What's good in Portland OR
November 2, 2021 9:07 AM   Subscribe

What would be some things to do in Portland on Thursday for 2 friends both from out of town?

You know, preferably outside (?), masked, safe, etc. Just have the whole day to kill from about 2 pm - whenever. Neither has ever visited Portland before.
posted by bleep to Travel & Transportation around Portland, OR (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh and no car but will have Lyft.
posted by bleep at 9:09 AM on November 2, 2021

The Japanese Garden is my favorite thing to see when I’m in Portland. If they like gardens, it’s worth a Lyft ride.

The Chinese garden is cool too, and right in the downtown area. If more gardens are okay, then Crystal Springs is also nice.

Voodoo Donuts is pretty different, from an out-of-towner perspective. A nice taste of Portland’s quirkiness.

(Answers that don’t qualify for the outdoor aspect: In non-covid times I always made time for a trip to Powell’s. Ground Kontrol is fun if you like 80’s arcade games.)
posted by umber vowel at 9:20 AM on November 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'm going to be driving through Portland soon and will be stopping by this dessert vending machine. It sounds like such a fun pandemic outing, plus... dessert!
posted by fleecy socks at 9:46 AM on November 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

If you're a fan of food, there's a food cart tour.
posted by hydra77 at 9:59 AM on November 2, 2021

Go to dinner outdoors/get takeout at Tusk.
posted by assenav at 10:08 AM on November 2, 2021

Seconding the Japanese Gardens. Across the river, a walk through Lone Fir cemetery. Everything outside right now is gorgeous. All of these are reasonably lift-able.
posted by fillsthepews at 10:31 AM on November 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

If they like records, Crossroads is usually pretty chill and empty on the weekdays. This pop up is intermittently open on weekdays; might be worth dropping them a line to ask; superb selection.
posted by furnace.heart at 10:44 AM on November 2, 2021

It's further out there, but the Leach Botanical Garden just got a full renovation.
posted by hydra77 at 10:49 AM on November 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

Voodoo Donuts is kind of terrible labor-wise, please skip them! There are infinite other donut spots (Pips, Angel's, Heavenly, Blue Star, Doe Donuts, etc) that are certainly good choices. :)

Thursday is looking pretty cold and rainy, so plan for that if you want to do stuff outside. Sunset will be around 6pm so you won't have a lot of daylight hours and may need to do some stuff indoors.
posted by curious nu at 10:52 AM on November 2, 2021 [7 favorites]

And if you plan to go downtown, like to the Chinese Garden or Powells, and haven't been lately... just sort of be aware that things are off from normal, and prepare your friends. It's... disconcerting just how downhill things have gone, even though it's nowhere near as awful as non-PNW media has been portraying it.

I just don't even have any real suggestions, other than if something sounds appealing that someone mentions, or you remember someplace from pre-Covid, do your best to check out the current status online if you haven't been there lately, no matter where it is. A surprising percentage of places are closed or operating on short hours and/or restrictions.
posted by stormyteal at 12:03 PM on November 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

Not outdoors, but local fave Mike Bennett is running a Crypto-Zoo installation though Friday.

I’m local and love the Pix-o-matic dessert vending machine linked above. The desserts are extremely fancy and delicious. Plan to pay about $12 each. I don’t remember seeing forks or napkins there, so you may want to bring some if you’re not taking them to eat elsewhere.
posted by homodachi at 12:10 PM on November 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

Don't go to VooDoo; the donuts aren't good and the labor practices are worst. But donuts are kind of a Portland "thing," so it's totally worth trying another local spot or two. Doe's is the best vegan donuts in town, and it's conveniently near the Hollywood Theatre which is the best moviehouse we've got (not an outdoor activity, I realize--you can just look at the lovely vintage facade while you enjoy your donut!).

Blue Star donuts on Division is right near Salt & Straw so you could knock out two Portland treats in one stop, plus that's not far from Third Eye Books, Portland's only brick & mortar Black-owned bookstore. (Similar to the donut thing, yes, Powell's is an institution, and a stop in the flagship store is worthwhile if you're on that side of town, but there are several amazing small bookstores in town that get overshadowed). From that area, it's a short Lyft ride to Mt. Tabor park where you can walk up the hill (or just ride to the top) for a nice view, depending on the clouds.

