Coming Soon To A Page Near You: Penny in Portland

Rose from Rose Garden Portland (Image by LoudPen) Rose from Rose Garden Portland (Image by LoudPen)
Pittock Mansion (Image by LoudPen) Pittock Mansion (Image by LoudPen)
Radisson RED (Image by LoudPen) Radisson RED (Image by LoudPen)
Radisson RED (Image by LoudPen) Radisson RED (Image by LoudPen)
Radisson RED (Image by LoudPen) Radisson RED (Image by LoudPen)
Radisson RED (Image by LoudPen) Radisson RED (Image by LoudPen)
Wine at WY'East (Image by LoudPen) Wine at WY'East (Image by LoudPen)
Waterfall in the Columbia Gorge (Image by LoudPen) Waterfall in the Columbia Gorge (Image by LoudPen)
Columbia Gorge (Image by LoudPen) Columbia Gorge (Image by LoudPen)
Mickalene Thomas: Do I Look Like a Lady (Comedians and Singers) (Image by LoudPen) Mickalene Thomas: Do I Look Like a Lady (Comedians and Singers) (Image by LoudPen)
Mickalene Thomas: Do I Look Like a Lady (Comedians and Singers) (Image by LoudPen) Mickalene Thomas: Do I Look Like a Lady (Comedians and Singers) (Image by LoudPen)
Beet Salad at AVIV (Image by LoudPen) Beet Salad at AVIV (Image by LoudPen)
Truffle Mac n Cheese at AVIV (Image by LoudPen) Truffle Mac n Cheese at AVIV (Image by LoudPen)
Pistachio Ice Cream at AVIV (Image by LoudPen) Pistachio Ice Cream at AVIV (Image by LoudPen)
Carrots al ha esh at AVIV (Image by LoudPen) Carrots al ha esh at AVIV (Image by LoudPen)
Buff Wings from Homegrown Smoker (Image by LoudPen) Buff Wings from Homegrown Smoker (Image by LoudPen)
Combo Plate from Homegrown Smoker (Image by LoudPen) Combo Plate from Homegrown Smoker (Image by LoudPen)
Jupiter Hotel (Image by LoudPen) Jupiter Hotel (Image by LoudPen)
Jupiter Hotel (Image by LoudPen) Jupiter Hotel (Image by LoudPen)
Jupiter Hotel (Image by LoudPen) Jupiter Hotel (Image by LoudPen)

Media Visit

Dear Pennies & Pens,

For some reason, I have always dreamed of visiting Portland, Oregon. I guess it’s because as a millennial, I grew up playing Oregon Trail and learning about the pioneers’ life out west. Since I’m really into history, the state of Oregon has forever fascinated me.

This past May, I made my dreams come true when I visited Portland to create ISLP’s third digital travel guide, Penny in Portland. This is the first press trip that I’ve done without #TeamISLP and I didn’t travel with anyone so I was in Portland dolo solo. Hence why the project is called Penny in Portland.

Penny in Portland is a digital travel guide that offers readers an exclusive inside look on Portland from the perspective of “a single Black female addicted to retail.” Basically, I visited Portland to discover Vegan restaurants, classic + contemporary art, marijuana dispensaries, and local Portland culture. My goal is to inspire young people of color to travel and ink the life they’ve always wanted.

Jupiter Hotel (Image by LoudPen)

Jupiter Hotel (Image by LoudPen)

I was able to work with some amazing local brands such as Jupiter Hotel – a hip boutique hotel where community inspires discovery, Homegrown Smoker – a Vegan BBQ + comfort food restaurant, AVIV – an Israeli + Middle Eastern Vegan restaurant, Evergreen Escapes – a tour company that allows you to taste and experience the best of the Pacific Northwest, and Radisson RED – Radisson’s brand new concept that seeks to appeal to the ageless millennial mindset.

Additionally, I received support from Travel Portland which allowed me to receive complimentary admission to local Portland attractions such as the Portland Art Museum, The Oregon Historical Society, and the Oregon Museum of Science. It was such a dope trip!

