Places to think in Portland, OR
November 1, 2019 1:19 PM   Subscribe

Random 3-4 day roadtrip to Portland because I need time and space to think about things, please share your best deep thought spots.

I like everything, breakfast places, museums, galleries, cocktail bars, dive bars, coffee shops. Where should I go for great stuff and quality solo time?
posted by Cosine to Travel & Transportation around Portland, OR (11 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The teahouse inside of Lan Su chinese garden downtown. The Japanese Garden. Forest Park trails (Wildwood and Leif Erikson for starters). Elk Rock Gardens of the Bishop's Close. The Grotto.

Clearly I go for nature and solitude for my thinking. Beyond that, for cocktail bars Pepe le Moko is nice and quiet. Powell's is a good place to get lost. There are countless small bars and restaurants in town, so you could surely wander your way into some good ones.
posted by lhputtgrass at 1:43 PM on November 1, 2019 [3 favorites]

Outdoors: Parks are liberally sprinkled all over downtown and inner suburbs. There's the Japanese Gardens, or lots of hiking trails in Forest Park on the west hills, if walkin' and thinkin' is your thing.

Indoors: Little bookstores everywhere, some of which also have adjoining coffee shops.
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:07 PM on November 1, 2019

Not pdx proper but I recommend the beach and the mountain. Cannon beach is less than an hour. In about two hours you can be at Timothy lake and on the pacific crest trail.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:25 PM on November 1, 2019

Powell’s is great for wandering and thinking. I second the Japanese or Chinese Garden. The latter is great even in a light drizzle because there are so many coverings and the tiles at the eaves are made to shed water like a string of pearls. Plus teahouse! If you want a nice garden walkway with lovely views and always ducks (and sometimes herons and geese and nutria), you could head to the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. It’s free October thru March.
posted by amanda at 2:39 PM on November 1, 2019

Park in Goose Hollow. Go to Fehrenbacher Hof coffee shop at 19th and Jefferson. It's the sort of place people hang out all day. There's an upstairs too.

From "the Hof" you can walk up to Washington Park, the Japanese Garden, The Rose Garden, Forest Park, and some of the SW Trails.

Oooh, and Elk Rock Island in Milwaukie (just south of Portland) is a beautiful spot in the river to walk around, sit, reflect. You may run into a local historian who tells you about how the island used to have a dance hall during Prohibition, and how people would boat and fly in from around the state to visit it.
posted by MonsieurBon at 3:06 PM on November 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

You could try the Grotto, there's a nice forested area to walk around and a viewpoint in a glass building that was meant as a sort of meditation site I think (though probably won't be free of people).

Coffee shops, oh so many! A few of my favorites and/or spots I recommend:

Palio teahouse/dessert bar
Cathedral coffee (in St. John's)
Woodlawn coffee and pastry
Maplewood coffee and tea (near Multnomah village)

Good luck!
posted by knownfossils at 4:03 PM on November 1, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks all, we'll see if Portland has the answers.
posted by Cosine at 4:07 PM on November 1, 2019

When I was there last fall, I took the light rail out to the zoo and walked for a few hours on a mild, foggy weekday morning, arriving at opening time to ensure some solitude. That place is gorgeous.

They have a strong conservation program, so if you feel like nerding out on some species with a caretaker for a bit, I found them to be game. The woman who watches over the condors was especially cool to talk with. But mostly I walked on paths by myself with no one else around, winding through the trees past a small bamboo forest and digging the silence and all the lovely moss that's just everywhere.
posted by heyho at 9:01 PM on November 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

The top of Rocky Butte. Has amazing views of surrounding Portland and Vancouver, Washington, plus airplanes and Mt. Hood (on a clear day).
posted by Lynsey at 12:54 PM on November 2, 2019

The public libraries.
posted by aniola at 3:49 PM on November 2, 2019

The last time I was at Everett House, I had a beautiful, long, silent visualization of connecting with myself as a child, sitting at their fire after a long hot soak. Even with other people there, it was perfect for deep thought.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 12:37 AM on November 3, 2019

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