HI Hostels Blog

Trendsetting Spots in Portland

By Gretchelle Quiambao

Los Angeles and New York have always been the American cities that started trends and the world would follow. But now all eyes are on another American city to lead us to the trends in food, fashion, and all things cool. Are artisan ice cream shops or bar-cades creeping up in your neighborhood? Chances are local Portland staples inspired them. Art, culture, and most importantly, food, come together to create a city like no other in the world. The city is flowing with artsy cafes, hip vintage shops and innovative restaurants, so where are the city’s hot spots? Find out:

Portland waterfront in spring. Photo credit: Ian Sane


Portland is full of vibrant neighborhoods with hotels, inns and vacation rentals. While accommodations lately have risen in prices due to the city’s increase in tourism, there are still some affordable options for backpackers.

HI Hostel has two distinct hostels in Portland that are in great locations. The Hawthorne Hostel is an eco-hostel that is perfect for the environmentally conscious traveller. The hostel also offers several tours to excellent hiking destinations, whale watching and historic sites in Portland.

The Northwest Hostel is centrally located and occupies two Victorian-style buildings. Just walking distance from downtown, Pearl District, Nob Hill, the hostel is close to many of the must-see spots. They also offer pub-crawls and walking tours to guests.


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View of downtown Portland from Washington Park

Although much of the focus on Portland has been about the food and shopping, one aspect of Portland that cannot be ignored is the city is surround by nature. So before you stuff yourself with donuts from Voodoo Doughnuts, strap on some hiking shoes and get ready to work up a sweat to some beautiful views. For beginners Eagle Creek is an easy hike with Punchbowl Falls giving you a refreshing resting point. If you want to stay within the city, Forest Park right in the city center offers another moderate 5-mile hike that takes you right up to Pittock Mansion, a Victorian mansion that provides scenic views of downtown Portland.

Portland pride’s itself on being bike-friendly and cycling your way through the city is a great way to really find some of its best new and old hangouts. Pedal Bike Tours offers bicycle tours of the city and there are plenty of bike shops that offer rental bikes you can use during your stay. Fixies are for the cool kids here but you might be able to get away with a beach cruiser.

Creative types will want to take a walk around the Pearl District as it is known for its streets abundant with art galleries and studios. Contemporary art fans will love Upfor and White Space Gallery both of which house works from local contemporary artists. The area is also home to some great shopping. A visit to Portland is not complete without picking up some used books from the famous Powell’s Books. This bookstore is so huge that you can spend an entire day getting lost through its maze of shelves and they even handout maps of the store.

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View of Mount Saint Helen’s (Mount Rainier hiding behind it) from Washington Park, Portland.


Now on to the good stuff, food! Food in Portland is a more than adequate excuse to visit the trendy city. Of course with all the eating options in the city without a little foodie guidance the eateries can get a little overwhelming. Where to begin? Voodoo Doughnuts of course. Thinking of visiting Portland without picking up a “Dirty Dozen”? You might as well just stay home. Get decadent with a bacon and maple bar or keep it basic with a simple chocolate sprinkle. Wash down that donut with a latte from one of the famous coffeehouses in the city.

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The indulgent and delicious Voodoo Doughnut itself.
  • Check out famous Stumptown Coffee or Heart Coffee Roasters both houses take great care in creating that perfect cup. Both roast their beans in-house making their cafes exude an irresistible aroma. Don’t forget to take home a bag of beans from both Stumptown and Heart so you can relive that delicious brew at home.
  • When it comes to finding something cheap and filling for lunch just feast on the various food cart pods. There is literally a food cart for any and every kind of cuisine you can think of so let your cravings go crazy. Two notable mentions are PBJ’s Grilled and Potato Champions with both serve delicious street foods that will get you back on that whole food truck/cart trend.
  • Just like Voodoo Doughnuts, no trip to Portland is complete without a visit to Salt & Straw. Ice cream gets a complete makeover here. Flavors get creative here where your can get both a sweet scoop and a savory scoop. With flavor options such as Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache or Olive Oil, it will be hard to resist getting a scoop of each.
More fuel – Portland takes coffee seriously. Photo credit: Mish Sukharev

For dinner head on over to the new foodie heaven, Screen Door. This restaurant brings Southern dishes to northern Portland. The fried chicken is the perfect mixture of crunchy and juicy and is served with biscuits and collard greens. Screen Door is a perfect example of how bringing classic foods back to basics can revive an old favorite.

An after dinner drink is a must in the city filled with micro-brews and custom cocktails. Rogue Brewery is located here and there are plenty of local craft beers that deserve a taste. To get an experience with your cocktail check out Modern Man, a speak easy with creative cocktails or Dig A Pony where you can enjoy the music and a great cocktail for less than $10.

Do you have any trendy recommendations from your favorite city? Let’s hear all about them!

About Gretchelle: 

Gretchelle is a writer, teacher, and traveller from Los Angeles looking for new adventures and the perfect vanilla cake.

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