outside Goldendale, Washington and about a two hour drive from Portland. Goldendale currently offers three daily sun shows – including a presentation plus viewing – five days a week. And it’s all free (after you pay for parking). This outing makes a perfect frugal, out-of-the-ordinary and immensely instructional day trip for Portlanders and tourists.

What to Expect

On a recent sunny day, my husband and I were among the solar students at Goldendale. We began our education in a darkened room with a 72 inch screen that revealed, in real time, what the sun looks like through the observatory’s specialized (and safely filtered!) H-Alpha Telescopes. This allowed everyone to see the surface of the sun while simultaneously learning more than we can really take in about this monstrous object (How monstrous you ask? More than one million earths would fit into the sun). We saw sun spots, plages, prominences and filaments and we discovered that the source of the sun’s power is thermonuclear fusion at its core – and that there’s enough fuel there for another five billion years (so, not to worry, folks!).

Troy Carpenter, the observatory’s administrator and the facilitator for our solar show, used a conversational Q & A approach, particularly suited to the youngsters in the audience – and to the adult show-offs. If you belong in the latter category, you’ll amaze your friends when you come up with the correct answers to these questions: Q: How long does it take for light from the sun to reach the earth? A: About 8 minutes. Q: What is the French word for beach? A: Plage (pronounced plawj). (I nailed this one!) A plage is a lighter colored – and hotter – area next to a sun spot. Q: What elements is the sun composed of? A: 79% hydrogen, 20% helium.

After our sun talk, we converged on the observatory itself for a chance to view a few other stellar sensations – stars that are otherwise invisible in the daylight – through Goldendale’s refurbished 24.5 inch telescope. We take turns climbing up the telescope’s ladder to see Betelgeuse (pronounced Beetlejuice!), 643 light years away and the much closer Sirius, about 8.6 light years from the earth. The nearest star to our sun – Alpha Centauri – is a mere 4.367 light years away. A light year, as you’ll recall from high school science class is the distance that light travels (186,000 miles PER SECOND) in a full year.

Stop for a second and try to get your cranium around these numbers. Imagining these distances – and the immensity of the universe – can make your head spin. And maybe that’s the point of all of this. While at Goldendale, we certainly learned a lot of interesting facts about the sun and its amenities. But the big takeaway was that we left awestruck and filled with wonder and something like reverence for the world we live in. Not a bad dividend for the cost of gas and parking.

sun2

If you go:

From April 1 through Sept. 30, there are three solar shows daily (at 2, 4 and 6 pm) except on Monday and Tuesday when the observatory is closed. You don’t need a reservation (unless you’ve got nine other friends with you). So just show up – on time or a bit early to ensure a seat on busy summer days – and check in at the desk. You’ll want to go on a sunny day (duh) or, at least, one with limited clouds. The shows are absolutely free but you must have a Discover Pass (a day permit is $10; available at the observatory). goldendaleobservatory.com; 1602 Observatory Drive, Goldendale, Wash.; 503-773-3141; check website for special events.

 

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Five Best People Watching Places in Portland http://frugalportland.com/five-best-people-watching-places-in-portland/ http://frugalportland.com/five-best-people-watching-places-in-portland/#comments Thu, 09 Jun 2016 16:37:12 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7512 A suggestion for those in search of free – or very low cost – fun things to do in Portland: Why not combine the city’s unofficial motto (“Keep Portland Weird”) and another favorite local pastime (just hanging out) and do a little Portland People Watching? Listed below are a few of the very best places...

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A suggestion for those in search of free – or very low cost – fun things to do in Portland: Why not combine the city’s unofficial motto (“Keep Portland Weird”) and another favorite local pastime (just hanging out) and do a little Portland People Watching?

Listed below are a few of the very best places for people watching in Portland. As you enjoy yourself, remember the cardinal People Watching Rule: We are ALL weird, in some way, so judge not. No gawking, pointing or mockery. With an open mind, you may even experience a moment of profundity while studying your fellow man and woman. Sip your latte or beer, smile – and just take in all of that divine humanity.

1. Hawthorne Boulevard

McMenamins Bagdad Theater & Pub in SE Portland, OR.Hawthorne is renowned – indeed WORLD-renowned – as a pedestrian shopping, dining and people watching haven. My favorite place to people watch on Hawthorne on a sunny day is the Bagdad Theatre & Pub’s sidewalk tables (3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd; mcmenamins.com/bagdad). On a recent lazy afternoon, a friend and I savored our beers from our ringside crowd-contemplating seats where a veritable parade of Portland personalities (and a few tourists, likely) streamed past our table. We saw folks in costumes (at least we thought they were in costume? Could be their everyday attire. It is Portland, after all.). We noticed a dog hooked up to a little red wagon (ala a pony to a cart) pulling the booty – we assumed – from the owner’s daily market run. There were lots of 20-something goth types milling around and more than a few aging hipsters as well. Humanity viewing nirvana!

