Northwest Portland Hostel

Centrally Located – in the Heart of Portland

Northwest Portland Hostel Blog

Portland’s South Park Blocks

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!

Portland Bridges

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!

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Ways to Get on a Bike While Staying at Our Hostel

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.

 

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Local Winter Warmers

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!

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Pumpkin Carving

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Halloween is one of our favorite holidays. This uniquely American event is all about the harvest, and having fun!

This season is all about carving pumpkins, trick-or-treating (if you are wee) or partying and sharing time with friends watching spooky movies (if more mature), eating sweets, sipping cider or autumnal brews, dressing up in funny or scary costumes, eating fall harvest foods like apples, squashes, and of course, roasting pumpkin seeds!

Every year we host a pumpkin carving party, and display the results around our Hostel! Staff decorate the building to create a festive atmosphere in the weeks leading up to the event and on the day of we spread out newspapers on our long tables and break out the pumpkins!

Special little knives are used to cut out precise designs. There are those who like to stencil and those who prefer to free-hand; sometimes the shapes are abstract and sometimes they are life like! Our guest costume box is out to dip into and grab a wig, mask, or some special outfit to get into the spirit.

We roast the pumpkin seeds while we drink hot apple cider and once the carving is all wrapped up we crown the Pumpkin Carver of the Year!

Come find us next Halloween for all of our pumpkin carving fun!

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Stay in a Hostel for FREE

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Great Hostel Give Back is happening again in 2017! This is an amazing program, and one of our favorites.

This program is great for:

  • Those who have been traveling by our new building and wondering what it would be like to stay there – for FREE – even if you live in Portland!
  • Anyone new to hostelling, like youth groups, school clubs and other networks
  • Creating a bonding experience for your friend group or work team
  • Group travelers, like school groups, travel clubs or just friends meeting up in a new town
  • Collectives with no money to go out of town but wanting to have a fun experience right here at home
  • Folks who would like to mingle with international and national travelers
  • Individuals wondering what all the hype surrounding hostels is about

To all of those above and more, we want you to know about this program! It’s a great way to know your own city better, cheaply explore a new one or get prepped for that big trip you have been planning. There are a few requirements, check them out, spread the word, help our movement grow.

HI USA’s non-profit purpose is to inspire a genuine understanding of people, places, and cultures to create a more tolerant world. We believe in that mission and want to see it through! The Great Hostel Give Back lets groups of 8 or more stay for FREE when they volunteer at least 2 hours for each free overnight with a local organization. We get you acquainted with hostelling, what your part is in our mission and welcome your group to our home as well as help find volunteer opportunities to relieve the stress!

This program is active January and February for 2017. Please contact groups@nwportlandhostel.com to hear more about how you can get involved in sharing this awesome opportunity.

Happy travels! <3

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Best Summer Day in Portland: Food Carts

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Best Summer Day in Portland Series

 

We have put a lot of time into thinking about what constitutes the perfect summer day in Portland. There are so many options for curating the best day you can have here in the Rose City that we decided to make a series about it. There are several “perfect days” that involve staying close to home, ranging across the river on cross-town excursions, biking, walking, public transport. In trying to incorporate the many faces of what makes Portland great we see sprinklings of rivers and parks, hikes and gardens to breweries and coffee roasters, food carts and shopping.

 

One of the things that makes Portland so special are all of the natural resources that sit right at your fingertips. When we say that we are talking about our great number of parks, fountains, trails, gardens. As many city travelers know being surrounded by green jewels found amongst towering architecture can turn a hectic day into a sweet haven that refreshes like no night of sleep (however great the bunk or the dorm mates) can. Inner peace found while sitting on the ground, spending quiet moments, are priceless.

 

Since there are so many great places and we want to know the most about all of them we will go through our blog day in stages. Step one on our perfect day agenda was the International Rose Test Gardens and now we move on to lunch and some meandering through downtown!

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Walking down from the Rose Garden you will end up back at Burnside St. This is where the #20 bus runs. Burnside St. is one of the most important streets in Portland. It divides the entire city North from South (and the Willamette River divides East from West). On one side of Burnside you are in the North(West) part of town and the other side of Burnside you are in the South(West) part of town!

 

You can walk or catch the #20 for 2.50 for adult fare and and take it down to SW 10th and W Burnside.  Get off at landmark Powell’s books. We’ll come back to Powell’s later. First we have to get some food!

 

Walking up a few blocks, heading South, you will run into a giant Food Cart Pod on 10th and Washington. This is the largest one that is currently in Portland and has a huge variety of foods, including some 24 hour carts.

 

If you are curious about the various foods, you can get a taste of a few things. Franks Noodle cart has hand pulled noodles. Standing next to that is Boke Dokie, a cute cart created by the founders of Boke Bowl, one of Portland’s favorite casual ramen spots. Bokie Dokie serves fried chicken and tofu sandwiches that are uh-mazing.

