When I offered to attend a conference in #Portland, #Oregon, I had no idea I’d be staying on a poor farm. When I found out, I was both skeptical and curious. It turned out to be the best Portland Oregon Getaway!
Just 20 minutes from downtown, we arrived by car at McMenamins Edgefield , a 74 acre, combination micro-brewery, hotel, soaking pool, concert hall, artisan space, golf course, music venue, vineyard, restaurant, game pub, movie theatre, spa, gardens, distillery, and yes… a converted 1911 county poor farm turned funky historical resort, and now one of my favorite and in my opinion, the best Portland Oregon getaway!
Like many who arrive at Portland Airport (PDX), we had prearranged a rental car. Most rental cars are located right in the airport terminal and it is the easiest way to explore all Oregon has to offer.
It had just snowed. When I breathed in, I could feel the cool air fill my lungs. It was the pleasant damp smell of wood and forest from childhood camping. The glistening white blanket covered just enough to make me want to pull up with a good book in front of a blazing fire. The large parking lot had been plowed. I could hear my splashy footsteps as my boots trudged across the wet asphalt.
There was a relaxing feeling there, like I’d gone back to simpler times. Mcmenamins is a cross between a historical property, communal living, and a Sixties filmset. Once I checked in, I wanted to park my car and get lost in the place.
McMenamins Edgefield offers a nod to Jerry Garcia and my inner hippie, combined with upmarket mixology drinks and executive golf. This place is far enough off the grid that most any attire goes, but still manages to have a white tablecloth restaurant with garden sourced food, a library workspace, and conference rooms for corporate meetings.
It is extremely laid back with random fire pits and a porch full of rocking chairs, offering a social, yet calming setting. I love that I can explore the nature filled grounds, drink in hand, purchased from one of the many unique pubs on premises.
I am one of the many people that change into my utilitarian, white terry robe the moment I arrive, in order to walk the short garden path that leads to Ruby’s Spa and soaking tub.
As a resort guest, the soaking tub is an awesome privilege. It looks like something out of a magical fairytale. The freeform outdoor pool zigzags seamlessly through the surrounding nature. Decorative rocks, metal sculptures, and manicured plants almost disappear through the rising steam. Filled with a constant 102 degrees of piping saltwater, it is an awesome reprieve in both the Winter and warmer months. Here, I truly feel like Jenny In Wanderland!!!
My personal preference is the “king suite” that offers a sitting area and a private bathroom, but other room types vary from hostel to family style, and many have shared hall restrooms. And yes, I found them to be extremely clean! I immediately fell in love with the vintage furniture and vivid paintings covering walls, doors, and even exposed pipes.
Also see our article, How To Choose A Room When Traveling
As an artist, what truly makes this place amazing, are the nooks and crannies. The McMenamin group of artists do historical research for each piece of art, and call their style “historical surrealism.” The art and the philosophy behind it is constantly being refreshed, so each time I visit, I find something new or different.
In my downtime, I love to go on an “art walk” of the buildings and property. I choose a section and enjoy all of the art there. Some areas have metal sculptures, the gardening itself is pristine, and then there is the painting. Therefore, if you are an art lover, you will be thrilled.
The glass blowing studio often has artists giving demonstrations. If you are looking for a souvenir, you can purchase the handblown glass in the shop. Either way it is entertaining to watch.
From the main building there is a gravel walking trail that circles the property and leads you through beautiful nature, gardens, artsy sculptures, and up to the executive golf course. Therefore, it’s the kind of place that I just want to wander around.
Playing golf is a fun option here. You really only need a pitching wedge and putter, which they have for rent. It is a fairly long course that offers beautiful views over the farm.
DINING & DRINKING
There are many bars and restaurants to choose from, each in a historical structure and with varying beer, food and wine menus. Most of the alcohol served is distilled or brewed on premises.
Many of the venues are tucked into nooks and crannies of the poor farm’s old structures. They offer live music at varying times and an activity schedule is provided in your room. One of the bars is a game room and has darts, billiards, and my personal favorite, shuffleboard, for a reasonable fee.
Once the poor farm’s incinerator, The Little Red Shed is my favorite bar. Pictured below, it is an intimate space that seats only ten, with a fireplace and about four taps. Sometimes there are bottles from the distillery, or wine. If you get hungry, you can always order a pizza that is delivered from elsewhere on property. The usually friendly and talkative bartender will scoop you peanuts in shell, that you can toss on the ground while eating, for about a buck.
Columbia Gorge Scenic Highway is nearby, and is a great place to take a take in nature. Stop along the way at various recreational areas to hike, boat, walk, fish, and enjoy. Don’t miss Multnomah Falls! If you are unfamiliar with the nearby area, consider one of these amazing tours that share all the wonders the area has to offer.