If it’s rainy or cold, opt for the indoor window seats at Peet’s Coffee (right down the street from the Bagdad; 3646 SE Hawthorne Blvd) or Starbucks (across the street; 3639 SE Hawthorne).

2. ANY Farmers Market (portlandoregon.gov/bps/farmersmarkets)

Portland Farmers Market

The granddaddy of these lively outdoor gathering places is Portland Farmers Market (South park blocks between SW Hall and Montgomery) but it may come as a surprise that there are almost 50 markets in the greater metro area – and there is at least one happening somewhere every day of the week. A few are year round; most start up April through June. Many offer music and coffee; all feature friendly folks and food. Find a bench or table, preferably close to the free music (if available), and relax while enjoying vistas of the human race.

3. Powell’s City of Books World Cup Coffee Shop (1005 W. Burnside St.; powells.com)

1280px-PowellsBookstore

The ritual at Powell’s is to browse a bit, gather an armload of potential purchases – and then park yourself in the coffee shop. While you’re there, be sure to keep your eyes open for the various and sundry book lovers loitering about but also for the many pedestrians you’ll see through the windows that give out onto Burnside. Powell’s attracts all sectors of the masses, from staid suburbanites to hipsters to, well, anyone who reads.

Aside from the coffee shop, there aren’t many sitting areas available at Powell’s City of Books (except in the children’s books section). (Note to Powell’s: Make room for a few sofas and arm chairs!). But wandering Powell’s – whether you’re people watching or book searching or both – is one of life’s great pleasures.

4. Portland State University’s Smith Memorial Union (1825 SW Broadway; pdx.edu/student-union)

PSU,_Smith_Memorial_Student_Union,_2012
For a glorious look at an international cross-section of the world’s people, PSU’s Smith Memorial Union might be the best viewing location in town. PSU students hail from over 84 countries (top countries represented include Saudi Arabia, China, India, Kuwait and Japan). It seems that many of those international pupils flock to the student union. The food court area is particularly ideal – grab a coffee or soft drink (or lunch) and stake out a spot. Then marvel at the many nationalities represented, maybe surmising how each individual happen to end up studying here in little ol’ Portland.

When the weather is nice, find a bench outside, overlooking the park blocks, and you’ll be rewarded with a similar vista – and the sun as an added perk.

5. Pioneer Courthouse Square (701 SW Sixth Avenue; thesquarepdx.org)

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No list of Portland people watching places would be complete without a mention of the Square, aka “Portland’s Living Room.” On any given day – when rain is not in the forecast – you can find a spot and watch the lunch time crowds and occasional street performers. There is also an endless array of free events – from the Global Cannabis March (May 7) and the Portland Atheist Festival (May 26) to summer’s always popular Noon Tunes and Flicks on the Bricks. A great option is to nab a seat in the square’s Starbucks, relax, sip your mocha and behold the human race.

These are my favorite places in the city to people watch — what are yours?

Photo credits: 1.Cacophony 2. Portland Farmers Market 3. Cacophony 4. Another Believer 5. Parker Knight

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Portland Thrift Shops: The 5 Most “Worth It” http://frugalportland.com/portland-thrift-shops-5-worth/ http://frugalportland.com/portland-thrift-shops-5-worth/#respond Thu, 26 May 2016 11:38:39 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7395 Vintage, resale, thrift, antique; whatever you want to call it, let’s be honest, Portland loves second-hand stores. Quantity is not the issue in this town; It’s quality. In a town oversaturated with quirky and vintage, overpriced thrift shops lurk around every corner, and you might need a little help navigating this shopping niche without overspending...

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Portland’s Five Most Worth it Thrift Shops

Vintage, resale, thrift, antique; whatever you want to call it, let’s be honest, Portland loves second-hand stores. Quantity is not the issue in this town; It’s quality. In a town oversaturated with quirky and vintage, overpriced thrift shops lurk around every corner, and you might need a little help navigating this shopping niche without overspending on a $200 “retro” chair. Have no fear! In descending order of price, here are the five most “worth it” of Portland thrift shops.

1. Buffalo Exchange $$$$$

Buffalo Exchange is definitely not a “thrift” store, and it is not always the cheapest. But, consistently more than any other resale shop, Buffalo Exchange has the most “I’d wear that” clothes and shoes. They stock their buy back counter with young trendy hipster girls and boys who only buy up the most desirable clothing. This is great for the fashionable, but not always awesome for savings. Don’t get me wrong, everything here is still cheaper than if you bought it new and occasionally they overlook hidden treasures. My favorite Buffalo outing involves selling a small pile of old clothes I don’t want, taking the in-store credit and walking out with a whole new outfit: it’s ethical clothing recycling at its finest.

