It was a dark and stormy night – that turned into a dark and stormy day. You know, typical autumn weather for Portland.
What to do? Staying at home binge-watching Game of Thrones or Better Call Saul is certainly an option. But eventually cabin fever will force you to go OUT (to forage for food, if nothing else). Here are five frugal options for fun on those inevitable rainy days in Portland:
1. MOVIES – ON THE CHEAP
Of course, you can watch movies at home (see binge-watching reference above). But there’s something about sitting in a theater and looking up at that big screen with a greasy tub of popcorn that just completes the movie-watching experience.
Luckily, Portland has a wealth of inexpensive “second run” movie theaters – and that should make all frugal types happy. (If you’re one of those people who MUST see every new movie as soon as it hits the theaters, this may, er, not be the website for you.).
My favorite second-run movie viewing spot is McMenamins Kennedy School Theater (5736 NE 33rd Ave.; mcmenamins.com). When my kids were small, Kennedy School Theater was my go-to spot for rainy afternoons/evenings with my young sons – super cheap and they could nap on the comfy couches if they got bored or tired (a frequent occurrence).
They’re grown now but Kennedy School is still my favorite due to those cozy couches and chairs (and even tables for your drinks/popcorn/pizza). Cost is $4 for adults, $2 for kids 11 and under. McMenamin’s Mission Theater (1624 NW Glisan; mcmenamins.com) is also uber-cheap: $2 for adults and kids for shows starting before 5 pm; $4 and $3 respectively after 5 pm.
Academy Theater (7818 SE Stark; academytheaterpdx.com) is another great second-run bargain movie option. Prices are only $4 adults, $3 for 12 and under (and seniors) and they have specials that go beyond those low, low rates: Double Feature Monday: watch two consecutive movies for $6 adults ($4 kids/seniors); and Two for Tuesday: buy one ticket get one free. Laurelhurst Theater and Pub (2735 E. Burnside St.; laurelhursttheater.com), likewise, offers movies on the big screen for next-to-nothing: $3 before 6 pm; $4 after.
2. MUSEUM HOPPING
If you’re a tourist, you probably already consider museums a top option for ANY day, not just the rainy ones. They are a great way to learn about the area you’re visiting. But even us natives could use a little refresher course on, say, our Oregon history or (gulp!) cultural pursuits.
In keeping with those sentiments the Oregon Historical Society museum (1200 SW Park Ave.; ohs.org) is a fantastic option – and for Multnomah County residents it is FREE ($11 for others). I guarantee that you WILL learn a ton about this fascinating state. You will be surprised. You will be enriched. Even if you don’t live in Multnomah County and, hence, get in free, you should consider it.
The Portland Art Museum (1219 SW Park Ave. pam.org) is an awesome facility with a world class inventory, well worth a long, immersive visit. It is free on the first Thursday of each month from 5 to 8 – and you will want to make note of this because regular adult admission to the museum is now a whopping $19.99!
Other FREE (and low cost) museums to consider include:
The Center for Contemporary Art and Culture (housed with the Pacific Northwest College of Art, 511 NW Broadway; ccac.pnca.edu). The CCAC is open 11 am to 5 pm Thursday through Saturday and is always free. It boasts 1300+ pieces of art, specializing in ceramics.
An often overlooked option is the Mercy Corps Action Center (28 SW 1st Ave; mercycorps.org). Portland is the headquarters for this international relief agency and their action center exhibits offer fact-filled (and often heart-breaking) looks at where the need is greatest in the world – and what is being done there to help. Open 11 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday.
The Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center (121 NW 2nd Ave; oregonnikkei.org) charges only $5 admission ($3 for seniors/students) and offers visitors an education on the history and culture of the Japanese American community in Oregon. Highlights include life after Executive Order 9066 (the World War II Japanese internment order). Closed Mondays.
History, art, culture – and how to save the world – not a bad way to spend a rainy day!
3. HANGING OUT AT YOUR FAVORITE COFFEE SHOP
Portland always ranks near the top (the VERY top) of “most caffeinated cities in the country” lists. Why? I like to think it’s because we’re quite erudite (sipping espresso and reading The New Yorker or The Economist) and/or that we thrive on community – and coffee shops are where we congregate. But it could just be the weather. The other two cities that typically round out the Coffee Triumvirate are Seattle (no surprise!) and San Francisco – not cities known for their year-round sunshine.
Whatever the reason, get thee to a coffee shop! According to one recent survey, Portland is home to more than 1,500 caffeine distribution establishments. So you should be able to find one close by.
Bring your books and/or lap top (and/or friends!) and while away the afternoon.
4. BROWSE THOSE BOOKS
While you can enjoy this rainy day activity at any book store, the beauty of Powell’s City of Books (1005 W. Burnside; powells.com) is that, along with countless new and used books to wander among, you can find refuge in the World Cup Coffee area to re-caffeinate, rest your feet and check out your prospective purchases.
This Portland icon is often packed on rainy days – with like-minded individuals (so expect to sit next to a stranger in the coffee shop).
5. ROLLER SKATING – OR ROLLER SKATING WATCHING!
Not everyone is cut out for roller skating. I, for one, consider it a spectator sport. At Oaks Park Roller Rink (7805 SE Oaks Park Way; oakspark.com), you can decide which role you want to take on. Roller Skating Sessions start at $6.50 per person and skate rentals begin at $2. As a spectator, I pay nothing to watch. :) It’s especially fun if some of your bolder-but-no-more-capable friends are out there, wheeling around wildly.
Not that you’ll need these tips, because it’s not going to rain the rest of the fall, and into the winter, but, just in case you need something to do, we’ve got you covered.
I’ll see you at Oaks Park.