Visiting Portland, Oregon is a responsible journey in itself, as you will be hard-pressed to find a place that’s not hyper local, ethical, and impact-driven. But if you're looking to have the most eco-friendly visit to Portland possible, our local team is sharing their personal favorites to help you navigate this quirky, green paradise.
Park It Here
Explore the many parks of Portland, where you can hike, picnic, and experience the city’s diverse trees and flowers. Less than a mile from HI Portland Hawthorne is the Historic Lone Fir Cemetery, which is also Portland’s second-largest arboretum. Here you’ll find Portland’s Pioneer Rose Garden and other oddities to marvel at. Continue on by hopping a bus to the woods of Forest Park, where you can hike of through Balch Creek Canyon and feel a million miles from the city.
If your tummy begins to growl, it’s a perfect spot for a picnic, or walk 6 blocks from the trailhead to the famous NW 23rd Ave. for a range of trendy places to eat or enjoy a beer. If you’re up for more adventure, grab the Portland Streetcar to the City of Portland’s first park, the South Park Blocks. Filled with history, there's plenty to soak in here. If you’re up for one more short walk, the two-foot-wide Mill Ends Park, aka the World’s Smallest Park, is a fun stop and an Instagrammable moment!
Pro tip: Get off the Streetcar at the Portland Art Museum, then walk through the museum’s outdoor walkway and cross the street for the most direct way to get to South Park Blocks.
Green Fact: Forest Park is the largest urban park/forest in the US at 5,157 acres.
Pedals to the People
For an authentic Portland experience, immerse yourself in the cycling culture that defines the city. Take advantage of the hostel’s on-site bike rental, and check out the Portland Bureau of Transportation's online bike maps to navigate the city's network of greenways and dedicated bike lanes. We recommend starting your adventure by crossing the Hawthorne Bridge and continuing along Tom McCall Waterfront Park for views of the Willamette River and her many bridges. On weekends from March through December, hop off at the nearby Portland's Saturday Market. Located in the historic Old Town area, it’s the nation’s oldest continually operating outdoor market and offers a range of local food vendors and crafts.
If you’re ready to head back, ride along the Eastbank Esplanade Southbound back to the hostel. If you crave a longer ride, take the Steel Bridge to NE Williams Ave., a trendy neighborhood with locally owned restaurants and bars. A favorite is Hopworks Bike Bar, the Pacific NW’s first Brewery to earn B-Corp certification for responsibly brewed beer.
Pro tip: If you don’t want to be tied to a bike all day, try out the city’s bike-share program, Biketown. You’ll find these bright orange bikes docked just a few blocks from the hostel.
Green Fact: When traveling westbound by bike over either the Hawthorne or Tillikum Crossing Bridge, your trip will be documented by the city's bicycle counters and reported under Portland’s Bicycle Count Program.
We Heart Street Art
Discover Portland’s long, lesser-known history of public street art, from graffiti to murals to sculptures. The Central Eastside Industrial District is a hot spot, and is accessible from the hostel by bus, bike ride, or your own two feet. Throughout this area, you’ll stumble upon dozens of street murals as part of the project Forest for the Trees, as well as from Portland Street Art Alliance. As you meander, grab a coffee from Water Avenue Coffee, or nosh at Japanese spot Boke Bowl or Bunk Bar Water, a sandwich shop that also offers beer and live shows in a converted warehouse space.
Venture over the Burnside Bridge for the ultimate selfie with Portland’s beloved and historic neon Portland Oregon Sign. Another great photo op is the original Keep Portland Weird Mural, which you’ll find nearby on the backside of Dantes. You'll also find the famed Voodoo Doughnuts across the street, featuring the funkiest doughnuts you’ve ever seen. Finish up your day with a short ride on the light rail (better known as MAX) to the famous Portlandia, a copper statue, towering more than 35 feet high.
Pro tip: The Public Art PDX App is a geolocator dedicated to discovering Portland’s street art.
Green Fact: A HI Portland Hawthorne staff member helped restore the Hawthorne’s Literary Mural in the alley of 33rd Ave.
Food With a Conscience
There’s no shortage of locally owned and sustainably sourced restaurants in town. The close proximity of the Willamette Valley and Pacific Ocean provides a massive array of fresh and local ingredients, and many restaurants feature seasonal menus. In fact, you could spend a full day exploring town based on a responsible and diverse meal agenda.
The Screen Door serves up local and organic produce and meats and offers a serious southern breakfast with what it considers Northwest values.” For lunch, get the freshest Mexican tacos at taqueria Porque No. The long line is worth the wait knowing that this bright and funky spot also supports local schools and social impact organizations.
For the freshest, most conscious cuisine on Hawthorne try Harlow. Their organic produce is delivered daily by bicycle, procured by an extensive list of sustainable partners. At Dick’s Kitchen on Belmont, you’ll find one of the nation’s first diners to actively cater to different dietary needs with its menu. If you’ve had a late night and all you want is a slice of pizza, head to the cult classic Sizzle Pie. Here, just about all dietary restrictions can be accommodated until they close at 4 a.m. on the weekends. And fill your belly without regret, because this pizzeria also donates pies to local nonprofits (like HI USA)!
And for a sweet treat, you don't want to miss Blue Star Donuts, which has a location about a 15-minute walk from HI Portland Hawthorne. This gourmet doughnut shop bakes with locally sourced ingredients, and partners with neighbors in its local communities to create unique, local flavors.Pro tip: Get the story behind the Portland foodie rage with a wide sample of eats through a Forktown Food Tour.