 

One of our favorite carts, the Taste of India, is delicious. They can be a bit brisk, but make their naan fresh for each order. They have lunch specials with vegetarian and omnivorous options available. Other interesting spots include the Dump Truck and Snow White House which are right next to one another. One vends delicious creations in the form of dumplings, the other is one of Portland’s oldest carts. Snow White House has been in Portland since the late 90’s and is a humble but tasty creperie. They come highly recommended and, if you go at a chill time the woman staffing the cart will chat you up!

 

For delicious Mexican food check out La Jarochita! They have wonderful shrimp dishes and a great al pastor. Their location on 4th ave has been around for a long time and this is only the newest edition to their great locations.

 

Taking foods from the carts one can sit in provided seating along the carts, or can hop over to a park. The closest is O’Bryant Square on Park St. (9th) and Washington, but some other parks can be a bit more comfortable. Director’s Park is 2 short blocks further South on Park and Yamhill. Though the park lacks green space it has a lovely fountain and a great seating area. The park boasts a glass canopy and almost a half-acre of space to sit and enjoy the city. The park has Big Chess, a giant chess board that you can pick up and play during the day at the park. Many other events take place there and are free!

 

Only one block past Director Park you will come into one of Portland’s most distinctive downtown features, the South Park Blocks. They are create a common space in the Portland State University Campus.  There people picnic, view public art and gather for events. The Park Blocks also act as the front lawn for the Museum District. The Portland Art Museum, the Oregon Historical Society and, soon, the Oregon Jewish Museum as well as other cultural spots.

 

This is a wonderful shady green space to enjoy a meal. When you have finished your food in the shade head on out to explore downtown a bit, go to Powell’s City of Books and Pioneer Square! There is so much right at your fingertips!

 

Anything we missed? Something you love? Send us your thoughts!

Once we have accumulated enough feedback we’ll compile a list of “Guest Favorites” so you can see what travelers like yourself have loved about Portland.

 

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Best Summer Day in Portland: Rose Garden

Friday, July 15, 2016

Best Summer Day in Portland Series

We have put a lot of time into thinking about what constitutes the perfect summer day in Portland. There are so many options for curating the best day you can have here in the Rose City that we decided to make a series about it. There are several “perfect days” that involve staying close to home, ranging across the river on cross-town excursions, biking, walking, public transport. In trying to incorporate the many faces of what makes Portland great we see sprinklings of rivers and parks, hikes and gardens to breweries and coffee roasters, food carts and shopping.

One of the things that makes Portland so special are all of the natural resources that sit right at your fingertips. When we say that we are talking about our great number of parks, fountains, trails, gardens. As many city travelers know being surrounded by green jewels found amongst towering architecture can turn a hectic day into a sweet haven that refreshes like no night of sleep (however great the bunk or the dorm mates) can. Inner peace found while sitting on the ground, spending quiet moments, are priceless.

Since there are so many great places and we want to know the most about all of them we will go through our blog day in stages. Step one on our perfect day agenda: walk to and learn all about the International Rose Test Garden, one of the sites that gives Portland its nickname, Rose City. But first we start this day like every good morning Pinky, with coffee.

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Heading to the Rose Garden! We recommend packing a breakfast snack or lunch to enjoy up at the Garden. Stopping at World Cup Coffee across the street to grab some tea or latte to jump start the day is a must. Once hot (or cool) beverages are secured make your way on Glisan towards 23rd Ave. You can stop on the way to pick up any forgotten food items at the Trader Joe’s grocery store right along your route, or grab a sandwich or treat at Elephant’s Delicatessen, a real local favorite.

Once you get to 23rd head towards Burnside. 23rd is truly one of our favorite streets. Hours can slip by as you taste and touch your way down the avenue. On the way to the Garden you get a taste of 23rd, but not enough to really quench. More on 23rd to come.

Burnside street comes and with it the landmark Zupan’s Market a local specialty grocery store. Walk past the Zupan’s and you will find yourself at the entrance to Washington Park. Entry to the park is marked by the Loyal B. Stern’s Memorial drinking fountain. This marble structure was erected in 1941 and stands in honor of a Portland Judge who was rather influential at the time. Stick to the path on the right of the memorial and follow “Strern’s Path” up through the lower park. You will walk up through light forested area on a paved path until coming to a crest where after skipping up the steps you will see a fountain, and a sign directing you to any number of places in Washington Park. Follow the Rose Garden sign until you come to International Rose Test Garden. Just follow your nose!

