Northwest Portland Hostel Blog
Monday, May 1, 2017
Lucky Portlanders get to have it all: extensive bike lanes, great public transport and green spaces accessible by foot, bike, or bus. This makes it easier than ever to leave your car behind when you come to visit Portland.
From our location you can walk to Forest Park (via Washington Park, or the Lower McLeay Park), browse trees in the Hoyt Arboretum, do the 4T Hike and get those great Aerial Tram views all without much travel time. In this blog we focus on nature escapes you can walk from easily while staying in NW Portland. However there are a few honorable mentions at the bottom that are definitely worth checking out if you are wandering in another park of Portland.
Hoyt Arboretum: 12 miles of trail lace this wooded area that many call Portland’s Museum of Living Trees. Filled with native and foreign plants and trees from all over the world covering there are over 6,000 trees and over 2,000 different species of plant life, including 63 vulnerable and endangered species in this 189 acres refuge. Take the Red or Blue Line MAX to the Zoo Tunnel and take the elevator up. Once in the parking lot you will find signs pointing you to the World Forest Center and the Hoyt Arboretum.
Washington Park: This great green space is home to a number of trails and sub-parks. Home of many trails (the Wildwood, Beech, Magnolia, Oak, White Pine, Maple, Walnut, MAC, Redwood, Madison and many other trails in addition to an entry point to the 4T hike and the Pittock Mansion) you can spend hours here. In the Hoyt Arboretum alone there are 12 miles of trails. You can also find the Portland Children’s Museum, the Oregon Zoo, the International Rose Test Gardens as well as the Japanese Gardens and tons of other small finds like playgrounds, great view points and an archery range! By following the trails that connect the various locations within the park you really can spend all day here.
Forest Park: We think their own words say it best, “At 5,157 acres, Portland’s Forest Park is one of the largest urban forest in the United States. With more than 80 miles of soft-surface trails, fire lanes and forest roads, Forest Park stretches for more than seven miles along the eastern slope of the Tualatin Mountains, overlooking Northwest Portland and the convergence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. Forest Park offers an unparalleled opportunity for visitors to experience a true northwest forest without leaving the Portland city limits.”
4T Hike: The 4T Hike features, well, 4 ‘T’s. Utilizing the Train, the Trolley, the Trail and the Tram this hike takes you from SW Portland back down into NW where we are. This is a great hike because you get in some good sight seeing via the great views from the Tram as well as driving your way through the city on our various forms of public transportation.
Lower McLeay Park: From the Hostel you can take the #15 bus to 29th and Thurman to the Lower McLeay Park Trailhead. This moderate path winds up following a forest brook for much of the way. You can take this trail to one of Portland’s best view points, the Pittock Mansion. 3/4 of a mile up the path you come to to a split in the trail at the Witch’s Castle! You can walk up into this old stone structure where there used to be bathrooms, and before that a ranger station. At this point you can keep on the McLeay trail another 1/3 of a mile where you will come out near the Audubon Society or you can branch off onto the Wildwood Trail, one of Forest Parks most popular trails.
You can also check out Mt. Tabor Park, Powell Butte Nature Park, and Oaks Bottom Refuge in SE Portland, as well as the Spring Water Trail stretching the length of the city from SE to NE. In SW Marquam Nature Park is a great spot and in NE Pier Park and Peninsula Park are both great the latter being a smaller more traditional city park and the former more expansive and woodsy.
Anywhere you might have gone that we didn’t mention? Let us know!
Wildwood Trail in Washington Park
Friday, April 7, 2017
When in Portland there are a lot of ways to rent a car! Getting out of town is one of the best parts of visiting the Pacific Northwest. From where we are in the NW you can reach a number of hiking spots (Hoyt Arboretum, Forest Park, Lower McLeay Park, 4T Hike, Hike to the Pittock Mansion) just by walking or busing from the Hostel. However, getting into the Gorge, the Cascades, to the coast are all just within reach – one of the best things about our little pocket of the state! These locations require some sort of transport – whether by greyhound (to the coast) or by car.
Probably the most popular pick is Enterprise on 16th and Burnside. Just a few blocks from hostel this car rental location gives Hostel and Guesthouse guests a 10% discount when your hostel key card is shown. Ranging from $25 per day to $100+ per day you can rent exactly the car you want and return it just a 5 minute walk from your home away from home.
