Quirky cool things in Portland, OR in the next couple of weeks?
September 9, 2016 9:45 AM   Subscribe

I know some folks who are going to honeymoon in Portland, OR soon. They're arriving in the middle of next week and will be there for 10-14 days. I'd love to be able to point them to cool weird quirky things going on that they may not easily find in tourist magazines etc. They're about 40, not huge on hiking and I'm not sure what styles of music they like. They're already planning to get head-sized donuts at Voodoo and I've rhapsodised at them about Powells. Hope me, hive mind!
posted by rmd1023 to Travel & Transportation around Portland, OR (29 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Just for context, I'm thinking things like "hey, there's a cool Scooby-Doo themed art exhibit at such-and-such coffee shop through the 20th", or "the regular Friday night buskers at this park are really good, lately".
posted by rmd1023 at 9:54 AM on September 9, 2016

Best answer: Saturday Market is definitely mentioned in touristy articles and stuff, but I still think it's worth recommending -- good food, good people-watching, good local arts & crafts, gourmet snacks for taking back to their lodgings. It's only blocks away from Powell's, too.
posted by palomar at 10:08 AM on September 9, 2016

Response by poster: Cool. I think their hotel is in the same general area of town as Powell's.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:13 AM on September 9, 2016

Best answer: Just for some context: VooDoo Donuts is, to snooty Portlanders, a big tourist trap. The donuts are fine, but (and I don't have a dog in this fight) donut-loving Portlanders would instead suggest Coco Donuts or Blue Star Donuts.

Powell's is also fantastic, but definitely not off the beaten path.

I'd say check the Portland Mercury and Willamette Week for event listings. Restaurant listings on Yelp are a pretty good reflection of what Portlanders like, too.

Some of the Keep-Portland-Weird shtick *is part of* what the tourism bureau uses to promote Portland. The stuff recommended for tourists is pretty good usually in any case.

Biketown bike share is new and definitely not just for tourists. They should rent some orange bikes and cruise around.

Take public transportation to experience real Portland.

It can be nice to explore neighborhoods by foot. For example, bike or transit to N Mississippi and plan to spend the day on those few short blocks. You could easily eat three meals and wander through shops in between.

There are some great day trips, too. Cannon Beach/Ecola Bay is spectacular. Hood River is charming as well.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:17 AM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Shopping: for my first trip to Portland, someone sent me gift cards to The Meadow and to Cacao. The latter was particularly good because it FORCED me to have a cup of the drinking chocolate.
posted by BibiRose at 10:21 AM on September 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Shogun's Antiques is worth visiting if they are potentially shopping for furnishings.

Everyone mentions the Japanese garden and the Chinese garden/tea house. It's OK to visit both.

This river boat ride was beautiful. There's a very basic snack cafe/grill at the Cascade Locks dock.

If we ever go back, we'll try hard to find our way to the coast.
posted by amtho at 10:31 AM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yes, the coast, definitely. I knew the waterfalls would be amazing but had no idea of the wonder and variety of the rock formations on the beaches e.g. at Oceanside.
posted by BibiRose at 10:35 AM on September 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Nthing the coast. The Oregon coast is truly beautiful.
posted by palomar at 10:38 AM on September 9, 2016

Specific locations/lodgings at the coast?
posted by amtho at 10:42 AM on September 9, 2016

Oceanside is a nice place to stay.
posted by BibiRose at 10:49 AM on September 9, 2016

Cannon Beach. That's where Haystack Rock is, and has a lot of historical interest as the Lewis and Clark expedition went through that area. I like the Stephanie Inn in Cannon Beach, but it's quite spendy. However, for a honeymoon trip, it's very romantic and if they have room in their budget to splurge I would highly recommend.
posted by palomar at 10:50 AM on September 9, 2016

Best answer: There's a Sister Corita Kent exhibition at the Portland Art Museum right now, which I'm excited about.

The NW Film Center is doing a series of "drive-in" movies during September (no car required).

The Hollywood Theater also usually has interesting goings on; lots of restored films, 35mm, artist in attendance stuff.

Keep in mind that there's multiple Powell's locations; the epically large store downtown at 10th and Burnside, a more corporate-feeling store out in Beaverton, and two smaller and funkier stores down in SE Portland on Hawthorne Blvd. One of those is a normal bookstore and the other focuses on cookbooks, gardening, home stuff, and gifts. Most of these locations have author events multiple times a week, so it might be fun to check out the calendar and see if anyone interesting will be in town.

Portland also has a cat cafe.

