Northwest Portland Hostel

Centrally Located – in the Heart of Portland

Northwest Portland Hostel Blog

Portland featured in Elle Magazine’s November Issue

Friday, November 28, 2014

Elle magazine recently featured Portland in the Jetsetter section of their November issue.

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The article offers great recommendations for the best places to eat, drink, explore and stay while you’re in Portland.  We were delightfully surprised to find a few of our favorite NW spots mentioned, including: the heavenly pizza found at the Oven and Shaker and the retail delights on NW 23rd avenue.

The author sums up the article in a great way when she says, Portland is a “place where it’s possible to find artisanal everything, sift through vintage wares for hours, and, with a short car ride just beyond city limits, explore overgrown forests and serene lakes.”  We couldn’t agree more!

For more recommendations on things to do and places to see while in Portland, check out our staff recommendations board next to the front desk. Not staying at the hostel just yet? Then check out our online staff bios. They’re filled with our favorite things in the Rose City. See you soon!


Our top #3 rainy day hangouts

Thursday, November 13, 2014

After this very hot and dry summer we really deserve a little splash of refreshing water. If you guys think of refreshments right now…you’re wrong! Today we’re talking about what you guys can do when Portland is drowning in the rain.

Our staff has chosen our top 3 rainy day hangouts. These entertaining indoor activities won’t let dreary weather dampen anyone’s spirits.


#1: Powell’s

No trip to Portland would be complete without a trip to Powell’s City of Books. Even if you’re not a big reader, you’ll still have a great time visiting this colorful bookstore that occupies an entire city block. The fact that Powell’s offers maps to navigate the store should tell you something about the size of this place, which includes nine color-coded rooms organized by subject matter. Here is what our staff think:

Sarah: Powell’s!!! Because books are great!

Maggie: Powell’s!!!! No explanation needed!

Mike: Besides my apartment, my favorite rainy day hangout would have to be Powell’s. It’s far too easy to spend a whole day here. They have a small café, but if the hunger really strikes all you have to do is walk across the street and pick up some Sizzle Pie Pizza (My favorite pizza joint). Oh wait, did you also want to maybe see a movie with a nice pint of beer in hand? Just walk across the street again! Now you’re at The Living Room Theatre, where you sit at the bar until it’s time for the movie. How could any rainy day be better?


#2: Brew-and-View theaters

Portland’s beloved “brew ‘n’ view” theaters are serving up all different kinds of brews, food and flicks. Shows at these theaters cost less than $10, and some even run less for as little as $3 per movie. Check out what our staff said:

Julia: There is nothing better than having a beer and eating a slice of pizza while watching a movie for just 3 bucks. The Mission Theater, just one block from the hostel, is by far my favorite rainy day hangout!

Meghan: Portland’s Brew-and-View theaters are perfect places to hang out while it is raining. These places serve beer and food so that you can satisfy your palate while watching a new-release or indy-film, Cinema-21, Living Room Theater, and The Mission Theater are brew and view theaters in NW Portland.


#3: 23RD Avenue shopping, bars and cafés

NW 23rd has something for everyone: coffee, food, chocolate, small shopping boutiques for the ladies, and breweries the guys. Walking this famous Portland street is a great rainy day activity that starts with the best breakfast in town and ends with the best dinner. here is what our staff recommends:

Britta: Vivace Coffee House & Creperie! Housed in an old Victorian building on 23rd Avenue. Vivace offers Portland’s famous Stumptown coffee and the best crepes in town. Savory or sweet, you can’t go wrong! Cozy atmosphere, comfy chairs and free WiFi!


Stay warm and dry out there!

Hostel Halloween

Monday, October 27, 2014


The hostel held its second annual Halloween Pumpkin Carving Party on October 26th.  This year we had 10 hostellers jostling for the prize of ‘best pumpkin’ and the competition was steep! But in the end there was a landslide victory.

Our winning pumpkin is this beauty below. It depicts a unique take on our hostel logo, many scary creatures like ghosts and bats, and a jack o’lantern face smoking a cigar (made out of the pumpkin’s stem).  Remember, smoking is scary, kids!

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Happy Halloween! IMG_7325





A Trip to the Windy City

Saturday, October 25, 2014

This week our Volunteer Coordinator flew to Chicago to attend HI USA’s first annual Engagement Summit. The Summit was an important step toward our goal of making HI USA a leading hostel provider in the world and a valued source of experiential learning.  It also allowed engagement staff from all of the country to come together to discuss how we can better the guest experience through our volunteer and activity programs.