If you need a ride, or have a ride but are looking for buddies, you can also post on our ride share board. With a column for those seeking a ride and a separate space for those looking for passengers you can find just what you are looking for.
Car rentals by the airport can be appealing as there are several companies right next to one another making it easy to compare and pick the price or car that is right for you. Getting to the airport is easy – just take the max (between a 5-10 minute walk from the Hostel) and get off at the Airport. From baggage claim, right near where the MAX drops you off, are shuttles to the various car rental areas. Hertz, Alamo, Enterprise, Dollar, Avis and National are all located right nextdoor to one another.
Other popular car rental spots in our area are Avis and Budget. Both located downtown (anywhere from a 15-25 minute walk) they offer cars in the $25-$100+ range.
Some guests have had success with Turo, a person-to-person car sharing website.
We haven’t tried all of these places, so let us know how they were for you!
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
This piece details one of our favorite rainy day itineraries!
We start out by grabbing a coffee at Barista. We love their location in the Pearl just a few blocks away on 13th and Glisan. Great pastries too. From there we walk up 13th Ave taking the raised sidewalks (a charming hold over from when the avenue gave access to industrial loading docks) to Powell’s books. In Powell’s we check out the Rose Room with it’s games located near the children’s and young adult’s book section. You can saunter over to the Orange Room with check out stands, journals, cook books and pretty useful items to bring home as gifts. We love taking the industrial elevator up to the Pearl Room to check out the rotating gallery pieces and the Blue Room for self published poetry and literature. After all that walking it is time to grab some real food!
Heading south up 10th Ave we run into the largest food cart pod in the city at SW 10th and SW Washington. There we love to run around and grab a few things from each cart to sample. Frank’s Noodle House with their hand pulled noodles is always a favorite. We don’t want to stand out in the rain though! Well, perhaps sometimes we might. Today however we are looking for a nice dry spot to eat our goods. Director park has a covered eating area that is perfect during moderate/mild weather. During rain and wind the awning might be a bit high to really protect us from the elements. If this is the case we walk down to one of Portland’s most iconic buildings: the US Bancorp Tower otherwise know as the Big Pink. This tower is home to offices and small public stores on the lower level, there we can head on in to their main entry floor and find some comfy chairs to sit in while chatting the meal away. If this spot is too busy we might find a better table up on the second floor which has a an open view of the floor below and lots of large and small tables to choose from.
Checking out local culture is one of our favorite things about traveling somewhere new so from lunch we walk out of the Big Pink to the MAX station right outside! Catch a train up to Jefferson St and walk over to SW Park Ave (9th), to check out the Oregon Historical Society (photo of their amazing exterior mural below). The Oregon Historical Society is open everyday until 5pm making this a great destination any day of the week. We can spend hours here reading articles, checking out historical periodicals, chatting with volunteers and staff while checking out their interesting and detailed displays.
Time to wind down! It’s easy to hop on the Street Car on 10th and Madison (one street north of Jefferson) back to the Pearl District. We hop off at Glisan and 10th to make our way up to Glisan St to 17th Ave and the historic Mission Theater – one of Portland’s many Brew-n-View theaters. Second run and old favorites decorate the schedule at this micro-brewery and restaurant. Here we can look forward to having some brews and pizza before heading one block back to the Hostel or up to 21st for some more late night fun!
Did you spend your day doing this! Please tell us what you thought!
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Do you like cookies? Us too.
Each Valentine’s Day we make sugar cookies by the dozens, mix up bags of colored frosting, throw some sprinkles on the table and let the cookie decorating begin!
We don’t know much about St. Valentine – we know that he was associated with sympathy, and now, with love. The holiday is thought to be an observance of his passing, or perhaps a christianization of the pagan fertility festival Lupercalia. Each year christian churches host marriage-vow renewals, as well as special prayer services for those seeking a partner. There are religious dinners and feasts but more commonly we associate it with a more material holiday helped to popular fame y greeting card giants. The giving or making presents for loved ones, flowers, cards and tokens of affection iconize this holiday. It can be easy to lose track of what this holiday can mean for us.
