Filled with hip streets, creative areas and friendly locals, the cool progressive city of Portland is a perfect city to stay and explore. Although with so much awesomeness to choose from it’s hard to know where to start first. From trendy and lively districts to charming and quaint, here is our guide to the best neighborhoods to stay or live in Portland, Oregon…
1. Pearl District – a hip and lively district with former warehouses turned into independent boutiques, trendy coffee shops and great restaurants
The Pearl District is a lively neighborhood in Portland occupied by art galleries, craft breweries, warehouses, stylish bars, and classy restaurants. Pearl District is an ideal shopping destination with a wide range of hip brands, national and international clothing retailers, and the world’s largest independent bookstore.
The district is also home to art galleries that feature Northwest art including glassworks, contemporary art, classical paintings, and photography. If you are a book lover, you may want to visit Powell’s City of Books, an independently-owned bookstore that lies in the heart of the district and covers an entire city block.
2. Northwest Portland – a charming neighborhood with former historic Victorian homes turned into boutiques and restaurants
Located at the base of Tualatin Mountains, the Northwest District is a densely populated region with spiffy bistros, ritzy dining destinations, international clothing retailers, and vintage shops. The district is also home to beautiful gardens, amusement parks, and museums. If you like cycling or hiking, you may want to spend an afternoon in the wooded Forest Park.
A vast stretch of Northwest Portland is occupied by Portland-style and Victorian houses, classy condos, and apartment buildings. All residential buildings are within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and bars. If you want to enjoy the mesmerizing cityscape of Portland, you must visit the Pittock Mansion located high in the West Hills.
3. Downtown – a buzzing hub with great shops, eateries and nightlife
Occupied with stylish seafood bistros, art museums, and local indie boutiques, Downtown Portland offers easy access to entertainment, shopping, food, and Portland’s culture exploration. The district offers eclectic dining opportunities ranging from food trucks to fancy restaurants. Some of the most frequented places in Downtown Portland include The Portland Art Museum, Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and Keller Auditorium.
If you are visiting Portland and want easy access to all districts, Downtown may be the best place to stay. The district has pedestrian-friendly walkways, bike lanes, and green park space that make it easy for you to explore the region. It also has a light-rail connection to Portland International Airport. With an accessible public transportation system, you can explore the entire city
4. Alberta Arts District – a cool and fun area with local art, live music, bars and restaurants
Located in Northeast Portland, Alberta Arts District has so much to offer to both locals and visitors. The main street of the district is skirted with cozy coffee shops, chic taquerias, indie boutiques, and bars. Alberta Arts District is the perfect place to discover the culture of Portland. As you stroll across the district, you will come across a wide range of black heritage markers.
Alberta Street also features dedicated gallery spaces like Guardino and Antler. You also buy local art at Tin Shed, Ampersand, and other art shops on Alberta Street. The district also hosts a bunch of live music and art events. Alberta Rose Theatre hosts live music, art house films, and comedy nights every week.
5. Northeast and Mississippi District – a historic area filled with popular restaurants, quirky shop and music venues
Located in North Portland, North Mississippi Avenue is home to a large number of vintage shops, fancy eateries, classy bars, and music venues. The district is very famous for its street food. The main street of the district features a plethora of food carts, food booths, and food trucks offering a wide range of cuisines.
The most frequented places in the district include Sunlan Lighting, Pistils Nursery, and Paxton Gate. At Paxton Gate, you can shop for crystals, exotic plants, curios, and mounted insects. Pistils Nursery features a curated selection of apothecary goods, gardening books, terrarium supplies, and plants.
6. South East Portland – a trendy large area of Portland home to cool brewpubs, restaurants, antique malls and indie boutiques
Located in the East of the Willamette River, Southeast Portland is a bohemian district featuring beautiful historic sites, cozy cafes, vintage shops, antique malls, and amusement parks. The most frequented places in the district include Oregon Museum of Science, Mount Tabor Park, and Powell Butte Nature Park.
Southeast Portland is a large neighborhood comprising many small neighborhoods including Foster-Powell, Sellwood-Moreland, Montavilla, Clinton, Hawthorne, and Belmont, all of which offer many unique experiences that are hard to find elsewhere.
