Top eight Portland spots you need to visit this summer

By Nischal Mali | April 30, 2018 11:36am
With the cherry blossoms in bloom down by the waterfront, you can feel like you've been transported to another world. Photo courtesy of Jenna Parks.

8. Pioneer Courthouse Square (Portland’s Living Room)

Pioneer Square provides a spot sit on bricks and enjoy the sun the city. The square is home to events throughout the year and is a transit hub with max stops on each side of it. Photo courtesy of Jenna Parks.

Pioneer Square is a Portland landmark that’s home to various events throughout the year, which gives it the nickname “Portland’s Backyard.” The square’s central location in downtown Portland (with MAX stops on two sides) makes it easily accessible. Upcoming events include “Mondays on the Mall”—a free community event series with performances and giveaways.

7. Cathedral Park/St. John’s Bridge

A view of the St. Johns Bridge and Forest Park from Cathedral Park. Photo courtesy of Jenna Parks.

A favorite destination of students on The Bluff, Cathedral Park is a fantastic place for a sunny walk, a picnic or just to lay in the sun and hang out. The park is an impressive 23 acres, boasts a floating dock and is home to the oldest annual jazz festival west of the Mississippi. Overlooking the park and spanning nearly half a mile is the iconic St. John’s Bridge. As the sun falls below the horizon, you’ll most certainly feel a sense of euphoria and awe here as the expanse of the Willamette, the green of Forest Park and the city itself glow in perfect harmony. If you wanted to know the spot and time for a first kiss, this would most definitely be it. 

6. Alberta St.

Alberta St. is littered with free art to enjoy, making it one of the most "Portland" places in Portland. The street is recognized as an arts district that stretches about 20 blocks and contains a variety of unique restaurants, shops, and galleries. Photo courtesy of Jenna Parks.

Alberta street is the Portlandia Portland every Pilot has been looking for within a 20-ish minute bus ride from campus. The street hosts a myriad of locally owned shops, art galleries and food options from around the world. The NE Portland neighborhood is also littered with hipsters and street art, making it the place to be for someone looking to experience something special from dawn till dusk. 

5. Ecliptic Brewing

Pictured is Ecliptic Brewing's founder and Brewmaster John Harris. Photo courtesy of Jenna Parks.

Created by legendary Brewmaster John Harris (pictured above), Ecliptic Brewing provides a unique drinking and dining experience with seasonal menus changing every six weeks. The centerpiece of the pub is a giant light fixture in the shape of an analemma, with a massive painting of the sun lining the far wall. Ecliptic Brewing finds a way to cater to the casual millennial needing a place to work as well as the old friends who can catch up at the bar. The dedication of the staff is above par as well, with the cooks, bartenders and managers all being as friendly as possible, even giving a customer an extra order of fries after accidentally making a mistake. Harris’ Brewery stands out because of the vision of a man who began as one of the first brewers in McMenamins in 1986, and now has a host of awards under his belt. 

Ecliptic Brewing can be found on N. Cook St. and is open 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. 

4. (Tie) Governor Tom Mccall Waterfront Park

With the cherry blossoms in bloom down by the waterfront, you can feel like you've been transported to another world. Photo courtesy of Jenna Parks.

As cherry blossoms begin to bloom, the waterfront becomes beautiful year after year. Running, biking and skating are all great activities along the long path lining the Willamette River, but if you’re the less athletic type, a nice picnic under the sun is a great way to go. The Waterfront is home to various events including the famous Rose Festival, Blues Festival and the Gay/Lesbian Pride Festival. 

4. (Tie) Salt & Straw (NW 23rd Ave.) 

If you're worried about the lines at Salt & Straw, go during odd hours on weekdays. If you want the full experience of meeting people through ice-cream, go on a hot weekend or for some Friday night fun. The ice cream shop is known for its smiling and helpful staff, seasonal flavors, and delicious waffle cones. Photo courtesy of Jenna Parks.

With several locations in the Portland area, Salt & Straw is famous for its creative flavors that come with a hint of nostalgia with every lick (or bite). Located on the corner of NW 23rd and Kearney, this deliciously famous shop has been a favorite for many. With a seasonal menu that changes month to month (and the ability to sample any flavor for free), you should try them all at one point. Their April flavors include: “Lemon-Lime Slime,” “Sticky Honey Croissant with French Vanilla” and “The Great British Rhubarb Ginger Crumble.” 

Salt & Straw is located on the Corner of NW 23rd Ave. and Kearney with doors open from 10 a.m. - 11 p.m. daily.  

3. Cartopia Food Carts

Cartopia seating consists of both covered and uncovered picnic tables with fires that are constantly going, making you feel like you're in the forest (without the threat of bears). Chicken and Guns, rated one of the best food carts in the city, is located here. Photo courtesy of Jenna Parks.

If you’re into good food at a cool location, this is the spot, featuring several distinct carts that serve everything from insanely savory crepes to a “Spicy Thai” Peanut Butter Sandwich. You can also find “Chicken and Guns,” rated Willamette Week’s “Cart of the Year in 2016” with a menu featuring Latin-style cooking that will impress both Portlanders and travelers from around the world. A large tent protects from the elements while you can also find campfires to chat around, making Cartopia a place where you can feel like you’re in a small town while you’re still in a big city.

2. Pine State Biscuits on Alberta St. 

"The Reggie" comes with fried chicken, bacon, cheese, and topped with warm gravy, making it a safe bet for delicious breakfast at Pine State. Photo courtesy of Jenna Parks.

As you walk through the door, an aroma of freshly baked biscuits hits you as a friendly staff member gives you a smile. The kitchen is busy with chefs cracking eggs and baking fluffy, hot biscuits in the oven. With a covered outdoor patio, this casual restaurant brings charming and warm Southern cuisine to Portlanders at a reasonable price. If you eat meat, then you have to try the “Reggie Deluxe,” made with fried chicken, egg, bacon and cheese topped with gravy, which will fill both your heart and soul. Founded by “three Southern boys who were simply homesick for biscuits,” Pine State Biscuits can be found on NE Alberta St. and is open Mon-Sun, 7 a.m. - 3 p.m. 

1. Swim Dock (The Spot to be this Spring & Summer)

During the summer, the dock becomes one of the hippest swimming holes on the Willamette. Photo courtesy of Jenna Parks.

If you wanted to know the coolest spot in Portland, this is it. The Swim Dock is located on the east side of the Willamette next to the Hawthorne Bridge and can be accessed from the Eastbank Esplanade. The first question many have when they hear about this treasure is “isn’t the Willamette super gross?” And the answer is no, it’s clean, safe, and tested weekly by the city from May to October. Although it probably won’t be warm enough to swim for a while, on a sunny day, the dock is the perfect place to sunbathe, and on a clear night is the ideal place to look at the city. 

Nischal Mali is a reporter for The Beacon and he can be reached at and on Twitter at @NischalMali