The BEST New McMenamins-Kalama

Kalama Harbor Lodge is my new favorite McMenamins.  Today we visited with an assorted collection of millenials but we plan to return on our own for an overnight adventure.   A beach, book and beverage are the essential components for a great vacation.  With multiple restaurants and bars, balconies overlooking the beach and many perfect spots for enjoying a book while sipping ice tea,  Bold Rich Black McMenamins Roasted Coffee , a White Rabbit or a McMenamins Hammerhead, Kalama Harbor Lodge has it all!

Passport Tripsters  can collect 5 stamps to redeem for a fabulous prize. While it could be easy to collect stamps and be on your way, the details in every aspect of this establishment encourage careful study.  From the brewers doing their thing to the intricate lighting fixtures, it’s watch and wonder.


While typically whimsical, the artwork at this McMenamin’s seemed to have more of a serious tone.  In the Cloud Bar, for instance, there is a painting of the Trojan Nuclear Plant and Mt. St. Helen’s.   The beautiful rich colors and the personification of the active volcano next to the cooling tower of a nuclear plant that erupted controversy until it was decommissioned.   Like in all McMenamin’s, the artwork provides information about local history with intentional focus on telling the stories of historical figures previously left out of the story of the area.

With Oregon on the other side of the river, the rooftop bar provides a perfect spot to see the beauty of the Pacific Northwest while watching watercraft.  Today we saw barges pulled by tugboats, sailboats, jet skis and more.  The boys took a walk along the docks and played the “when I’m rich I’ll get a boat like that” game.   Inside the bar, check out the wood used to trim and top different aspects.


We found two secret rooms and one of the secret rooms even had a secret exit. The black lights, funky paintings and joy of the hunt make these special spots especially fun to find.  Our technique to find these special spots is to press the walls as we search for the photo clues.  

The King Kalama Burger was “AWESOME” according to Darold and David.  Both boys were especially careful as they enjoyed the burger  with lots  a finger linckin’ and “mmmmmmm” utterances.   The Sriracha aioli sauce provided just the right amount of heat.  Each McMenamin’s  usually has something special on the menu to represent that specific location and Darold uses that as his go to.  He’s never been disappointed!


Kalama Harbor Lodge is just 30 minutes from Portland but seems like a world away.  With the tropical influence, it’s almost like going to Hawaii but closer, colder, less expensive, and with the more Pacific Northwest Beauty.

Interesting Asides:

Kids?  Yes!  This is a kid friendly place indeed.  Under the Mt. St. Helen’s Nuclear Plant painting today, a baby was passed from person to person.  A toddler sat near us and LOVED the view of the boats.  The park next door provides a great place to play and run around.

Pets?  Kalama Harbor Lodge is pet friendly.  Check out their pet policy.  Service animals only are permitted in some areas.

Restrooms?  The restrooms were clean and well stocked but not entirely secure feeling.  I was awkwardly surprised when I went to open the door that had been pointed out to me as the restroom.  The door was labeled WC  (a term I had to look up later-aka Water Closet ).  As I reached for the handle,  the door suddenly swung open to reveal a large man. Standing nearly nose to nose, my space bubble felt invaded and by the look on his face, he was experiencing the same feeling.  He stepped back to let me in (to the single restroom) and I stepped back making room for him to leave the space that seemed to shrink by the second.  After our awkward dance, I shut myself into the restroom and locked the door.  The door lock was the kind with a button you push in but not all the way.  It didn’t feel secure.  When the door was shut, I opened it to see if I had indeed locked it but I couldn’t tell.  In small bathrooms, it’s easy to jam your foot against the door when relieving oneself to ensure someone doesn’t barge in when your pants are around your ankles. Unfortunately,  once the large man had made his exit, this restroom seemed to get much bigger and the toilet was a good 7 feet away from the door. Not sure if the lock was really locked since the button on the door was only partially depressed, I fixed my eyes  on the doorknob ready to pull up my pants and shout “halt-I’m in here” if anyone tried to enter and the door didn’t hold.  Needless to say, the restroom experience was the only part of the visit to Kalama Harbor Lodge that was not relaxing.

Gift Shop? The gift shop was full of interesting things but it seemed more commercial than some of the other McMenamins shops that highlight local artists.


Add artwork by Sheila Chugani to the gift shop.  Chugani’s years spent living in Hawaii provide a tropical influence and whimsical feel to paintings of local (Oregon/Washington) landmarks.  Greeting cards by Chugani would be the perfect addition to the gift shop.

Sheila Chugani Art

Upgrade door locks. to include “In use indicator”.







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