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Locals Show How to Enjoy the Northwest District in Portland

Locals Show How to Enjoy the Northwest District in Portland 

The city of Portland has a lot of charming spots and the Northwest District is easily one of the best of them! Whether you’re a tourist, an art buff, a foodie, or heck – just someone looking for a fun way to spend your time, Northwest District has something for you. 

Anyway, we actually have three members of staff who used to live in the district, so we’ll be your guides today on what to do and where to go in this neighborhood! Let’s start with a museum that has “butt” in its name, shall we?  

1. Be amazed at The Freakybuttrue Peculiar and Museum

ADDRESS2234 NW Thurman St, Portland, OR
CONTACT DETAILS+1 503-227-3164
OPERATING HOURSMonday, Tuesday, Thursday – Sunday 11 AM – 7 PMWednesday Closed
PRICE$10 daily except Tuesdays ($7)

The Freakybuttrue Peculiar and Museum is quintessential Portland. 

This weird, one-of-a-kind museum houses bizarre exhibits that will make you look twice. Visitors who have the guts to step in the world of strangeness in the middle of an equally weird city will have the chance to see interactive installations up close. 

Its interactive nature will make you feel like you’re part of the art, so it’s extra fun – or creepy (depends on how you look at it!).

A lot of the themes of the artworks are pretty sci-fi, so we recommend it to sci-fi fans in particular. For example, you’ll see aliens, weird experiments gone wrong, and the like. 

There’s also a gift shop that sells quirky novelties such as edible insects, interesting original artwork, and more. The experience at the gift shop is certainly just as fun as the walk in the museum! 

Pro tips:
Since a lot of the art pieces are interactive, we find it more fun to bring someone with you. Not only will you have a designated photographer but you also get to share this unique experience with your loved one! 
There are some pieces that are a bit gruesome, so we suggest not bringing kids here. 

2. Get lost in Powell’s City of Books

ADDRESS1005 W Burnside St, Portland, OR
CONTACT DETAILS+1 800-878-7323
OPERATING HOURSMonday – Sunday 10 AM – 9 PM 

Powell’s City of Books is quite famous for being the biggest used-and-new bookstore in the globe. How big is it, you ask?

Well, so that you can imagine how big this bookstore is, it takes up a whole freakin’ block. And there are at least one million books to choose from at the store.

Before it was a bookstore, though, this spot was an automotive shop. So, you may also find some remains of its previous life in some corners. 

Anyway, this massive bookstore in the city also has a room dedicated to rare books. It also has sleek, antique furniture under moody lighting, which takes the experience into a whole new level. 

Do note that it’s only open on Friday to Sunday at 10 AM to 5 PM, however! 

Pro tips:
If you own any rare books, you can also sell them here! Just approach the person at the Used Book Buyer’s table. 
There are nine rooms and three floors to explore here so it shouldn’t be surprising to spend a whole day at the store. If you’re worried about getting lost, you can easily grab a map at the info desk, which you can find at the center of the green room. Moreover, all the rooms have information desks, so it’s easy to find a staff member who can answer your questions!

3. Dine at Matador NW Portland

ADDRESS1438 NW 23rd Ave, Portland, OR
CONTACT DETAILS+1 503-228-2855
OPERATING HOURSMonday, Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday 11 AM – 12 AMWednesday 12 PM – 12 AM Friday & Saturday 11 AM – 2 PM 

If you’d like to add an element of sophistication to your night out, going to the Matador might just do the trick!

Matador is a local bar chain that serves delectable Mexican dishes and a variety of cocktails to choose from. 

The moody lighting and sleek, brown furnishing makes it perfect for more intimate gatherings. 

Whether you’re meeting up with friends from college you haven’t seen in years or unwinding with workmates after a stressful work week, this place is just perfect. 

Their collection of tequila offers customers over 150 choices that are all from Mexico. Moreover, some of them can only be found in this bar! 

Pro tips:
Our trip to the Matador isn’t complete without us ordering their grilled stuffed jalapeños. It’s filled with goat cheese, hickory smoked bacon, and ranch dressing.
Their tacos are also definitely worth the try. They have several options like baja fish tacos, ribeye tacos, and braised beef alambres. We find that they’re all equally good, so it’s up to you which one you’d like to try or maybe…try them all! 

4. Try out Cafe Nell

ADDRESS1987 NW Kearney St, Portland, OR
CONTACT DETAILS+1 503-295-6487
OPERATING HOURSMonday – Friday 11 AM – 11 PM Saturday & Sunday 9 AM – 11 PM 

Cafe Nell spices up their dishes by mixing French influences with the flavors Americans know and love. Ingredients are still sourced locally, though, ensuring their freshness. 

