36 Hours in Camas
Sometimes the best getaway is close to home, very close to home. Downtown Camas is only 20 minutes from our house. For a weekend in November, it was a perfect escape to shop, eat and celebrate our wedding anniversary at the new Camas Hotel. (More details on this lovely inn later.)
Friday Night 7 p.m. K’Syrah Catering Wine and Bistro 212 NE 4th Avenue. K’Syrah is offering a tasting of Thanksgiving wines – perfect for the Friday night before the all the holiday gluttony begins. For $10 per person, we taste five excellent wines – Mercer Pinot Gris 2008, Primarius Pinot Noir 2007, La Quercia Montepulciano 2008, Ridge Three Valleys 2007 and Terre Gaie Sparkling white wine. We like them all but, darn, have to make a choice. We select the sparkling wine to offer with the dessert course on Thanksgiving. K’Syrah also offers three-course fixed price dinners on Friday nights. Menus are posted in the Web site.
Saturday Morning 10 a.m. There are a LOT of shops to explore so we start with a hearty breakfast at Natalia’s Cafe, 437 NE 4th Avenue. My veggie scramble with home potatoes is very good but Gary’s strawberry blintzes with whipped cream wins the best breakfast prizes for taste and presentation. Don’t miss the photo.
11 a.m. Amply fed, Gary excuses himself to do his own errands (versus shopping) while I start my exploration of the downtown stores. First stop is The Uncommon Gift 407 NE 4th Avenue is well-named. It is full of unusual jewelry, cards, candles, and other décor.
Chateau Lauren 339 NE 4th Avenue has wall-to-wall decorating ideas, beautifully set tables, home accessories and adorable children’s clothing. It’s an interior design store that must be one of the most photogenic shops in the area.
Fore! Golf 426 NE Cedar Street. Who says that downtown Camas only has boutiques for women? Fore! offers new and used golf clubs plus apparel, balls, sunglasses and other golf accessories.
Camas Antiques 305 NE 4th Avenue. This is a store that could take a day to explore. Fifty+ booths with beautifully displayed antiques and other collectibles are features. Just when you have seen all the treasures, you will find the stairs to the lower level which is equally filled with collectibles. I could spend the day in here with the camera. Allow plenty of time for this shopful of shops.
Lily Atelier 237 NE 4th Avenue. Clothing shoppers won’t want to miss Lily Atelier and the adjacent Luxe shoe boutique. Both offer beautiful, high end apparel.
Around the corner from Lily Atelier, Lizzabeth A 415 NE Birch Streetis charming home décor store with linens (one of my weaknesses), jewelry, Marie Osmond bags and many other unique items. Owner Beth has chosen some fine signs like “Well-behaved women rarely make history.”
Camas Bike and Sport 240 NE 3rd Avenue. Katina and Ed Fischer opened this great, full-service bike shop in July. They carry road, mountain, street and other bikes and offer bike repairs and rentals.
Afternoon –After all this exploring (and more to come), I’m ready to check into the Camas Hotel 405 NE 4th Avenue. Karen and Tom Hall have transformed this former residential hotel, built in 1911, into a charming European-style inn with luxurious beds and linens. They have done a marvelous job of renovating the hotel. Vintage photos of Camas throughout the building artfully tell the story of the community. It’s a wonderfully relaxing place. A new restaurant and martini bar, Harwood’s, will soon open on the first floor of the building. (Update: Harwood’s closed. The restaurant is now Oliver’s Restaurant at the Camas Hotel.)
2 p.m. You can only shop so long without coffee. I am grateful for Caffe Piccolo Paradiso, 309 NE Birch Street, which is playing Van Morrison and serving high quality caffeine, Caffe Umbria. All ages stop by to re-energize.
Next door, Painless Ric’s Tattoo Studio 315 NE Birch Street is busy. I want to chat but DO NOT want to distract the artist. I settle for reading all the awards Ric has posted in the front window. I’ll come back later.
3 p.m. I have always admired the comfortable Camas Library 625 NE 4th Avenue. I wander in to see what’s happening and hit pay dirt. The Friends of the Library are holding a book sale! Even though it’s the last two hours of a two-day sale, there are lots of good reads left and the prices have just dropped to $8 per grocery bag. I quickly fill my sack.
4 p.m. I think I have found the busiest place in town. Shoppers are zipping in and out of Camas Produce 2940 NE Everett Street, which is just about 10 minute drive north of downtown Camas. Considering the market’s variety, displays and prices, I’m not surprised. I pick up some beets, rutabagas and a large turnip to roast for Sunday night dinner.
4:30 p.m. Back downtown at Safeway, a brass ensemble of Camas High school students are playing Christmas carols and gathering canned goods for a food drive called “Stuff the Bus.” Proud parents are taping the event. Across the street from Safeway in a bungalow, Déjà vu 726 NE 2nd Avenue is taking advantage of my passion for consignment shops. Owner Sherrill Traviss offers an upscale selection of women’s fashions including bridal gowns and formal wear. My find is a knit Weekender outfit.
Back on 4th Avenue, Accentuate , 500 NE 4th Avenue, has an excellent selection of scarves, jewelry, handbags plus clothing.
6 p.m. With all this exploring, I’ve forgotten to eat lunch and Gary, always ready to skip the shopping but enjoy dinner, has joined me. We walk a short two blocks to Around the Table 316 NE Dallas for a delightful dinner of small plates – warm cabbage salad and dumplings, a rich gnocchi gorgonzola (my favorite), a farmhouse salad and fig-stuffed turkey breast with port sauce. Glasses of Riesling and Pinot Grigio complete the feast. Is “delightfully stuffed” an oxymoron?
10 p.m. We are very well-fed, warm and comfortable in our room but I coax Gary out of the hotel one more time, into the pouring rain, to see what is happening. Down the street, the paper mill is steaming along. Nearly all the restaurants are closed but, aha!, Painless Ric’s is open until midnight. Millworkers stop by after their shift, the tattoo artist explains. We are impressed with the thousands of available designs ranging from delicate flowers and Chinese characters to voluptuous women. I ask Gary if he wants a tattoo. He declines, quickly.
Around the corner, the taverns will be busy until 2 a.m. Down the block, Chateau Lauren’s illuminated display window is shimmering in silver and white for the holidays. For the most part, Camas is tucked in for the night, a good thing on a very rainy evening.
Sunday Morning 9 a.m. Camas Hotel We enjoy a substantial continental breakfast of muffins, bagels, fruit and coffee in the 2nd floor breakfast room. In warmer weather, a roof top terrace outside the room is available. Other downtown options for breakfast include Natalia’s (with the fabulous strawberry blintzes) and a new weekend brunch, which is getting good reviews, at Twilight Pizza Bistro across the street. We’re happy to stay in, read the Sunday paper and enjoy the coffee.
11 a.m. Check out time. We hate to leave this very cozy hotel. Many of the downtown shops are open on Sunday but it’s time to head home, blessedly only a short drive away. It’s great to enjoy a getaway so close to home.
Camas is a welcoming community and obviously a first-class destination for serious shoppers and diners. More than the great shops and restaurants, Camas is also a gateway to the Columbia Gorge and recreation opportunities like hiking, birding and kayaking. But that’s another trip, when the rain stops…
UPDATE: Harwoods, a martini bar and restaurant opened next to the Camas Hotel in early January 2010. Check out Harwoods Facebook page for more information.