Our Volunteer Coordinator stayed at HI Chicago while attending the conference. Here’s some photos from her time in the Windy City.


Interactive public art in Grant Park


The shiny Chicago Theater


Carnival Rides at Navy Pier


Trump Hotel and the Chicago River


The beautiful Buckingham Fountain


HI engagement staff gathered for our Sleep for Peace awards ceremony


HI Chicago’s dining room and a passing CTA blue line train


Cool recycling sign in HI Chicago’s dining room

A Trip to the Cemetery

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Halloween is almost here!!!

Last week we gave you a peek at what is happening in Portland on Halloween. Now we want to take you closer to the action with a nice trip to the cemetery…

First, I want to say that cemeteries freak me out all year round, but there is something especially spooky about a cemetery around Halloween.  It’s the rustling in the undergrowth, the bizarre shadows that the moon casts, and the spirits rising from the dead.  O.K. that last one is probably just in my imagine, right?

This year, for your entertainment, I gathered my strength and braved the Davis Graveyard. Located at 8703 SE 43rd Ave in Milwaukie, the Davis Graveyard is really spooky for a scaredy cat like me!  Homeowners and Halloween enthusiasts Jeff and Chris Davis created their creepy graveyard with the help of a dedicated crew.  It took several years to bring the dead and dying to life, but the dream has become a reality and each year the display gets better and better. They handcrafted the props all summer to produce this intricate and artistic display. They transformed their garage, driveway, front yard and house into a realistic graveyard.

The Davis Graveyard is FREE (donations are welcome) and offers a lights-only version of the display from dusk to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Weekend hours for full effects are dusk to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and dusk to 10 p.m. Sundays through Halloween (Oct. 31).

I recommend going there and checking out their humorous headstones, haunted buildings and monuments, ghosts and mourner statues, a massive mechanical spider, skeletons and skulls (which are all accompanied by high-tech sound effects and a light and fog shows). We will definitely use the Graveyard as our inspiration for the hostel’s Halloween decoration next year!

Here’s some pictures I was able to capture in between scares:

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Halloween Events in Portland

Friday, October 10, 2014

So that you don’t miss out on the spookiest month of the year, we’ve compiled a list of all the ghostly Halloween events in and around the Portland area.

For those scaredy cats out there, we’ve added some special milder events to the list like “Howloween at the Zoo” or the Pumpkin Festival, as well as heaps of farms, where you can pick and carve pumpkins, ride cow trains, get lost in corn mazes, and enjoy tractor-pulled hay rides. And for those of you who love a good scare we’ve included all the haunted happenings for Halloween 2014, including: parties, dances, zombie walks, Michael Jackson’s Thriller flash mob dance, spooky houses and graveyards, and even Halloween themed sporting events and thrilling film festivals.

The hostel will also be leading special Halloween events during October. Please check our activities board or ask at the reception for more information.


Now get out there and get scared!

Halloween Fantasy Trail

Families love the lighted Halloween Fantasy Trail, with its decorated castle, suspension bridge, tunnel, and maze at Wenzel family farm in Oregon City.

19754 S Ridge Rd, Oregon City, OR 97045
Open: Oct 1 – 30, 2014 / Everyday: 12pm – 5pm7pm – 10pm
Price: $5.00


Halloween on a farm
Enjoy pumpkin patches, hayrides, and corn mazes at different farms in and around Portland

Greater Portland area:
Open: Oct 1 – 31, 2014

    • Bella Organic – 16205 NW Gillihan Rd, Portland, OR 97231
    • Delta Farms / The Pumpkin Patch – 16511 NW Gillihan Road, Portland, OR 97231-151
    • Fazio Farm – 8433 NE 13th Avenue, Portland, OR 97211
    • Kruger’s Farm Market  – 17100 NW Sauvie Island Road, Portland, OR 97231
    • Portland Pumpkin Farm – 16205 NW Gillihan Road, Portland, OR 97231
    • Sauvie Island Farms – 19818 NW Sauvie Island Rd, Portland, OR 97231


Zombie Paintball – Diamond Hill

This Maze is full of Zombies! You enter the Maze with a Guide and 4 friends. Together you navigate the maze and take out Zombies. Easy? Well you are walking around in the Dark with a Paintball gun that has a light attached, shooting very scary Zombies! Nope the Zombies don’t have Paintball Guns. We would prefer you did not let them have yours!