It’s one of the hottest spots in the Northwest District for brunch and dinner. People who go here usually order their meals with Cafe Nell’s signature cocktails too. 

The atmosphere is especially lively at night, which is when this charming cafe is flocked to by numerous groups of people. 

They also have patio seating that we recommend you try. You get to sit under this oak tree that’s a hundred years old, providing a really nice atmosphere.  

Pro tip:
From their dinner menu, we recommend ordering their mushroom brussels sprouts bourguignon. It’s vegetarian and gluten-free. Aside from mushroom and brussel sprouts, it’s also an entree with garlic, onion, fingering potatoes, roasted garlic, matchstick parsnips, and red wine miso broth. 

5. Have a scoop at Salt & Straw 

ADDRESS838 NW 23rd Ave, Portland, OR
CONTACT DETAILS+1 971-271-8168
OPERATING HOURSMonday – Sunday 11 AM – 11 PM 

Dessert lovers will rejoice when they hear about Salt & Straw. This store is an ice cream shop that provides a lot of variety in their flavors. 

From classic to more unique options, you can explore whatever you’re in the mood for. Their classics stay on the menu forever, though they also have limited editions that change every four weeks. 

This makes our visit to Salt & Straw exciting all the time. If we’re in the Northwest District area, we’d usually just pop in to check if they have any new flavors!

20% of their menu is always vegan-friendly, so if that’s the diet you follow, we’re sure you’ll find something for you here. Moreover, they also have gluten-free options, making their ice creams accessible for more people. 

Pro tip:
Our favorites from their classics are peanut butter brittle caramel fudge (which is vegan!) and sea salt with caramel ribbons. As you can see, we can’t stray away from the caramel! If you’re not a fan of your ice cream being too sweet, you can always try honey lavender and arbequina olive oil.

6. See the exhibits at the PDX Contemporary Art 

ADDRESS1825 NW Vaughn St B, Portland, OR
CONTACT DETAILS+1 503-222-0063
OPERATING HOURSSunday & Monday ClosedTuesday – Saturday 10 AM – 5 PM 

There are numerous art galleries in the Northwest District, each with their own identity. While we love a lot of them, it’s simply impossible to put them together in this list! 

That’s why we picked just one of our favorites – the PDX Contemporary Art. 

The reason for picking them is that we always find them carrying a lot of great collections of art (even though they have a tight space). It’s as if they use every corner to be able to provide the curious visitors the best experience. 

Aside from exhibitions, they also host art fairs, show pop ups, and reach out projects. The best way to stay updated on what they’ll put out next is to drop by their website every now and then. 

Pro tip:
We suggest grabbing a cup of flavored latte at The Sultan Cafe when you get the chance. It’s just 5 minutes away from the PDX Contemporary Art and they have a good selection of drinks and Mediterranean dishes. We like their gyro bowl best! For directions on how to get there from the gallery, just consult the trusty Google Maps

7. Meditate at the Lan Su Chinese Garden

ADDRESS239 NW Everett St, Portland, OR
CONTACT DETAILS+1 503-228-8131
OPERATING HOURSMonday, Tuesday, Thursday – Sunday 10 AM – 6 PM 
PRICEMembers: Free
Adult (19-61): $14Senior (62+) or Student (18+): $13Youth (6-18): $11Child (5 under): Free

Lan Su Chinese Garden is a great option if you want to enjoy natural scenery in the Northwest District. 

The wonderful mix of different elements like history, art, design, and nature resulted in the Chinese garden. Aside from that, it’s also a place to appreciate Chinese culture and aesthetics. 

Its authenticity is thanks to the Chinese artisans from Suzhou whom Portland collaborated with because of their famous dynasty gardens. 

If you want to explore the Lan Su Chinese Garden, there are different ways to do it. 

One, you can download their app Discover Lan Su. It has free audio tours and fun scavenger hunts.  

You can also check out various photo challenges, trivia questions, and other scavenger hunts on this website. They’re all quite easy – don’t worry! 

Not only will this make your trip more enjoyable but you’ll also most likely pay more attention to the details because you have to search for things. 

If you’d just like to meditate and contemplate under the tranquil atmosphere that this garden provides, that’s perfectly okay too! In fact, we greatly urge you to. 