So let’s start at the beginning. For this trip, I flew Southwest. I’ve only flown Southwest twice prior to this and it was a while ago so I was excited to fly with them again. My sister loves Southwest and swears that they are the best airline. Since I live right by Love Field airport here in Dallas, I like flying Southwest because it doesn’t take long to get to the airport from my house and the security lines aren’t that long. I arrived about 30-40 minutes before my flight’s departure (cutting it close, I know) and I was through security in less than 10 minutes. I had a brief layover in San Jose before landing in Portland early Wednesday afternoon.

I took the train from the airport to my first hotel, Jupiter Hotel. I got a little lost trying to find Jupiter from the train station but I somehow made it. Check in was quick and easy. I absolutely loved the gentleman at the front desk who checked me in, he was hilarious!

Jupiter Hotel (Image by LoudPen)

Jupiter Hotel (Image by LoudPen)

Jupiter places wine in each room — it’s their “mini bar” so the gentleman at the front desk said to “make smart decisions or at least decisions you can afford” because I asked him about the incidental hold. PS — it’s $60 per night. A little steep I know, but it’s not the $100 a night that other hotels hold for incidentals. I honestly wish hotels would get rid of this incidental business. For debit card users like me, it’s a total buzzkill.

It ends up cutting into my budget giving me less money to spend while on the trip. I wish hotels would just put a disclaimer stating that if you order any room service, damage the room, or buy anything in the gift shop, then the card on file will be charged if no other form of payment is offered at the time of the transaction. I mean isn’t that fair?! Charging incidentals fees is like a restaurant placing a hold on your card because you may order something — have a seat, boo. But not at my table.

Moving along, I really enjoyed my stay at Jupiter. My room was on the second floor — in the “cut” as I call it aka the quiet area where not many other people are staying. The decor in the room is really funky and chic at the same time. The color scheme was grey, yellow, white, and black giving the room the perfect vibe of relaxation. It was super chill. The room isn’t huge but it’s got everything you need in a hotel room. A nice comfy bed, a table and chairs, a desk where you can get some work done, and a bathroom.

Jupiter Hotel (Image by LoudPen)

Jupiter Hotel (Image by LoudPen)

While at Jupiter, I also checked out Doug Fir lounge, a renowned restaurant, bar, and music venue. I grabbed a bite to eat and a beer while at Doug Fir lounge. I really dug the vibe of this place! The decor is really chill and fresh. They also have great happy hour specials. My Vegan Impossible Burger and beer didn’t break the bank and yet it hit the spot. I wish I would’ve come for one of their live shows but I just didn’t have the time/energy. But don’t worry, I’ll be back.

Overall, my stay at Jupiter Hotel was definitely dope. I have nothing but good things to say about this hotel. It’s in a great location, the staff is friendly, the rooms are clean, and it’s pretty affordable. Check out Jupiter Hotel here: www.jupiterhotel.com Then follow them on da gram: @JupiterHotel

The next day, Thursday was by far one of the weirdest days, I’ve ever had. I checked out of Jupiter with no issues and started making my way to my next hotel, Hyatt House in downtown Portland. Y’all know from previous travel posts that Penny doesn’t like spending a ton of money on transportation so I always take public transit while on trips. So in between taking the Portland Streetcar (which fyi is super cute and cool), I somehow left my backpack in a coffee shop. My backpack had my wallet (with my driver’s license and passport inside), my laptop, and my camera. How’s Penny going to create a digital travel guide with no digital camera or laptop?!

So I prayed and prayed. Then I prayed some more. Once I realized I left the bag, I tried to call the shop but I must’ve called the wrong number because they told me it wasn’t there. But, I decided to go back to the shop anyway because I just knew I left it there. This guy I met on the street car was nice enough to come with me and I’m so glad he did because in a situation like that you need someone to keep you calm because your mind is going in a million directions. By the grace of God, I am pleased to say that my backpack was in fact at the coffee shop. So all is well that ends well.

