Rachel Awtrey

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The Most Instagrammable Places in Portland
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A few weeks ago, I got to visit Portland, OR and man! I had a blast!
It was the funkiest and quirkiest little place but I'll never forget how much fun we had and all of the new food, the new ice cream flavors and sights I got to see. I highly recommend Portland if you find yourself in the Pacific Northwest.

We ate our way around, had about 6 meals a day, but now I know my favorites and I can't wait to share them with you!

S H O P   T H I S   P O S T

Coffee + tea

Tea Bar
The sweetest and most simple coffee shop around town, Tea Bar, serves only tea. If you're in the mood for a sweet pick me up without the espresso, this is your spot.

 

Other coffee + tea to try:
Barista
Good Coffee
Upper Left Roasters

 

Restaraunt

 

¿Por Que No?
Craving Mexican? Look no further! ¿Por Que No? serves the greatest taco combinations, burrito bowls and the most delicious margaritas (in a small and big pint size), add fruit juice to your margarita and you're set (I added mango, yum!). It's the fun, walk in to a tiny restaurant, pray there's seating inside or outside, grab your number and they bring it to you type of restaurant.

Other restaurants to try:
Altabira City Tavern
The Daily Feast
Tusk - really cute and clean looking, modern with a feminine flare, good for pics

 

Dessert

Blue Star Donuts
You can find this donut shop at 6 different locations around Portland. You can check out all of the different flavors here. 
My favorites? Lemon poppy, the OG, and Blueberry Bourbon Basil. *Drooling*

Salt and Straw
Must, must, must visit! This sweet treat destination has the most interesting flavors of ice cream! Lavender vanilla, olive oil (actually so scrumptious), Black Olive Brittle & Goat Cheese, Double Fold Vanilla, Roasted Strawberry Coconut and more! Don't be frightened to ask for multiple flavor samples. If you didn't try at least 8, you didn't do it right.
Pro tip: you can combine flavors, too!

Pips Original Donuts
With 3 different locations all around Portland, you can't miss it! Pip's serves smaller sugared donuts with fresh brewed coffee. Get there early, there can be a longer line but if you catch it at a busy time, no sweat, they move quickly!

 

Brunch

 

Proud Mary
This Australian cuisine is one that takes American food and gives it a small twist. They're fried egg sandwich makes the perfect brunch with a cup of Australian coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice, you're all set for a different type of brunch, a West Coast brunch.

 

To Do

Multnomah Falls (40 minutes away)
This short little trip from the heart of Portland will fulfill all of your adventurous desires. It's only a 5 minute walk/hike from the parking lot right off of the highway. The breathtaking view can't be missed if you find yourself in Portland. You can make it as quick or as long as a trip as you'd like. If it's chilly, make sure to grab a cup of coffee or a treat from their information center - it's easy to make this stop a cozy one.

St. Johns Bridge - Nike bikes
If you're desiring to get your heart racing a bit or just want to take a load off of your feet, grab a Nike bike from one of the many bicycle stations around Portland. Using the Biketown app, you can "check in" and "check out" a bike at any destination you please. You don't even have to return it to the same station you picked it up from - brilliant!

 

Shops

Powell’s City of Books
If you've thought/heard of Portland you've probably heard of Powell's. It's the largest bookstore with plenty of levels and groups of literature. Wanting to know more about a specific subject? There's a corner for you at Powell's. From best-selling, antiques, non-fiction to coffee table books, they have it all!

Made Here PDX (tons of Portland stuff)
If you want a trinket to take home while supporting local Portland businesses, you'll love Made Here PDX. Leather, perfume, blankets, shirt, coffee mugs and more, it's not your average gift shop!

Solabee Flower Shop
The most beautiful nursery I've ever stepped foot in. The colors and greenery will leave you speechless with it's Parisian vibes and eclectic pot holders. You can find just about anything for your home here. Or, just stop and stare at the beautiful tiled floor, glance at the multitude of plant species, or just take a picture. Worth it!

