Monday, November 24, 2014

"What would I even do in Portland?"

So, are you only in town for the day?  Don't worry, because here's your...

The PDX Airport carpet is a whole thing.  Don't photograph the wrong pattern (there are a few in the airport, but only ONE is correct for your selfie, Grasshopper.  Unless you want to get it wrong ironically, in which case +10 Portland Points for you).
Vector art by unknown artist.  You read my mind, unknown artist.

Are you in town a little longer?  Get out into some of the beautiful nature surrounding Portland!  Like...

Here's the Oregon Metro brochure for the 4T Trail Hike.
Also, you can of course start this loop in a different place.  If you're staying in the South Waterfront, for example, you could start with the TROLLY and end with the TRAM.  Here's a site with good info on the hike.

I'm going to keep the rest of my recommendations to text, so I can come back and edit them when I inevitably think of something I missed.  Leave a comment if you live in Portland or have visited before and have suggestions for things to do in town!

If you haven't visited before and these things sounds like fun, check out the many great resources available to help you plan a trip!

Detroit Lake, photo by Ron Chan
Near to downtown (no car necessary): Wildwood Trail, Pittock Acres Park, Washington Park, Forest Park, Mt. Tabor, Japanese Garden, Rose Garden, Lan Su Chinese Garden, Springwater Corridor
Nature you probably need a car to access: Mt. Hood, Timberline Lodge, Mt Bachelor, The Gorge, Oregon Coast, Painted Hills, Crater Lake, Tamolitch Pool hike, Rogue river rafting, Multnomah Falls, Bridge of the Gods, Sauvie Island, Cougar Hot Spring (clothing optional), Silver Falls, Pacific Crest Trail, Camp Sherman Campgrounds, Lost Lake Campgrounds, Devil's Punch Bowl, Haystack Rock, Sea Lion Caves (outside of Florence, OR)
For the best weather, visit between July - October.  You can have fun at other times, but if you visit during the winter or spring, pack a good umbrella, boots, and warm rain jacket.  What you've heard about the rain is not an exaggeration.

Cafes: Tea Zone, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Public Domain, Coffeehouse Northwest, Sterling Coffee Roasters, Barista, Fresh Pot, the usual chains
Restaurants: Higgins, Montage, Portland City Grill, Blue Hour, Mother's Bistro, Olympic Provisions, Tasty n' Sons, Pok Pok, Sushi Land, Sakura Sushi, Old Town Pizza, Sizzle Pie, Little Big Burger, Brunch Box, Elephants Delicatessen, Saint Honoré Bakery, Papa Haydn, Southpark, Kenny & Zuke's Delicatessen
Food Carts: Thai Sky, E-San Thai, Nong's Khao Man Gai, PBJs Grilled, Gauffre Gourmet, Mr. Taco, Don Pedro
Dessert: Salt & Straw, Ruby Jewel, Papa Haydn
Pubs: Deschutes Brewery, Bridgeport Brewery, Burnside Brewery, Henry's, McMenamins (many locations)
Bars: Rontoms, Doug Fir Lounge, Camellia Lounge, Vault Martini, Paystation, Departure, Portland City Grill, Saucebox, Tugboat, Shanghai Tunnels, Whiskey Soda Lounge, Momo's, White Owl Social Club, Rialto, Bungalow Bar, The Matador
Brunch: Sunshine Tavern, Slappy Cakes, Screen Door, Junior's, Stepping Stone Cafe
Local foods: visit the Portland Farmer's Market, Tillamook Cheese Factory, and the many breweries/distilleries that offer tours.  Also, have you ever eaten a marionberry?

Geeky fun: Wild/Grimm/Leverage/Portlandia/Goonies/Shining sets, Ground Kontrol, Sequential Art Gallery, Floating World Comics, TFAW, IPRC, Oregon Museum of Science & Industry ("OMSI").  Check out Geek Portland for events!