Pittock Mansion (Image by LoudPen)

Pittock Mansion (Image by LoudPen)

However, this fiasco did put a huge dent into Thursday and I didn’t get much done. Friday, on the other hand was nothing short of EPIC. The day started off with a tour of Portland with Evergreen Escapes. Evergreen Escapes is a tour company that allows you to taste and experience the Pacific Northwest. Evergreen Escapes offers a variety of tours in both Portland and Seattle. On this tour, we ventured around Portland seeing the various different main attractions all while learning some cool fun facts about each place. My tour guide Bri was absolutely fabulous! We totally vibed. She was knowledgeable, friendly, and fun. Plus since Bri is from Portland, she gave us a whole different view of the city because she grew up there and has lived there most of her adult life.

During the tour, we went to Pittock Mansion, the Rose Gardens, Mt. Tabor, the Cultural District, and the Alberta Arts district. We also went to Blue Star Donuts and omg — that donut was life, b! Don’t worry, I had one of the Vegan options, the Blueberry Basil Cake. Man oh man, I’m about to go on Southwest.com and book another flight to PDX so I can have another one of those donuts. It is honestly and genuinely worth a whole plane trip. Pretty please check them out here: www.bluestardonuts.com

Back to the tour, I had so much fun, Pennies & Pens! I’ve always shied away from going on tours because I picture them as being boring and unnecessary. I’ve always been an explorer so I’m usually the type to find my own trouble. Plus honestly, I went to Europe back in high school and while there we did several tours that bored me so much I thought I would never do another tour again.

Rose from Rose Garden Portland (Image by LoudPen)

Rose from Rose Garden Portland (Image by LoudPen)

But I’m so glad I decided to reach out to Evergreen Escapes and I’m thankful that they decided to work with me on this project. The tour was absolutely phenomenal! I loved learning about Portland’s history and culture as well as connecting with fellow tour attendees. I would highly recommend this tour because as Bri said, “it gives you some context for the place you’re visiting which makes it more special”. Check out Evergreen Escapes here: www.evergreenescapes.com and you can check them on the gram here: @Evergreenescapes

After the tour with Evergreen Escapes, I ventured out to Homegrown Smoker – a Vegan BBQ + comfort food restaurant. Man oh man, Pennies & Pens, that was some good ass food. I’m trying really hard to keep it classy but my southern/midwest black girl won’t let me. It was just too good. This is one of those times where the photo does do the food justice. The food looks that good because it was that good.

Combo Plate from Homegrown Smoker (Image by LoudPen)

Combo Plate from Homegrown Smoker (Image by LoudPen)

Buff Wings from Homegrown Smoker (Image by LoudPen)

Buff Wings from Homegrown Smoker (Image by LoudPen)

While at Homegrown Smoker, I had the combo plate consisting of Ribs, Chikn, Mac n Cheese, Collard Greens, and Hush Puppies. I also started off with the Buff Wings. Those were LIFE. Oh and I should mention that I ended up going to Homegrown Smoker twice. My original visit day was Thursday which y’all know was the crazy day so I got there too late to meet the Chef & Owner Jeff and had to reschedule for the next day. So anyway on the first visit, I had the Philly Nocheese and that was dope too! I absolutely loved Homegrown Smoker’s food!

They’re not kidding when they call it Vegan comfort food. It is delicious. On that second visit, I was able to catch up with Chef & Owner, Jeff and we had an awesome conversation. Just two entrepreneurs chopping it up and exchanging ideas, ya know? I truly love what he’s doing with Homegrown Smoker and I hope the restaurant continues to thrive. Check them out here: www.homegrownsmoker.com and follow them on the gram for daily food FOMO: @Homegrownsmoker

Beet Salad at AVIV (Image by LoudPen)

Beet Salad at AVIV (Image by LoudPen)

Right after leaving Homegrown Smoker, I headed straight to AVIV – a restaurant that blends Israeli and Middle Eastern flavors to create delicious Vegan dishes. WOW oh WOW. That food was good, lil baby. I had the Beet Salad, Carrots al ha esh, Truffle Mac n Cheese, and the Gizmo cocktail. It was sooo much food! They really showed Penny love, y’all.

My favorite was the Carrots al ha esh and the Truffle Mac n Cheese. I cannot for the life of me say, “Carrots al ha esh” out loud but I promise I’d eat those carrots everyday if I could. I’d go all Bugs Bunny on y’all…#realtalk. I believe that they grill the carrots and then place them over hummus. So it’s just the perfect pairing and it allows you to dip the carrots in “sauce” and I love sauce!

