Where to Go in Portland, Oregon: A Guide to All Its Neighborhoods
Here's some information about historic and popular neighborhoods in Portland. Read on to learn all about it!
Portland is a city where you can experience casual window shopping and neighborhoods with vintage stores, coffee shops, book stores and unique boutiques. It is also a place which offers high-end shops and fine dining with a nationwide reputation. City lovers who also love nature, will find a good mix of places that offer both. The Willamette River runs through the center of town. There are many parks and trails running up and down its shores and there is also a floating trail system that lets people walk trails which float on the water. This part of the trail system is in the well-known Pearl District. Many people come to this trail to enjoy a cup of coffee after a long walk down the middle of the river.
Portland also has neighborhoods that are some of the oldest in the Western United States. Ladd's addition is a place with narrow, diagonally crossing streets lined with Victorian homes, bungalows, Colonial Revival styles and more. Those looking for a taste of the history of the American West, alongside the buzzing modernity of American cities with some nature mixed in, will find plenty of interesting districts to explore in Portland. Some of them are connected by a streetcar system that is a joy to ride on a sunny day.
Here are 5 of these unique districts of Portland that we recommend to all visitors:
If visitors to Portland find themselves on a street lit by the neon sign of the Badger Theater, they are in Hawthorn. Tattoos, neon-colored hair, coffee shops, book shops and anything imaginable can be seen in the Hawthorne District. It is a youthful, edgy neighborhood with countless restaurants, coffee shops, Knick Knack shops and places where you can find things that can't be found anywhere else. It is a place to find subcultures and shops catering to these subcultures. Hawthorne is right next to Belmont district which is another district with a slightly different feel. This area of Portland is great because visitors can easily walk between Belmont and Hawthorne and other surrounding districts to get a taste of several of the unique atmospheres of Portland. Hawthorne is south of Belmont and is located on SE Hawthorne Blvd, running from 12th to 60th avenues. If visitors walk north on any of the cross streets to Hawthorne between 12th and 60th, they will reach Belmont District.
Belmont district is a place for walkers, vintage enthusiasts, window shoppers and those who enjoy a wide array of unique shops. It shares a similar atmosphere to the Hawthorne neighborhood and it is not uncommon to hear "Hawthorne" and "Belmont" in the same sentence. Many residents consider Belmont to be a bit grittier with its urban feel, funky atmosphere and local color. It's a have signature neighborhood and one of the most popular in Southeast Portland. Visitors to belmont who don't plan to eat out can try the Zupan Market for some fresh produce and other healthy choices to take home. Those looking to step back to the 1990's might find the Avalon Theatre's Wunderland Arcade to be the perfect spot. It is a fun place to go solo and soak in the intense lights and sounds of the games. It is also a place for the whole family. For those searching for objects that hold the spirits of the earth, Moonshadow has a unique selection of jewelry and home decor. The Lone Fir Pioneer Cemetery is located just north of Belmont. It is the resting place of many of the city's first settlers (we recommend those looking to commune with the dead to have a visit). Visitors can stroll through and explore own their own or take a guided tour. Belmont district runs along Belmont St from 31st to 60th in Southeast Portland. It offers belly dancing entertainment at the Blue Monk, traditional American burgers at Dick's Kitchen, and coffee and hookahs in a "painted lady" Victorian house.
Ladd's Addition is the oldest planned residential development of Portland and one of the oldest in the Western United States. It has narrow streets which run in a diagonal pattern in contrast with the horizontal and vertical grid patterns of the rest of the area. William S. Ladd owned the land before it was developed. When Portland annexed this land, Ladd decided to subdivide the area with a layout grid which was different from the rest of the city. Today, it has some of the most historic structures in all of Portland, as well as one of the most diverse ranges of architectural styles. These styles include bungalow, craftsman, American Foursquare, Mission, Tudor, and Colonial Revival. Ladd's Addition is a great place to go if someone wishes to escape the city and get lost in history. It's boundaries are SE Hawthorne, Division St., 12th St. and 20th St.
When thinking of The Pearl district, picture New York's Greenwich Village or SoHo but on a smaller scale. The Pearl is another of the trendy and unique districts of Portland. It is bordered by the West Hills and the Willamette on the north and east sides. This provides easy access to the trails running along, as well as on, the river. Joggers come here to take in the fresh air and calming waters of the Willamette, whether by running up the shoreline or on the floating trail network that is built on the river, allowing walkers and joggers to walk or jog on a surface which floats. Parks also abound in the Pearl District. It is a place where people come to sit in a coffee shop and read a book or do some shopping for those specialty items only found in the non-chain stores unique to Portland. With easy access to green spaces, The Pearl is also a place for people to get in touch with nature. It is districts like the Pearl that make Portland a city that attracts those who love both urban environments and nature. Old dilapidated buildings are being restored into lofts and this has been in a state of development for many years. This development is giving way to an eclectic atmosphere which now serves as a model for urban development in cities across the United States. It's a perfect place for adventurous youth as well a
retirees. It has a lot of hype, but those who visit find substance.
Nob Hill offers a blend of upper-class and casual. It surrounds the NW 21st and Northwest 23rd Streets. Here visitors will find stores that sell handmade art from artists around the country, as well as chain stores. Zelda's Shoe Bar has a high-end shoe selection while Moreland House N.W. sells collectibles and souvenirs related to Daschunds. It is also a place to find a great selection of cuisine. Visitors will find an array of international cuisine mixed with restaurants serving traditional American dishes. Paley's Place is a popular location for high-end French Cuisine. Many Thai food lovers regularly go to Typhoon! and leave the restaurant for dinner to enjoy the highly reputable desserts at Papa Haydn. Visitors to Nob Hill will also notice the districts welcoming attitude to animals. Nob Hill loves animals and there are plenty of veterinary and animal related shops throughout the area. Finally, it is a place that visitors will likely see students. Though it is not the most popular district for students, Portland State University is located nearby so it is not uncommon for students to take the short trip into Nob HIll for a walk or some good food. Nob Hill lies on the 4.8 mile Portland streetcar system that links it to the Donwtown Cultural District, The Pearl, the South Waterfront area and Portland State University. This makes it a great choice for those who would like to explore several districts in one afternoon (walking between these districts in a single day would not be feasible). Cruising down the Portland streets on a streetcar is a good way to view the interesting places of these popular districts.
Portland is a place for everyone. Each district shares the common feel of Portland, yet each is unique in its own way. The nature found in most parts of Portland is one of the aspects of this city that makes it one-of-a kind. On a day off, many Portlanders head into The Pearl for a cup of coffee and then stop in a book store to enjoy some silent browsing. They may stop off at a bakery and try some delicious handmade specialties and then head over to the Willamette for a walk along the water. It is one of the few places where the trails venture out onto floating structures on the water. Later on, they might explore some of the run-down buildings that are being renovated and turned into loft living spaces.
Portland has as much diversity in it's population as it does in its districts. Some of the people in Portland were born and raised there while some moved to this incredible city in order to enjoy the cozy, rainy weather and the lush and green summers. Another portion of people living in Portland are those who moved there simply to retire. For those looking for the sunny western American city, Portland isn't the best choice, for it's known for its damp and rainy weather. For those looking for a piece of American history, modern city life and nature in a place with four seasons, Portland, Oregon is a great choice!
Lead image: flickr photo by Alejandro Rdguez https://flickr.com/photos/90642235@N04/19400834865 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license
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