Valentine’s Day is a holiday that many look forward to, but it is also a difficult day for many. As with any holiday loneliness can be more acute and sadness can well up with ease. It is a good time, we think, to remember to be kind to one another, to hold tight to compassion, to sympathy, and to love. Consider writing a letter to a loved one, or visit an old folks home or animal shelter.
We hosted letter writing encouraging travelers and neighbors to write to someone they love – even if they don’t send it. To be brave and say something they have been wanting or needing to say. To give the gift of thoughtful words on Valentine’s Day.
After decorating and eating cookies and writing letters we let the evening wind down with a film showing in our main kitchen. More than anything we want people to be together today, and everyday, in love.
Shout out to Metropolitan Learning Center school kids who made us valentines and dropped them off! We love you! Thanks for being great neighbors! And thanks for all of you who came out on February 14th! And to all of you who helped perpetuate love this year.
Thursday, February 9, 2017
Every January we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy by hosting our annual MLK Month Long Service Challenge. We invite staff, community members and our volunteers to participate in logging their hours with us so we can display them in our lobby to inspire others! This year we had over 100 hours logged on our ‘Hall of Helping Hands”
For guests we posted drop in volunteer opportunities and invited them to sign up for service while in Portland! We think there is no better way to experience a city than to spend some time really getting to know the communities in need here. You can spend a few hours or a few days working with an organization any day of the month, not just in January or on MLK Day.
We also hosted our annual movie screening where we watch films about pacifism and invite conversation on people in our home countries who have inspired us, given us strength or helped to create resistance models. Popcorn ensued! Thanks to everyone who made it out for the film screening and who logged their hours with us! Also a big shout out to our community partners who welcomes drop-in volunteering making it easy for guests, staff, and neighbors to spend their time in service.
Saturday, January 7, 2017
With all the white flurries this winter we thought we should share some of our NW Portland favorites: what to do when it snows in the Rose City!
Sledding at Wallace Park:
We love to recycle here in Portland! That means that the Hostel and neighboring spots usually have a cardboard box or two that you can have for some impromptu sledding!
We recommend Chapman School / Wallace Park. In the fall this site is home to the largest migration of Vaux’s Swifts in the world! They roost in the chimney of the school. When the building was updated with modern amenities this chimney was left there just for them as a stop over on their way from Canada to South America. Chapman is also a great elementary school in NW Portland. On snow days in Portland, school is out! So go check out Wallace Park and Chapman School hill for some good ol’ snow day fun. #BoxSledding #ButWithActualBoxes…
Library and board games room at the Hostel:
One of our favorite things about traveling is meeting new people. The communal atmosphere of a hostel, finding friends, overcoming language barriers, having fun with someone you have never met before. You can spend time with someone new by grabbing a board game from our lower common room to break the ice! If what you want is some winter solo time, we have our Leave-A-Book-Take-A-Book Library, also located in the lower common room. Many a good, strange or funny book has been found there to help pass the time and spend a little quality alone time.
With a number of grocery stores and breweries nearby you can take your pick of spots to visit. Though some places are closed when extreme weather hits many grocery stores are still open. Check out their bulk section for fun herbs to make into a tea or local beers to taste in out Secret Garden. Fred Meyer, Whole Foods, and New Seasons are the closest bulk herb providers but Trader Joe’s has many unique teas just right up the street!
If going out is more your style we recommend McMenammin’s Blue Moon on 21st and Glisan. Blue Moon has great beer, good pub food, 2 fire places, and a few good heated outdoor seating spots for smokers. Pool, shuffle board and a juke box complete the scene. Check them out!
We also love Rogue on 14th and Flanders. Their large space can accommodate even the biggest impromptu gatherings and they have unique sodas and beers on tap as well as their own distilled spirits!
Come early 2017 visit out soon-to-open Hostel Pub for some local brews and good times!
Craft some presents:
SCRAP right up the street has a TON of amazing craft supplies for SUPER cheap! Check them out for a fun indoor project during a snow day. Find interesting things you never thought to combine: yarn, paint, frames, tubes, paper, bottle caps; they have a ton of inspiring random items that you will fall in love with! Make something cute to mail back to a loved one! Which brings us to our next fave:
Letter writing home:
Get some scrap paper and a pen from the reception and write a letter to someone you love. They will love hearing from you as much as you could find putting pen to paper clarifying and introspective. Take a moment for that far away loved one, give them something to open beside bills! Domestic letter and postcard stamps as well and international stamps are available at the desk – or the Post Office right down the street!
