Portland is a great town for families. There are multiple neighborhoods that are fun to explore day into night. They've done a great job incorporating green space into most places - including the heart of downtown. Parks a plenty - including water features that during the warmer months are a boatload of fun. I could wander the Pearl District for hours and not get bored.
The number of restaurants - across the entire spectrum of casual to fancy is nothing short of astonishing. We enjoyed coffee and a nosh at Stumptown, an excellent dinner at The Bluehour, and brunch at Mother's Bar and Bistro. I wouldn't go so far as to say I'm a foodie - but I know yummy food when I taste it and had nothing to complain about whatsoever.
Another nice feature is the suite of kid-friendly options up on top of the hill on Highway 26, heading out towards the ocean beaches. The Oregon Zoo is right next door to The Children's Museum is right next door to the Hoyt Arboretum. You could spend days exploring up there, and I frankly wished I'd had more time to do so. The Zoo, though small, is very well done and interestingly configured in a lovely twisty/turny what's-around-the-corner-next type of exploration. Sophia did most of it at a dead run, until she got to the next exhibit and communed with whomever she found there. For a cold day there were quite a few animals out and about. The steller sea lions were impressive, and the tigers quite regal in their habitat. The exhibits are large enough to be comfortable but small enough to feel close to the animals. We had a great time.
Lastly - we traveled on the Amtrak Coast Starlight, which is a great way to go with a 2 year old. The observation car has huge windows, and the trip between Seattle and Portland is for the most part visually interesting. We kept our eye out for mammals and birds, and the scenery did not disappoint. And there is the added value of being able to traverse the length of the train, something that car seat travel most assuredly does NOT provide. It's longer and more expensive than driving, but in terms of arriving in great spirits - the train is definitely the way to go.
It was nice to get away for the weekend and Ari definitely appreciated the visit. Getting reacquainted with the complexities of University life can be tough after taking time off - but she's doing well and from all appearances is thriving. But that girl would thrive in a desert - so no real surprise there. And now Sophia will have a frame of reference for where Sissy is - and what her school is like. Good stuff all the way around!