How to do the holiday right in Rose City.

By Sarah Z. Wexler
December 02, 2015
Credit: Oregon Trail of Dreams / Mt. Bachelor

Considering it snows about once a year in Portland, chances are you won't be waking up to a white Christmas. But that also means it's easy to get to fun activities unique to Oregon that you can’t enjoy everywhere else. Want to spend the perfect Christmas Day in town? Here’s how.

Dine Out—Anywhere

For a casual meal, head to the Doug Fir Lounge, which serves its regular menu all day, plus a Christmas special of ham from Pendleton, along with lots of good sides. Or forget the ham altogether, and opt for a ribeye at the Urban Farmer Steakhouse in the Nines Hotel, which serves grass-fed Oregon beef, in addition to other holiday specials (last year, people raved about the “PB&J Duck,” which was seared and served with fermented chestnut pesto, drunken cherry gastrique, sage crumble, and garnished with micro greens).

Walk in a Botanical Winter Wonderland

Stroll the 20 different themed gardens at the 80-acre Oregon Garden in Silverton, about 45 miles south of Portland. Though the Garden’s visitors center is closed on Christmas Day, you can still buy passes at the adjacent Oregon Garden Resort; after your walk, pop into the Resort's restaurant for a hot chocolate to warm up.

Toast with Craft Cocktails and Local Beers

Forget spiked eggnog, and try one of these bars (or make it a crawl) that are open on Christmas Day, ready to pour you a drink: Bar Bar on Mississippi, Radio Room on Alberta (where you can stay warm even outdoors by sitting on the heated patio), or the divey Tanker Bar on Hawthorne, which boasts old-school arcade games.

Head to Wine Country

At the Willamette Valley’s Allison Inn, less than an hour from downtown Portland, indulge in the specialty Christmas dinner at JORY, where most of the ingredients are either from the property's 1.5-acre chef's garden or are locally made. Knock back a glass of Austin Knoll wine, produced in the onsite vineyard, and listen to a live jazz performance by Marilyn Keller in the evening.

Race Sled Dogs

Drive three and a half hours from Portland to Bend, Oregon, and spend the day on snowy Mt. Bachelor, where Oregon Trail of Dreams offers sled-dog rides, guided by an Iditarod-veteran musher. Warm up afterward at your hotel around a fire pit, or in the heated soaking tub at the McMenamins Old St. Francis School.

Sarah Z. Wexler is on the Oregon beat for Travel + Leisure. Based in Portland, you can follow her on Twitter at @SarahZWexler.