Best for: Daily wear

2. House of Vintage $$$$

In a town where weird is the usual and vintage stores are too cool, House of Vintage is more of an experience than anything else. House of Vintage (or HOV as I like to call it) is an excellent place to pick up great vintage swag and the occasional taxidermied rodent. This place consists of multiple vendors renting space and selling their cache of goodies for varying degrees of price. Some people up-price and some don’t, you just have to take your time in HOV. The key is frequent trips to scoop up the newest and coolest items. Careful, this place is huge and mildly overwhelming.

Best for: Costumes, cheap VHS, vintage t-shirts, overalls

3. Goodwill $$$

Somehow even Goodwills are overpriced in Portland. It’s weird. The trick is finding the right Goodwill. In my opinion, the best goodwill in Portland is this one, located in inner Southeast Portland. It is a goodwill supercenter, and it’s huge. It has an enormous selection of books for basically pennies and tons of clothes and shoes for cheap!

Best for: Cheap Books, appliances, shoes

4. Red White and Blue Thrift Store $$

This one is the farthest from inner Portland, but Red White and Blue Thrift Store is a secret treasure of the thriftiest sort. Out of the way and cash only–this place doesn’t top the convenience charts, but it keeps the crowds and price drivers away. This place is much more what I think of when I think of thrift shopping. The prices are low, and they have an awesome selection of hiking gear, retro basketball jerseys, hats, etc. If you’re looking for a true bargain on just about anything, this place is for you!

Best for: Retro sports apparel, hiking gear, collectibles

5. The Bins $

This store is actually a Goodwill store but is a notorious Portland thrift landmark often referred to as simply “Tthe bins.” The bins are not for the faint of heart, but damn are they cheap. Clothing items and more sell by the pound here. Yes, the price is set by how much your pile of loot weighs. This says a lot. Crowded and a little overwhelming, you’re going to have to dig for buried treasure here, but I have found a great desk and some other hidden gems before. This is an excellent place for the super thrifty. Bring hand sanitizer and gloves-I’m not kidding.

Best for: Extra cheap clothes, decent used furniture.

Thrift shopping is supposed to be fun, like a treasure hunt or a game of hide and seek; it is not supposed to be a daunting descent into the abyss of the overpriced. Luckily, these five shops are both fun and affordable! They are always changing, and items don’t last long, which provides an excellent excuse for weekly shopping trips on the cheap. Make sure to give these places a try next time  you’re looking for new-to-you goodies!

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Travel the World while Staying here: Portland Ethnic Foodie Finds on a Budget http://frugalportland.com/travel-world-staying-portland-ethnic-foodie-finds-budget/ http://frugalportland.com/travel-world-staying-portland-ethnic-foodie-finds-budget/#comments Thu, 19 May 2016 14:13:59 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7468 The foodie scene in Portland took off a handful of years ago. It hasn’t really slowed down much. Luckily with extreme competition comes extremely good product. Portland’s wide variety of ethnic restaurants is no exception to that rule. So if your pockets are feeling a little light there’s a great way to tour the world…...

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 Travel the World while Staying here: Portland Ethnic Foodie Finds on a Budget

The foodie scene in Portland took off a handful of years ago. It hasn’t really slowed down much. Luckily with extreme competition comes extremely good product. Portland’s wide variety of ethnic restaurants is no exception to that rule. So if your pockets are feeling a little light there’s a great way to tour the world… or, at least, the awesome food from around the globe… and still keep your bank account in the positive.

Check out these four sensational Portland happy hours where you’ll get great food and drink at a great price and test out where you want to take your next vacation.

Bollywood Theater


3010 SE Division St.

Alright, so I already digressed from the original plan. No, Bollywood does not have a happy hour. However, when you’re paying around $6-$9 for a plate of food, you’ve already sort of hit happy hour zone.

Bollywood Theater is an authentic fusion of Portland’s alternative culture and India’s mouthwatering cuisine. They focus on street food and individual servings of traditional Indian dishes. Lamb samosas, an order of Vada Pav (a spicy potato dumpling cooked fried in chickpea butter) and a Bollywood Shandy should get your day going on the right track (or keep it that way).

Cocktails are full price so sip slowly and enjoy the spice.

Pambiche Cocina


2811 NE Glisan St.

Havana Havana, welcome to Havana in Portland. It’s a good thing that political relations between the United States and Cuba are improving because hot dang do they have a knack for stimulating the taste buds.