Carrots al ha esh at AVIV (Image by LoudPen)

Carrots al ha esh at AVIV (Image by LoudPen)

The Truffle Mac n Cheese is made with cous cous giving it a really different vibe from your traditional Mac n Cheese. But that was alright with me because that mac n cheese was life. Something about it just felt flavorful and fresh. I loved how the truffles tasted with the cheese and the cous cous. It just made sense. My tummy was so pleased when I was done eating. Since I was still full from Homegrown Smoker, I took leftovers from AVIV and so I enjoyed the rest later. I don’t like wasting food (there’s too many hungry people in this world) so I live by to go boxes.

Oh I almost forgot, AVIV makes their own Vegan ice cream as well. While there, I had a scoop of the Pistachio. It was delicious! I don’t have much of a sweet tooth so I’m not a dessert person but that Pistachio ice cream was amazing! I ended up eating all of it even though I was super full. I believe that it’s made with coconut milk, another thing that threw me off because I usually hate coconut. But the coconut milk gives the ice cream its sweetness so it works.

Truffle Mac n Cheese at AVIV (Image by LoudPen)

Truffle Mac n Cheese at AVIV (Image by LoudPen)

Pistachio Ice Cream at AVIV (Image by LoudPen)

Pistachio Ice Cream at AVIV (Image by LoudPen)

Also while at AVIV, I met both the Chef & Owner Tal as well as the Sous Chef Jared. They were both super cool, giving me more insights on Portland and talking about AVIV’s menu. Once again, it was great connecting with fellow creatives and talking about our work.

I honestly can’t say enough positive things about AVIV. They have a fantastic location in a really cool Portland neighborhood, their food is amazing, and the prices won’t break the bank. That said, please check out AVIV here: AVIVpdx.com and follow their food grams here: @AVIVPDX

On Saturday morning, I started my day with a trip to the Portland Art Museum. S/O to Travel Portland for providing me with a media VIP pass which granted me free admission to local Portland attractions. While at the Portland Art Museum, I checked out Mickalene Thomas: Do I Look Like a Lady (Comedians and Singers) exhibit. This video exhibition is a collection of video clips featuring famous Black female comedians and singers. It is seriously dope! I loved how the clips are put together.

Black women are often viewed as a source of entertainment but something about this exhibit made it deeper than that. It showed Black women as beautiful, talented QUEENS whose work is often imitated but never duplicated. I truly enjoyed it.

Mickalene Thomas: Do I Look Like a Lady (Comedians and Singers) (Image by LoudPen)

Mickalene Thomas: Do I Look Like a Lady (Comedians and Singers) (Image by LoudPen)

Mickalene Thomas: Do I Look Like a Lady (Comedians and Singers) (Image by LoudPen)

Mickalene Thomas: Do I Look Like a Lady (Comedians and Singers) (Image by LoudPen)

After this exhibit, I checked out the Native American art and Picturing Oregon exhibit. Both of those were pretty cool too. Overall, it was definitely a cool culture trip. Check out Portland Art Museum here: portlandartmuseum.org and follow them on the gram here: @Portlandartmuseum to learn more about Portland, check out Travel Portland: www.travelportland.com and follow their IG here: @Travelportland

After the museum, I went on another tour with Evergreen Escapes. This time, it was the Columbia Gorge Waterfalls & Wine tour. During this tour, we checked out…waterfalls + wine, lol! But no seriously, the Columbia Gorge is about a 45 min to 1 hour drive from downtown Portland. During this tour, we went to Women’s Forum Viewpoint, Latourell Falls, Starvation Creek, and Multonomah Falls. The wineries we visited were WY’East and Cathedral Ridge.

This tour was fantastic! The tour was led by Asia, who like me is a total nomad. Asia’s lived in Russia, Israel, California, and now Portland. So it was fun learning about the Columbia Gorge and Oregon’s natural history from a fellow insider/outsider.

