Hidden Gems: Portland Activities

The Greater Portland Metro Area possesses a diverse range of activities, including some hidden gems that might not come to the top of your mind when planning what you’ll do on your day off. Here are some lesser known adventures that may just be right up your alley.


Bocce Ball – Leisure Public House – St. Johns, North Portland

Play bocce ball for free on the patio of the Leisure Public House in St. Johns. Originating in Ancient Rome, the rules are simple (similar to playing horseshoes) and it’s a fun, fantastic way to pass the time while you’re enjoying the food and drink of the pub, conversing with friends or mingling with locals.

8002 N Lombard St
Portland, OR 97203




Blacklight Mini Golf – Glowing Greens – Downtown Portland

Underground black-light pirate-themed miniature golf. If you haven’t been to Glowing Greens yet, chances are you can’t say you’ve done this one before. They have a separate room for kids that’s great for birthday parties, but mini-golfers of all ages put their putting skills to the test, and have a blast doing it. Be sure to purchase a scorpion sucker or some spicy crickets on your way out!

509 SW Taylor St
Portland, OR 97204




Skeet Shooting – Portland Gun Club – Southeast Portland

A fixture in Portland for over a century, the Portland Gun Club prides itself on providing a safe, fun environment for anyone to learn the joys of skeet and trap shooting. Groups of five can shoot easily in one lane, firing at remotely launched discs. Their friendly experts are on hand to guide newbies in the basics, having first-timers hitting targets straightaway!

4711 SE 174th Ave
Portland, OR 97236

Spring Sun and Fun


Farmer’s Markets Abound

No matter where you call home in the Greater Portland Metro Area, there’s a farmer’s market not far off. Find one conveniently close and meet the people who grow this delicious organic food. It’s not just carrots and cauliflower, enjoy everything from hand-crafted ginger ales to local bee pollen.




Arbor Day Festival

Speaking of farmer’s markets, the Portland Arbor Day festival will be kicking off Saturday, April 26th at the Portland State University farmer’s market from 8:30am to 2:00pm. Plant a tree and come celebrate our urban forest as Portland receives its 37th annual Tree City USA banner!




Food Cart Festival

Willamette Week’s Seventh Annual “Eat Mobile” pits more than 30 of their favorite food carts against one another, as they compete for the much-coveted Carty Award. With more than 400 food carts operating in Portland, this is a great way for newcomers to get a taste and for foodies to get their fix. Join the mouthwatering fun Sunday, April 27th at OMSI.




Tulip Fest

Experience the dog-friendly fun of Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, evolving every year in a beautiful new arrangement of patterns and colors. All are welcome (including photographers) to bask in the breathtaking, vibrant hues of Woodburn’s tulips. Open March 28th thru May 4th, open daily from 9am to 6 pm.

Maximize Your Home’s Tax Value

If you haven’t done your taxes yet, it’s not because you’ve been procrastinating. You were strategically waiting to make sure you leveraged maximum return value from your property by embracing this helpful list. Whether you already own a home or are planning on one in the future, these thrilling tax tips can mean money in your pocket.

#1 – Mortgage Interest Deductions: In most cases, the vast majority of mortgage payments for the first ten years are covering interest. What’s fantastic about interest payments? They’re tax deductible. If the conditions are right, you might just be able to jump down into that lower tax bracket.

#2 – Property Tax Deductions: Don’t forget that your property taxes likely qualify as deductions as well! These can be easily overlooked if your taxes and insurance are already included in your monthly mortgage payment.

#3 – Capital Gain Exclusions: Did you sell your house for a profit this year? It’s possible you could shelter $250,000 to $500,000 of profit as a capital gain exclusion. If you’d like to learn more, here’s a helpful article.

Friendly Disclaimer: This information is provided as a helpful starting point. If you require tax advice, please contact a tax attorney or CPA.

If you find yourself talking to a tax professional to help you accurately prepare your taxes to your best advantage, here are some other potentially lucrative topics to bring up:

Home Improvement Loan Interest Deduction
Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI) Deduction
Mortgage Points/Origination Deduction
Energy Efficiency Upgrades/Repairs Deduction
Real Estate Selling Cost Deduction
Home Office Deduction
Loan Forgiveness Deduction

Staging Your Occupied Home

Selling your home? Get it ready – Get it sold!