Over on Northeast Glisan, there’s a little taste of Cuba waiting for you at Pambiche Cocina. And their happy hour menu packs a punch. Cuban cocktails are $1.00 off and food prices are lowered as well. It’s like a scene out of a movie. Small tables elegantly crammed into the lower level of a colorful building. Cuban music playing (and may I say influencing you to join the dance). Don’t show up here on a full stomach… there’s just too much awesomeness to try.

Hoda’s Middle Eastern


3401 SE Belmont St.

Tabouli, Baba Ghanouje, Bi-Tahini… it’s a wonderland of dips along with freshly baked pita bread. And oh yes, all drinks are discounted. Even crazier, if Monday is your day off, Hoda’s features happy hour pricing all day on Mondays.

Appetizers are pleasingly budget-friendly meanwhile if you’ve saved up to splurge a bit their main dishes are also reasonably priced. Good luck making a choice, though. Hoda’s kills it on every single item on the menu. You’ll be back for more…trust me.

Kachka


720 SE Grand Ave

A personal favorite of mine and quite possibly the best happy hour in Portland, Kackha is one heck of an experience. The walls are doused with humorously tainted Soviet propaganda posters, most nights there is a video of Russian music performances projected on the wall above the bar and the music… the atmosphere is contagious.

But all of that aside their food and drinks are enough to make you squirt out a few expletives of satisfaction. Discounted beer and wine is available but the magic is in the food and vodka. Lamb meatballs on a fresh hoagie roll, beef/pork/veal, and onion filled dumplings, scallion and farmer’s cheese filled dumplings and $9 carafes of house infused vodka with flavors like Mint, Earl Grey, Horseradish or a soothing Chamomile plus much more.

Kachka takes the hardware for sure.

Foodie restaurants have taken over Portland and a night out on the town with a nice meal has begun to really put a dent in the ol’ wallet. But for a more than reasonable amount of money these four options will let you fill up on food and drinks while still being able to make rent.

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Best Places to Sweat in Portland http://frugalportland.com/best-places-sweat-portland/ http://frugalportland.com/best-places-sweat-portland/#comments Thu, 12 May 2016 11:24:43 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7361 Portland is the perfect place to find a myriad of unique workout options that you can actually enjoy. Because there are so many choices in our area, the following list will serve as a good starting point to begin exploring Portland’s fitness culture! Climb Like a Monkey: The Circuit Bouldering Gym To kick things off,...

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Best Places to Sweat in Portland

Portland is the perfect place to find a myriad of unique workout options that you can actually enjoy. Because there are so many choices in our area, the following list will serve as a good starting point to begin exploring Portland’s fitness culture!

Climb Like a Monkey: The Circuit Bouldering Gym

To kick things off, here’s an option for all of the young-at-heart. The Circuit is just about the closest thing I can think of to a jungle gym for adults. Once you have your day pass in hand and your climbing shoes on, you’re all set to scale any surface in sight. Depending on how much you want to challenge yourself, you can pick more difficult climbs and really work up a sweat. There are three different locations in the metro area and each has their own unique layout to conquer. The best part? A day of climbing and equipment rental is under twenty dollars and there’s a great student discount, too! This option is perfect for cross training and is a great way to test your limits, both mental and physical.

Combine all the Words: Pil-oga-robic

Much like fusion cuisine, the next location on our list combines multiple great things into something even better! Pil-oga-robic is the powerful combination of pilates, yoga, cardio, and strength training which is formulated to provide an incredibly effective workout.

Yoga

The variety offered in the class makes for an engaging experience that is far from routine. The instructors are lovely and offer personalized recommendations and a relaxing, judgment-free environment!  If that treadmill has you feeling like you’re going nowhere (see what I did there?) it might be time for a fun session of Pil-oga-robic! Did I mention that the first class is free? Once you experience the unique ambiance in this beautiful studio, you’ll want to nama-stay!

stay

Get Your Strength On: CrossFit

Alright, you all saw it coming. You knew I was going to bring CrossFit into this. I know none of us really want to admit it but this intense training program is certainly a fantastic option for those looking to really, and I mean really, push themselves. That being said, your options are open as far as gyms go but I will be recommending PDX Strength. They are the number one rated gym in North Portland and for good reason. They offer more classes than you could flip a tire at and are a fantastic choice for fresh-faced beginners and seasoned athletes alike. They are so sure that you’ll love the experience that they offer free classes for first-timers, and who doesn’t like getting things for free?

Editor’s note: PXT Fitness is awesome, too. I worked out over there for about six months before I moved across town. Highly recommend.

