Ruby's Spa McMenamins
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Best Portland Oregon Getaway

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!

GETTING THERE

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.

McMenamin’s Entry Porch

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.

THE VIBE

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.

Best Portland Oregon Getaway
Porch Rocking Chairs
Mcmenamin’s Grounds – Winter

THE SPA

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!!!

Best Portland Oregon Getaway
Ruby’s Soaking Tub – AHHH
On the Way to Ruby’s Spa

THE ROOMS

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.

Best Portland Oregon Getaway
King Suite

Also see our article, How To Choose A Room When Traveling

THE ART

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.

Art on Room Door, McMenamins Edgefield

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.

Glass Blowing Demo

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.

GOLF

Best Portland Oregon Getaway
Golf at McMenamins-Winter

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.

McMenamins

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 alcohil 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.

Shuffleboard at Lucky Staehly's Pool Hall
Shuffleboard at Lucky Staehly’s Pool Hall

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.

Little Red Shed

NEARBY ACTIVITIES

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.

Multnomah Falls
Photography by Jennifer Barbaro

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