Pro tip:
We recommend stopping by the Teahouse if you have time. It offers great views and delicious treats. Among the food options are dumplings, mooncakes, dried fruit and such. All of which are perfect to pair with their tea. 

8. Grab a drink at the Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House

ADDRESS210 NW 11th Ave, Portland, OR
CONTACT DETAILS+1 503-296-4906
OPERATING HOURSMonday – Thursday 11:30 AM – 9 PM Friday 11:30 AM – 10 PM Saturday 11 AM – 10 PMSunday 11 AM – 10 PM 

In case you didn’t know, Portland is quite famous because of the numerous local breweries you can find here. As locals, we can attest that it could get overwhelming to think about trying all the Portland brews! 

If you’d like to try them, the Portland Public House is a great place to go. They have a wide range of exciting choices to choose from. 

It’s not only beers you can enjoy here though. They also offer burgers & sandwiches, salads & soups, desserts, and other drinks like cocktails and wine. 

We find that the ambiance here is quite pleasant and welcoming. Moreover, everyone seems to be friendly, so we enjoy every visit. 

Pro tip:
We suggest going here on a Monday if you’d like to join their games. You don’t have to sign up beforehand and there’s no minimum or maximum number of players in your group. 

9. Shop at the Whole Foods Market

ADDRESS1210 NW Couch St, Portland, OR
CONTACT DETAILS+1 503-525-4343
OPERATING HOURSMonday – Sunday 8 AM – 9 PM 

If you’re a particularly health-conscious individual or would like to lean toward that lifestyle, the Northwest District has the perfect store for you – the Whole Foods Market. 

The locally sourced treats that they offer here are organic, plant-based, and natural. You can shop with ease because the products you’ll be able to purchase from here are good for the body and of high quality. 

Anyway, if you want to have an idea on what are the available products at the Whole Foods Market, it’s basically like any other whole foods market. 

They have the essentials, tons of vegan-friendly options, as well as healthier snacks (think less sugar desserts!). We also enjoy the variety of fresh organic vegetables and fruits they have. 

Pro tips:
Patrons also have the option to purchase their goods online. Just go to their website to see if it’s available in your area. 
On their website, they also have available recipes you can freely check out. 

10. All Day Disk Golf

ADDRESS600 NW Naito Pkwy STE E, Portland, OR 
CONTACT DETAILS+1 503-894-8696
OPERATING HOURSMonday & Tuesday ClosedWednesday – Sunday 12 PM – 7 PM 

If you haven’t heard of what Disk Golf is, it’s basically a game like frisbee where you throw a plastic disk with the goal to hit the target, which they call the disk golf basket. It’s kind of like frisbee and golf rolled into one!

All Day Disk Golf is a sporting goods store that sells the gear you need to play that game. However, this is not the only reason why we added them to the list. 

Aside from being a retail store, they also host fun and exciting tournaments you can participate in. All you need to do is check their website every now and then to see if they have one available, so you can register. 

If they don’t have one posted yet, maybe it’s time to train so you can be ready! 

Pro tip:
They also have a great selection of beers available in their store. Why not play disk golf and sip a cold local brew at the same time? 

11. Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade & Bar

ADDRESS115 NW 5th Ave, Portland, OR 
CONTACT DETAILS+1 503-796-9364 
OPERATING HOURSMonday – Sunday 12 PM – 12 AM 

Get in touch with your inner child by trying out a game or two in this arcade and bar. The vintage games they have available will give you a tinge of nostalgia. We know because that was how it was for us here! 

The games they have available are Dance Dance Revolution Extreme, Dig Dug, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and a lot more. 

Aside from games however, you can also order some quick shows from their menu. They have nachos, tacos, and such. Moreover, they also have cocktails available. 

They also have tournaments every now and then so make sure to be on the lookout for those. 

Pro tip:
Wwe think that this is also a great date spot! Playing games is a great ice breaker. 

12. Catch a concert at the Roseland Theatre Portland

ADDRESS8 NW 6th Ave, Portland, OR
CONTACT DETAILS+1 971-230-0033

If you’re in the Northwest District, you also have the chance to catch a concert at the Roseland Theatre Portland. 

Some of the upcoming artists that are scheduled to perform there are FKJ (April 27), Maisie Peters (August 24), Ashnikko (October 21), and a lot more. 

Tickets can be easily purchased on their website. 

Pro tip:
After the concert, we suggest going to the Raven’s Manor if you’re looking for a nice meal. Raven’s Manor is not like any other restaurant in the area. It’s a haunted theme bar with a cool interior! 
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