Channel Your Inner Ballerina: Barre3

Maybe pull-ups just aren’t for you and you prefer a workout with a little more grace. As you can imagine, I have just the recommendation for you. Barre3 is a studio that offers classes aimed at improving strength, balance, and posture. It’s the perfect place for those of us who want to be ballerinas when we grow up. One of the advantages to Barre3 is that they have six convenient locations all across Portland! It’s super easy to find the closest studio and reserve your spot in class online. Although barre classes will have you feeling a bit more elegant, you will still be working up quite the sweat.

Get up and Dance: Vega Dance Lab

Finally, if you are one of those amazing individuals who spends their Saturdays dancing with the broom, it’s your time to shine. Vega Dance Lab is my favorite location on this list because it encourages calorie burn through the art of dance.

Dance

The classes will have you feeling fierce and the atmosphere will have you feeling like you’re on the set of Step Up 2. You’ll see dancers of all skill levels and fun routines that are far from boring! The great music and energetic instructors will have even beginners getting into the groove before class is out.

studio

This is a drop-in studio and it only takes fifteen dollars to get into an hour of sweaty, happy, dancey fun. I would recommend Vega to anyone who wants to work hard while having an absolute blast!

So, are you ready to get your money’s worth out of those sweatbands and leg warmers? You don’t have to be Olivia Newton John to rock that look and get physical! There are so many fantastic options out there for those of us who would like to throw a little variety into our fitness routine! Make sure to take advantage of the free first classes offered by some of the studios and gyms above; besides, if there’s something out there that you can get absolutely free of charge, there’s no reason not to give it a try! What are you waiting for? Get off the couch and tear up the floor, the mat, or the pavement!

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3 Great Hotel Alternatives That Will Save Your Vacation Budget and Change Your Life! http://frugalportland.com/3-great-hotel-alternatives-that-will-save-your-vacation-budget-and-change-your-life/ http://frugalportland.com/3-great-hotel-alternatives-that-will-save-your-vacation-budget-and-change-your-life/#respond Thu, 05 May 2016 11:05:17 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7351 Hotels cost a small fortune, and they have pretty much zero charm. There are precisely three occasions where you will find me staying in a hotel: if I have found a truly amazing deal (which happens about once a year); If there are absolutely no other lodging options including a tent; If someone else is...

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Hotels cost a small fortune, and they have pretty much zero charm. There are precisely three occasions where you will find me staying in a hotel: if I have found a truly amazing deal (which happens about once a year); If there are absolutely no other lodging options including a tent; If someone else is paying for it.

I happen to like to make my hard-earned travel money last as long as possible, and I’m sure you do too.

So, before you drop half of your travel budget on an overpriced hotel room in a part of the city most people do their best to avoid, try these three budget-friendly hotel alternatives!

1. Hostels

Stay in a Hostel - Frugal Portland

I am in love with hostels, and it breaks my heart that the U.S. isn’t as hostel friendly as the rest of the world. I am convinced the makers of the film Hostel were hired by large hotel chains to ruin them for everyone.

Hostels offer the bare bones: a bed, a storage space, and a bathroom (usually shared). Hostels make up what they lack in amenities in social interaction and price. They offer up prime lodging locations in cities for usually ¼  the price of a hotel. In addition to cheap prices, hostels are actually a great way to meet other travellers; most offer shared bunk rooms for the extra thrifty, and private rooms for the slightly less brave. I have stayed in both types, and can say different strokes for different folks. I loved the bunk room hostels when I was backpacking through Europe, because they were dirt cheap; think $15 bucks a night for a bed and a bathroom. On the other hand, my partner and I just booked a few private rooms in hostels for our upcoming trip to Croatia for about $25 bucks each a night; it’s more expensive than a bunk room, yet still way less expensive than a hotel.

In Portland,  I strongly suggest the Portland Hawthorne Hostel and the Northwest Portland Hostel. You can find others at hostelworld.com, which I use for all of my travel planning. If you’re travelling solo, you can stay in the best parts of the city for about $25 bucks a night!

2. AirBnB

Stay-in-an-AirBnB---Frugal-Portland

Airbnb offers a beautiful balance between hotels and hostels. AirBnB is a website where verified & reviewed homeowners host their homes, guest homes, spare rooms, and lofts for travellers to stay in. The great thing about Airbnb is the charm. You get to stay in (usually) well decorated little places smack dab in the middle of any neighborhood you want to stay in. The other great thing is the price. Pricier than hostels, yet still cheaper than a hotel, airbnb is my cheap-spendy weekend getaway resource of choice.

In portland, Eastside Airbnbs tend to run around $50+ a night, and you can find downtown locations in the $30 a night range. If you’re looking for a coastal getaway,I highly recommend finding your spot on this site!

