The fun, progressive, eco-friendly, and hip Oregon city is filled with cool and friendly locals, independent boutiques, creative eateries, artistic neighborhoods, and trendy bars. If you’re anything like me I love seeking out the best hipster spots in a city as they’re the most interesting and creative places by far. Here are my favorite hipster hangouts in Portland, Oregon…
Alberta Arts District
This laid-back and vibrant little district in Northwest Portland is a great place to head for a weekend brunch, an afternoon stroll, or a vegan ice cream. I would also definitely recommend browsing an art gallery here for a cultural experience too.
The streets are lined with colourful murals and there are plenty of places to enjoy a craft ale or a cocktail al fresco. The Tin Shed Garden Cafe, Great Notion Brewing, and Salt & Straw ice cream parlor are just a few of the popular hangouts you can enjoy here.
Explore colorful murals and local art
Live music and entertainment
Ideal for outdoor dining and cocktails
Abundant choices from brunch to craft ale
Occasional long wait times
Parking may be challenging
White Owl Social Club
Southeast Portland’s favorite haunt and one of mine too, White Owl Social combines a cool laid-back vibe with amazing local brews and cocktails, live music, and a huge patio area with a fire pit.
Soak up the alcohol with some tasty but excellent quality comfort food, like tacos, sliders, and plenty of vegan options too. I’d suggest swilling them down with a Nectarine Mule and you’re good to go!
Local craft beers
Diverse vegan options
Live music entertainment
Spacious patio with fire pit
Cool boutique hotel just a stone’s throw from Powell’s books! All rooms sport gorgeous wall art and some have the extra delights of vintage vinyl and record player, almost everything in the rooms is for sale, you can just take it with you and they’ll add it to the bill.
There’s a Stumptown coffee right next door so your gourmet caffeine fix will be sorted too. Ace Hotel is a hip concept in a gorgeous historical area with plenty of other cool hangouts nearby.
A great place to start on your Portland hipster trail.
Unique decor and vintage vinyl
Artistic room atmosphere
Convenient location near Powell's
Stumptown Coffee Nearby
Amazing artsy district in Southeast Portland that is just brimming with awesome hipster spots! From vintage clothes to feminist bookshops it’s all here.
There’s a smorgasbord of independent cafes serving delicious food, for example, Jam On Hawthorne, which is always preceded by a big brunch queue but worth it.
There are food trucks, the wonderful Bagdad Cinema where you can enjoy craft beer and movies, great cocktail joints, and bold, beautiful street art.
Spend a day just strolling around the area, checking out the cavernous vintage shops, and enjoying the independent spirit of the place!
Bagdad cinema and live music
Boutique stores and vintage treasures
Unique and artistic atmosphere
Not for traditionalists
Doug Fir Lounge
A super cool, futuristic log cabin-style venue within the Jupiter Hotel, the Doug Fir Lounge is a Portland institution with many amazing music acts passing through its doors.
It’s also pretty great for food and drinks, serving up creative cocktails, Northwestern beers, and locally sourced grub which can be enjoyed in the woodsy interior or out on the patio by the fire.
An oldie but a goldie, a not-to-be-missed hip spot to hang out!
Music can be loud
Can get crowded
The Mississippi Neighborhood
This quaint historic district in North Portland has good vibes all around! It’s where the locals like to hang out and has all the awesome thrift stores, independent gift stores, eateries, breweries, roasters, and record shops that one’s heart desires. Its super cute colonial shop fronts just make it extra gorgeous!
Try Flutter for fabulous gifts and a pet of King the Shop cat or browse for hours in Beacon Records. Satisfy your house plant obsession in Pistils Nursery or get prepped for a hike in a forest park at Animal Apparel.
There are hipster brews at Hopworks Bike Bar and award-winning coffee at Albina Press, plus numerous great spots to eat; try Big Elephant Kitchen for really delicious Indian food! Mississippi captures everything we love about Portland, don’t miss (issippi) out!
Abundance of indie shops
Unique thrift stores
Diverse dining options
Record shops for music enthusiasts
Jam On Hawthorne
You’ll want to make sure you have plenty of space in your belly before you visit this laid-back brunch spot; multiple winners of best brunch and with good reason, Jam serves up all your favorites with its twist (whether you’re vegan or not)!
Try a Nor’wester Omelette or a plate of loaded hash browns and wash it down with a delicious house coffee (especially roasted by Marigold) ….
Just expect to queue, especially at weekends!
