Portland weird
September 3, 2016 4:34 PM   Subscribe

What cool/odd/weird little things can I see or do in Portland OR from now through September 17th? My sis told me about PICA's TBA and I will probably do some of that but I would also be interested in even less mainstream type things.

Interests: science, medicine, music, oddities, kitsch, niche things, Portland/PNW specific things
Noninterests: gaming, comics, bicycling

I'm mainly looking for little low-key things, no grand big adventures needed, as I'm otherwise very busy on this trip.
posted by bobobox to Travel & Transportation around Portland, OR (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Pick up a copy of or peruse the online Willamette Week for listings.
posted by janell at 6:28 PM on September 3, 2016

If you read music and aren't absolutely allergic to mention of religion, go to a shape note singing? It is music, it is niche; it is not exclusively Portland but Portland is very good for it.
posted by batter_my_heart at 10:53 PM on September 3, 2016

1. See if you can get a tour of the research nuclear reactor at Reed College - you have to arrange it in advance via email. (Not sure how easy it is to arrange. When I emailed, I said that my dad was a physicist who was visiting from Australia and was really interested, and that my husband was a Reedie. That worked.)

2. Views - Portland City Grill (downtown but spendy and may require reservations), Altabirra (Convention Center Max stop - eastside), Rocky Butte (car required), or the Meditation Chapel at The Grotto (#12 bus, $5 for the elevator, ignore all the religious stuff unless that's your bag, amazing views out to Mt St Helens on a clear day, and a nice break from life)

3. If you're downtown, take a stroll down SW Yamhill (between 3rd & 4th? Somewhere in that vicinity). Super cool bronzes of local animals and quotes in the pavement tiles. In winter people put knitted scarves and jackets on the animals, which makes me smile. You won't see those, but still worth a detour...

4. Powells. I'm sure it's already on your list for the books alone, but they have an elevator with doors on 3 sides which the child in me finds fascinating. I took a friend from out of town on it recently, we pressed every button (sorry fellow customers), and put bets on which door would open next (the overall winner bought the first round at our next stop).

Get a Trimet app on your phone before you go. Portland has awesome public transit, which makes it easy to get out of downtown (and back again). Enjoy Portland!
posted by finding.perdita at 11:22 PM on September 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

About an hour outside of town, at Mount Angel Abbey, there is an incredible, tiny museum. It's a real, old-school wunderkammer but in a quintessentially rural, Oregonian style.

I love that place beyond all reason.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:12 AM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Reading Frenzy is an Independent Press Emporium most definitely worth visiting.
posted by jammy at 6:35 AM on September 4, 2016 [4 favorites]

Check out the Portlandia statue on the City of Portland building downtown. The office building across the street has an escalator to a viewing platform so you can look her right in the eyes.

The Hatfield federal courthouse has a rooftop garden on the 8th floor with freaky trial-related animal statues. You will have to go through a metal detector. There used to be a food cart near the entrance that would check your gun while you went to court.

Reed nuclear reactor tours are definitely open to the public, but you do have to plan ahead.

The Peculiarium is an odd little believe-it-or-not type museum.

Enchanted Forest is closer to Salem but super-kitschy and friends who grew up here have fond memories.

Morbid, but if you ask nicely, Wilhelm's Portland Memorial will let you walk around. It's pretty amazing - there are huge marble sculptures and lots of interesting tombs, including some with cool stained glass.
posted by momus_window at 11:33 AM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, and the Oaks Park Roller Rink is great - go when someone is playing the Wurlitzer organ. There are usually some skate-dancers showing off, and there's also a "rollercoaster" wavy floor bit at the back and a track with handrails for the especially skate-inept. The floor is designed to be disconnected from the building so it can float during flooding.
posted by momus_window at 11:54 AM on September 4, 2016

if you have a car, a trip down the oregon coast is a real treat.
posted by lescour at 12:04 PM on September 4, 2016

Microcosm Publishing on N. Williams is a great place for radical/anarchist/counterculture books, zines, patches, and stickers. Look for the bright green building with a sign that says "Book Story."

The Old Church downtown has some great events, like the free "sack lunch" concerts every Wednesday at noon. When we went to one a while back the scheduled performer had to cancel, so one of the organizers did an impromptu concert on their organ (most of the music was unsurprising, but he also threw in the Downton Abbey theme for good measure).
posted by sibilatorix at 12:25 PM on September 4, 2016

I have similar interests and I really liked Kidd's Toy Museum.
posted by atropos at 11:48 AM on September 5, 2016

The Hollywood Theatre is a beautiful non-profit theatre that shows all manner of films. Go when they have someone playing the organ before the show -- we went to see West Side Story in 70mm, and the organ player who did the overture before the movie started was completely fantastic. A really wonderful throwback.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 8:35 PM on September 5, 2016

These are some really great suggestions and definitely in the vein I was hoping for. Thank you all! I'll try to check out ones I have time for. I tried to stop by the Kidd's Toy Museum today because I wasn't too far away but no one answered the door (not super surprised because it was a holiday).
posted by bobobox at 9:14 PM on September 5, 2016

The various rose gardens in the Ladds neighborhood are interesting. Each bed of flowers has a little placard telling the name and when the variety was created. The Hoyt Arboretum is similar in that respect.

Perhaps driving or hiking up to Pittock Mansion.

Definitely walk the waterfront park.

Andy and Bax might be up your alley.
posted by TomFoolery at 11:44 AM on September 6, 2016

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