11/13/2012 07:09 am ET Updated Jan 13, 2013

Pint-Sized Portland

We at have created a series of useful and unique family travel itineraries. Each one is tried, tested and true by an editor (and mom). This week, Maria Tallarico explores Portland.

Portland is my family's city-away-from-the-city, and we make the five hour drive from Vancouver often. It's extremely kid-friendly -- even at the brewpub!

We always bunk at the Paramount: clean, spacious rooms, helpful staff and a stone's throw to all of our favourite spots in the city (including Nordstroms, just around the corner). Request a room with a balcony on the second floor. 808 SW Taylor St.;

Director Park is the big-city answer to public space, a spacious, clean piazza with a café (the outdoor bistro tables are lovely), a giant chess set, an unofficial waterpark and tons of spacious, shaded seating. If the weather has forced you indoors, head to old-time toy shop Finnegan's for some playtime and classic toys (try explaining a slinky to your kid). Finnegan's, 820 SW Washington St.;

You could eat six meals a day in Portland and never be disappointed. The food truck scene is famous for a reason: the options are cheap, delicious and fresh, with an abundance of trucks parked in one area for easy access. For a sit-down meal, I love casual and contemporary Southpark: the oysters are fresh and the corn risotto is a tasty take on contemporary food. Southpark, 901 SW Salmon St.;

Portland has one of the most prominent craft brew scenes in the world and the bustling brewpubs to match. Deschutes is a favorite -- expect a fair line for a table on the weekend -- but waiting is much easier with a Black Butte in hand (hey, that stroller cup holder comes in handy!). Yes, kids are welcome (last time we were there half the tables had kids, from breastfeeding newborn to an eight-year-old's birthday party). 210 NW 11th Ave.;

This no-tax haven is the place to splurge on big purchases. This year, I bought almost my entire fall wardrobe in Portland, including a Vince sweater coat with leather trim at Nordstroms, LNA tops and 7 for all Mankind Gwenevere jeans from Nordstroms Rack, plus Rachel Comey boots from lovely boutique Frances May, which stocks upscale casual wear lines like ALC, Vena Cava and Suno. Frances May, 1013 SW Washington St.;

In one of the few cities where independent bookshops thrive, Powell's is the granddaddy of hardcovers, packed to the risers with books both new and used. You could easily spend an afternoon exploring the different floors and deep collections; we buy my son a classic book on each visit. 1005 W. Burnside St. and 4 other locations;