 

Portland was the cutest, spunkiest, quirkiest (without being weird) town I've every enjoyed!  A "must-go" if you find yourself in the Pacific North West.

Where's your favorite place to visit in the PNW?

 

 

 

In Portland

Portland’s quirky but not super weird, colorful but still tasteful and has the perfect blend of local favorites and classics when it comes to shopping.
Seriously, you must add Portland to your bucket list if it’s not already there.

A shortsleeve sweater (like this one) is perfect for this misty + foggy, chilly summer weather. I don’t mind the rain when it means I can wear my favorite rain boots 🙌🏻

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Disney | Magic Kingdom

Magical, indeed. We spent two days at Magic Kingdom because of it, no need to feel rushed right?

We started off at Tomorrow  Land

The best of the best: Space Mountain, Monsters Laugh Floor, Stitch, and lots more.

One time, true story, we went on Space Mountain and there was a malfunction and we were escorted off so every time I ride Space Mountain, I truly know what the inside looks like, with the lights on. However, every time I ride it is still as exhilarating! Monsters Laugh Floor is quite hilarious, and different every show! So, we went a few different times. There's a Stitch ride that I would suggest not to go on if you have a sensitive nose, like me. Let's just say there are some planned "not so pleasant smells" that aliens may introduce to the ride so I'll be avoiding this in the future.

Fantasy Land

New ride alert! Man, is it fantastic! The Mine Train based off of Snow White is a new roller coaster in Magic Kingdom and we had the most incredible experience. While we were on the ride (which is partly indoors/outdoors) we got to witness the Castle's fireworks at the same time. Can you say, "wow?!" Seriously, my most favorite part of our trip. Because the show was going on and we planned to watch it the next night, we hopped back in line because it was such a short wait. Honestly, worth the wait, however long it may be. 

It's a Small World, eh, it's just tradition, nothin' special. Afterwards, we got some coke floats, coffee and sundaes (on Mickey) because Dane left on his "It's my birthday!' button a day late. Hehe, oops. 

Magic Tea Cups, go! Almost wet my pants it was so fun! We laughed so hard and were so dizzy. Avoid this if you just ate desserts, like we did. Yikes. 

There's a quaint lunch spot at Liberty Square that serves chicken and seafood and their upstairs is pretty much abandoned because no one knows there's even an upstairs. It's a great spot to watch the hustle and bustle of Magic Kingdom. 

Gotta get the Nutella and fresh fruit waffle sandwich from Sleepy Hollow. I didn't, biggest regret. 

Frontier Land has the best turkey legs and churros, hands down. 

We honestly probably rode Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad probably eleven times, combined. It's just that fun. Thomas was super impressed with Splash Mountain because inside there's an incredible story with the best decor and then you get a thrill at the end. Best of all worlds. Ride Row 1 if you want to get soaked and Row 4 if you don't want to get touched with water (words from the wise).

Adventure Land

Pirates of the Caribbean is not worth the wait unless you're a serious fan. It takes you through the movie, which is pretty neat but it's pretty slow, no thrill and the animatronics aren't as impressive as others. Just sayin'.

The second day we were there was Todd's birthday and the Dapper Dans sang him Happy Birthday, quintet-acapella style. 

I got a little lost on the second day, plus I really loved the light up balloons so sweet Thomas bought me one for everyone's sake. Also, another quick tip, get to the Castle ASAP because about 15 minutes out from the fireworks show, it's a maze and quite stressful. No one likes to be anxious at Disney, right?

On Main Street, you can meet a talking Mickey (also worth the wait) at the Town Theater, there's a great candy shop that you must try the caramel apples at -- says Thomas and Hamilton -- and you have to go inside the ice-cream parlor on the corner. Across the street from the ice-cream parlor is Casey's Corner Hotdogs. I'm not a huge hot dog fan but mmm they were delicious!

After the Wishes nighttime spectacular and Once Upon A Time show, the Castle shuts down for the night and there's a "goodbye message" from Mickey. You must stay till closing and see it!

