Author: Hannah Leone
So it’s Sunday. The weekend is half over and you need to do something, anything, to distract yourself for the coming work week, and ideally leave your mind and body refreshed and prepared. Portland is a great city for Sundays. Here are a handful of activities you can do on the cheap in the inner blocks of the city’s Northwest quadrant.
A Lazy Sunday in Northwest Portland
1. All-Day Happy Hour
Make your own breakfast — yes, skip brunch — then take advantage of the city’s many all-day happy hours. Henry’s 12th Street Tavern, Thai Bloom, Pope House Bourbon Lounge, and even Portland City Grill have affordable and tasty all-Sunday food and drink specials. Kells Irish Brew Pub and Bartini also have good Sunday happy hours from 4 p.m. to close.
2. Portland’s Aerial Tram
This is outside of Northwest Portland, but not by much. Catch a ride on the OHSU aerial tram. Some people take it to work every day; for the rest of us, the tram is simply a fun way to catch some sweet views of downtown and inner east Portland. Round-trip fare, about 4 minutes each way between the lower South Waterfront terminal and higher Marquam Hill terminal, is $4.50.
3. Take a Hike!
If it’s rainy, you’ll find modest tree cover at Forest Park — the MacLeay Park entrance is easily accessible from NW Upshur, a short walk from the shopping and restaurants on NW 23rd Avenue — and at Washington Park, easily accessible via SW Park Place (the park extends to West Burnside) and by public transit. There’s a lot more to see at Washington Park than Portland’s notorious rose garden; the intricate trail system connects with Forest Park’s across West Burnside, the Vietnam Memorial is profound, and the Japanese Garden is worth the $9.50 general admission. Or pick your Forest Park trailhead and trek up to Pittock Mansion, where you’ll find an unbeatable view of bridge city whether or not you pay $10 admission to enter the historic house.
4. Get Your Culture On
Pop in an art gallery, or two, or three. You don’t always need to pay $20 admission at the Portland Art Museum to get your fill of eye candy. Fine art galleries are free to peruse, whether or not you’re in the market for a new installation.
My favorite in the quadrant: Blue Sky, on NW 8th Avenue near the Park blocks, was originally founded more than 40 years ago as Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts. The gallery showcases reliably compelling exhibits by local, national and international photographers and regularly hosts thought-provoking talks by the artists. Sunday hours are noon to 5 p.m.
Or create your own walking art tour using Google Maps.
5. Try Your Hand at Trivia
Trivia is free at the bourbon lounge near NW Glisan Street and 23rd Avenue, which also features all-day happy hour on Sundays. Even if you don’t want to play, the all-day happy hour is worth your time: $1 off well drinks, eight select bourbons, beer pints and wine; nine $5 cocktails; and food specials from $4 to $7. The whiskey selection is vast. The sweet potato fries, seasoned with Old Bay and served with chipotle aioli, are the best around.
In trivia, which starts at 9 p.m. but usually a few minutes late, winning teams get a $20 gift card to the lounge, which can be applied that night or stowed away for future use. The three progressive 10-question rounds aren’t blatantly themed, but the last two questions of each round are always extra fun: Mashups, worth double points, combine two questions in which the last word of the first answer is also the first word of the second answer. (The trivia master’s classic example: Infamous N.W.A. member and online dating site? Eazy-E-harmony.) And what could be a better way to prepare for the week ahead than winning at trivia?
In the end, you really can’t beat a Sunday in Portland. Whether you prefer to hang around inside mentally preparing for trivia, day drink through happy hours, or spend the day in the great outdoors, there’s something for everyone on anyone’s budget.