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Why Downtown Portland Is For You

Portland has a little bit of everything to offer a person just traveling for the weekend or looking to make the big move. Even though it’s a city, the outdoors is not too far away. The city has a vibrant youth presence and those who have lived there their entire lives. Not to mention, the city is known for its unofficial motto: Keep Portland Weird. Here are a few ideas on places that are great deals in Portland.

Cool off from the summer heat at Salt & Straw. This place often has a serious wait time, and there is a reason for it. The shop serves fresh, hand-made ice cream with unusual flavors such as Pear & Blue Cheese and Arbequina Olive Oil as well as more traditional berry sherbet and gooey brownie. The first store opened in 2011 and has since expanded to locations in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Salt & Straw has gotten attention from some well-known foodies, such as Andrew Zimmerman who said “every flavor reeks of Portland.” Try a cup, cone or even a pint if you just can’t get enough.

Check out a movie at the Laurelhurst Theater. Built in 1923, the theater features a beautiful Art Deco design complete with the classic neon marquee outside. The theater is a great place to see those movies you wanted to see, but never made the time to such as “Get Out” and “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2.” Tickets are $3 before 6 p.m. and $4 afterward. The theater serves food too, so grab a pizza and a microbrew and enjoy a low-cost movie night.

The words “futuristic” and “log cabin” usually do not go together, but that’s exactly what to expect at the Doug Fir Lounge. The bar/restaurant/concert venue first opened in 2004 and it hosts more than 25 acts every month. Some big names that have passed through include Vampire Weekend, The Shins and MGMT. Ticketed events usually range from $5 to $30, but the venue also hosts several free shows each month. Make sure to check out the Green Room, which recently went “red” through a project with Red Bull and the Art Institute of Portland. The space features a charging station, and a sticker wall that leads to a hand-painted mural.

Founded by friends Tres Shannon and Kenneth “Cat Daddy” Pogson, Voodoo Doughnut in Old Town is an absolute must for visiting Portland. The shop features more than 50 different hand-raised yeast, cake and even vegan doughnuts. They can even make special flavors upon request. Current flavors include the School Daze PB&J, a raspberry-filled doughnut with peanut butter and crunchy peanuts, Mexican Hot Chocolate, which is topped with Cayenne pepper, the Marshall Mathers, a doughnut topped with vanilla frosting and mini M&Ms.

Portland is known for its beers. Many of the locally-made flavors are shipped all over the U.S., and have won awards such as the gold medal for an American-style wheat beer and a chili pepper beer. Instead of trying to decide which of the city’s 60-plus breweries to visit, group them together on a tour. Companies that offer tours include Oregon Craft Beer and Brewvana. If beer isn’t your thing, try a distillery tour instead. Distillery Row is known as the center of the up-and-coming craft movement. The former warehouse district features independent, small-batch brewers who have their products on shelves around the country. Try the spicy Burnside Bourbon at Eastside Distilling or the seasonal October Dapper Apple at Stone Barn Brandyworks.

Pack a late lunch or early dinner and watch the sunset at Skidmore Bluffs. The area is located in Mocks Crest Park, and it is perfect for soaking in nature before the night begins. Nearby resident Doug Wilson tells The Oregonian he has seen all types of people that embody Portland’s weirdness such as a wedding party on stilts, a group dressed like gnomes and someone playing the saw with a bow. About 100 to 300 people show up to the area on nicer days in the city. Enjoy the visit, and always remember to respect the residents who live there year-round.

Enjoy Thai street food at Pok Pok Portland. This restaurant is another city location that often has lines out the door since their opening in 2005, so the best time to try is during off-hours. Dishes include Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings, based on daytime cook Ike’s recipe from Vietnam, and Hoi Thawt, a crepe served with mussels, eggs and bean sprouts that is popular among street vendors in Thailand. A good place to wait out the line is their sister Whiskey Soda Lounge across the street. The bar serves many of the same dishes, including Ike’s wings.

The White Owl Social Club is a great place for day-drinking or nighttime dancing. The restaurant has vegetarian and vegan options, and the location has a spacious patio with a fire pit. The beer and wine menu is pretty straightforward, reading “Quality, cheap or both.” The venue hosts both live shows, such as the garage rock festival known as Garbage Fest, and DJ sets.

Article by: Nick Wineland