Portland, Oregon more than just doughnuts, coffee and ‘Portlandia’

Portland, Oregon more than just doughnuts, coffee and ‘Portlandia’

Make your way through the city's sprawling districts.

Powell's Books offers miles and miles of books in its aisles. 
Powell’s Books offers miles and miles of books in its aisles.  Photo Credit: Getty Images for American Expres/Stephen Lovekin

There’s more to Portland, Oregon, than doughnuts, beer, coffee and “Portlandia.” Laid out in five quadrants (north, northwest, northeast, southwest and southeast), with its west side and east side divided by the Willamette River, Portland is about locally-owned businesses, green spaces and a multifaceted dining scene. Learn more by starting off in these districts.

Pearl District

Within Northwest Portland, Powell’s City of Books (1005 W Burnside St., 800-878-7323, powells.com) is stacked with tons of new and used titles. Andina Restaurant (1314 NW Glisan St., 503-228-9535, andinarestaurant.com) serves refined Peruvian cuisine. MadeHere (40 NW 10th Ave., 503-224-0122, madehereonline.com) sells Portland-origin accessories and home goods. Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House (210 NW 11th Ave., 503-296-4906, deschutesbrewery.com/pubs/portland/) pours out mainstay, seasonal and experimental beers with a high-end pub grub menu.

Go shopping for music at Tender Loving Empire.
Go shopping for music at Tender Loving Empire. Photo Credit: www.travelportland.com/Torsten Kjellstrand

Nob Hill

Known both as the Northwest or Alphabet District due its ABC-aligned streets, Nob Hill is surrounded by Victorian and Craftsman-style houses and a major shopping hub at Northwest 21st and Northwest 23rd avenues. This area location of Salt & Straw (838 NW 23rd Ave.,971-271-8168, saltandstraw.com), stays busy with inventive ice cream choices, while Blue Star Donuts (921 NW 23rd Ave., 503-265-8659, bluestardonuts.com/) creates grown-up flavors. Freeland Spirits (2671 NW Vaughn St., 971-279-5692, freelandspirits.com) is a women-run distillery and tasting room.

Nearby, the historic Pittock Mansion (3229 NW Pittock Dr., 503-823-3623, pittockmansion.org) overlooks Portland, while Forest Park (forestparkconservancy.org/forest-park/) is an urban oasis with an extensive trail system.

Old Town Chinatown

Within this Northwest Portland region, the tranquil Lan Su Chinese Garden (239 NW Everett St., 503-228-8131, lansugarden.org) was designed by artisans from Suzhou, China. Pine Street Market (126 SW Second Ave., pinestreetpdx.com) contains eateries serving ramen, soft serve ice cream, burgers, smoothies and pizza. Lines form at Voodoo Doughnut (22 SW Third Ave., 503-241-4704, voodoodoughnut.com) for their zany creations. The seasonal Portland Saturday Market (2 SW Naito Pkwy., portlandsaturdaymarket.com/) showcases artisan foods, arts and crafts.

The Portland Saturday Market is a must-visit when you're in the Rose City.
The Portland Saturday Market is a must-visit when you’re in the Rose City. Photo Credit: Jamie Francis/www.travelportland.com

Downtown Portland/West End

These Southwest Portland areas thrive with activity. Called Portland’s Living Room, Pioneer Courthouse Square (701 SW Sixth Ave., thesquarepdx.org) is a hangout spot full of food carts. Wildfang (404 SW 10th Ave., 503-964-6746, wildfang.com) designs feminist attire, while Tender Loving Empire (412 SW 10th Ave., 503-548-2925, tenderlovingempire.com/) is an indie record label and handmade-goods store. Eat breakfast at the homey Mother’s Bistro Bar (121 SW Third Ave., 503-464-1122, mothersbistro.com/) or family-style Tasty N Alder (580 SW 12th Ave., 503-621-9251, tastynalder.com/). Try dinner at Bistro Agnes (527 SW 12th Ave., 503-222-0979, bistroagnes.com/), which specializes in classic French cooking. Afterward, go to Multnomah Whiskey Library (1124 SW Alder St., 503-954-1381, mwlpdx.com/), with their extensive distilled spirits list. 

West of Downtown, Washington Park (explorewashingtonpark.org) holds a zoo, children’s museum, the International Rose Test Garden and the Portland Japanese Garden.

Alberta Arts District

At this Northeast Portland district, find vibrant murals and shopping and dining opps along Northeast Alberta Street. Pine State Biscuits (2204 NE Alberta St., 503-477-6605, pinestatebiscuits.com) switches up this comfort dish, while Bollywood Theater (2039 NE Alberta St., 971-200-4711, bollywoodtheaterpdx.com) is about Indian street food. Amelia (2230 NE Alberta St., 971-544-7492, helloamelia.com/) sells U.S. made, vintage style women’s clothing and accessories.

Good to know

Getting there: From JFK, Alaska Airlines, Delta and JetBlue fly directly to Portland International Airport.

Getting around: TriMet’s MAX Light Rail Service connects to downtown Portland and surrounding neighborhoods and attractions; its bus system links to 82 routes, including the light rail, the Portland Streetcar and the Portland Aerial Tram. Biketown has a pay-as-you-go plan with over 100 docking stations. Uber, Lyft and private taxi services are available.

Where to stay: Dossier Hotel (750 SW Alder St., 503-294-9000, dossierhotel.com) and The Duniway Hotel (545 SW Taylor St., 503-553-7000, duniwayhotel.com) are a block from Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Michele Herrmann