Preparing your home for the market shouldn’t be stressful or involve renovating every room. The most important things are getting the interior and exterior ready for potential buyers to see themselves living there. The first week on the market is the most critical as most active buyers will see your home on-line and perhaps also during the open house. Being well prepared from the start, and spending the time needed getting your home ready could be the best investment of your life. Statistics prove that a well prepared home spends 50% less time on the market and sells for a higher price.

Interior Designer Staci Byers of Ready to Sell PDX specializes in preparing owner occupied homes for a successful listing. Staci’s goal is to ensure clients’ homes are presented as best as possible from day one by enhancing curb appeal, creating cohesiveness and flow in the home, and adjusting interior colors of the home for optimal appeal.

The services offered are a la carte and can be tailored to suit the customers’ needs. After a thorough consultation both inside and outside the home, the homeowners will know just what they need to do to get the home ready for the market. If you are tight on time or simply want some help, Staci can manage the project from beginning to end to ensure your home is Ready to Sell.

Please visit www.ReadytoSellPDX.com for more information on services.

Staci Byers


Hidden Gems of Portland


The Garden at Elk Rock

Also known as the Garden of the Bishop’s Close, this wonderful gem was established nearly a century ago on the cliffs overlooking the Willamette River. Honoring the wishes of its creator, the garden remains open to visitors, providing Portlanders with the amazing opportunity to appreciate one of the jewels of the Northwest. Populated with a diverse assortment of flora that have something beautiful to show off no matter the season, the property also preserves its native madrone woods. Take an hour, explore its pathways and be rewarded with some stunning views of the Willamette.

For more information:

Open Daily: 8am to 5pm
11800 SW Military Ln
Portland, OR 97219



Portland Underground Tours

The tour guide slides a complex key into a metal grate in the street, twists, disengages the lock and pulls open two yawning doors to reveal a steep makeshift staircase; a portal into the black belly of Portland. The mystery shrouding these Shanghai Tunnels swirls so thick as to obscure their existence from a great many locals, striding along topside, unaware of the legacy of villainy beneath their feet. The tours provide a harrowing, historically accurate adventure into Portland’s fascinating criminal history. Brave explorers meet downtown at Hobo’s Restaurant and embark on a guided educational escapade under the city.

For tickets and tour information:

120 NW 3rd Ave
Portland, OR 97209



Grand Marketplace

If you’re looking to spruce up your place with something unique or stroll through a collection of memories, the Grand Marketplace is a hidden gem packed with gems from our past. Curated by a passionate group of vintage collectors, every item tells a story. More than fifteen separate vendors gather their eclectic wares in this wonderful setting. Even if you’re just dropping by to browse conversation pieces with a friend, you might just find something you can’t put down.

For more information:

1005 SE Grand Ave
Portland, OR 97214

Embrace the Rain

The rainy season is here in the Northwest, and “Oregon Sunshine” is drizzling and pouring on our lives and our homes. Now is the time to enjoy beautiful waterfalls at full force and cozy up during a storm or downpour. Some may dread the damp blanket of moisture that covers the sky, but here in Oregon, locals have learned to embrace the rain and positively harness its power. Rain barrels and rain gardens are excellent ways to utilize the 40 inches of fresh precipitation we receive each year; saving resources, money and energy is sure to put a smile on any Oregonian’s face.

Rain barrels allow homeowners to collect water for their house plants, gardens and lawns. For every inch of rain that falls on a 1000 sqft roof, a whopping 600 gallons of water can be collected. Simply utilizing this free resource can save a significant amount of money in a season, and will help conserve water usage during the drier months. Rain barrels are easy to make, and readily available to buy, so embrace the rain and start collecting that good ol’ “Oregon Sunshine” –after all, it’s free!

Rain gardens are another excellent way to make use of the drizzle. Planting native trees, shrubs, flowers and other vegetation in a natural or landscaped basin positioned near a runoff source will collect rain water like a sponge. These gardens are a beautiful way to conserve h2o, reduce stagnant water in your yard and create a wonderful habitat for wildlife. The water slowly filters into the ground before becoming stormwater runoff –that means healthier urban waterways and habitats.

However you choose to welcome the wet weather, remember all the positive ways you can embrace the rain.

Also, here’s an excellent rain garden How-To Video.

And for creating your very own rain barrel, there’s a comprehensive Do-It-Yourself Guide.

