Craft coffee, vintage shopping and farm-to-table dining in the heart of the Pacific Northwest
Nestled between the beautiful Cascade Mountains and the frigid Pacific Ocean, Portland has grown into a haven for those looking to live a simple, creative life. While many know the small town as the place where young people go to retire, a thriving creative community has proven the small city to be a hotbed for young designers and tech startups of varying disciplines, not to mention the longtime home of Nike and advertising powerhouse Wieden & Kennedy. A longstanding DIY mentality is responsible for the city being widely known as a pioneer in the farm-to-table food and craft brewing movements, as well as gaining national recognition for its wealth of artisan coffee roasters. Equally defining, few US cities have embraced progressive environmentally-focused values quite like the City of Roses, turning the challenges of sustainable living into opportunities to innovate. With Burnside street dividing north and south, and the Willamette River east and west, the city's four neighborhoods are each distinctly different in terms of socioeconomic standing, age and occupation, yet never feel disconnected. Meaning, you always feel like you're in Portland, no matter which corner of the city you're in.
Located a little way down East Burnside Street—the dividing line of an established NE and a more industrial, artisanal SE Portland—Heart Coffee Roasters blends rich Scandinavian and Northwest coffee cultures to create a friendly, welcoming atmosphere with an impeccably-clean design and outstanding coffee. Started as a passionate experiment in a local basement by ex pro snowboarder and long time Portland resident Wille Yli-Luoma, Heart has grown to one of the hottest newcomers to the oft-expanding micro-roasting movement in just about three years. As one would expect, Heart sources all their beans from family-run farms around the world. And on top of roasting their own beans in-house, the small shop serves an assortment of small baked goods sourced from local bakeries. Be sure to head in on Tuesdays or Thursdays to watch Yli-Luoma roasting the latest batch of seasonal beans in-store to deliver the most consistent, high-quality coffee possible. Visit on a sunny summer day to experience the free flowing environment as its best, as warm weather prompts the shop to open its garage door-clad siding.
Up W Burnside in the heart of old town Portland lies Tanner Goods' flagship storefront. The home grown leather goods maker has grown in recent years to much fanfare from around the world. With everything from leather wallets, belts, bracelets and camera straps to waxed cotton camera bags, backpacks and duffles, each piece is made entirely by hand of domestically sourced materials right here in the City of Roses. Located under the same single room shop's vaulted ceiling you'll find a wide selection of fashionable menswear. Known as The Woodlands online, the Americana-inspired garments were formerly housed in a separate shop down the road. However Tanner Goods' founders Sam Huff and Jevan Lautz recently moved both operations under one roof to create the quintessential Portland outfitter. Here you will find every key component of the true Northwesterner's wardrobe with an emphasis on American-made goods including a number of other like-minded West Coast-based brands like Tellason and Rogue Territory. Just across the street is the world's largest bookstore Powell's and any number of reputable coffee shops and restaurants. Head east to hit the Willamette River waterfront, a river long park and footpath that stretches from north to south Portland and offers unmatched views of the city and its surroundings, including Mount Hood on a sunny day.
Housed in one of NW's traditional warehouse loft spaces, The Good Mod is an absolute treasure trove of Mid-Century Modern and industrial design. Stacks of vintage Eames molded fiberglass chairs extend to the ceiling, while inspiring vignettes populate the expansive space and sizable shelves house Saarinen-designed tables and Jens Risom chairs. Not to mention the extensive warehouse portion filled with industrial stools and drafting tables of the likes you'd find in any architectural studio. The massive space allows the impressive collections to be seen freely, without clutter—a rare advantage of loft living. Owned and operated by extremely knowledgeable design enthusiasts, The Good Mod is Portland's best resource for design. Just down the stairs and across the street is a wide range of shopping options, from Tanner Goods to the new Union Way shopping center. This area of W Burnside is an absolute hub for anything an open-minded visitor or exploring local could need.
Literally taking over Portland in recent years with delicious ethnic foods and hard-to-beat lunch prices, the food cart can be found in as many varieties and sizes as one can imagine, and in every corner o the city at that. These "pods" as they're called, span both sides of the Willamette River, which divides east and west Portland. For quantity and quality, head to the Alder Food Carts in downtown SW—a neighborhood of tall offices, students and shoppers. Serving one thing, and one thing only is Nong's Khao Man Gai. Both the name and the savory chicken served over rice is a mouthful, and an incredibly tasty one at that. Also worth trying are Tábor's Czech Republic-inspired sandwiches.