1070 South 6th Street, Harrisburg, Oregon
Open: Call for dates, 7pm – 11pm


Haunted Davis Graveyard

Visit Davis Graveyard in Milwaukie any day, or after dusk to see the lights, or wait for special effects Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings.

8703 SE 43rd Ave, Milwaukie, OR 97222
Open: Oct 1 – 31, 2014
Price: free


Pumpkin Festival

See pumpkins shot from a cannon, take a hayride, navigate a corn maze (haunted some evenings), try archery & paintball, and choose a pumpkin during Pumpkin Fest at Wooden Shoe Farm in Woodburn.

33814 S. Meridian Rd. Woodburn, OR 97071
Open: Sept 27 through Nov 2, 2014; 10am – 6pm daily
Price: $7


Fright Town
Werechickens and evil clowns and mutant sea monkeys – OH MY! You might think you’ve seen it all but no other haunted house on the planet could possibly prepare you for the cacophonous cornucopia of creepies and crawlies that inhabit BARON VON GOOLO’S MUSEUM OF HORRORS! Get three scary attractions for one price at Fright Town, under Veterans Memorial Coliseum in the Rose Quarter. See schedule. Discount tickets certain days.

Rose Quarter, 1 N Center Ct St, Portland, OR 97227
Open: Oct 3 – 5, 8 – 12, 15 – 19, 22 – 26, 29 and 30, Halloween
and a special Saturday Nov 1 opening for Dia De Los Muertos!
Price: $22


13th Door Haunted House

At the 13th Door Haunted House of Oregon (the Original), you will experience Portland’s Best Haunted Attraction! With our highly detailed sets you will become part of the horror as you journey amongst our animated creatures and theatrical actors.
3855 SW Murray Blvd, Beaverton, OR 97006
Open: Oct 3 – Nov 2, 2014
Price: $15


Haunted Ghost Town
The Haunted Ghost Town at Rossi Farms has an Old West theme. Take a horrifying adventure through the old haunted west that has been overrun by the morbid characters of “Clydes Hell On Wheels” traveling show.
Rossi Farms, 3839 NE 122nd Avenue Portland, OR
Open: Oct 10, 11, 17, 18, 24, 25, 26 & 31, 2014, Friday & Saturday: 7pm – 10pmSunday: 7pm – 9:30pm
Price: $15


Zompire: The Undead Film Festival
Every minute of Zompire will be filled with great independent films that you’ve never seen, and may not see again. Buy a ticket for the whole weekend by clicking the link below, and plan to be there for our Saturday night, Sunday afternoon, and Sunday night showings… each block contains different films, and each will be a mix of things that go bump in the night. See 30 independent horror movies about spirits, vampires, voodoo, and zombies at Zompire: The Undead Film Festival at Clinton Street Theater.

Clinton St. Theater, 2522 SE Clinton Street, Portland, OR 97202
Open: Oct 11 – 12, 2014
Price: $15


Zombie Walk and Thriller Dance
Join us for our annual Thriller dance, on Saturday October 25th, at 3pm. Afterwards the Portland Zombie Walk will invade the city, which begins at Hollywood Vintage this year.

Hollywood Vintage, 2757 NE Pacific St, Portland, OR 97232
Open: Oct 25, 2014, 4pm – 8pm


Run Like Hell!
Run Like Hell, a Halloween-themed race that sees participants dress out in full costume for a run through the streets of Portland. Wear a costume for the Run Like Hell! Half marathon, 10K, and 5K, which all begin and end at Pioneer Courthouse Square and include an after-party.

Pioneer Courthouse Square, 701 SW 6th Ave, Portland, OR 97204
Open: Oct 26, 2014


Howloween at the Zoo

The zoo provides a fun and safe setting for this Halloween tradition, where costumed trick-or-treaters learn about wildlife in a fun scavenger hunt throughout the zoo. Enjoy scavenger hunts, goody bags, and activities like watching animals eat pumpkins during Howloween at the Oregon Zoo.

Portland Zoo, 4001 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221
Open: Oct 26, 2014, 10am – 3pm
Price: $11.50


Halloween ’80s Video Dance Attack

Our annual 80s Video Dance Attack Halloween Party returns to haunt the Crystal Ballroom on Friday, October 31st! Held at McMenamins Crystal Ballroom AND Lola’s Room, this spooky 80s extravaganza is the perfect way to celebrate the scariest holiday of the year! Big music videos, colorful lights, and pounding music will await you.

Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209
Open: Oct 31, 2014, 8pm – 2:30am

Oktoberfest at Base Camp Brewing

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Today, the hostel took a group of guests and volunteers to Okto14 – Base Camp Brewery’s Oktoberfest. Everyone had a good time and we enjoyed family based games like hammerschlagen (hammer striking), cornhole and Toss-The-Ring. One of the highlights of the day was the Human Fussball Tournament, which was set up like a Weltmeisterschaft (World Cup). But even more fun than watching the teams compete with each other, was to watch the currywurst eating competition. Talk about some prime Kodak moments!  We were really lucky to have such a great weather (80 degrees!) and everyone enjoyed their wonderful Base Camp beers in the hot and bright afternoon sun. Definitely an event you should check out if you land in Portland next October!

Tom at Basecamp

Our volunteers take these events very seriously

Oktoberfest in Portland

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Oktoberfest, also called Wiesn, is the largest beer festival in the world. The original Oktoberfest took place in Munich, Germany in 1810. The beer festival is visited every year by over six million people and happens from September 20th to October 5th. The first Oktoberfest was held in honor of the wedding of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. The celebrations began on October 12th and ended on October 17th, hence the name Oktoberfest. In the following years, the festival was extended and brought forward in time in order to take advantage of the summer.

At the Oktoberfest you can only drink beer from Munich’s breweries like Spaten, Augustiner, Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu and Löwenbräu. Breweries offer 14 large and 15 small beer tents in which you can get beer and traditional Bavarian food. Each tent offers also a different style of entertainment, which go from boxing to political speeches, and a different type of music, which go from traditional Bavarian marching bands to live acts of the current pop culture. For the Oktoberfest Munich’s breweries brew a special beer, which must have original wort of at least 13.5% and hence contains higher alcohol percentage than regular beer. Besides beer tents, food carts and crafts vendors there are also heaps of rides like roller coasters and haunted houses.

But even far away from Munich the Oktoberfest is celebrated. Around 2,000 Bavarian style Oktoberfests are organized all over the globe. Bigger ones are in Blumenau/Brazil and in Kitchener/Canada with around one million visitors, followed by Frankenmuth/Michigan with about 350,000 visitors. Here you can see what is happening in Portland:
Oktoberfest at Widmer
September 13, 2014
The Widmer Brothers Brewery, 929 N Russell Street, Portland, OR 97227
Enjoy Munich-style ales, and German food & music at Widmer Oktoberfest at Widmer Brothers Brewing. 2PM-11PM

Oktoberfest at Oaks Park
September 19 – 21, 2014
Oaks Park, 7805 SE Oaks Park Way, Portland, OR 97202
Oktoberfest features live German music, dancing, art, contests, food, drinks, playground for kids, and Saturday dachshund races at Oaks Amusement Park. 11AM-midnight

Bike and Beerfest
September 27 – 28, 2014
Hopworks Urban Brewery, 2944 SE Powell Blvd, Portland, OR 97202
Oregon Handmade Bike and Beer Festival combines Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show and Biketobeerfest, to bring you bikes, beer and live music at Hopworks.

Oktoberfest at McMenamins
September 27 – 28, 2014
McMenamins Edgefield, 2126 S.W. Halsey Street, Troutdale, OR 97060
Enjoy beer, food, singing to live music, and face painting at Oktoberfest at Edgefield on Sunday. All ages. No cover.

Beer Festival
October 3 – 4, 2014
Oaks Amusement Park, 7805 SE Oaks Park Way, Portland, OR
Portland Fresh Hops Fest features hoppy beer for adults, plus root beer and lemonade for kids at Oaks Amusement Park. Free! Noon-8PM

Base Camp Oktoberfest
October 4, 2014
Base Camp Brewing Company, 930 SE Oak St, Portland, Oregon 97214
Expect dirndls and lederhosen, deutschküche and festbier as well as live-musik. Base Camp Oktoberfest will also be bringing the HEAT this year with some extra-special festivities like a human fussball tourney! 11 AM – 10 PM

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Every fall Vaux’s Swifts, a small bird breed native to North and South America, prepare to migrate to their wintering sites in South and Central America. On their way down south the birds use our neighbor, Chapman Elementary School’s chimney as an evening roost.