If you have fun thoughts or ideas of things you did in Portland while it snowed PLEASE SHARE THEM!
(Pioneer Square at dusk)
Monday, December 5, 2016
Portland’s South Park Blocks occupy the heart of downtown SW Portland.
PSU is our urban university which frames the upper blocks of the park and all that happens there. Festivals, protests, farmers markets all take place in this expanse of green. The lower South Park Blocks are lined by concert halls, museums and residential buildings. Think about how amazing it must be to wake up in the morning to see this little pocket of urban green outside your window!
Conceived in 1852 the South Park Blocks are 12 blocks long and one block wide. Each block features benches to relax on and public art to view while doing so.
Some of the South Park Blocks must see sights
- Shemanski Fountain – sandstone and bronze fountain installed in the mid-to-late 1920s to honor Portland Polish immigrant Joseph Shemanski. The statue is also know as “Rebecca at the Well” due to the statue of biblical Rebecca at its center. In addition to human drinking spots there is also a little dog dish below! One of Portland’s more interesting drinking fountains.
- Portland State University – founded in the 1940s and given official university status in 1964 PSU has over 28,000 students enrolled in its programs. Lining the upper blocks of the park are the main buildings of Portland State University’s campus.
- Arlene Schintzer Concert Hall – Portland’s Broadway Street, in earlier years, was once lined with theater venues. This concert hall is the last hold out of that time. Portland Center for the Performing Arts, Youth Philharmonic and the Oregon Symphony all call “the Schnitz” home. Arlene Schnitzer is a great patron of the arts and walking around Portland you will see her name on many buildings, among them the new Pacific Northwest College of Art campus on Glisan in NW Portland.
- Abraham Lincoln Statue and The Theodore Roosevelt “Rough Rider” Statue – placed close together (on block apart) these statues memorialize presidents past.
- Millar University Library – with over a million volumes this is a great stop to make if you need some quiet introspective down time; always something we underestimate our need for when traveling!
- Oregon Historical Society – with a photo-realistic mural facade this building really stands out! The Oregon Historical Society is one of the only museums open on a Monday! Beginning shortly before the beginning of the 1900s the organization has spent over 100 years tracking Oregon’s progress and history! Check it.
- Portland Art Museum – Portland’s resident art museum was established a few years before the Oregon Historical Society in the late 1800s, though it has only occupied its current location since the 1930s. It plays host to rotating exhibits, a local artist gallery and the NW Film Center.
Check out those or the extended list on the City’s website!
Friday, November 25, 2016
Portland has 11 Bridges, not including the Sauvie Island Bridge or either of the railroad bridges. That is a lot of bridges! These structures connect West Portland with East Portland
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBoT) lists them as follows:
St. Johns Bridge (1931) – U.s. Route 30/N Philadelphia Avenue
Fremont Bridge (1973) – Interstate 405
Broadway Bridge (1913) – Broadway
Steel Bridge (1912) – Pacific Highway West/former Oregon Route 99W
Burnside Bridge (1926) – Burnside Street
Morrison Bridge (1958) – Morrison Street
Hawthorne Bridge (1910) – Hawthorne Boulevard
Marquam Bridge (1966) – Interstate 5
Tilikum Crossing: Bridge of the People (2015) – MAX Orange Line, Portland Streetcar, TriMet busses, walking and biking
Ross Island Bridge (1922) – U.S. Route 26/Powell Boulevard
Sellwood Bridge (1925) – SE Tacoma Street
Our favorites are the Steel Bridge and the Hawthorne Bridge.
We love the Steel Bridge for it’s river-level crossing. This pedestrian/cyclist only walkway has a beautiful view of the water as you are right down there with it while crossing the Willamette River. This bridge connects you to the East side near the Moda Center where you can catch a Blazers game. It also connects you to the East Bank Esplanade where you can walk along the river on raised concrete sidewalks that lead into wooden boardwalks that float on the water. You get a great view of downtown.