Established in 1917 the International Rose Test Garden is Portland’s largest Rose Garden. From 1909 to 1917 the largest Rose Garden in Portland was Peninsula Park in N Portland. When the International Rose Test Garden came to be it bumped beautiful Peninsula Park out of the running and in 1919 it began awarding rose strains with the “Gold Medal” rose award which makes the rose garden right here in Portland the oldest testing garden of its kind in North America.

There are many sub-gardens to pay attention to. One of the most interesting is on the terrace, this is the Gold Medal Garden. This garden is composed of award winning roses. Giving our yearly medals since 1919 there are a lot of roses in that particular garden to consider.

The International Test Garden helps to test different strains of flower based on 14 different criteria. According to the AARS (All-American Rose Selections), a non-profit dedicated to the growing and introduction of well regarded roses, these include disease resistance, bloom, smell, color, and vigor. Test plants are studied over a period of 2 years and go by a number during that time. All the other plants are named and you can view a comprehensive list of their titles under the gazebo. There are over 500 different strains so be careful before committing yourself to memorizing them all!

The Royal Rosarian Garden plays host to many varieties that are not available outside of viewing at the garden. These are planted for each high ranking official who holds title in the Rosarians. This group has functioned in Portland of almost a century and act as the “official greeters and goodwill Ambassadors” to our fair city since 1912. This group is most active during the Rose Festival which comes to Portland in early summer/late spring annually.

Another visible feature of our annual Rose Festival is the Rose Festival Queen. The queen elect has their name engraved in a bronze star which is then laid among its predecessors to make up the “Queen’s Walk” which holds each queen’s name-in-star since 1907.

One of the cutest parts of the Rose Garden is the Miniature Rose Garden! Standing at the front entrance of the Garden, in raised beds it is only one of 6 of its kind recognized by the AARS.

The Shakespeare Garden started out with botanical varieties that were made mention of in his various plays. Due to the abundant shade over this garden through the years it has been replaced with some more shade friendly varieties and a few roses which bare the names of some of the bard’s most well known characters.

In the garden there are thousands of plants to smell and gaze your way through.
Exploring the various sub-gardens mentioned above is incredible sometimes verging on overwhelming in this 4.5 acre stretch. However, one of our favorite things to do there is relax, and take in the views.

On a good day you can peek a crystal clear vision of Mt. Hood looming to the east. The Amphitheater is a great place to play frisbee, or lay out and soak up the sun. It is also one of our favorite picnic stops. It’s really beautiful!

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Anything we missed? Something you love? Send us your thoughts!
Once we have accumulated enough feedback we’ll compile a list of “Guest Favorites” so you can see what travelers like yourself have loved about Portland.

Lights Off, Candles On: Earth Hour 2016

Thursday, March 10, 2016

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What are you doing when the lights go out this Saturday for Earth Hour!?

We hope you’ll head to a HI USA Hostel! Because this year we are happy to announce that both Portland hostels are running Earth Hour events!

HI – Northwest Portland Hostel is hosting our annual blindfolded food and beer tasting event in the Elliston Kitchen at 8 pm. Followed by a brew pub crawl to some of the best microbreweries that Portland has to offer.

The Hawthorne Hostel will also be participating in this world wide event by hosting a game night by sparkle light at 8:30 pm! Hostel guests and neighbors are welcome to attend the event.

Plus, did I mention that light refreshments will be provided at both hostels! We know we’ll see you there!

The Greenest Ways to Travel

Monday, October 5, 2015

In the modern world we have many choices available to us for travelling from place to place – how do we decide which is the best? An important criteria on this ever-warming planet is “how sustainable is it”? Of course, the bicycle is the ultimate in human-powered, emission-free transport, but if you are travelling long distances, it is not always practical to hop on a bike.

After human-powered transit, tram light rail and buses are nearly tied for efficiency – so if you are travelling to an urban area where public transit is available, this is a great way to mitigate your carbon footprint while seeing the sights. Plus, by skipping the car, you save money and you don’t have to worry about parking in a strange city!

As you can see from the graph, even heavy rail or electric/diesel powered rail make a significant jump up in energy usage per passenger. Of course, these modes become more efficient as the length of the journey increases – so for example, a cross-country train journey could actually be more efficient than a short, stop-and-go trip by city bus.

Cars, planes, and taxis (at least, in their current fossil fuel-dependent state) are the clear losers in the game of eco-friendly travel. Single-occupancy cars are particularly bad, but carpooling or ride sharing is another great way to save money and lessen carbon emissions at the same time. And for those long trans-oceanic flights, a great way to counteract their pollution could be simply renting a bicycle or taking public transit wherever you happen to land.

In the future, perhaps we will have renewably-powered electric vehicles or hydrogen-based fuel that emits only clean water – these technologies are already being tested. But in the meantime, we can still do the best we can with what’s available to make green, healthy choices for ourselves and our planet.