Columbia Gorge (Image by LoudPen)

Columbia Gorge (Image by LoudPen)

Waterfall in the Columbia Gorge (Image by LoudPen)

Waterfall in the Columbia Gorge (Image by LoudPen)

Wine at WY'East (Image by LoudPen)

Wine at WY’East (Image by LoudPen)

I also loved connecting with my fellow tour attendees. I feel like we all really bonded. Sometimes, it’s easier to share with strangers than the people you know and see everyday. I truly enjoyed this tour, it was the perfect mix of nature, wine, and people. Once again, check out Evergreen Escapes here: here: www.evergreenescapes.com and you can check them on the gram here: @Evergreenescapes

To finally start wrapping up this post, my last and final visit was Radisson RED. Radisson RED is Radisson’s brand new concept that seeks to appeal to the ageless millennial mindset. I absolutely adored this hotel! First off, it’s right in the heart of downtown Portland. Secondly, the decor is stunning! It’s so modern and chic. I loved how they incorporated the red, black, and white color palette through the rooms, hallways, lobby, and the restaurant.

Check in was a total breeze. Once again, I made friends with the front desk agent and he told me about a really cool brewery (I promise I’ll talk about it in the actual travel guide) as well as giving me their best room. I stayed on the 8th floor in the corner room — it was ginormous! I loved how spacious and open it was. I also loved the big windows, I love natural light as I feel like natural light is God’s light.

Radisson RED (Image by LoudPen)

Radisson RED (Image by LoudPen)

Radisson RED (Image by LoudPen)

Radisson RED (Image by LoudPen)

The room had everything one needs, a big comfy bed, a table and chairs, a cute closet, a mini fridge, and a nice sized bathroom. Honestly, my only negative feedback is about the shower. Some hotels have adopted this fancy “European” style shower that only has half a door.

It looks really cute but it’s kind of a pain in the ass. Water gets all over the floor and so you have to use all your extra towels to clean up the mess so you don’t bust your ass. Also, it’s a little small. I’m petite at 5’4” and 100 lbs n change so it worked for me but I can’t help but think that someone double my size in either height or weight may not dig it.

Radisson RED (Image by LoudPen)

Radisson RED (Image by LoudPen)

Radisson RED (Image by LoudPen)

Radisson RED (Image by LoudPen)

But seriously, overall this is a really dope hotel. I truly enjoyed my stay and I wish I could’ve stayed longer. I even changed my flight time so I could sleep in. That’s how much I wanted to stay. But the deal was one night only. It was like Dreamgirls but with RED. So what I need you to do, Pennies & Pens, is click this link and book your stay at Radisson RED: www.radissonred.com/portland then follow them on the gram: @Radissonredportland #TravelPortland #YouCanInPortland

Okay so I have no more ink for this post. I feel like I wrote the whole damn travel guide. But there’s so much more. I haven’t told you about the dispensaries, Deschutes, Powell’s Books, the Oregon Historical Society, or the Oregon Museum of Science. So stay tuned to the page, Penny in Portland will be coming at you via www.islpdtx.com very soon. Until then, check out Cruising thru Cali here: http://bit.ly/CruisingthruCali

And there it is. de la Pen…All Pen Everything. With us, keeping it real never goes wrong.

Disclosure: This post features media visits meaning we received complimentary products and services in exchange for a feature. This post was created in collaboration with Jupiter Hotel, Homegrown Smoker, AVIV, Travel Portland, Evergreen Escapes, and Radisson RED. All opinions are our own. Please see the full disclosure policy here:  Disclosure and Copyright Policy

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LoudPen
LoudPen is a Lifestyle Entrepreneur with two different businesses, 8515 + ISLP. That said, Penny has many different titles that she uses for each company. As far as ISLP, Pen is a Lifestyle Blogger, Influencer, Writer, Editor, Photographer, Designer, Producer, and Director. In regards to 8515, Pen is a Publicist, Event Planner, Creative Director, Casting Director, Stylist, and Makeup Artist. Basically, LoudPen has many different pens and loves to ink the page. On a day to day basis, Pen is usually writing content, developing products, producing, directing, creating a marketing or PR campaign, meeting with clients, planning events, posting on social media, etc. Follow Penny's Ink on Instagram & Twitter: @LoudPen @ISLPDTX @8515Agency @PenniesandPens

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