Award-winning breakfast destination
Vegan-friendly choices are available
Family and kid-friendly atmosphere
Known for fantastic homemade jams
Crowded during peak hours
Limited parking space
Potential wait times
This cool pub venue is a staple of Portland nightlife and hosts the fantastic Soul Stew, the longest-running DJ dance night in Portland.
The Goodfoot venue is downstairs and regularly hosts great live music, as well as club nights, and the upstairs pub has a great dive-bar vibe with pool tables, pinball machines, and Blazers games on the big screen.
It’s an excellent place to meet pals, enjoy proper decent pub grub and cocktails, and catch some local art too!
Diverse entertainment options
Extensive selection of beers on tap
Iconic DJ dance night
Wait times for pool and pinball
Noise levels can get high
McMenamins Crystal Ballroom
The Crystal Ballroom has been a hipster hangout for more than 100 years! Built in 1914 as Cotillian Hall the building has hosted dance revivals, all men are folk & blues artists, Jazz musicians, and beat poets. Marvin Gaye was here, James Brown was here and The Grateful Dead were here!
Legend has it that Jimmi Hendrix was fired by Little Richard on this very stage.
Since its reopening in the late ‘90 McMenamins Crystal Ballroom has hosted the best live music shows in town, drawing big names and local talent alike and remaining true to its history by welcoming every new trend through its doors.
It’s proto-hip, it sets the trend before the hipsters even realize it’s being set!
Rich history and architecture
Famous 'floating' dance floor
Iconic live music venue
Famous artist connections
Seating is quite limited
Prices are relatively high
You can spend hours perusing through the delights of this gorgeous treasure trove of a shop in the Mississippi district and you can be sure a bit of the legendary Portland Hip will rub off on you in the meantime.
Cristin and Sara took the reins in 2006, along with their trusty cat King, and the shop is stuffed with handpicked antiques, reworked vintage clothes, local jewelry, gifts, and cards.
The go-to place for something offbeat and unusual, a hip shopper dream.
Eclectic product variety
Local and handmade items
Immersive treasure-hunting experience
Reflects Portland's hip culture
Can get busy
Some items can be pricey
Powell's City of Books
This is probably where you’ll find me to be honest, the biggest bookstore in the states and a cavernous treasure trove of new, used, and collectible books with a cafe and a shop to boot, if you need a break from words.
There are staff recommendations, book signings, and ample places to sit and read quietly while deciding what to purchase! If you’re lucky you might run into a poet or author, at the very least you’ll be surrounded by people who love books as much as you do!
Hosts vast selection of books
Unique and rare books available
The parking space is large
A wide range of genres is available
The large size can be overwhelming
The seating areas are limited
The perfect Portland coffee shop; the interior of this place is amazing, a wooden ceiling crafted to look like the interior of a cathedral soars over comfy velvet armchairs and cozy wooden tables and delicious coffee and tea from local blenders Proud Mary and Jasmine Pearl.
Enjoy house-baked cakes and pastries too and various events throughout the year!
Get on your finest hip vintage gear, grab your iPad, and head over to the cathedral, it’s like being in a cool TV show but better.
Relaxed eclectic decor
In house bakery
and gluten-free options
Surcharge for non-dairy milk
Limited parking space
If you’re a foodie then make this your first stop, the neighborhood is choked with hip and delicious eateries! Whatever you fancy you’ll find it here and it will be good!
Go for a melt-in-your-mouth pie at farm-table style Loretta Jeans or gourmet gelato without the queues at Pinolo.
Veggies head to Kati, Indian fanatics to Bollywood Kitchen, for something different the Bimbim Boxes at Kim Jong’s are fantastic.
For something with a German twist head to Olympia Provisions and hang out on the sprawling patio with amazing Weiss Beer and Charcuterie. Your belly will thank you forever!
Variety of cool eateries
Unique culinary choices
Charming outdoor patios
Red Light Clothing Exchange
Vintage lovers like me can spend a day in this cavernous vintage treasure trove on Hawthorne.
From cowboy boots to wedding dresses and everything in between you’ll find it here and the pricing is super reasonable too!
There are grungy jumpers that the ghost of Kurt Cobain will be coveting from the beyond, silk and fur combos that would do Courtney proud, fit and flares, 70s maxi’s hammer pants and creepers…perfectly curated and laid out in such a way that everything feels like a discovery!
Red Light has been an anchor on the corner of Hawthorne for more than a decade and with Portland’s hipster scene in full flow, I’m sure it will be there for many more years to come!