Portland Waterfront Focus

Portland Waterfront Focus

As Portlanders, a point of pride has always been our glorious waterfront. More than merely an aquatic line of demarcation between the territory of Eastsiders and Westsiders, the Willamette and her shores are mother to much of our trademark Northwestern beauty.

Spanned by architectural wonders (the Broadway Bridge was our first bascule bridge- the longest in the world at its time of completion and currently the longest Rall-type bascule bridge still in existence), our waterfront is beautiful to behold, both in broad day and after the sun slips beneath the distant Pacific.

Whether enjoying the river views from the private comfort of a condo balcony, outdoor restaurant seating, on a lunch break in the park or while pedaling along our picturesque, paved bicycle routes… the waterfront signifies a sense of progress while hinting at our history. Our shipyards contributed to the Allied effort in WWII and still construct commercial transport ships today.

Anyone looking to get an interactive tour of our waterfront is encouraged to take a high velocity, highly informative jet boat ride with Willamette Jetboat Excursions. The tours continue through the end of September and are a genuine good time for all ages, Portland natives and visitors alike.

No matter how you choose to embrace it, get out there and experience Portland’s amazing waterfront!

Portland Roars in the 1920s – Our Home History

1926 – Opening of Burnside Bridge

1926 – Sellwood Bridge

1924 – Delivery Truck

1920 – Street Car

Portland Roars in the 1920s – Our Home History

” …Portlanders were on the move! “

The dawn of 1920 saw Portland 258,000 citizens strong and along with gaining 50,000 more souls, the next ten years would prove to be an unparallelled decade of expansion for the City of Roses. 1926 marked the construction of the Burnside, Vista and Ross Island Bridges to complement the Sellwood Bridge, which was previously the only Willamette River crossing for miles in either direction. That same year, Portland achieved the progressive honor of having more cars per capita than Chicago or New York, widening her streets to accommodate the bustling traffic. Combined with the already thriving street cars, Portlanders were on the move!

1929 – Aerial of Harbor Wall (Waterfront)

This freshly-embraced mobility promoted an unprecedented population migration from rural areas, and this youthful generation was nothing if not modern. In addition to embracing technological advancements like the refrigerator and vacuum cleaners now with disposable bags, these new homeowners and their contemporary sensibilities gave birth to the American Craftsman.

In the aftermath of World War I, the Victorian construction style (and lifestyle) was in sharp decline. The thriving middle-class abandoned the foregoing generation’s Old World flourishes in favor of uncluttered practicality. Ceilings were lowered, porches simplified and accommodations for a domestic serving staff vanished in the light of new homemaking amenities.

1920’s Craftsman-era Home Floor Plans

” …the Craftsman introduced the breakfast nook… “

Armed with these advanced appliances, the Craftsman-era housewife shaped the footprint of the home. She had been transformed into a one woman army responsible for all the housework in addition to raising the children. Kitchens were integrated into the main home, built with open eyelines to the living spaces and the back yard. While the Victorian lifestyle demanded a separation between food preparation and dining, the Craftsman introduced the breakfast nook and with it a communal place for the family to gather while the housewives of the day practiced their multitasking art.

1929 – SE Portland Houses

Built to endure, Portland is still populated by these beautiful, practical, hardy homes. Whether updated with today’s amenities or retaining all their classic features, Portland’s craftsman constructions stand as distinct reminders of an exciting chapter of our history.

Best in Show

One of our friends at M Realty, Shana Ruess, will be competing with her dog in the Rose City Classic Dog Show this month. Five days of great dog shows will run from January 16-20, 2013 at the Expo Center. Every year people come out to see their favorite breeds and competitions, and competitors fly in from around the country with their dogs. Parking fills up fast, so it’s always a great idea to take the MAX instead, which drops you off right outside the expo building.

Shana will be competing with her 11-month-old Tibetan Mastiff, Lyka, who recently received 3 points toward her AKC Champion title in October. She was Winner’s Bitch and Best Opposite Sex for a 3-point Major Win.

At the show in January, Lyka will be competing in Conformation in the Tibetan Mastiff Breed going up against all the other females to win additional points towards her title. Lyka is working on her CH title, she has 8 of the required 15 points towards her title. Lyka could quite likely finish her CH title at Rose City, as entries will be large and most days should be worth 3-4 points. However, this is a very big show, and the best of the best come to compete, so competition will be stiff.  The winner of Best of Breed goes on to compete in the Breed Group Ring. Tibetan Mastiffs are part of the Working Dog group.

