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:
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 McMenamins: Visit 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 Festival: Paddy’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 Brewpub: Featuring 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 Brewery: I 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:
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 5K: Who 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 & Festival: I 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? 🍀
Spring is my absolute favorite season. Growing up in Southern California I was always a summer lover, but since moving to the Pacific Northwest, I have a new appreciation for this transitional season. Down there, Spring doesn’t really exist. It never gets cold enough for winter to really take effect, so once March rolls around, it’s just some slightly warmer weather. When you actually experience winter, though, Spring is what pulls you out of the grey and gives you a new hope. I love the vibrant colors starting to pop up all over the city and the increase of people being outdoors and chasing the sunshine.
It seems like everyone in Oregon shares these sentiments. There’s never really a shortage of things to do here year-round, but Spring is the time that things really start to kick up. We’ll start seeing more events and festivals as we all warm up from the winter chill. I’ve put together a list of some upcoming events this Spring to get us out and moving!
1. Whale Watching Week–Oregon Coast, March 19-26
I LOVE Whale Watching Week. I try to get out to the Coast as much as I can (I AM a beach girl at heart, after all), and this biannual event is the perfect reason to head west. All up and down the Coast areas are manned with volunteers to help you spot whales as they head north. There’s nothing quite like it, and the best part is that it’s absolutely free (although in some spots you’ll have to pay the $5 parking fee)! Make a day of it, and head to one of Oregon’s amazing coastal towns for lunch or dinner. More than 20,000 whales are expected to pass by our shore, so check out Oregon State Parks’ website for more information and to find which of the 24 designated locations you want to watch from!
2. Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival–Woodburn, OR, March 18-May 1
Nothing says Spring quite like 40 acres of stunning tulips! Each year, Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm opens their tulip fields to the public to explore. It’s an amazing sight to behold, and they change the layout each year, so there’s always something new to see. It’s great for just taking in the natural beauty of the flowers and the backdrop of Mt. Hood, vineyards, and fresh country air, but there’s plenty more to do while you’re there! You can pack a picnic lunch or dine at the food court on site, buy or pre-order bulbs for your own garden, take a train ride through the fields, and even get some wine tasting done. Admission is $5/person, with a car limit of $20, so grab some friends and make a day of it! Visit their website for more information, and to plan your trip.
3. Annual Spring Beer and Wine Fest–Portland, OR, March 25-26
Okay, so this one’s inside, but I had to include it because it’s such a quintessential part of ringing in Spring in Portland–this year is it’s 22nd year! Located at the convention center (so you can enjoy rain or shine!), the festival is open 12-10 PM Friday and Saturday. You can sample beer, wine, chocolate, and cheese from the region all under one roof! Children are allowed in until 9 PM both days, and kids under 13 get in for free. General admission is $10 for those of us $13+, but there’s all sorts of packages that you can buy which include drink tokens. The value package is a great deal: $25 for admission, a standard tasting glass, and 10 tasting tokens. Their site has all the information you need, including vendors and a list of musical acts that will be performing.
4. Cinco de Maya Fiesta–Portland, OR, May 5-8
In it’s 32nd year, Portland’s Cinco de Mayo Fiesta is the largest multicultural festival in the state of Oregon. It is located at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and is packed with food, fun, and cultural entertainment. You can get your thrills on carnival rides, cheer on luchadors at Lucha Libre Portland, or visit the 12 Artisans traveling all the way from Guadalajara to showcase their artwork at this year’s event. With tons of free things to do, and only $9 for admission, it’s not only a great time, but a wonderful learning experience for kids to learn about a different culture! For more info, visit their website.
5. Portland Rose Festival–Portland, OR, May 27-June 12
Getting a little farther ahead, the Rose Festival is how we in Portland usher in summer. Starting at the end of May, the CityFair opens up at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and begins the many events that take over Portland during the Festival. Fireworks will kick off the opening on May 27 and there’s tons to do over the following couple of weeks, culminating in the always popular Dragon Boat Races and the Grand Floral Parade June 11, where the newly crowned Rose Festival Queen will join the parade of all-floral floats. The parade starts at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, crosses the Burnside Bridge, and will end in Downtown Portland. It’s a beautiful sight, and as we celebrate over 100 years, a true piece of Portland history! Get all the info on the official website.
Bonus: Portland Farmer’s Markets
Springtime means farmer’s markets! Starting in Mid-March, the markets open and will run through the summer and fall. The Portland Farmers Market is a non-profit that runs 8 different markets throughout the city, but there are many others that are independently run. If you want the freshest fruits and veggies, jams, honeys, and plenty of other handcrafted goodies, look no further! The various markets run on different days of the week, so you can always find one on your day off.
I hope that this gives you some motivation to get out and get moving after this exceptionally cold and wet winter! What other springtime activities do you love? Share them in the comments!