Vast vintage selection
Unique and curated finds
Long-standing local presence
Limited modern clothing
Crowded during peak hours
Just around the corner from Hawthorne, you’ll find Belmont Street, another cool and unusual shopping destination!
Get a cup of coffee from the original Stumptown Coffee Roasters and then hit the vintage shopping starting with Mix Tape, where you’ll find wonderful restyled vintage pieces and restored leather.
Next up, for gender-bending and inclusive vintage buys, head for Planet X Vintage and then top it off with a trip to quirky Naked City Clothing for all things cute and kitschy.
Unique vintage shopping experience
Close to Stumptown Coffee
Quirky and kitschy finds
Strong sense of individuality
Vintage selection may vary
The tagline for this place is ‘Hip Cats, Square Pies’… I don’t know if I can do better than that! An amazing all-vegan Detroit-style pizza kitchen in the Portland Zipper building.
House-made vegan cheese, tons of gluten-free options, and just a super hip and tasty place to swing by for a bite!
Vegan eatery houses in a unique building
Vegan Detroit-style pizzas
Variety of toppings to choose from
Salads and beer options are available
Can be expensive
Service can be slow
Gold Dust Meridian
Back on Hawthorne for ‘Creative Cocktails and elevated bar food’ at Gold Dust Meridian. It looks pretty unassuming from the outside but inside you’ll find some of the best cocktails in town and plenty of hipsters enjoying them!
It strikes a great balance, managing to be hip yet unpretentious, exclusive yet friendly, and delicious yet affordable.
We started here one night for a bit of a bar crawl and enjoyed it so much that we didn’t crawl anywhere else at all! Instead, we sat at the bar and chatted with the friendly and knowledgeable barman, nibbled on some tasty gourmet bar snacks, and enjoyed several innovative cocktails in a cozy, warm environment! Highly recommended!
Balances quality and price well
Unique and innovative drinks and cocktails
Busy at peak times
Proud Mary Cafe
Located in the aforementioned Alberta Arts District you’ll find the original Aussie-owned gourmet coffee cafe Proud Mary. It occupies a cool industrial-chic space, plenty of chrome and exposed brickwork, and serves up the best coffee in town.
Home-roasted creative blends like Lazy Sunday, Intergalactic, and Exploding Heart are served up by hip baristas alongside delicious, locally sourced food. From humble beginnings, the Proud Mary Blends are now served in several places throughout the city and are available to buy online too.
The best place to sample these brews is still to head for the mothership and enjoy savoring the flavors in the hip environment with all the other coffee snobs!
Premium craft coffee
Healthy smoothie options
Sumptuous breakfast menu
Chic and hip space
Limited parking space
Slightly higher than average prices
Music Millennium Vinyl Shop
Right by the famous ‘Keep Portland Weird’ mural you’ll find Music Millennium. Serving the city’s Musos since 1969, you can’t get hipper than this!
Browse the aisles of vinyl, both old and new, and pick up something for your collection or check out an in-store Q&A, signing, or gig with amazing musicians.
This store is the oldest operating music store in the Pacific Northwest and a not-to-be-missed opportunity to chill, browse, and chat with fellow music heads!
Extensive collection of old and new vinyl
Diverse selection of genres
Long-standing local favorites
Unique in-store events
Slightly shorter opening hours on a Sunday
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Beth Pinches – writer and photographer
Beth was born under a wandering star, with drama in her veins and ink in her pen. After stints studying theatre in Dublin and Utrecht she used her creative streak to see as much of the world as she could on as little money. She toured Italian Schools with a children’s theatre troop, lived as an au pair in both Rome and Washington DC, explored the British countryside, worked her way through much of Europe, Salsa danced in Cuba and road-tripped down America’s west coast where she discovered her spiritual home; Portland, Oregon. Other places she loves include Croatia, Finland, Japan and India. In between adventures, travel writing and performing she resides peacefully with her family, cats and ukulele. Find Beth on Linkedin or Facebook.
Hotel Reviewing Experience – Asked by many tourist boards and many high-profile travel brands to formally review hotels including Visit Jersey, Visit Sweden, and Israel Tourist Board. Also travelled around the world scouting out and reviewing all the most unique hotels in the world, check out our Instagram page for photos. Listed as a top UK travel journalist.
Portland Reviewing Experience – Lived in Portland for 6 months and spent many months scouting out all the coolest spots.