Get ready to discover one of Oregon’s hippest neighborhoods: Southwest Portland. Overflowing with upscale boutiques and laid-back attractions, this is the place where twenty-somethings and practiced slow travelers come to stay—and play!
Southwest Portland boasts some serious outdoorsy vibes with easy access to some of the city’s top-rated parks and nature reserves, like the Tryon Creek State Natural Area and Woods Memorial Natural Area. There’s also a thriving indie undercurrent, with eclectic boutique hotels and innovative dining experiences tucked around every corner.
Does this sound like the perfect neighborhood for you? Time to get planning! This complete Southwest Portland travel guide will help you with all the big decisions, from what to see & do to where to eat, drink & stay.
What to see & do in Southwest Portland
Portland Art Museum
For any visiting art lover, the Portland Art Museum is top of the list of can’t-miss attractions. Located in the heart of Downtown Portland, this gallery, founded all the way back in 1892, is a highlight of the city experience. Between the rotating exhibitions and permanent collection with over 50,000 works across different mediums and eras, you’ll never run out of new pieces to discover at one of Portland’s must-see museums.
Fancy learning something new? The Portland Art Museum runs a series of art talks and artist-led tours through the galleries on a rotational basis, so be sure to ask what’s running when you purchase your ticket at the entrance.
Can’t decide how to spend your day? Washington Park is a hub for outdoor attractions in Southwest Portland, with something for everyone to do. Whether you want to take it slow with a stroll through the International Rose Test Garden or Japanese Garden or amp up the action by testing your skill at the archery range, this park is a neverending adventure.
Animal lovers will be thrilled to discover that Washington Park is also home to the Oregon Zoo, one of Portland’s most popular places to visit. Here, you can visit all of Portland’s most interesting residents, from furry sea otters to giant polar bears and everything in between.
Tryon Creek State Natural Area
If you came to Oregon for the lush forests you’ve seen on the likes of National Geographic, then a hike through the Tryon Creek State Natural Area is a must.
Throughout the 14-mile network of trails at the Tryon Creek State Natural Area, you’ll weave through footpaths at the trunks of massive old-growth trees, the beds of trickling streams, forage for mushrooms, over suspension bridges, across wetland boardwalks, and up to scenic lookout points.
Love wildlife watching? Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the park’s resident owl population. You can also try your hand at foraging in this fruitful forest; just be sure to come with a guide (or at least a guidebook), as safely harvesting berries, mushrooms—and more—can be tricky.
All in all, a trip to Tryon Creek State Natural Area is a fairytale-like experience you’ll never forget.
Marquam Nature Park
Is one hike simply not enough? Marquam Nature Park has over 40 miles of wooded trails, all leashless for proud dog owners.
Though the trails are lengthy and can be combined for a longer journey, the individual trails are at an easy-to-medium difficulty level, making Marquam Nature Park a good choice for even the most novice hikers.
If you make your way to the Council Crest Lookout, be sure to bring some loose change so that you can use the telescope for the best views and a picnic. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon!
Are you a fan of modern architecture? If so, Marquam Nature Park has a surprise hidden up its sleeve for you. Throughout the trail network, some of Southwest Portland’s most expensive and high-design homes are tucked in amongst the trees.
Looking for somewhere to spend an action-packed afternoon with the family? Gabriel Park is where adults and children alike come to play. You can scale the epic playscape, learn to shred at the skate park, or hit up one of the courts (basketball, tennis, volleyball, and more!) and challenge your travel mates to a game.
Before you leave, be sure to take a quick jaunt through Gabriel Park’s nature patch. This short gravel path will wind you through an orchard, wildflower meadows, and the community garden; it’s the perfect backdrop for a quiet moment of reflection or a family vacation photo!
Woods Memorial Natural Area
For an approachable and rewarding day hike, head to the Woods Memorial Natural Area. This darling escape to the woods is beloved for its mossy tree trunks and thick fern ground cover. It’s also a hotspot for amateur birders, home to several uncommon species.
During your little nature escape, keep your eyes peeled for whimsical artwork along the way. Many of the trails in the Woods Memorial Natural Area have ever-changing floral art on the storm drains and the odd little fairy house installation nestled into the woods.
