There’s no doubt that Portland is the hipster’s paradise. And while that may be true, there’s a lot more to do here than just search for exclusivity on every corner. You can crack open a cold can of Rainier beer by the beach, getting more in tune with your nature-loving side. Or, you can dabble in the downtown scene by wondering into 2nd Avenue Records to sort through the sounds of world-renowned stars and underground masterminds alike.
If you’re a fan of Portlandia, maybe explore the different spots you’ve seen on the show. Whatever you do, though, make sure to follow along with the list below for the most Portland-style summer you could ever imagine.
For the Palate
Luc Lac Vietnamese Kitchen
This trendy spot offers a menu chock-full with delights such as a grandmother’s secret Pho recipe, Banh Mi and Sugar Cane Shrimp – served just like it sounds. The vibe is nothing short of cool, perfectly fitting for its downtown location. While there, you can sip on cocktails such as the Sassy Sour and Hello & Goodbye – descriptive names for an evening with alcohol. The best part of this pink parasol-studded café? It stays open pretty late, so you can slurp on Pho or twist your vermicelli well into the early morning hours. There’s also a good chance that if you hold off for a late-night snack, you can avoid the notorious long line.
The Third Avenue Pod
Why limit yourself to one option when you can take a poly approach to your dining selection. The Third Avenue pod offers various food carts along the waterfront in downtown. The pod, a name given to the sectioned off foot carts in Portland, includes the highly acclaimed DC Vegetarian – a food truck that offers tasty vegan and vegetarian burgers and sandwiches. By no means are you limited here with other food trucks offering cuisine influenced by Mexico, Egypt, Thailand and Vietnam.
Salt & Straw
There’s no missing out on Salt & Straw. There’s a few locations planted throughout Portland so no matter what neighborhood you’re strolling through, you’re bound to be able to slip into one to find refuge from the heat or a feel of familiarity. In fact, the point of this joint was built on the idea that sometimes you want to go where everyone knows your name. As far as the treats go, this sweet and cooling ice cream is the brainchild of many chefs, chocolatiers, brewers and food experts. Flavors are derived from organic and local foods and take on names such as Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons, Roasted Strawberry and Toasted White Chocolate (yum!) and a very controversial, Buttered Mashed Potatoes and Gravy. Go on, we won’t judge.
For Your Ears
The Crystal Ballroom is magnificent in its own right for its rich history in the Portland music scene. The building is embellished with two massive chandeliers and holds on tight to a 100-year history. Crystal Ballroom has seen popular artists over the many years of its existence and is undeniably a vibrant part of Portland’s music scene. However, if you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to float on air while listening to your favorite musicians – this is the place. It has an original sprung floor, one of the few left in existence. No matter what sounds your ears favor, you’ll definitely find a show worth catching at Crystal Ballroom.
Doug Fir Lounge
Come for the diner, stay for the music. Doug Fir is located on the bustling Burnside and is as mod as its name suggests. There’s a 70’s diner-style restaurant with an outdoor patio and fire pit upstairs. However, if you take a gander downstairs you will find the mid-sized venue which offers a bar, disco balls (all you could ever want), places to sit and plenty of space to dance. While here, you can get your fill of indie rock, punk or folk music. There’s no doubt you’ll catch a show-stopping performance at this hip Portland venue.
Head to the neighborhood of Brooklyn to catch a show at Aladdin Theater. The venue was first opened as a vaudeville house in 1928 before becoming a family movie theater for four decades. It eventually evolved into an adult movie theater before taking the crown as an esteemed rock ‘n’ roll venue. Slightly disruptive to the quiet area that surrounds the venue, Aladdin Theater has seen the likes of Ty Segall but typically hosts more softer-sounding acts like Judy Collins. You can stop by the attached bar, the Lamp, before sitting front row at a show here. If you’re seeing someone who bangs a little harder than the others, take a chance on the standing room section by the stage for some old-fashioned moshing. How to know if there is a show going on? Just look for an illuminated sign from above (literally).
For Your Dancing Shoes
Shanghai Tunnel Bar
Deemed Portland’s favorite underground bar, this bar is open every evening starting at 5 p.m., with happy hour from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. However, the most interesting thing about the bar has nothing at all to do with the hours of operation or cheap drinks. The Shanghai Tunnel Bar is located just down the street from the real Shanghai Tunnels – a place where the act of coercing people to serve as sailors once took place in the underground of Portland. At the bar, you can dabble in games and enjoy the ambience served by paper-lantern lights. Rumor has it, there’s a noodle bowl worth trying too. While the bar is not associated with the tours, you can still go there and get an underground experience – if you dare.