Related post: 5 Fun Places to Stay in Portland

3. Couch Surfing

Try Couch Surfing - Frugal Portland

Are you traveling solo? Is your budget hovering around the free to free range? Are you prepared to sleep on a couch? If you said yes to these questions, then Couchsurfing is for you! Couchsurfing is a website where (verified) individuals offer up their couch or spare room for guests to stay at—fo’ free! Yes, free.

It is great,  but there are some catches: One, you are on a couch, not a bed. Two, you are on a stranger’s couch, which can be awkward at first. Three, you have to sign up for couch surfing and get some references to vouch that you are not terribly sketchy. You also have to contact Couchsurfer hosts and ask to stay with them–you can’t just reserve the spot.

Portland has some interesting hosts, including a woman who “DOES NOT ACCEPT AMERICANS”, and the man who absolutely hates people moving to Portland yet is glad to accept travelers. Quirks aside, Couchsurfing is the epitome of budget travelling, and I have had quite a few friends make their way across the country using this site.

So there you have it: three fantastic ways to visit Portland, or anywhere, for cheap (or free).

Just because I am in love with these hotel alternatives, doesn’t mean they are for everyone. It all depends on your age, disposition, and tastes. If you’re looking for a quiet, luxury getaway where you can’t be bothered to share the bathroom…they might not be for you. But, if you’re looking for an adventure, and  for a way to take that vacation you’ve been dreaming of, without draining your budget, these options are absolutely worth your time!  

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Just Outside of Portland: An Afternoon in Gresham http://frugalportland.com/just-outside-of-portland-an-afternoon-in-gresham/ http://frugalportland.com/just-outside-of-portland-an-afternoon-in-gresham/#comments Thu, 28 Apr 2016 11:37:12 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7317 The Portland metropolitan area is rich with beautiful neighborhoods: little enclaves and regions that are full of charm and grit and livability. Gresham, a suburb just on the edge of the city, is not often lauded as one of them. Compared with other parts of Portland, Gresham can be overlooked; it feels far away, and...

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Just Outside of Portland: An Afternoon in Gresham

The Portland metropolitan area is rich with beautiful neighborhoods: little enclaves and regions that are full of charm and grit and livability. Gresham, a suburb just on the edge of the city, is not often lauded as one of them. Compared with other parts of Portland, Gresham can be overlooked; it feels far away, and its reputation is of a sprawling town with little personality. However, there are parts of Gresham that are surprising, just waiting to be discovered. It’s an area worth driving 30 minutes east for, at least, to check out for an afternoon.

Why?

El Inca1. Peruvian Food!

Gresham has some of the best (if not THE very best) Peruvian food in the area. El Inka Restaurant, an unassuming little place in the middle of a strip mall, serves authentic ceviche and lomo saltado, as well as mouthwatering rotisserie chicken. The atmosphere is endearing: friendly service, colorful tablecloths, soccer on the television. The prices are also reasonable; because the portion sizes are huge, you can split an appetizer and entree between two people and walk away very full.

 

 

 

Main Street Gresham2. Main Street

Gresham’s Main Street, in the heart of the city’s historic downtown, is bustling with quaint establishments. If Peruvian food’s not your thing, there are fantastic choices on this street for lunch or dinner, among them: a Nicholas Restaurant, one of Portland’s favorite places to eat Lebanese food (although at this location you will rarely have to wait for a table) and The Local Cow, a casual eatery that serves–you guessed it–local, hormone-free burgers (and killer blue cheese fries). Main Street also offers a great latte, at Cafe Delirium–a coffee house with funky furniture and a relaxed atmosphere, as well as places to shop for retro items, such as Foxtrot Vintage–a venue with hip decor and multiple antique vendors.

Foxtrot vintage

3. Springwater Trail

Springwater trailGresham’s 4.8 mile stretch of the Springwater Trail is beautiful (and a great place to work off all of the great food on Main Street!): it leads walkers, runners and bikers around Johnson Creek, through woodlands and past landmark buttes. The paved path is part of the Springwater Corridor, which stretches from Boring all the way to downtown Portland.

 

 

 

 

 

4. Tsuru Island

Tsuru Island

Tsuru Island is a hidden gem in Gresham, a Japanese Garden that was donated to the city 40 years ago.

After years of neglect, in July 2011, a team of volunteers restored the garden back to a place of serenity (Tsuru is the Japanese word for crane, which is a symbol of good fortune and longevity). The garden is now a favorite place to meditate and enjoy unique landscaping.

After a full day of shopping, eating and walking, visitors can cross the lovely footbridge at the entrance of Tsuru Island, then linger at one of the many picnic benches and maybe, just maybe, reconsider past misconceptions of Gresham, Oregon.