If you leave with the rest of the world, the monorail is packed. Honestly, the worst. But, if you get on the other monorail, that takes you to the Contemporary Resort Hotel, you can basically walk on and it takes you through a few more stops before the Ticket Station, but you'll get there before the rest of the crowd. 

Disney | Hollywood Studios

This might possibly be my favorite park: Hollywood + roller coasters + Star Wars? Oh yeah, baby. The Rockin' Rollercoaster was having technical difficulties pretty much all day so we took it and waited in line for a pretty long time. Worth it. 

We're thrill seekers, adrenaline junkies so Tower of Terror and Rockin' Rollercoaster and all that jazz is our jam. My brothers and Thomas love Star Wars, I love Hollywood and neon lights so Hollywood Studios is the perfect combination to keep everyone happy. 

While we were there, it was Dane's birthday so we got all kinds of special treatment. A reservation was made at the Italian Restaurant, Mama Melrose's Ristorante. They brought out a cupcake for Dane, Thomas and I got to sit at a  seperate table and sip our presecco and slurp up some noodles before heading back out. 

Muppets 4-D is right next door. Thomas and I loved it. We almost forgot how creative and clever the Muppets are, it's perfect for every age. You wear glasses, you get misted, you laugh, it's a great show!

Star Tours is Landon's favorite ride so we got a fast pass for that one. Each ride is different he says, similar to the Tower of Terror. There's a computer that makes sure there's a different combination for every "ship." Therefore, according to Landon, you can't ride it too many times. 

Star Wars Launch Bay is a new-must. Inside is the ultimate place for Star Wars junkies. There are replicas of all the light sabers, you can meet Chewbacca and chat with Jawas. Here's a secret with the Jawas: if you trade them something from the park (a glowing ice cube, balloon, etc.) they will give you droid pieces. Chewbacca was totally worth the wait. He's the real-deal, complete with noises, humor and his fuzzy personality.  

Make sure you don't miss the March of the First Order down Sunset Avenue in Hollywood Studios. The Storm Troopers march down (like a parade) to where the magic hat use to be and preform a short show. 

Another show that is a must-see is the Indiana Jones stunt show. It's hilarious, really thrilling and you can't see if too many times. Hamilton and I still love it after seeing it for years before this trip. 

Quick tip: If you can catch the Tower of Terror while Mickey's Fantasmic show is happening, the line is ridiculously short- we rode it three times in a row. 

Hollywood Studios is the great "adult park." Ya gotta go. 

Disney | Epcot

Today we spent the day in one of my favorite parks: Epcot. Not only does it have the fun and impressive rides (Soarin', Mission Space and Test Track) it has a World Showcase as well that brings you literally all around the world. 

Future World

Our fast passes covered Mission Space and Test Track so we booked it to Soarin' when we first got to the parks in the a.m. Y'all, Soarin'. I'm telling ya. Last time we were at Disney World, this ride took you in a hang gliding experience all over Florida and California. Now, it has broadened to different locations all over the world. Soarin' takes you from Switzerland, Antarctica, the Great Wall of China, Paris, and much much more. Wellll worth the wait, with or without a fast pass. However, your experience will be heightened if you chose to sit in Gliders B, Row 1. You can ask a cast member to seat your party in this section if you please. 

After Mission Space (a space flight simulator with added G's if you like "intense") and Test Track (another great rollercoaster), we grabbed a quick lunch before shopping in Mouse Gears. Right across from Mouse Gears is the meet-and-greet with characters. Compared to having to find them all over the park, this is an indoor (air conditioned) space that puts all of your favorite characters in one locations. However, the line can get a little long so make sure to go at a prime time. 

World Showcase

Mexico

A great indoor market with plenty of the authentic knick-knacks you'd find overseas. You can find this inside the beautiful temple when you first enter Mexico. Inside is also a slow ride chasing Donald Duck around Mexico. Enjoy a break for your feet here. Make sure to jump across the street to the Mexican cafe and buy some churros with caramel sauce (seriously delicious).