Take a break from the kids by channeling the kid within. If you love alcohol and some retro arcade games, you’re going to want to head to Ground Kontrol. I don’t think anyone could have prepared your younger self for a destination this cool. You can get competitive with Donkey Kong, Tetris and Killer Queen – all while enjoying your favorite brew or cocktail. Check out events, drink specials and more during your stay or simply just head here for a good time. This place is putting the bar in (b)arcade, and we’re all about it.
Teardrop Cocktail Lounge
Whether you pride yourself on being ultra-hipster, or you like to pretend every once in a while – this bar is for you. The ambience paired with the photo-worthy outdoor seating and excellent cocktail menu is what puts Teardrop on the map for many locals and visitors. Professional bartenders are determined to serve you all kinds of delicious concoctions. Just because the bar is located in the heart of Portland’s Pearl District doesn’t mean it limits the menu to local flavors only. The menu is reflective of a broad spectrum of cocktails from people from all over the country. The original creations are what will help you remember this moment in time during your stay in Portland.
For Your Closet
Portland Saturday Market
Avoid the behemoths and support the local artisans of Portland when you go to the Portland Saturday Market, the largest continuously operated outdoor market in the United States. Here, you get the best of both worlds. You have access to one-of-a-kind artworks, jewelry and clothing. However, there’s also an area for impeccable foods. Savor the taste of Portland, shop eco-friendly products and get to know more about the masterminds that man the booths. You can enjoy all of that too while listening to impromptu performances from local musicians. This place is an eclectic blend of the best parts of Portland and its location along the Willamette River is just an added bonus. The weekly market features 252 booths, proudly filled by and representative of 350 artisans.
Powell’s City of Books
No trip to Portland is complete without a good chunk of a morning or afternoon spent getting deliberately lost in the aisles of books that line the Powell’s bookstores all over Portland. This independent bookseller has been around since 1971 and has a whopping inventory that exceeds two million volumes. Here, you can find books you love and classics you will come to live by. You can find trinkets, souvenirs, a friendly staff and even live performances from the artists that inhabit the city of Portland. Be sure to check the calendar for author events, children’s storytimes, writing workshops, game demonstrations and so much more.
There’s a laundry list of hot spots to spend your dollars at in Hawthorne. And no matter what you’re in the market for, there are many things that will make your wallet moan and groan. If you’re in the mood for keeping up with fashion trends, stop at Mink Boutique or Sloan Boutique. Both spots offer a stockpile of skirts, dresses, stylish denim and even more stylish staff members to help you feel your best. For vintage, there’s no stopping the old soul from roaming through House of Vintage or Red Light Clothing Exchange. From music stores to antique finds and everything in between, you’re sure to walk away from Hawthorne District with treasured favorites in your duffle bag.
For the Family
Portland Art Museum
If you and your family are artistically inclined or seeking a cooler climate, head indoors to enjoy the art displayed at the Portland Art Museum. As the seventh oldest museum in the United States, you know that this museum has housed some incredible works of art. The museum’s collection consists of over 50,000 objects that reflect the history of art. While in Portland, be sure to check out the active exhibitions. However, always expect to see a curated collection of American, Asian, European and Modern Art. What is cool about the Portland Art Museum is that it places you in the depths of the cultural district so you can steer your family from one cool spot to the next. And, who said there was anything wrong with learning a thing or two while school was not in session?
Cannon Beach or Multnomah Falls
While both are not necessarily located in the city of Portland, both are possible excursions if you’re able to find transportation. Cannon Beach is a lovely coastal town that offers quaint coffee shops, friendly shop owners and vibrant beachside homes. The star of the show here though is Haystack Rock. This lava formation features a collection of colorful sea stars and other fascinating tidepool creatures. If the beach is not your thing, Multnomah Falls is a reasonable alternative as it’s just a 30-minute drive from the city of Portland. The waterfall is a 611-foot-tall roaring cascade of water that you can witness up close. While you can see this attraction from the highway, there’s no doubt you’re going to want to get up close for a more awe-inspiring experience. Visitors typically like to take the paved trail to Benson Bridge, allowing them to stand at the first tier’s misty base. Story has it that the falls were created to win the heart of a young princess who wanted a private place to bathe. Excuse me, but how do we get a personal waterfall? Asking for a friend.
McMenamins at Kennedy Elementary School
This particular place was once known as Kennedy Elementary School, making this the perfect place for wholesome family fun. Check for movie times, butter the popcorn and sit back to enjoy cinematic relaxation in the swanky on-site movie theatre. While not brewed for the kids, you can also stop by the on-site brewery for a quick indulging of libations – located in what was once the ladies room (talk about a renovation). However, the real attraction is the soaking pool. Pack your swimsuits and find solace from a heated day exploring Portland with the family.
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