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Weekend in Newport: Head to the Oregon Coast on a Whim http://frugalportland.com/weekend-newport-head-oregon-coast-whim/ http://frugalportland.com/weekend-newport-head-oregon-coast-whim/#comments Thu, 21 Apr 2016 14:17:02 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7470 When you’ve had just about enough of Portland’s busy and ever-expanding metropolitan hustle and bustle, there’s just one place that I would suggest heading to for some much-needed clarity: get in the car and spend a weekend in Newport, Oregon. Nestled tightly against the rugged beaches of Oregon’s central coastline, Newport is a gem that...

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Newport: Head to the Oregon Coast on a Whim

When you’ve had just about enough of Portland’s busy and ever-expanding metropolitan hustle and bustle, there’s just one place that I would suggest heading to for some much-needed clarity: get in the car and spend a weekend in Newport, Oregon.

Nestled tightly against the rugged beaches of Oregon’s central coastline, Newport is a gem that is often left behind by the beachy pulls of the easily accessible Cannon Beach and Seaside. But the extra time on the road (roughly one hour extra) is well worth it. Not only will you find lower prices in Newport which of course qualifies it as a Frugal Portland-worthy destination, but you’ll find the combination of quiet, quaint beach town with a little bit of rough and tough fishing town to go with it. There are handfuls of bars and restaurants that give you night life options or the traditional beach-style restaurants that close their doors early. Whatever floats your boat, you’ll find something in Newport.

Newport has a fairly large year-round population in comparison to its beach town counterparts. The most recent census report identified Newport’s population at just over 10,000 people. Cannon Beach has a permanent residence of roughly 1,700 and Seaside with 6,500. So while you still get the secluded Oregon Coast feel that everyone mentions when talking about Oregon beaches, you’re surrounded by a few more options than other coastal dwellings. With the larger population comes more community supported events, Newport is famous for its Seafood Festival in late February each year and has a bevy of other small festival-like celebrations throughout the year like Whale Watch Week (mid-late March) and in late April the town celebrates with a Seafair Festival that has been going for over half a century. This year’s celebration marks the 60th anniversary beginning on April 28th.

Regardless, even if you stroll into town on a weekend, or possibly weekday, when the town isn’t in festival mode, there is so much to do and see in Newport that a few days will go by like the blink of an eye. What began simply as a fishing town has now blossomed into a fully functioning town with citizens from every walk of life. Oregon State University’s world-renowned Hatfield Marine Science Center is home to OSU’s top-notch graduate programs in Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Zoology and Fisheries & Wildlife Management. The campus has brought some academic flash to Newport and routinely has Newport in the international science spotlight.

Newport is also now home to Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s (OMSI) newest campus named Coastal Discovery Center at Camp Gray where the Portland non-profit science education company will house summer camps and year-round exhibits. There are whale watching hotspots throughout Newport and just North, in Depoe Bay. So even if Newport didn’t intend to, it’s become somewhat of a science hotspot… and who doesn’t love to learn about the world around us?

But let’s say you’re not so keen on science and want to know what else Newport has to offer… you’re in luck. Newport has some of the finest Seafood dining on the Oregon Coast. Local Ocean Seafoods, located at the Western end of Yaquina Bay’s tourist pier, is quite possibly the best Seafood restaurant in Oregon. Owned and operated by a Pacific Northwest native, the seafood served at Local Ocean is of the utmost quality and is held to certain sustainability measures. It’s wonderful to know that the Oysters your delicately tasting came from 50-feet away, not 3,000 miles. Aside from Local Ocean, Shark’s is yet another Seafood delight. A ma-and-pa joint on the other end of the pier from Local Ocean, Shark’s Seafood Bar is a traditional taste of Newport life. Fresh seafood prepared perfectly by a wife-husband duo and a small bar that attracts the local Coast Guard residents, Shark’s is another shining example of Newport’s diverse scene.

If you’re looking for more of an easy-going scene Newport has two Rogue Breweries, one along the pier that is more like a bar and grill and an actual brewery just across the Yaquina Bay Bridge. There’s a few other bars around town but Rogue has delicious beer, tasty bar food and some awesome apparel.

So now you’re full of fish and beer… what else should you know about Newport? It’s simple, after you’ve toured the Hatfield Marine Science Center, checked out OMSI’s newest campus, done some driving along the coast in hopes of seeing whales and maybe even done some shopping in Newport’s adorable Nye Beach neighborhood (where beach access is flanked by a cozy bookstore, coffee shops and an Irish pub), there’s only one thing left to do. Head back to your hotel room and enjoy the sounds and sights of the Pacific Ocean just a few steps away.