Our other favorite, the Hawthorne Bridge, crosses the river right by OMSI – the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry connecting you to the southern tip of the East Bank Esplanade. With its wide sidewalks and specific lanes for cyclists and pedestrians this bridge give you a great view of the other bridges along the river. The Hawthorne also connects you right to Downtown Portland.
The Steel and the Hawthorne make a lovely loop around the Willamette River that we highly recommend for great views and a taste of riverside pdx.
Check out our last blog post for ways to rent a bike and bike those bridges that are bike friendly! Rain or shine it is always a blast!
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Portland is aaaaaaaaall about bike culture.
The City of Portland says:
[There are] 350 miles of bikeways are on the ground in Portland, with more than 50 more miles funded to be installed in the next few years. The 319 miles are of three types:
77 miles of Neighborhood Greenways
188 miles of bike lanes, and
85 miles of paths.
We have a few ways of helping you get on a bike while you are visiting our fair city:
First stop by the desk and grab a Portland pocket bike map to help you get around! Then choose the bike plan that is right for you. Below are 3 great bike rental options to explore. Which one is right for you?
You can find Pedal Bikes in downtown Portland on SW 2nd Ave between Pine and Ash. This spot gives Hostel guests a 24 hour bike rental for $20! Just bring your key card with you when you head down there to pick up your bike. They do guided tours as well as private bike rentals!
Cycle Portland is another great location near the waterfront. Located on NW 2nd Ave between Couch and Davis they will give Hostel travelers 15% off of tours and rentals when you show your room key card. Cycle Portland also does tours in additions to single bike rentals.
A relative newcomer to the Portland bike scene is BikeTown. For 12.50 you can rent a bike for the day. During this day period you have 180 minutes to actively use the bike. This encourages riders to lock their bikes up at BikeTown hubs when they aren’t riding. There are limitations to where you can ride but most areas in inner Portland are covered. There are a number of hubs you can use to pick bikes up from, as well as lock them up when you are done or are not using it for a bit. You can go on the app and see where hubs are, whether it has parking space or free bikes to take. Check out the app and the website or ask the Hostel front desk if you want to learn more about this program. BikeTown has a social hub on their app that lets you join tours and rides with other BikeTown users.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
Celebrating winter and fall beverages, foods, and cozy spots! Check out this list of our favorite cozy places – with the best flavors and textures for your mouth.
Our favorite soup spots:
- Savor Soup cart features their Tomato Orange Fennel soup everyday but creates an array of 3 other soups that rotate each day.
- Hot Pot City has an amazing selection of raw ingredients that you cook yourself in a one of their chosen broths. Sauces, seafood, tofus, vegetables, spices and noodles area all additions you can add to customize your meal. Hit the buffet as many times as you like, they will keep refilling your broth. Thanks to the carefully divided cook pots you can choose 2 broths per pot to share.
- Toast and Pho right up the street has great home cooked pho and other traditional Vietnamese foods to warm you up.
- Boke Bowl is another favorite right around the corner. Hot ramens and other fusion meals decorate their menu. Get 10% off when you show your Hostel key card!
- Chen’s Good Taste has some of the best Wonton Soup! Check them out for real unassuming Chinese food down in the NW Old Town district. Try the Eggplant with Tangy Sauce too!
Our favorite drink spots:
- Anna Bananna’s for their intentionally crafted London Fog – you’ll never have another like it! We also love their friendly atmosphere. Locals gather and chat in Portland’s longest running coffee shop. 10% off when you show your Hostel key card.
- Pope House Bourbon Lounge will make you an uh-mazing hot toddy!
- Cacao makes a variety of hot chocolates, drinking chocolates, hard chocolates and other fun chocolate treats. They are incredibly specialized and also very welcoming. Check out their casual atmosphere while sipping a drinking chocolate – which is our pick.
- World Cup Coffee located across the street, of course they are one of our favorites. They love our domestic and world travelers, are a great spot for a meeting or getting work done as well as for cozy conversations with friends. We really like that they roast their own coffee beans and employee well trained baristas. Check out their Pumpkin Spice Latte #basic #ohmanitsgood
Let us know your favorites!