Monday, January 4, 2010

Things I loved in Portland

Daniel had last week off work, and we know that relaxing at home is next to impossible, so we decided to take a trip. We really wanted to jet off to Hawaii, but the checkbook didn't agree with that idea :), so we combined a family visit with a mini-break in the closest city to us, Portland.  

We used our Starwoods Preferred Guest points to book two nights stay at the Aloft Hotel at Cascade Station, right near the Portland airport. We've stayed at a number of SPG hotels in the past, but never Aloft, so didn't know what to expect.

During our visit we also spent time at the Portland IKEA and at OMSI. My kids are being crazy today, so I don't have time to write new reviews of these places, so I'm copying and pasting the reviews here that I put up over at Trekaroo.

About Aloft:
We love this hotel! Aloft is part of the Starwood Group, and is a W hotel. W Hotels are ultra nice, and the Aloft hotels live up to that, on a smaller scale. The hotel is modern and bright, with fun, funky decor. Check-in was a breeze, and they we as nice to us with our two small kids and piles of stuff as they were to all the guests. 
The hotel has a nice pool and workout room,both open 24 hours, but not right near rooms, so no one will be kept awake by them. Our room was very spacious, even with the hotel's crib for our baby and air mattress (with Hungry Caterpillar bedding!) for our toddler. There's a nice, big, wall-mounted TV and desk in the bedroom, and a coffeemake and fridge outside the bathroom. Everything was clean and nice. There is no bath, just a shower, but we managed to get our kids clean :) 
The hotel is near IKEA, a gorgeous, huge Target (with full grocery store) and tons of restaurants and shopping. And it's near the airport, so our toddler had fun watching planes take off. There was the occasional loud plane, but not many, and it wasn't bothersome. 
We loved this hotel and plan to stay at other Aloft hotels in other cities in the future!

About IKEA:
I was reminded today why I love IKEA even more now as a mom than I did before I had kids- it consistently has great shopping, including everything I need to keep my kids' stuff organized, but it's also just such a family-friendly place to hang out. 

Whether it's the small play kitchen right in the dining area of the cafe, or the plethora of feeding gear for your kids for you to use (including bottle warmers and plastic plates and utensils), or the free baby food with purchase of an adult meal, or the great kids' meal options, you will be well taken care of just in the cafe area. 

I also really liked the huge baby care room at this IKEA.  It's even nicer than the one at my local IKEA. This room was so well stocked.  There was a chair for me to feed the baby in, and a koala seat if you need to put your child somewhere while you use the toilet. There was a play table to keep older kids entertained, if you have to bring them in with you. And there was a sink and nice diaper changing area, complete with free size 3 Huggies diapers.  Seriously, if I had brought nothing with me other than just my baby, everything I needed to take care of her was provided there.

This IKEA is a nice new one, a two-story store, with the cafe and showroom upstairs and the marketplace and furniture pick-up area downstairs. There's lots of parking, including a family lot just off to the side. 

And about OMSI (visit Trekaroo for lots of other reviews on this museum and pretty much every other kids' activity that you can think of!):
 We visited OMSI on New Year's Eve- and the place was packed! Even so, it was a wonderful museum to visit. The museum is huge, with two wings full of exhibits and small labs to explore. We spent most of our time visiting the traveling dinosaur exhibit and in the human body section, both rooms were full of lots of things to see and read. 
Then we discovered the wonderful science playground. Even on a very crowded day, this was a great place to hang out. My 7-month-old baby had fun playing with toys in the infant area, while my 2-year-old and husband wandered around and played with sand and blocks and balls, to name just a few things. I also appreciated that there was a separate nursing room in which I could feed the baby- she's easily distracted, so I always love the museums that have rooms for feeding the littlest ones. 
We spent about 3 hours at the museum and could have easily spent longer, there was just so much to do and see. I highly recommend this for any visitor to Portland.

I was not compensated for anything that I included in this post. Just wanted to share my experiences with you!