Nthing the Pix-o-matic dessert vending machine, which is right across the street from Soro Soro, a Korean cafe where you can get an espresso and/or adorable baked goods. From, there you can walk up Burnside to 28th for your pick of outdoor dining (tortas at Guero are delicious and their outdoor set up is great, or check out the cart pod just north of Burnside which includes a great beer cart). From there, it's a short walk to Lone Fir Cemetery, which as mentioned upthread is a great place to take a walk.

TL;DR get some food and walk around! It's gonna be rainy, so don't forget to dress for the weather, and don't listen to anybody who tells you Portlanders don't carry umbrellas.

Oh and if weather & darkness send you indoors, here's a list of bars and restaurants requiring proof of vaccination.
posted by adastra at 12:40 PM on November 2, 2021 [4 favorites]

I would pick a Portland neighborhood that isn't downtown and just plan to walk around and explore. So a few options might be N Mississippi, SE Hawthorne, etc. Find one of the main commercial drags and walk along, going in stores if you want or just peaking in. You can get take-out or food cart food (all the drags will have a food cart option at some point) and sit outside and eat. There might be a nice park somewhat close.

Downtown still has lots of cool stuff, but it's much emptier in some ways, with lots of things boarded up. It's pretty different! But, if they want to visit Powell's, it might be worth hopping on the bus and going over there too.

Ebikes and escooters are pretty fun to cruise around on if it's super rainy. Tell them to dress so they can be comfortable in the drizzle, which will make this all a lot more fun.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:00 PM on November 2, 2021 [2 favorites]

Leach botanical garden recently installed an airwalk.

Basically, always forest park.

..you could also miss it a little bit and go to Hood River or The Gorge to hike. Fall is beautiful.
posted by firstdaffodils at 1:22 PM on November 2, 2021

+1 pick a trendy neighborhood and walk around, all will have restaurants and cart pods with covered patio seating. Lone Fir Cemetery is great and walkable to SE Hawthorne. SE Division is a pleasant half mile walk south of Hawthorne and Pinolo Gelato >> Salt and Straw, IMO.

I believe the path to the top of Mt. Tabor is closed to cars, and it's a bit of a hike and easy to get turned around up there. It does have great views of the eastside and downtown, though!
posted by momus_window at 3:02 PM on November 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Another vote for the Japanese garden! Light rail takes you to Washington Park and there’s a free shuttle that loops around the park and goes by the garden (though it would likely be faster/easier to take a lyft directly there). I have been there on a rainy fall day and it was absolutely lovely.
posted by skycrashesdown at 3:52 PM on November 2, 2021

momus_window's almost correct; the road to the top of Tabor is closed to cars, but only on Wednesdays. That said, cars can't go all the way to the top, so it's still worth a trip up there if the weather's conducive.

Nthing "stay away from Voodoo" - as others have mentioned, their labor practices are awful, but even more damningly than that, their donuts are terrible (don't fall for the "but you're in Portland so you have to!" line of thinking - you truly don't have to). Hawthorne is a cool neighborhood to wander, as is Mississippi, as is Williams/Vancouver Ave (many inner neighborhoods are named after their main street).

Portland doesn't have a lot of jump-out-and-grab-you tourist stuff, but most every neighborhood has some interesting nooks and crannies in it. Have fun!
posted by pdb at 8:52 PM on November 2, 2021

Careful about Lone Fir Cemetery… there’s been a wierdo stalking people with a machete there. He dresses up like some gothic horror and has tried to attack numerous people. Don’t go there.

Careful around Lan Tsu as well. It’s really, really unfortunate how fucked it is in Old Town.

I do recommend Leach. And the Japanese Garden. And walking around Mississippi, Belmont, Hawthorne. I also still enjoy NW 23rd and 21st, Knob Hill is a classic cool neighborhood.

Try to stay away from the homeless. There is huge amount of violence and meth right now, don’t interact with anyone, stay off their radar.
posted by chuntered inelegantly from a sedentary position at 11:42 PM on November 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: These are great suggestions but kind of vague, any direct coordinates for these neighborhoods would be helpful.
posted by bleep at 1:10 PM on November 4, 2021

We are not naming neighborhoods, we are naming actual streets. Don't reference the above linked neighborhood map, it's useless for a visitor.

There have been numerous suggestions for streets, such as Division, Hawthorne, and Mississippi. I'd recommend using a search engine for exact coordinates.
posted by chuntered inelegantly from a sedentary position at 10:26 PM on November 4, 2021

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