Shana will be working with Lyka on controlling her “puppy enthusiasm” as they prepare for the show. Root for your favorite breeds and keep an eye out for Lyka this January at the Rose City Classic!

Portland’s Most Haunted Properties

With the cold crisp in the morning air, the snap of autumn leaves under your feet, and the Pumpkin Spice latte in your hand, fall is finally here. And that means it’s almost time for Halloween. Most Portlanders are aware of our city’s strange and eerie past with places like the Shanghai Tunnels and the famously haunted Pittock Mansion, so take a look at a few more interesting Portland properties with some disturbing histories.

The Willamette Mansion

This forgotten home site sits across the river from the Waverly Club. The foundation was originally part of Oregon’s old water pump house. Legend says the builder and owner’s spirit still wanders the halls—especially in the elevator shaft where it is rumored he took his own life. Visitors have experienced doors mysteriously locking and lights randomly turning on and off.

Photo by Rick Ernst, click photo for link to Flickr.


Witch’s Castle

The stone ruins of a 1950s park ranger station are rumored to sit above what was once an old trading post from the 1600s. The land was originally owned by the Balch family in the mid 1800s—creating the start of an eerie past with the father Danford Balch who claimed his wife bewitched him into committing murder. The land was eventually divided up and given to the City of Portland in 1897 to be used as a park. Today, visitors who seek out the shack claim seeing strange orbs and apparitions.


White Eagle Saloon and Hotel

The White Eagle Saloon originally had a less than ideal reputation on Mississippi Avenue in Northeast Portland. It was once considered the saloon and brothel of choice for Portland’s roughest crowd where bar fights got out of hand on a daily basis—resulting in the nickname “Bucket of Blood.” The old brick building, which was built in the early 1900s, is rumored to be haunted by a working girl named Rose, who met an untimely death by the hand of a jealous lover. McMenamins eventually bought the building and now it functions as a popular neighborhood haunt known for its live music.

Above, the saloon today. Below, the saloon shortly after it opened in 1906.





Selling During The Holidays

During the winter holidays, many sellers withdraw their homes from the market or wait until after the first of the year to sell. Most often, it’s because of family visits and holiday celebrations. However in today’s market, having your home up for sale during the winter holidays can give you a competitive edge.

Serious Buyers. Only serious buyers are looking for homes during the holidays. Think about it. Would you rather be attending holiday events and getting your shopping done, or driving around in the rain and cold looking at homes? For buyers, their dedication and commitment to the home buying process during this time makes them perhaps more serious buyers than the summer tire-kickers. Most buyers start their search on the internet and will spend their holiday break surfing the web looking for homes. With more free time, buyers and their families will spend more time dreaming about what they will do in 2013. Why not give them a great home website created by M Realty to fall in love with?

Less competition. As other sellers take their homes off the market, this creates less competition for those committed buyers. With fewer homes to consider, buyers will be more likely to spend time looking at your home. This will shift in January as more sellers trickle back into the market, slowly increasing back up to normal levels by the beginning of March.

Moving up before prices increase.  The market appears to have hit bottom in 2012.  From here, the market will likely begin to move back up as foreclosures decrease and normal houses return to the market.  Ask yourself, “what is the cost of waiting until I know for sure?”  Given a 3% annual increase in the market, a $250,000 house will gain $7,500 in value, while a $500,000 house will gain $15,000 in value.  Your leverage in buying up to the next level house is much higher in actual dollars.

Holiday decorations. If you are already moving furniture and personal times to put up holiday decorations, it’s also a great time to clean behind the couch or sideboard. And the temporary storage for your personal items is the same as it is when having your home professionally staged. Give me a call to have my professional stager help you with both your holiday decorations and staging your home for sale at the same time. Buyers are emotional during the holidays. Capitalize on their emotions by using high quality holiday decorations to showcase what your home has to offer—in turn letting buyers experience the dream of living in your home.

Higher appraisal values.  Recent strong sales support the rising appraisal values of homes. With the market increase in sales of normal homes, now is the best time to sell. The percentage of bank-owned and foreclosure homes has shrunk, giving appraisers more information on the sale of regular homes as they begin to increase in value for the first time in over five years.