Heading to Portland for shopping, indie bars, and breweries? Then you’ll want to be sure to dig into all the best things to do in the Pearl District neighborhood. Beloved by hipsters and artsy types, this area is a hub of creativity that feels like a classic vision of Portland.
From the bookworm paradise of Powell’s City of Books to the open-air freshness of Tanner Springs Park to the tasty local beverages of Backwoods Brewing Company, there’s a lot to love about the Pearl District that keeps people coming back time and time again. Get your fill of the nightlife, live music, and great outdoor spaces in this quirky and vibrant neighborhood of Portland.
Need to know the best places to go, eat, and stay in the Pearl District? Read this complete guide to find out more!
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What to see & do in the Pearl District
Powell’s City of Books
Bookworms, prepare yourself. Powell’s has a few bookshops in & around Portland, but its flagship store is Powell’s City of Books. As the largest independent bookshop in the world, it’s certainly something to behold. If you have extra space in your suitcase, you’ll soon be filling it right up!
Bring your credit card and your reading list, and prepare to be overwhelmed with choices. As the store takes up an entire city block, one of the best things to do in Portland is to spend all day browsing the rows and rows of used and new books that make up this amazing Portland institution. With over a million books across the store and super-friendly and informed staff, you’re sure to find a book (or five!) to buy.
There are four Powell’s branches in Portland to choose from, so wherever you’re staying, you’re never too far away. Just remember: You have to carry all these books home with you, so leave this stop until the end of your shopping spree!
McMenamins Crystal Ballroom
If you’re into live music, there’s one Pearl District venue that you absolutely have to check out. The legendary McMenamins Crystal Ballroom has been hosting some of the biggest and best acts since 1914 and continues to put on amazing shows. Whether you’re in town for a gig or want to attend one of their iconic balls, McMenamins Crystal Ballroom is a Pearl District must-visit.
Formerly called Cotillion Hall, McMenamins Crystal Ballroom was used throughout the Great Depression to help raise morale and provide a space for people to dance and have a good time. As such, the venue has springy floors that make modern-day mosh pits and rock gigs even more energetic.
Find out what’s on at McMenamins Crystal Ballroom by visiting their events calendar here. Remember to pack your dancing shoes, and don’t plan anything early for the next morning—don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Tanner Springs Park
In Portland, even the parks have a quirky twist. Featuring old train tracks and hand-fused glass, Tanner Springs Park is a small but interesting city park in the Pearl District where you can spend a couple of hours and enjoy.
Combining the landscapes of oak prairie and wetlands, Tanner Springs Park is situated on a unique microcosm. Take a wander, sit on a bench and watch the wildlife and people pass by, or grab some lunch from the nearby food and coffee vendors. Mingle with the locals on their lunch break, think about what you want to do next on your Portland vacation, or experience the beauty all around you.
Stroll along the wide boardwalk area to get down to the wetlands and see the local fauna and flora up close.
If you’re looking for a classic city park that’s the beating heart of the Pearl District, round up the family and wander over to Jamison Square. As the first park in the neighborhood, it’s much beloved by locals, tourists, and families. Jamison Square is located on 11th Avenue, close to a couple of different streetcar stops.
Jamison Square features a large fountain that you can wade in when the weather gets warmer and plenty of space to walk your furry friends or spread out and explore. Visit the multicolored totem poles, sit and have lunch, or just pass through this peaceful patch of the Pearl District.
As it’s located near an ice cream shop, Jamison Square will delight both big and little kids on a hot Portland day. If it’s on the cooler side, great coffee is also mere steps away.
The Fields Park
Traveling to Portland with kiddos and looking for a green space to burn off some energy? Get out and about at The Fields Park. Featuring a large playground, plenty of trails, and a large field to kick back and relax on, it’s the ideal family-friendly spot in the Pearl District.
Spanning 3.2 acres, The Fields Park offers plenty of room to roam about and enjoy the Portland sunshine. If you’re traveling with a furry friend, you’ll also be pleased to know that the park also has a dedicated off-leash dog area. This is pretty rare for a Portland city center park and a definite plus for this neighborhood!
Open from 5 am until midnight every single day, The Fields Park is great if you’re an early worm, a night owl, or anywhere in between. The park is well-lit, so evening strolls are a viable option if you need to walk off your dinner or enjoy the evening atmosphere.
Where to eat & drink
Looking for a bar and restaurant to suit all tastes? The Brix – Pearl offers delicious American comfort food in a decked-out former warehouse. The design is sleek and open, but there are also plenty of screens showing the big games.
If you’re after a ton of delicious Mexican food, grab a table at Republica. Home of a five-course Mexican tasting menu, the restaurant offers Mexican cuisine as you’ve never had it before. When the sun is shining, enjoying the rays on their outdoor terrace is a must!
Like a lot of cool spots in the Pearl District, the Thai restaurant & bar Khao San has a deeply industrial feel to it. Chow down on delicious, authentic Thai food while being surrounded by industrial-chic design, complete with decorative tuk-tuks.
Want to sip on a local beer in a quintessentially Portland way? Take a trip to Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House. Located in a converted auto shop, the craft brewery brews on the premises. The brewpub itself has a cozy feel, complete with real fireplaces and wooden beams.
Continuing on your Pearl District beer tour, slide into Von Ebert Brewing + Kitchen. Focusing more on German, Czech, and Belgian beers, this bar & restaurant offers a completely different vibe. Sit outside on the picnic benches with a pint and a pretzel. Prost!
If you’re looking for a chicer and more elegant place to grab a pint, wander over to Backwoods Brewing Company on 11th Avenue. With exposed brick, a clean design, and a series of rotating taps, it elevates the humble Portland micropub.
On the other hand, if you want live music, a wide choice of beers, and a growler system to take some local brews home with you, visit The Big Legrowlski. Experience Portland’s beer and music scene at its best, with a wide variety of live music every single night.
Away from the craft beer scene, the Teardrop Lounge has a sleek and sophisticated vibe with interesting cocktails. Test their team of mixologists and have something you’ve never tried before. You never know: It might be your new favorite drink!
Where to stay
Seeking out a plush and cozy vibe from your Pearl District accommodations? Kick back and relax in front of the fire at the Harlow Hotel after a long day of exploring the city. With huge comfy beds to collapse into, it’s the perfect spot to relax after you’ve experienced Portland’s nightlife.
If you need a little bit more space on your trip to Portland, the Hampton Inn And Suites By Hilton Portland-Pearl District offers a wide choice of suites and studios. With plenty of amenities, including an indoor pool, complete with inflatables for the kiddos, it’s a great choice for families visiting the Pearl District.
Looking for somewhere with a more contemporary design feel? The Canopy by Hilton Portland Pearl District oozes the effortless cool that makes the Pearl District so popular. From its meticulously modern communal areas to dog-friendly rooms to hirable bikes, this hotel ticks all the boxes. Especially if you’re traveling with friends or as a couple, it’s a great option.