7. Hawthorne – one of the best neighborhoods in Portland which has a bohemian vibe and eclectic mix of quirky gift shops, bookstores and thrift stores
Located in Southeast Portland, Hawthorne is home to casual eateries, cozy coffee shops, and indie boutiques. Hawthorne is a walkable street with an indie ambience. Whether you are visiting the district during the day or at night, you have plenty of activities to indulge in e.g. shopping, dining, and movies. The best places to visit in Hawthorne at night are Helium Comedy Club or Gol.
The best eateries in Hawthorne include Fried Egg I’m in Love, Riyadh’s Lebanese Restaurant, Maruti Indian, Portland Cider House, OK Mens, and Hawthorne Asylum which is filled with great food trucks. The district also has a lot of bookstores including Backstory Books and Powell’s Books.
8. West End – a lively area filled with boutiques, restaurants and sights
West End is the most fashionable district of Portland. Located between West Burnside Street and Yamhill Street, the district is home to many fashion businesses run by independent designers. If you want to shop for clothing items, you might want to spend an entire day exploring the local fashion shops in the district.
From durable clothing to trendy footwear to messenger bags, there is nothing you won’t find here. In addition to fashion, the district is home to many other creative businesses, such as music companies.
9. Old Town and Chinatown – a busy historic district filled with art galleries, speciality shops and nightlife
Located in Northwest Portland, Old Town is the oldest district of the city. If you want to discover the history of Portland, Old Town may be the best place to start. The district is rich in Portland-style art, culture, and music. It houses all major museums of Portland including Portland Chinatown Museum and Japanese American Museum of Oregon. This area is also home to the very popular Portland Saturday Market which takes place every week.
From handicrafts to streetwear, Old Town offers all sorts of shopping opportunities. The district also features an eclectic array of eateries specializing in Chinese cuisine. If you are a nature lover, you may want to escape the bustle of the city and enjoy the seasonal vegetation at Lan Su Chinese Garden.
10. Alphabet District – the neighborhood to visit or live if you’re seeking a truly urban lifestyle
Located in Northwest Portland, Alphabet District covers Northwest Burnside and several streets to its north. The district lies in close proximity with the Nob Hill neighborhoods and gives easy access to the shopping and dining opportunities in Nob Hill.
The district has a lot of cool places to stay but it does not feature a large variety of shops. If you are a history buff and love photography, the Alphabet District is worth visiting. The streets are skirted with small historical monuments, classic Victorian homes, and some residential complexes.
11. Nob Hill – a fashionable Portland neighborhood with ornate Victorian houses, tree-lined streets and a thriving dining scene
Located in the Northwest quadrant of the city, Nob Hill is considered the second-best neighborhood in Portland. It covers the NW 2rd and 21st streets and other small streets surrounding them. With a large number of indie boutiques, Mexican eateries, and art stores, the neighbourhood offers tremendous shopping and dining opportunities.
The district is also occupied by Craftsman-style and Victorian houses that make it the perfect place to explore Portland’s classic architecture. It is a wealthy neighborhood rich in art, food, and culture.
12. Buckman and Kerna – two adjacent awesome Portland neighborhoods that boast a large number of watering offering global cuisine
Located in the Southeast quadrant of the city, Buckman and Kerna are two adjacent neighborhoods that boast a large number of watering offering global cuisine. With a wide range of coffee shops, elegant bars, and multicultural restaurants, Buckman and Kerna is seen as a foodies’ haven.
While Buckman is famous for craft beer and its inventive brews, Kerns is mostly visited for vintage shopping, photography, and sightseeing. A vast stretch of the neighborhood is covered by historical homes, condos, and apartment buildings.
13. South Waterfront – a sophisticated modern urban neighborhood located in an inspiring natural setting
South Waterfront boasts some of the most renowned places of Portland including South Waterfront Greenway and Oregon Health & Sciences University buildings. The waterfront is connected to the OHSU campus through Portland Aerial Tram, a beautiful bridge that brightens at night.
The neighborhood also features a wide range of fast-food restaurants, cozy cafes, and modern eateries. With several walkable trails in the district, you can spend an entire day strolling through the district, exploring the art and culture.
14. Multnomah Village – quirky and charming and known as ‘the village in the heart of Portland’
Located in the Southwest quadrant of Portland, Multnomah Village lies far away from the city center. The neighborhood is often overlooked by new residents and visitors due to its close proximity to the interstate.