Norway

This is as authentic as it gets, I asked one of the cast members. Frozen apparently takes place in Norway so you can meet all of the Frozen characters here along with riding the Frozen Ride!

China

Make sure to catch China at a time where the Dragon Acrobats are preforming. They are seriously amazing and you'll be missing out if you don't plan to see their show. Head all the way to the back of China to see authentic toys and fun shops with chopsticks, noodles and learn to say your name in Chinese.

Germany

Grab a German craft beer at any of the snack stands in Germany. While you're at it, you can sip and look at German chocolates, teddy bears and take a bite out of a Wiener Würstchen (or German hot dog)-a great snack. 

African Pavilion 

There's bongos, face painting and beads for a quick little trip to Africa

Italy

So romantic and so real. There's leather shops that sell Prada bags, there's the square with the fountain and statues in the middle, the greenery growing up the sides of the cobble buildings, the umbrellas selling wine flights underneath. When I say they had me fooled, they really did. If your a carbs girl like me, there's a fabulous Pizzeria in the back of Italy if you keep walking. 

Plan around to see Sergio preform-another great act. 

America

If you're an American native, imagine that you stepped back in time to the historic Revolutionary times. If you go for the Holiday season, there's gingerbread making and you can meet Santa Claus. 

Japan

If you're a Japan fan, this is for you. If you like sushi, hibachi and all that jazz, make reservations at the Japanese restaurant to get the full hibachi experience. Underneath the restaurant is the largest gift shop I have ever seen. They sell everything from Japanese groceries, candies, drinks, toys, makeup, jewelry, decor, accessories, and so so much more. 

Morocco

Belly dancing, Aladin and Jasmine, and beautiful architecture is what you're in for when walking to Morocco. There's a really great restaurant that has fun belly dancing shows for dinner if this is your type of food. 

France

The French restaurant is seriously amazing. If you don't have time to make a large break, or didn't make reservations, go to the very back of France to get more scenery, and you'll find a bakery in the back selling all of your favorite pastries. I grabbed a box of macaroons, and the boys got sandwiches and creme brulé. It's a win-win.

United Kingdom

If you love tea, like me, make sure to stop in the Twinnings Tea shop selling all of the original English tea. Head across the street to grab authentic Fish and Chips.

Canada

This was probably Thomas's favorite (probably because Canada is known for their fly fishing). They had the rustic feel with maple leafs, red and white everywhere. Make sure to go inside the gift shop and check out the Niagra Falls in the back that will lead you to the 360 show!

The great part about the World Showcase is 1. If you don't feel like walking all the way around, there's a ferry that can take you from one entrance to the other. 2. Every country has cast members that are originally from that country. This means you get the full experience, the fun and the information!

If fireworks are your thing then you'll be extremely impressed by the Illuminations show in the lagoon between the countries in the World Showcase. Seats are hard to get (I use "seats" loosely because you'll be sitting on the ground or on the fencing) so make sure to get "seating" ahead of time. 

Disney | Animal Kingdom

It's been a magical day in Walt Disney World with the fam (all in matching Lion King shirts) and today was spent in Animal Kingdom. Honestly, it's one of our least favorite but was still so very incredible.

Today was filled with melting chocolate Mickey snapped ice creams, Mickey pretzels, walking around "Asia" and "Africa" being submersed underwater with the Finding Nemo show and dancing with lions and monkeys at the Lion King show. The Lion King show is a must see. It was our absolute favorite. 

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We saw exotic animals on the Kilimanjaro Safari and danced with Africans in the middle of Harambe Market. Like I said, it was magical. We grabbed fast passes for Expedition Everest, Dinosaur and the safari (highly recommend fast passes to all the Disney newbies). The most fun part about this trip is that Dane, Caleb, Todd and Thomas have all never been to Disney before so we get to show them the ropes. 

After the crazy long day of running around the parks, screaming on rides and laughing at shows and each other, we gobbled up some fantastic food at the all-you-can-eat buffet at the Tusker House (mid-Africa) with all the characters.