Vaux’s Swifts spend almost all of their daylight hours in the air foraging for insects. Shortly after the sunset, thousands of them gather in the sky, forming a dark cloud, and hover above the Chapman’s School like a tornado until they suddenly begin their descent into the chimney.

The “Chapman Swifts” are North America’s largest concentration of Vaux’s Swifts. They have used the school’s chimney on their migration route as a stopover since the 1980s and can be seen every evening from mid-August to mid-October.

This is one of Portland’s most spectacular natural events and every night up to 2000 spectators gather around the Chapman School in Wallace Park. If you like to witness this incredible phenomenon get directions from our front desk staff.

Meet Lauren!

Sunday, August 31, 2014
Meet Lauren! The newest member of our hostel family.

Hi there! I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, lived in Huntsville, Alabama for five years, and most recently was in Chicago for two years before coming to Oregon. Milwaukee is not that different from Portland in a lot of ways. Of course we have a lake instead of a river to orient ourselves in the city, and a severe lack of mountains – but both MKE and PDX have a little over half a million people, lots of quirky little cafes and shops, plenty of outdoor spaces and activities, and masses of underpaid service workers, young artists, travelers, students, and the requisite condo-dwelling yupsters. So naturally, I felt at home here from the first day.

I traveled to the Pacific NW on a solo journey last August, visiting some old friends in Seattle, then on to Portland, Mt. Hood, Crater Lake, and a good bit of the Oregon coast. I fell in love with the landscape, met a handsome fella in Portland, and in October I decided to leave the midwest once and for all. I have never regretted it for a second, except to lament that ordering takeout isn’t a thing in Portland!

Lauren’s first major travel experience:

The first time I traveled on my own, I went on a class trip to France for two weeks when I was 16. I didn’t have any friends on the trip and with an odd number of students traveling, I ended up without a roommate for the whole trip – awesome for an introvert like myself! We spent most of the first week in Paris, which was overwhelming and amazing. I had never been in a city that large, much less where I barely spoke the language. I spent a lot of time just wandering by myself and admiring the scenery. I love that you can feel so many centuries of history as you walk the streets there.

We also traveled to various castles and chateaus around France, all very old and très belle, and to the countryside of Provence. The delicious wine, hearty food, and huge fields of lavender in Provence won me over and I plan to travel there again when time allows.

The single most breathtaking place I’ve been to is the redwood forests of northern California – I went there for a special 30th birthday trip and it felt like being on another planet! (OK, I was on Endor, yeah.) I highly recommend a trip there if you can manage it.


Lauren’s favorite spots in Portland:

For Portland-worthy weirdness, try the Pied Cow at SE Belmont and 32nd Ave. It’s in an old Victorian house painted olive green, easy to walk past. They are known for their ridiculous dessert creations, goth-horror-kitsch theme, and huge, shady patio. They offer local beers, espresso drinks, and hookah rentals, so it’s a great place to escape the summer heat and sit with a friend.

Lompoc brewing’s Hedge House at 34th and Division, aptly named for a large manicured hedge surrounding the place. Go on a Tuesday, when they have $2.50 pints – I highly recommend the Proletariat Red.

If you’d like to stay closer to downtown, the East Burn at SE 18th Ave and Burnside also has $2.50 pints on Tuesdays, and awesome food that I would describe as up-scaled pub grub

On Sundays my go-to is the Standard at the corner of NE 22nd and Burnside for $2 pints. (See a theme here? Call me budget-conscious.) They have old pinball and video games, pool, and a nice patio that stays open even in chilly, rainy weather with a canvas roof and portable heaters.

If you are into sushi, I’d recommend trying Ichiban at NW Broadway & Couch. It’s a sushi-go-round with a real electric toy train that brings the plates by, and you can also make orders with the chef. On Wednesdays and Saturdays they have sushi specials. They play 80’s alternative & new wave and the service is great – you won’t be disappointed.

Why she likes working at the hostel:

It’s fun meeting people from all over the world and getting their perspective on things in Portland as well as the U.S. at large. For example, a 20-something guy from Israel was intrigued by the ginger ale soda that we sell because he’d never heard of ginger in a drink before. I love finding out about those little things that seem totally normal and run-of-the-mill to me but that are weird or exciting to people from other places.

Aussi, c’est bon que je peut pratiquer mon Français occasionellement. Hope to see you here some day!