Portland has many neighborhoods, each with its own feel and vibe, like micro-communities inside the larger city. The historic Nob Hill/Northwest, the Pearl, Oldtown/Chinatown, and Downtown are all within walking distance from the hostel. Other areas worthwhile exploring are Alberta and Mississippi, Belmont and Hawthorne, Sellwood, and Multnomah Village.
The historic Northwest/Nob Hill is where the hostel calls its home! The streets are alphabetical in one direction and numbered in the other. In the “peace and love” days of the late 60’s and 70’s, Northwest Neighborhood was Portland’s “Haight Ashbury” district, where large groups of people lived communally in the big old houses and NW 21st and 23rd were lined with hip shops. The area is more upscale now with cute boutique stores and restaurants, but you can still find a $2 slice of pizza and lots of cool coffee shops and pubs. It’s a great place to enjoy a little bit of everything!
The Pearl District is Portland’s art scene with galleries from upscale to “starving artist” lofts and is a short walk from the hostel. If you happen to be here on the 1st Thursday of the month, don’t miss the Pearl’s First Thursday event. Galleries celebrate new art exhibits with beer, wine, food and music, and NW 13th Historic Alley becomes a street fair with performers and street artists on warm nights.
The Pearl District literally rose from an abandoned warehouses to a thriving district with cafes, coffee shops, galleries, parks, nightlife, and stunning architecture. Three parks are connected with a wooden board walk along NW 9th Avenue. Relax for a bit at Jamison Square and watch kids play in the wading pool, which fills from a number of small waterfalls. For a quieter scene, walk two blocks north to Tanner Springs Park. Tanner Creek was buried years ago as the area was developed, but brought back to the surface and is now surrounded by native plants, and is now a great place to contemplate the worlds problems. A few more blocks north, The Fields offer a place to toss frisbees or kick soccer balls.
Oldtown has some neat historic restaurants and pubs like the Shanghai Tunnel and Old Town Pizza. The actual “Shanghai Tunnels” are below the streets and remind of the days when untold numbers of sailors and loggers where “shanghaied” (or kidnapped) and sold into slavery. Today, Oldtown is home to the weekend club scene with DJs and dressed up dancers, and Saturday Market (which is also open on Sundays!) is the nation’s largest and longest running open-air crafts market and offers an amazing variety of Oregon-made crafts. Chinatown is home to the Lan Su Chinese Garden, one of the largest Suzhou-style gardens outside of China.
Downtown Portland is active with shoppers who look for tax-free deals at the many retailers or business people who satisfy their hunger at gourmet restaurants or delicious food carts. Yet, it is less frantic than other major US cities. You can join locals stroll through the Park Blocks, sit at Ira Keller Fountain before seeing an exhibit at the Portland Art Museum, feast on some local, gourmet, delicious food at the Farmers Markets, or people watch at Pioneer Courthouse Square.