Useful Portland trip planning resources

When you get to a new city half of the fun is finding cool things to do and great places to eat.  Portland is a food city with over 3000 restaurants.  A smartphone and a computer and some know how are all you need to unlock the secrets of a city quickly.

Do everything I say below and you too can quickly unlock a new city.  I am using Portland for the example, but any large city will do.  Smaller cities are iffy on discounting because not enough restaurants participate. 

Essential apps for your phone

  1. Yelp - we like help the best and it works well for Portland.
    1. Get the app on your phone AND sign up on their website and create your profile. 
    2. The app is very useful and get to the main screen and explore the buttons
      1. The monocle feature gives you a very handy virtual reality add on to your phone.  It is super useful. 
      2. the deals section is ok, but typically the discounts are not as big as other places.
      3. the bookmark feature is indespinsable.  This will be where you bookmark cool restaurants that people recommend to you or that you see as you pass.
      4. Yelp is known for the ratings and reviews and they are really good and detailed.
      5. If you do more than 100 reviews in a year or on pace to do so then you can be a YELP ELITE and get invited to very very cool parties.
      6. Get an account and sign won't regret it.
  2. - this is an indispensable link to have on your computer and your phone.  It lets you find where the hidden little cool places to go are.  Great for when you want to find a cool place to walk around. 
  3. Foursquare is good at suggesting places for you to go
  4. Tripadvisor is a really good resource for restaurants in Portland and it ranks the restaurants so you can browse down and find some good ones.
  5. If you want to have an automatic log of where you go and what you do try an app called LIFESTATS.  It is put out by foursquare and is pretty accurate if you want to have a log of what you do.
  6. google maps engine - this is an essential app and it is explained below


You can get 50%-70% off and eat like a king for cheap if you follow the steps I outline below. 

  1. Sign up for groupon and living social on their websites and fill in the profile and indicate what you are interested in and sign up for the daily deals get e-mailed to you.  Buy at least one deal from each to get it all setup with your credit card.  Now you can get a deal anytime and use it right away if you want to.  You don't need to print anything.  You can see the deals on a map on your phone.  You will typically save 50%
  2. - You buy a gift certificate that says something like Get $25 off of a purchase of $35.  There are a lot of restaurants participating and the gift certificate never expires.  You can save up to %70 using these, but you have to do it a certain way to make it easy and cheap.  Follow these steps and it is simple.
    1. First of all you have to go to and sign up.  This will get you on the mailing list and towards the end of the month they will send you deals.  The full price is $10 bucks to buy a gift certificate that says $25 off of $35.  So effectively you will be paying 20 for 35.  However you just wait until they offer you 4-5 bucks for one of the gift certificates then you buy a bunch of them.
    2. you don't want dud restaurants, you want great ones!  So search for a comfortable distance from you and then click to see as many offers as you can and print that whole list out.
    3. now go back and research the restaurants and see if the ratings are good and the menu is good.  Star the ones you like.
    4. buy a bunch of gift certificates.  You can exchange them later, but by buying now you lock in the discount.
    5. If there is a restaurant that is sold out it is probably good, so buy extra gift certificates and exchange at the beginning of the month when the inventory is back.
    6. print them all out
    7. now you should have 15 or more gift certificates for Portland.  Make notes on the printouts, like great view, or great brunch or were just looking at the reviews and menu so you know something about them.
  3. Mapping these out.  This is a critical step when you are new to town and have a bunch of deals.  So do this.
    1. go to and create a custom map.  Be sure that you are signed in with the google login you use for your phone
    2. now do a pincushion for each deal you have.  Use a different icon for living social, groupon, or
    3. save your map
    4. Now pull up the google maps engine app on your phone and there you can load your custom map that you made.  Now you will just be able to pull up your map and find the deal that is close to you or near to where you are going to be.
    5. you can have several layers on your map.  We have a deals layer and a places layer so you can toggle them on and off depending on what you want to do.
    6. This is the only way to do a custom map on your computer and have it on your phone

Finding cool stuff to do

We love to learn about tech and gadgets and meet new people.  Portland is the best place in the world for that!  There are 5 things to do per week in Portland and here is how to figure it all out.

  1. goto and make sure you have that on your phone
  2. go to and look at the upcoming events....if you are interested then click add to calendar
  3. go to and create a login and you can either filter by activity or take an hour to look through all of the events.  You can sign up and add to calendar there
  4. go to is king in Portland and it takes some time to do this once.
    1. Take the time to flesh out your profile.  Do this first so that you get accepted to join the closed groups.
    2. carefully look through all the groups and right click to open the ones you like in a new tab.  After you have 10 or so tabs open then join each, rsvp for events, click to add to calendar, then close that window.
    3. Write several introductions and put them in a text document so you can copy and paste when you join a group. 
    4. You need to take a couple of hours to go through all of the groups because there are a lot of them.
  5. Digest all of the music or movies in the park events, the first Fridays, and last Thursday events, etc....put them on your google calendar
  6. Now your calendar will have all of the event details too...because you added it programmatically it is super easy.
Now VOILA you will have everything you might want to do all setup in your calendar.

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