Where to eat & drink
Can’t settle on a single cuisine? Salvador Molly’s is the debate-settler extraordinaire with a totally global menu. You can try dishes from Thailand, Jamaica, Mexico, Hawaii, and the American South. This restaurant has something to satisfy your every craving.
Love spicy food? Take on their Great Balls of Fire Challenge. If you finish all five of their habanero cheese fritters, you’ll be able to leave your mark on Portland forever with a spot of honor in their hall of fame.
If you have a hankering for Mexican while in Southwest Portland, you’ll want to head to Verde Cocina Hillsdale. You’ll want a taste of everything on the menu, with stunning dishes like Carne Asada, enchiladas, and molé served on a bright and airy patio.
Verde Cocina Hillsdale also has a selection of eight craft margaritas for happy hour celebrations. Got vegans or vegetarians in your travel group? This restaurant has an entire menu of plant-based Latin-American specialties.
Aloha! A meal at Bamboo Grove Hawaiian Grille will transport you to Hawaii; be sure to pack your best tourist button-down tee! Sitting under a bamboo pergola surrounded by fabulous florals and tropical palms, you’ll experience the best display of island flavors you can get without crossing the pacific.
Whether you order Teriyaki chicken, market ahi tuna, macaroni salad Luau Style Kalua Pig, or Stir-Fried Island Yakisoba Noodles, you’re sure to wish you had a longer vacation so you can come back for more. Believe it or not, that’s barely the beginning!
Looking for dinner with a view? It doesn’t get better than Chart House, nestled in the hills above South Portland. As the restaurant is known for having the region’s best (and freshest) seafood, you’ll want to check out their “Dock to Dine” menu featuring oysters, Mahi, King Salmon, and Ahi Tuna.
Have a sweet tooth? Chart House’s chocolate lava cake is to die for and the perfect way to end a special meal.
For a tall pint and classic cowboy chow, head to the Buffalo Gap Saloon & Eatery. With 12 different burgers and smokey baked beans, you’ll be living your Western dreams. They also have a selection of creative Bloody Mary cocktails topped with your choice of bacon or mini sliders if you want to fancify your drinking.
Then, when you can’t tell if you’ve stayed up too late or woken up too early, you can indulge in Buffalo Gap’s special late-night menu featuring mini corn dogs and tater-tots or nurse your hangover with a delicious, greasy breakfast.
If you’re on a mission to find the best craft beer in the city, you need to add Sasquatch Brewing Co. to your list. They’re a staple of the Oregon microbrewery scene and an overall great place to spend a casual afternoon with your best buds.
When it’s time to wet your whistle, you can find not just beers but also a variety of craft ciders on tap—plus a few experimental brews you can only get onsite.
Getting hungry? Sasquatch Brewing Co. has a menu full of pub favorites like mac n’ cheese, soft pretzels, fried chicken burgers, and smoked wings.
Where to stay
For a hotel stay bursting with personality, choose The Hotel Zags Portland. Quirky and cool, this mid-range boutique hotel appeals to the younger crowd, outdoor enthusiasts, and “hidden gem” travelers alike.
Perhaps the most popular amenity at this hotel is the Gear Shed. Zags wants you to have everything you need to enjoy your stay, so they have a hub in the lobby where you can grab all kinds of things to enhance a night in or an adventurous day in the Oregon wilderness.
Guitars, bikes, skateboards, fishing poles and tackle, sports equipment (basketball anyone?), and even vintage film cameras to document your day—Hotel Zags has truly thought of everything!
For high-end comforts at a mid-range price point, consider a stay at the Hyatt House Portland / Downtown. You’ll fall asleep each night in a spacious, cozy room and take advantage of perks like an indoor swimming pool and an outdoor fireplace lounge.
The hotel serves continental breakfast, saving you valuable time and money each morning. Plus, Hyatt House is pet-friendly, making it both easy and comfortable to bring your furry family members along.
Both eclectic and modern, Hotel Vance, Portland, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, is decked out from head to toe with juxtaposed bold colors, clean lines, and modern mosaic art. All of this is set under an umbrella brand we all know and trust: Marriott.
A highlight of your stay will be dining in the Innovative hotel restaurant, serving Hawaiian cuisine for the first half of the day and transforming into a Korean soju bar by supper time.