10 Ways to Paint Portland GREEN for St. Paddy’s!

I love an excuse to wear something silly and hit the town, so needless to say, St. Patrick’s Day ranks pretty high on my holiday list.  While I could probably do without queasy green beer, there is something about everyone out celebrating together that just makes me all warm and fuzzy inside (or it could be the Guinness…probably the Guinness).  Most big cities have at least one parade or party going on, and if you happen to be in Boston or New York, it’s pretty much a city-wide party.  Portland, which pretty much has a constant stream of events year round, does not disappoint on March 17.  Here are some activities for you to get your green on this weekend!

For the Drinkers:

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Regardless of the history of St. Patrick and what the day originally represented, no one can deny that St. Paddy’s Day has through the years become a beer drinker’s holiday.  Almost any bar or restaurant you enter this weekend will be offering green beer, Guinness specials, or Irish Car Bombs.  Luckily, this year the holiday falls on a Friday, so if you want to get really crazy, hopefully you won’t have to work in the morning.  Just be wary of all those uber surcharges when you try to get home! Here are some of the best watering holes to get your green on (click on the event name for a link to the website).

St. Patrick’s Day at McMenaminsVisit any of the over 50 locations in Oregon and Washington for an awesome celebration. Feast on Irish stew, enjoy a stout, and at certain locations, grab a specialty bottle of their Devil’s Bit whiskey! There will be bagpipes, and fun for all!

Various Bar Crawls:  Bar crawls seem to be a Portland holiday staple.  Dress yourself in head-to-toe green, grab a wristband, and enjoy specials at various locations throughout town.  I’ve linked 3 different crawls happening this weekend. Try one, or if your liver can handle it, try them all! (but PLEASE don’t drive!!)

Paddy’s 3 day St. Patrick’s FestivalPaddy’s Bar and Grill is Portland’s oldest Irish pub.  Their festival lasts all weekend and boasts traditional Irish food, drinks, and entertainment. Located in the heart of downtown, you can add this festival on to your other celebrations or camp out in the tent all weekend (but they probably won’t let you sleep there)!  Paddy’s has partnered with the Children’s Cancer Association, so you can be sure that your beer money is being put to good use.

Irish Beer Festival at Kells BrewpubFeaturing a host of locally brewed Irish beers, Kells is the quintessential Irish pub.  The Irish beer festival is located at the brewpub on NW 21st Ave. The full Irish Festival spans both the brewpub and their downtown location and will transport you straight back to the Emerald Isle with a weekend full of music, Irish dancing, and other festivities. A full schedule of events for both spots can be found here.

Irish Craft Ale Festival at Feckin BreweryI don’t think I can say it any better than the website, “As well as great beer, there will be bagpipers, 12 live bands and Irish dancers. Irish food including haddock  fish and chips Irish lamb stew and corned beef sandwiches.” I have a soft spot for Oregon City, Feckin’s, and fish and chips, so you’ll probably find me here for at least part of the weekend!

For the Fitness-Minded:

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Whether you’re focused on swimsuit season, hate loud, drunk people, or just want to get your steps in before you guzzle down calories all weekend, there are a couple great events this weekend to get you moving!

Shamrock Run and Fitness Fair: The Shamrock Run the largest running and walking event in Oregon and is the third largest running event in the western United States.  Thousands of Oregonians descend on Waterfront Park every year decked in green to tackle one of the many offered courses.  The primary beneficiary of this event is Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, which means you’re sweating for a great cause! The races are all on Sunday, but even if you don’t want to join in, you can visit the Fitness Fair at the Oregon Convention Center Friday and Saturday.  Shop from vendors, get fitness tips, and play games at this free event!

The Dirty Leprechaun 5KWho doesn’t love a good mud run? Located at Lee Farms in Tualatin, the Dirty Leprechaun is a fun event for anyone who would rather dive through the mud and clear obstacles than cruise through the streets of Portland.  If you’ve ever done a Tough Mudder or Warrior Dash (or wanted to), this is the event for you!

For the Family:


While there’s no denying that St. Paddy’s Day is dominated by adult only events, there’s still options for all ages fun! Some of the above events are kid-friendly (McMenamins are all ages for at least most of the day, Kells Irish festival has areas where children are welcome, and of course the Leprechaun Lap at the Shamrock Run is for children), but these ones have focused children’s activities.

All Ireland Cultural Society of Oregon’s Annual St. Patrick’s Day Festival Looking for an authentic Irish experience? Look no further than this festival. The yearly fundraiser skips over the typical drunken shenanigans and focuses on the promotion of Irish culture.  Children’s activities, including face painting, a coloring contest and a professional puppet show, ensure that the kids won’t get bored. Round out your day and stay for the traditional Irish supper.

Sellwood-Moreland St. Patrick’s Day Parade & FestivalI probably could have listed this under fitness, but there’s way more to this festival than the 5k fun run.  After the run, enjoy a neighborhood parade led by the Sellwood Middle School Marching Band. After the parade, head to St. Agatha’s for a festival of live music, Irish dancing, a kid’s carnival and hearty Irish fare.  As a Catholic school alum, I have a special place in my heart events like these.

Murphy’s Furniture St. Patrick’s Day Parade 
Just outside Portland proper, you’ll find this super-festive parade. A tradition in Hillsboro for the past 40 years, this hour-long parade through town is open to everyone! Groups need only to fill out a form and pay the $20 fee to be included in the parade. Ooh and ahh at the floats and classic cars as they pass you by. Chow down on the Corned Beef and Cabbage Lunch after the parade at the Hillsboro Civic Center. Proceeds from the day will support the Hillsboro Boys and Girls Club.