If the coast does become a thing, I love the very quirky Sou'Wester Lodge, which rents out vintage trailers and often has artists in residency. The last time we stayed there, the first person we talked to asked if we wanted to come clamdigging, there were pumpkin carving lessons on the porch, a lovely band played in the lodge that evening, and another guest shared their smoked salmon with us! Plus, it's close to Astoria, which is a proper coastal destination in its own right.
posted by redsparkler at 10:56 AM on September 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Oh yeah, the Sou'Wester! Friends have stayed there and loved it, and I'll second Astoria as a great destination in its own right.
posted by palomar at 10:58 AM on September 9, 2016

Response by poster: I don't think they're renting a car, so the coast (gorgeous as it is - I love it out there) is probably not on their itinerary.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:00 AM on September 9, 2016

Best answer: Oh! If they're into karaoke, Baby Ketten Karaoke is still rocking hard several nights a week at locations around town. Here's the relevant New York Times article.
posted by redsparkler at 11:05 AM on September 9, 2016

Best answer: Id like to second the Purringtons cat cafe- it's so cute and fun. Do they like to dance? 80s video dance attack can be fun if you are into that kind of thing- people dress up and rock out to 80s music. I think the Saturday market is worth a visit.

Also nthing exploring some of the neighborhoods on foot. Also do they like drinking? There's a lot of distilleries and breweries (beer and cider) in town that they could visit and taste stuff at.
posted by FireFountain at 11:15 AM on September 9, 2016

Best answer: One of my favorite things to do this time of year is going to see the Vaughn Swifts. Its a bunch or birds that nest each night inside a giant chimney, and create a whirling vortex of BIRD, all while collectively avoiding and fending off hawks trying to eat them. They finish entering the chimney just after dusk. Get there plenty early if you want a spot to sit. Pack a picnic (they patrol regularly for booze...so don't be dumb about it, or keep it WELL hidden).

It's the fucking best.
posted by furnace.heart at 11:40 AM on September 9, 2016 [5 favorites]

Oh yeah! The swifts are AMAZING. And would be just a streetcar ride away from the Powell's area downtown.
posted by redsparkler at 12:44 PM on September 9, 2016

Best answer: TBA is going on right now; they should find something there that sounds interesting to them and go. In general I find that the Mercury's event calendar has a good mix of weird and mainstream. I like the Willamette Week's calendar a bit less, but I couldn't tell you why (and your opinion/their opinion may differ).
posted by togdon at 12:46 PM on September 9, 2016

Best answer: You could check special events at OMSI. A week from now, OMSI is having an animation festival at the IMAX theater. Be sure to walk or ride across the new Tilikum Crossing while there.

Let me also chime in that the watching the Vaux swifts is about the most Portland thing ever.

Bagdad Theater is an especially nice place to see a movie.
posted by polecat at 3:08 PM on September 9, 2016

Best answer: Partly because one of my best friends used to live near Hawthorne Street, one thing I do every time I'm in Portland is go get brunch, trawl vintage stores for hilarious and/or interesting buys, and hit up The Perfume House to buy a new fragrance (obviously off the table if one is not good with perfumes/scents). The lady who is always working at Perfume House is absolutely lovely and is one of the most genuinely helpful and inspired fragrance experts I've ever shopped with – if either of the couple wants a honeymoon fragrance, I'm sure they would walk out happy with their choice.
posted by wakannai at 5:18 PM on September 9, 2016

Best answer: Take the aerial tram from the waterfront, especially if the weather is nice!
posted by skycrashesdown at 7:36 PM on September 9, 2016

Best answer: There's a Polish Festival September 17th and 18th!
posted by terooot at 8:51 PM on September 9, 2016

Pips donuts! Don't mess with that Voodoo stuff.
posted by bendy at 9:52 PM on September 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Damn all these imposter donuts, Delicious Do Dos or nothing!
posted by fritillary at 2:53 AM on September 10, 2016

Best answer: Drink some Portland mead! Mead is what the honey in honeymoon comes from. Portland has two meaderies, Fringe and Oregon Mead & Cider. Both are located near other breweries and would be a fun part of a brewery tour.
posted by bloggerwench at 8:59 AM on September 10, 2016

Best answer: Reading Frenzy: An Independent Press Emporium of Great and Estimable Renown!
posted by jammy at 4:02 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Brewvana (www.brewvana.com) does tours of craft breweries (beer, cider and mead) in Portland and would be fun. Their Sunday tour stops at Oregon Mead & Cider Co. among other places.
posted by BrooksCooper at 7:36 PM on September 10, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks, folks! They're en route across the country now and I've handed off the various recommendations.
posted by rmd1023 at 3:27 PM on September 13, 2016

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