Explore the Pearl: A Closer Look
A new week, a new favorite in the Pearl District
I love Portland. There are hidden gems all around the city, and it seems like every time I go out I’m finding another great place to shop, eat, or grab a drink. Portland is walkable, friendly, and almost everyone has bought into the green living movement, thanks in part to the BPS. (Read more on what the BPS does here.) But there are some obvious staples when it comes to hanging out around town, too. The Pearl District is just such a place. Everyone tells the tourists, “You’ve gotta visit the Pearl.” And for good reason! It’s slam-cram full of unique, interesting places. The Pearl District even has its own website.
I can’t begin to cover all the places to visit in the Pearl District, but I can definitely cover a few of the local favorites. Tucked into NW Portland between Burnside, the Willamette River, Broadway, and 405, The Pearl District used to be a light industrial area with a bunch of warehouses and railroad yards. Until the 1980s, that is. Since its reclassification to mixed use, an infusion of artists, and the introduction of the Portland Streetcar, it’s now filled with condos, lofts, and a lot of class. Come on, let’s go for a walk:
Powell’s Books is one of the more famous stopping points. Right up against the south end of the district, it’s a full city block of reader’s paradise. Even if you’re not a reader, it’s worth the trip to experience the largest independent bookstore in the world. (Rumor has it that they have over one million books on site.) And if you happen in on a Sunday, you can even grab a free guided tour.
Honeyman Hardware Lofts
There aren’t many homes in the Pearl District because of its industrial-focused history. But condos and lofts abound. If you’re looking for a modern lifestyle with high walkability, you’ll find it at Honeyman Hardware Lofts. The walk score here is 99 — that’s blow-me-away good. This beautiful building on NW Hoyt was built in 1912, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Portland Center Stage at The Armory
I love this place! So much that I used to work here. As the largest theatre company in Portland, its shows delight and inspire. (Plus, the Armory is famous on the green front: the first building on the National Register of Historic Places to achieve a LEED Platinum rating. Gotta love that!)
Back Pedal Brewing
Portland’s smallest microbrewery isn’t small on taste. This tiny little nano-brewery tucked on NW Flanders delivers a friendly, welcoming vibe, unique flavors, and special affinity to bikers. (Hence the name, people. You got this.) Since their beginning in 2015, Back Pedal Brewing has won quite a few awards. And who wouldn’t love them when they have drink names like Tropic Thunder, Blood Orange Blonde, and Flockahops?
“You had me at sustainable and locally sourced, Meriwethers.” If you’re looking for a true PNW food experience, you have to stop in for some farm-to-table dining on NW Vaughn. (Did you know they even have their own local farm on Skyline Boulevard? It doesn’t get much fresher than that.) The only downside: there aren’t a lot of vegan options on the menu.
Pacific Northwest College of Art
Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) is a staple in The Pearl. Things have been on the move here in recent years, including a new building on NW Broadway, a new president, and a Center for Contemporary Arts & Culture. But the school itself is hardly new. Established in 1909, it’s still handing out bachelors of fine arts degrees, and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) and Master of Arts (MA) degrees. Enrollment sits at about 500 students in this urban school.
Made Here PDX
Talk about a home run, Portland. Made Here PDX on NW 10thAvenue showcases much of what makes Portland so cool. From accessories to apothecaries to apparel, jewelry to knives to food, and bags to beverages, this store showcases unique products from local artisans. Every time you turn around, you’re sure to find another item to delight your eye and burst your wallet. But for some reason, maybe because it’s by locals for locals, it’s easier to spend a little extra. It all goes right back into the community!
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