The locals refer to the neighborhood as ‘the village in the heart of Portland’. It’s a quiet neighborhood with most of its area occupied by residential buildings. It also boasts many independently-owned shops, restaurants, and other businesses. Multnomah Village does not have a lot of recreation to offer.
15. Arlington Heights – a neighborhood in Portland with grand houses and some of the city’s best parks
Located in Northwest Portland, Arlington Heights is a relatively calm neighborhood occupied by grand houses and some of Portland’s most famous amusement parks like the Japanese Garden. While there are many districts that lie close to Washington Park, Arlington Heights lies closest to some of the most charming features of the park.
The district gives easy access to Northwest and Goose Hollow neighborhoods, Hillside, and Sylvan Highlands.
The Japanese Garden is one of the most frequented spots in the district with a wide range of recreational activities including hiking, picnicking, and cycling.
16. Mount Tabor – the neighborhood which surrounds a striking park
Located in Southeast Portland, Mount Tabor is a neighborhood named after a park that sits on a volcano. Though Portland features more than 200 amusement parks, there is only one that sits on a volcano. The park has several recreational activities to offer including cycling, biking, and hiking.
The most frequented eateries in the neighborhood include Tabor Bread, Sapphire Hotel, Coquine, Garden Monster, and The Dog House PDX. Though you may not be able to enjoy exotic cuisines here, these eateries serve some of the tastiest North American foods.
17. Division – one of Portland’s most dynamic and stylish neighborhoods
Located in Southeast Portland, Division is a dynamic neighborhood offering tremendous opportunities for shopping, dining, and picnicking. The district features unique eateries specializing in diverse cuisine. From Mexican restaurants to Italian pizzerias to Chinese bistros, you can enjoy a large variety of cuisines during your visit in the district. Some of the most frequented eateries in the neighborhood include La Bonita, Beta-Lukas, Olympia Provisions Public House.
At night, visitors prefer spending their time at Landmark Saloon, drinking and listening to live music. There are several other bars on Division Street, many of which host live music almost every night.
18. St Johns – known as “a town within a city”
Located in North Portland, St. Johns is a 100-years-old neighborhood with a serene atmosphere. With homegrown shops, locally-owned cafes, and small pubs, the neighborhood still carried the small-town charm.
If you are visiting the district during summer, you can attend the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival hosted at the Cathedral Park. While the city does not have a vibrant nightlife, it offers a wide range of activities for nature lovers, boaters, and picnic goers. Cathedral Park is the most frequented spot in the district. The best place to visit in the district at night is Leisure Public House. You can spend an entire evening there, playing bocce ball and ping-pong matches.
19. Goose Hollow – one of the oldest neighborhoods in Portland
Located in Southwest Portland, Goose Hollow is a vibrant neighborhood boasting historical buildings, residential complexes and Providence Park soccer stadium. From vegan foodies and sports fans to art enthusiasts and history buffs, Goose Hollow has a wide range of activities for everyone.
The district is home to stylish bistros and high-end restaurants specializing in vegan food. The best eateries to enjoy a vegan meal include Fehrenbacher Hof, Coco Donuts, Kinara Thai, Ichiza Kitchen, and Tea House. These eateries also have plenty of food options for non-vegans.
Goose Hollow is a sanctuary for food lovers. It features a wide range of pizzerias serving custom-illustrated pizzas. The main street of the district is skirted with doughnut purveyors. If you love doughnuts, you must eat at Voodoo during your visit.
20. Slabtown – a unique mix of residential and industrial buildings
Located in Northwest Portland, Slabtown is a bustling district packed with residential and industrial buildings. The district is home to cozy cafes, elegant restaurants, walkable streets, art galleries, and vintage shops. The district is just minutes away from Downtown Portland, Alphabet District, and the Pearl District.
Slabtown is a lively neighborhood that offers vibrant nightlife and an eclectic array of daytime activities. The best eateries in Slabtown include Commissary Cafe, Breakside Brewery, and Besaw’s. If you want to buy Portland-made clothing, accessories or jewelry, you may want to stop by Sarah Bibb’s cherry shop. If you are visiting the district during summer, you can attend the annual Summerfest to watch cast shows and solo acts.