Photo by Jelson25 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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A lazy Sunday in Northwest Portland http://frugalportland.com/a-lazy-sunday-in-northwest-portland/ http://frugalportland.com/a-lazy-sunday-in-northwest-portland/#comments Mon, 30 Nov -0001 00:00:00 +0000 http://frugalportland.com/?p=7324 Author: Hannah Leone So it’s Sunday. The weekend is half over and you need to do something, anything, to distract yourself for the coming work week, and ideally leave your mind and body refreshed and prepared. Portland is a great city for Sundays. Here are a handful of activities you can do on the cheap...

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Author: Hannah Leone

So it’s Sunday. The weekend is half over and you need to do something, anything, to distract yourself for the coming work week, and ideally leave your mind and body refreshed and prepared. Portland is a great city for Sundays. Here are a handful of activities you can do on the cheap in the inner blocks of the city’s Northwest quadrant.

A Lazy Sunday in Northwest Portland

1. All-Day Happy Hour

All day happy hour - lazy Sunday in Northwest Portland

Make your own breakfast — yes, skip brunch — then take advantage of the city’s many all-day happy hours. Henry’s 12th Street Tavern, Thai Bloom, Pope House Bourbon Lounge, and even Portland City Grill have affordable and tasty all-Sunday food and drink specials. Kells Irish Brew Pub and Bartini also have good Sunday happy hours from 4 p.m. to close.

2. Portland’s Aerial Tram

Take Portland's Aerial Tram! Spend a lazy Sunday in Northwest Portland

This is outside of Northwest Portland, but not by much. Catch a ride on the OHSU aerial tram. Some people take it to work every day; for the rest of us, the tram is simply a fun way to catch some sweet views of downtown and inner east Portland. Round-trip fare, about 4 minutes each way between the lower South Waterfront terminal and higher Marquam Hill terminal, is $4.50.

3. Take a Hike!

Take a Hike! Lazy Sunday in Northwest Portland

If it’s rainy, you’ll find modest tree cover at Forest Park — the MacLeay Park entrance is easily accessible from NW Upshur, a short walk from the shopping and restaurants on NW 23rd Avenue — and at Washington Park, easily accessible via SW Park Place (the park extends to West Burnside) and by public transit. There’s a lot more to see at Washington Park than Portland’s notorious rose garden; the intricate trail system connects with Forest Park’s across West Burnside, the Vietnam Memorial is profound, and the Japanese Garden is worth the $9.50 general admission. Or pick your Forest Park trailhead and trek up to Pittock Mansion, where you’ll find an unbeatable view of bridge city whether or not you pay $10 admission to enter the historic house.

4. Get Your Culture On

Get Your Culture On - Spend a lazy Sunday in Northwest Portland

Pop in an art gallery, or two, or three. You don’t always need to pay $20 admission at the Portland Art Museum to get your fill of eye candy. Fine art galleries are free to peruse, whether or not you’re in the market for a new installation.

My favorite in the quadrant: Blue Sky, on NW 8th Avenue near the Park blocks, was originally founded more than 40 years ago as Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts. The gallery showcases reliably compelling exhibits by local, national and international photographers and regularly hosts thought-provoking talks by the artists. Sunday hours are noon to 5 p.m.

Other good bets: J. Pepin Art Gallery, NW 9th and Everett. Sunday hours are noon to 4 p.m.  Gallery 114, NW 11th and Glisan. Sunday hours are noon to 6 p.m.

Or create your own walking art tour using Google Maps.

5. Try Your Hand at Trivia

Try Your Hand at Trivia -- Spend a Lazy Sunday in Northwest Portland

Trivia is free at the bourbon lounge near NW Glisan Street and 23rd Avenue, which also features all-day happy hour on Sundays. Even if you don’t want to play, the all-day happy hour is worth your time: $1 off well drinks, eight select bourbons, beer pints and wine; nine $5 cocktails; and food specials from $4 to $7. The whiskey selection is vast. The sweet potato fries, seasoned with Old Bay and served with chipotle aioli, are the best around.

In trivia, which starts at 9 p.m. but usually a few minutes late, winning teams get a $20 gift card to the lounge, which can be applied that night or stowed away for future use. The three progressive 10-question rounds aren’t blatantly themed, but the last two questions of each round are always extra fun: Mashups, worth double points, combine two questions in which the last word of the first answer is also the first word of the second answer. (The trivia master’s classic example: Infamous N.W.A. member and online dating site? Eazy-E-harmony.) And what could be a better way to prepare for the week ahead than winning at trivia?

In the end, you really can’t beat a Sunday in Portland. Whether you prefer to hang around inside mentally preparing for trivia, day drink through happy hours, or spend the day in the great outdoors, there’s something for everyone on anyone’s budget.

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