Flying solo in PDX this weekend, your tips and suggestions?
September 1, 2017 4:06 PM   Subscribe

My wife is at a conference outside of Portland in Clackamas and I came along. I'd like to have suggestions on what to do all day tomorrow (Saturday) and Sunday on my own, as I explore the city while she is busy. It is my second time in Portland but I am still very unfamiliar with the city. Your suggestions and stories and must dos welcome!!

I'm at the hotel right now and am venturing into Portland tomorrow morning. We leave Monday. I have no car and will be relying on Lyft to get me downtown and back. I am trying to figure out an itinerary of things I can do tomorrow and Sunday on my own that are fun doing solo, that are relatively walkable and interesting. I love art, books and theater. I love coffee and beer and fun cafes and people watching. I'd like to have a couple concrete destinations to check out and then fill in with stops along the way. My budget is flexible, just want to have some good stuff in my plans from people who know what they are talking about! Keep in mind I don't have a car except Lyft. TIA!
posted by timpanogos to Travel & Transportation around Portland, OR (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Have lunch at either Kenny & Zukes or Lardo (West). These will put you near Powells Books for browsing.

This is also right near the Stumptown coffee at the Ace Hotel for some great people watching. Pop over to the Living Room Theater if you want to catch a flick.
posted by hydra77 at 4:25 PM on September 1, 2017

Powell's, Powell's, Powell's!!!

FYI, you can flat-rate ship books home if you don't want to pack them on the return trip. I did this a few weeks ago, probably shipped home about 6 books or so for less than $10. It was about 2 weeks. You won't regret it!
posted by mostly vowels at 4:35 PM on September 1, 2017 [4 favorites]

You like coffee, you say? We have lots of options for great coffee.* Most of those places will give you a solid anchor for checking things out. These places have been chosen because they're nice cafes, with great coffee, and friendly folk working who will tell you all the rad things to do in that hood.

Lyft is cool and all, but hitting up the bus is also pretty nice if you're trying to get to the east side from downtown. The 14 will launch you on Hawthorne, which has some great record stores, and Powells junior. Hawthorne is flanked by Division to the south, and Belmont to the north, both of which have pretty damn good brown-liquid selections, both beer and coffee. I personally find Southeast a bit more fun to walk around and hang out in than the downtown area, but YMMV.

Oh, normally I would say you should bike around a little bit on a rental, but air quality is supposed to be shittier than shanghai this weekend, so even for short trips from hood to hood you might want to lyft or bus.

Quarterworld is pretty badass. If you like pinball.

*full disclosure, I roast coffee for one of these places, but I'm an equal opportunist for coffee tourism. Hit any of them up. Dooooo it.
posted by furnace.heart at 5:42 PM on September 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

Loyal Legion for 100 beers on tap, many of them exceedingly good. I love Coalition Brewing as well, but they're basically a warehouse with a couple bar stools at the entrance and some pallets on kegs out in the parking lot to sit around. Grab some Gigantic Pipe Wrench IPA if you like IPAs and can find it -- Gigantic says it's on tap now, so I might run over there myself.
posted by spacewrench at 5:52 PM on September 1, 2017

I really enjoyed the Lan Su Garden. It seems like a perfect place for wandering around by yourself to me. They also have a teahouse where you can get a snack and possibly listen to a live erhu performance.
posted by wintersweet at 9:14 PM on September 1, 2017 [3 favorites] This is also a very nice garden. I really enjoy just wandering around the Pearl District right downtown.
posted by kerf at 10:15 PM on September 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Powell's Books is a popular tourist spot, and from/to there you can walk downtown toward the food cart pod at Alder Street & 10th Ave and visit Pioneer Courthouse Square. You'll also be near Blue Star Donuts, if you want to see what all the fuss is about. If you like coffee, you'll be near Stumptown, Heart and Barista, all of which have awesome coffee. If you like breweries, there are a ton, but Deschutes seems really popular and is close to Powell's. I like 10 Barrel and Bridgeport, which are near there, but to each their own. For good pizza, check out Hotlips. Sizzle Pie is also good, but too small to sit if it's lunchtime.

You can take a Lyft or bus to the Japanese Garden, which does have a small entrance fee but is cool, and right across from it is the International Rose Test Garden, which is open to the public and also nice.

On a random note, if you like soccer, the Portland Thorns play tomorrow at 12:30pm - it's the most popular women's soccer team in the world, so it's pretty cool. The stadium is not far from the 23rd Ave "Alphabet District," which is a good spot for random shopping and eating. You will find another Blue Star Donuts, Barista and more good food/coffee/beer stops if you go up 23rd from West Burnside.
posted by AspirinPill at 11:32 PM on September 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

When I was in Portland for the first time a couple of years ago, my favorites were Powell's (not just any book store, it's enormous and has every book you ever wanted), the Lan Su Gardens, and the art museum, which seems to be carefully and interestingly curated.
posted by janey47 at 8:01 AM on September 2, 2017

A few blocks south of Lan Su and about six blocks east of Powell's is the main location for Voodoo Doughnuts.
posted by megatherium at 8:07 AM on September 2, 2017

If you like art & history together, the Pompeii exhibit at the science museum, OMSI, is great. It has many genuine artifacts and puts Pompeiian life in perspective. (Also, if you get there and there's a long ticket line, you can buy your ticket online on your phone and save 20 minutes.)

Although Portland's not a huge city, many of the suggestions you've gotten are somewhat far from each other. (And OMSI, too, is somewhat isolated from other walkable parts of town.) If you've got a big Lyft budget that's great, but you can also check out the bus/light rail system at It's fairly easy to navigate.

If you've got two days and are coming from Clackamas, it might be easiest to plan one day mostly on the west side of the river (the main Powell's location, Lan Su, the Japanese Garden, the main art museum, all the downtown stuff, etc.) and one day on the east side (OMSI and/or the somewhat artsy commercial/residential districts around Hawthorne, Belmont, Division, 28th Ave., etc. – maybe even Alberta or Mississippi, though those are further north. All will have lots of coffeeshops, small stores, and people-watching.)

If you like art galleries, here's a listing I put together of Portland art galleries roughly organized by part of town. The ones in NW Portland are typically the most established.

But yeah, the temperatures will get up near 100, possibly with wildfire smoke, today & tomorrow. And at this time of year, the hottest part of the day here is usually 3:00-6:00 PM. If you want to do some of the outdoor gardens, like Lan Su or the Japanese Garden, I'd do them earlier in the day. Have fun!
posted by lisa g at 11:01 AM on September 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

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