I wish everyone could be here, so join us on Snapchat: rachel.awtrey

Everyday we're in the parks, we're putting together a quick little video to our day, feel free to follow along!

TIPS:

1. Grab preferred parking when entering the parks instead of standard (you get up close parking, bottled waters and VIP treatment.

2. Make sure to plan your day around fast passes. Get the Disney Experience App on your phone to add showtimes, etc. It helps us A-type people stay on track.

3. See if the park has "magic hours" (hours that are only available for those staying on property. It either opens early or stays open late, aka short lines.)

4. Make reservations at a restaurant in the park if you plan to eat a sit down dinner. 

Destination: Roanoke, Virginia

This past weekend, Thomas and I got to spend time with my great uncle, Jim. A sweet soul that has now returned to where he was raised, Roanoke, Virginia, and now he wants to share it with us. 

I've grown up visiting Jim in Roanoke but we've gotten to a point where we've found our favorites and we always return to them any weekend we visit. However, this trip was special.

We drove up to Famous Anthony's on Saturday morning to start our races. A local breakfast place serving the best omelets and waffles is the ideal way to start a day full of shopping and fresh markets. We slurped down the last of our coffee and crammed the rest of the omelet into our stomach and hopped back into the car to drive to the heart of Roanoke. 

Crossing the historic train tracks and passing what use to be an old elementary school I can tell we're close. Then we pass wooden produce trucks plastered with farm logos and I can tell we're closer.

We park and walk onto Market Street for the fresh Saturday morning market. The thousands of shades of green and red and yellow tomatoes tell the stories of the sweat and labor the farmers, behind their tables selling produce, have to tell. The taste of samples of fresh peaches and cake slices match the fragrance of the large wildflower bouquets wrapped in kraft paper passing me on my left. 

The sound of rustic acoustic music coming from the corner of the street accompanies the chit chat of exchange between farmers and locals.

The other, chic side of the street compliments the eclectic feel of the side we stand on. So we cross the road. It's lovely, the chocolate shops, the antique shops and the boutiques could provide me with entertainment for the entire day. I compromise, remembering I'm accompanied by two men. 

We go into my favorite boutique in the area, 310 Rosemont. They carry Cupcakes and Cashmere, and Z Supply. Thomas and Jim sat on the leather couch waiting for me to try on my selections while they ate skittles from the coffee table. 

The next few stores over holds a "Shabby Chic" antique shop with reclaimed wood, antique tennis racquets and board games and chalk painted cabinetry. Right next door is a chocolate shop, Chocolate Paper selling truffles and chocolate bars and paper (cards, calendars, notebooks, etc.) A great combination for people like me that love to write while eating chocolate. And next to Chocolate Paper, a store with kitchen supplies, Ladles & Linens

Yes, it is a dream, downtown Roanoke. 

That evening we attended a Salem Red Sox baseball game. Just hot enough for the boys to enjoy a beer but with a breeze frequent enough to cool down the onion rings from the snack stand. It was a double header so with a ticket for one game, we go to see the last few innings of the other. We finished the late night out at Mac and Bobs with peach flavored beer and sandwiches. 

Sunday morning we ate a light breakfast to save room for the large lunch that was ahead at The Home Place, a quaint restored house in the farmland covered mountains in Catawba, Virginia. An item on the "Hokie Bucket List" for Virginia Tech students. We were served by our favorite server, Jeanie, who lives right up the road. She's been at The Home Place and has been serving my family ever since I was a tot.

I left with a family-styled meal of ham and fried chicken, corn, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, biscuits with apple butter, coleslaw and pinto beans filling my stomach. We took a few laps around the white house with a red roof to gaze at the white rocking chairs and hanging plants, gazebos full of families waiting to be sat and a brown wooden fence lining the property to look over the cattle and streams that hang out next door. It was all so beautiful and timeless. 

We finished off our visit with some wine and cheese back at Jim's cottage and updated him on our upcoming life of traveling and moving. With tight hugs, rolled down windows with tears filling my eyes, we left Roanoke and returned back to Clemson, South Carolina.