How are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year? 🍀



Posted on March 16, 2017 at 3:11 PM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Holidays, Portland, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,

Celebrate the Holidays Portland Style!

Around this time last year, I wrote a post with lots of holiday events in the Portland area.  My parents are coming to town for Christmas this year, and so while I plan activities for their trip, I’m compiling a list that I’d like to share again!

Click the picture below to enlarge:


And here are those links in clickable form:

Portland Christmas Ships

Festival of Lights at the Grotto

St. John’s Winter Beer Fest

Christmas Fantasy Trail

Lighting of Maddax Woods


Miracle of a Million Lights

Winter Wonderland at PIR

The Holiday Express

Peacock Lane 


What is your favorite holiday tradition?  Tell us in the comments!

Posted on December 6, 2016 at 2:50 PM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Holidays, Portland, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , ,

Christmas Time is Here…and So Are the Lights!

My absolute favorite thing about the holidays is seeing the city transform into a sea of lights.  Whether it’s in my neighborhood or a professional display, there’s nothing that gets me in the holiday spirit quite like some good Christmas lights.  Here in Portland, there’s no shortage of great holiday displays.  I wanted to share with all of you some of the best ones that our city has to offer.

Firstly, there’s a great chance that if you take a walk through your neighborhood, you’ll find amazing displays in your neighbors’ yards. The people of Portland are a wonderful and creative bunch who love to get into the holiday spirit.  Here in Kenton, we’ve got a few neighbors in particular that really dazzle with their displays.  Even in the cold, rainy weather, I find myself taking my dog for longer, slower walks to take it all in.

If you are looking for something professionally done, fear not! There are light shows in every corner of the city, and there are a few that you can see at no charge.  Arguably one of the most popular places Portlanders go to see the lights for free is Peacock Lane in SE.  I haven’t made it down yet this year, but the pedestrian-only nights (no vehicles allowed on the block) are this weekend, so I may just have to get there!  Last year was my first year visiting, and the displays are just breathtaking.  Each house is unique in the way they decorate, from the very traditional to the downright funky.  This year especially, I think the Star Wars themed house will get a lot of attention.  Most nights, you’ll be able to buy coffee and hot chocolate to keep you warm while you walk.  Peacock Lane is amazing, and for that reason it can get very crowded. Parking is definitely a challenge, so be ready to take public transit or walk a ways to get there.


The Star Wars House last year. As popular as it was last year, it’ll only be more so this year!  

Also free is the Christmas tree at Pioneer Courthouse Square.  Each year, they erect a 75 ft. Douglas Fir in the Square and adorn it with lights.  It’s a huge, beautiful tree that is quite fitting for Portland’s Living Room.  Check the website for holiday events and performances happening to coincide with your tree viewing!


No need for Rockefeller Center, when we’ve got a great tree right here in Portland!

The Festival of Lights at The Grotto might be my favorite light display in Portland.  It’s $10 for adults, but so worth it.  On a regular day, The Grotto is a stunning place.  When filled with lights, it becomes awe-inspiring.  Most people come not only for the lights, but for the choral performances–it is the largest Christmas choral festival in the world! Their website has a schedule of all performances.  Alongside the lights and performers is a beautiful nativity scene (it is a Catholic sanctuary after all).


This doesn’t even close to do The Grotto justice.  It’s STUNNING in person!

If looking at the lights while braving the cold isn’t really your thing, be sure to check out the Winter Wonderland at Portland International Raceway.  It’s $20/car which is a little pricey, but could be a deal if you get a bunch of friends to all go together in one car. Passenger car tickets will also be available at a 10% discount at Portland Metro Safeway locations at the Customer Service desk. Once inside, take a drive along the race track to see a spectacular lights display.  They really go all out, and if you’re driving along I-5 at night, you can see the glow from the Raceway.  If you want to see the largest drive-through light show in the Pacific Northwest, look no further!


Just one of the many displays you’ll drive by!

These are only a few of the ways to see lights this holiday season.  I’ve added an easy, at-a-glance list of light displays with even more options at the bottom of this post that you can download to your phone or print out to keep all your options at your fingertips.

Tell us about your holiday traditions in the comments!


Posted on December 18, 2015 at 12:12 AM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Holidays, Portland, Travel | Tagged , ,

How to Avoid Holiday Hosting Disasters

Thanksgiving is upon us! If you’ve tackled the turkey at your place before, you know that there’s always SOMETHING that doesn’t go to plan.  If it’s your first time, know that no matter how prepared you think you are, there will be hiccups along the way.  Sometimes, it can feel like the entire holiday rests on your shoulders, so when trouble arises, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

I find that the best thing to remember is that the holidays are about being with the people you love, not the meal or sleeping arrangements (I know, it’s really easy to say that now, remind me of this moment in January).  But it DOES do wonders to your sanity to remember that at the end of the day, no one’s going to disown you because the turkey is overcooked.  Of course, we still want the holiday celebrations to go off without a hitch, and there are a few ways to minimize disaster.  A little prep work (including making sure your heater has a working filter to keep your loved ones toasty warm!) can go a long way.

I found a couple really great articles from Houselogic (a part of the National Association of REALTORS®) that I wanted to share with you.  They’ve got some really great tips that even I hadn’t heard before.  Click the links below, and then come back to share how you prepare for the holiday season in the comments!

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.


Posted on November 25, 2015 at 10:27 PM
Sianna Johnson | Posted in Holidays, Travel | Tagged , , ,