The first North American retail store for the Japanese outdoor supplier, Portland's Snow Peak shop was welcomed with open arms earlier this year. Located in the city's most affluent neighborhood—NW—the shop is nestled amongst many art galleries, restaurants and boutiques. A favorite of CH for many years running, the conscious brand is one not to overlook. From high performance titanium camping furniture to beautifully designed utensils and cook wear, the spacious shop offers enough to outfit even the most adventurous design-minded outdoorsman. In addition, to help such a bold statement hold its weight, the shop has teamed up with fellow Portland-based Nau—maker of environmentally-minded outdoor clothing—as well as like-minded brands like Colorado's Zeal Optics, Sweden's Fjällräven, San Francisco's Aether and France's Dieme boots. This store and its fine-tuned contents signal the coming of Portland's new generation of outdoor enthusiasts.
Located just a short walk up from Heart Roasters, cozy vintage shop Rad Summer stands out in a land of lost-and-found fashion. A resource for locals in the know for many years running, the prolific vintage store specializes in carefully-selected men's and women's clothing from the 30s and '40s all the way up to the '80s and '90s. As it is the Northwest, expect to find an impressive supply of vintage flannels, boots and dad jeans from local brands like Pendleton and Danner. Mixed in with the diverse collection of vintage duds are some one-of-a-kind garments and jewelry as well, all made locally by up-and-coming indie designers. Combining two things Portland holds dear—vintage and music—the far corner offers a generally-decent record rack for a potential score or two.
While Snow Peak offers the finest in high end, design-centric outdoor wares, Portland's own Poler makes affordable outdoor "stuff" for anyone looking to get out and enjoy the great wilds of nature. With an official goal of sharing "camp vibes," the brand is all about good times, and this comes through in their playful aesthetic and brand identity inspired in part by skate and snowboard culture. Sure, Poler won't get you to the top of Mt. Ranier, but with clever designs like the Napsack—complete with a synch bottom, hood and zippered arm holes—you'll be so comfortable by the campfire you won't want to go anywhere. The flagship store is located just a few doors down from Tanner Goods on the north/south dividing street of W. Burnside. Inside you'll find all the brand's well-designed wares alongside some local art and illustrations by fellow Portlander and outdoorsman Aaron Draplin.
With the always present coffee and foodie scenes maturing and the likes of established cultural influencers like The Ace Hotel moving in, Portland seems to be growing up. The most significant sign of which is the opening of Union Way, a renovated alleyway turned shopping haven for menswear enthusiasts. Playing host to high profile names like New York's Steven Alan, San Francisco's preeminent denim authority Self Edge and Portland's Danner boots, the shopping center is an absolute power house. Not to mention the quirky all natural candy shop QUIN and the newly founded Spruce Apothecary—founded by the same group behind pioneering design and outdoor shop Canoe. For a full dose of local culture head across the street to the north to hit famous book store Powell's or south to grab lunch at Kenny & Zuke's Delicatessen, dinner at local haunt Clyde Commons or a coffee at Portland-born and raised Stumptown Roasters. With coffee in hand swing into the shared lobby space of The Ace Hotel and snap some pictures in the vintage photo booth.
With two locations in the shopping-heavy neighborhood of NW and one in downtown SW, Greenleaf Juicing Company has the city center covered. As one would expect from an organic juice shop, Greenleaf uses only fresh fruits and vegetables delivered daily from partner farms in Oregon, Washington and California. On the menu are fresh, made to order juices, smoothies, shots and a few other health-focused items—all with a focus on vegetables and leafy greens. And if time is of the essence the progressive juicers offer pre-made hydraulic pressed bottles to go. Located on NW 23rd, one of Greenleaf's main locations sits alongside one of the city's main shopping drags. The quaint street stretches the length of the neighborhood, offering heaps of upscale cafes, restaurants and boutique shopping options. Head two streets south to NW 21st for more dining and entertainment options, including the historic independent film theater Cinemas 21.
Located just under three hours north of Portland is the Northwest's better known, bigger city—Seattle. A real city to Portland's town, Seattle is often seen as the big brother of the two, which as one might imagine has created a bit of rivalry. This however, should only be seen as incentive to visit. Situated on the Puget Sound, Seattle is surrounded by the Cascades, the Olympic Peninsula—home to America's only Rain Forest—and Canada a ways to the north. Few places rival the beauty of the Emerald City on a clear day. While each neighborhood in Portland is reminiscent of the next, Seattle's can be drastically different. University of Washington's U-District houses everything a college town could need, Fremont and Wallingford offer a quieter vibe for 20-30 somethings compared to the hipster haven of Capital Hill and Old Town, while Bell Town and Queen Ann are both be beautiful and more refined. Downtown offers a range of architectural highlights, including the renowned Seattle Public Library—a must see for architectural and design enthusiasts. Visit Pikes Place Market for fresh seafood and blocks of beautiful public parks on the Puget Sound waterfront. Portland's neighbor to the north is really just a short jaunt away