Weekly Events: Saturday Market
Monthly Events: First Thursday, Last Thursday, OMSI After Dark
Annual Events: Naked Bike Ride, Beer Festival, Bluegrass Festival, Rose Parade/Rose Festival, Zoo Lights, Rose City Comic Con, Hump Fest, PDX Soapbox Derby, Oregon Zoo Concert Series
Other Events: Blazers / Timbers / Thorns matches
Pick up a free issue of a weekly paper like The Portland Mercury, Willamette Week, or Just Out for more ideas.  You can also find events online at

Concert venues: Crystal Ballroom, Doug Fir Lounge, Aladdin Theater, Wonder Ballroom, Roseland Theater, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Keller Auditorium, Moda Center

Shopping: Nob Hill (NW 21st and 23rd avenues), SE Hawthorne, Pearl District, Mississippi Ave

Mississippi Avenue has a lot to offer, from brunch (Gravy) and restaurant spots (Mac!, Samurai Blue, Por Que No) to ice cream (Ruby Jewel), comics (Bridge City Comics), clothes shopping, galleries, insane hipster crap, taxidermy + curios (Paxton Gate), the nicest sex shop you will ever visit (She Bop), and great bars (Bungalo Bar has a huge outdoor area with fires and table/chair SWINGS!).  I recommend spending a day on this street if you want to get out of Central Downtown and experience a fun Portland neighborhood (the #4 bus runs regularly between Mississippi and downtown).  If you visit in July you can even catch the annual street fair!

More fun/weird stuff: McMenamins Kennedy School, "brew 'n' view" theaters, Morgan's Alley, Living Room Theater, The Roxy (24-hour diner), Portland Rock Gym, Glowing Greens (glow-in-the-dark, underground, Pirate-themed putt-putt golf), Voice Box, Vista Bridge, Prasad (part yoga studio part vegan-friendly restaurant), Eagle's Lodge, Jupiter Hotel, 24 Hour Church of Elvis, Hat Museum, Portland Spirit Cruise, Portland Segway Tours, flotation tanks, ChocoLab

Places that take some arranging to visit (do not just knock on the door), but maybe you have a friend or professional connection within the company?: LAIKA, Dark Horse, Oni Press, Top Shelf, Wieden + Kennedy, Nike campus, Nike/Adidas employee stores, Periscope Studio.


  1. Awesome list :) First thing I google search is ChocoLab and find out they are closed for good. Not so awesome...

    1. Oh no! D: I suppose the life of a novelty chocolate shop is shorter than most...*moment of silence*

  2. Sadly, the 24hrCoE has pretty much rolled up the welcome mat. It's still around somewhere, but the where is REALLY hard to find...eclectic quasireligious goofs being probably the only thing more ephemeral than botique chocolate shops...

    I'd add the Frying Scotsman to your cart list; he's down at the big 9th and Alder pod and totally rocks the fish & chips and mushy peas.

    As cliche' as they've become, a visitor to PDX should really probably take in one of the McMenamin's chain; Edgefield (i.e. the old Multnomah County Poor Farm) out in Troutdale is pretty weirdly interesting, tho my favorite is still the old Singer Sewing Machine building from the 1905 Lewis & Clark Exposition that's now the McM's up in St. Johns.

    And if they're here in the season and there's a game that week an hour and a half in the Shed End with the Timbers Army is a good taste of Portlandia...

    1. Thanks, FDChief!

      I have never tried the Frying Scotsman, but I think that's going to have to happen. :)

      I've only visited McMenamin's Edgefield once, and it was for an outdoor concert, so I haven't seen much of the building or facilities. Would love to go back.

  3. also has an extensive calendar of geeky events in Portland! :)

  4. Dammit, you should've put this little guide earlier. I'm french and I just visited Portland this summer !
    Fun to see a few that I visited, though. (I miss the Voodoo Doughnut, "Magic is in the Box")

    1. Haha, that just means you have to come back ;) I hope you liked it!

  5. I love Portland! :D Those food carts are the best thing ever.

  6. Must include Pix Patisserie under desserts! On E Burnside. They also have a tapas bar, full bar, and extensive sparkling wine and champagne list.

  7. You forgot Winterhawks games in the Events section. They may be minor league, but they are great. (6straifht wins as of right now.)

  8. Portland is whack. I know. I live here.

  9. Two more fun things to do: Rose City Rollers roller derby and Rimsky-Korsakoffee for the quirkiest dessert experience in town. Do not leave without visiting the bathroom.