It is traditional to begin the new year with a flurry of resolutions you probably won’t keep. Instead of bothering with the charade of self-abnegation, try this simple and fun alternative: resolve to get to know Portland better in 2018. Portland is a city so rich in charms it’s easy to miss all but the most-publicized. Seek inspiration in its beauty, history, creativity, and quirk; then blaze your own trail.
Here are a few oft-overlooked Portland gems to get you started. We’ll provide you with more ideas in the coming weeks!
More than just a park, Hoyt Arboretum is a living research lab that is home to more than 2,000 plant species from around the world, including many endangered species. Sprawled across almost 200 acres in Washington Park, and interwoven with a dozen miles of trails, the Arboretum is the perfect place to rejuvenate and reconnect with nature.
Location: 4000 SW Fairview Blvd., Portland
Last year taught us that the unthinkable can become reality in a finger-snap, a lesson history will teach if we’re willing to learn. Nikkei means Japanese emigrants and their descendants, an immigrant group that, like Muslims today, became the scapegoats in a political power struggle. The Legacy Center charts the experiences of Portland’s Japanese community, from its heyday in the early 20th century to the devastation of the post-Pearl Harbor internment of Japanese families. If the contemporary parallels don’t frighten you, they should.
Cost: $5/$3 students and seniors
Location: 121 NW 2nd Ave., Portland
The public face of the Oregon Center of the Photographic Arts, Blue Sky Gallery is a space dedicated to cultivating fearless creativity. Nestled in one of the country’s most photogenic cities, it keeps an intense schedule of 20 to 30 exhibitions annually, meaning it rewards repeated visits. Blue Sky Gallery also houses a research library and holds regular artist talks and programs. Browse its walls for inspiration, read our photography tips (part 1 and 2 ) then go create your own photographic masterpiece.
Location: DeSoto Building, 122 NW 8th Ave., Portland
This small museum crammed with hand-crafted boats represents the can-do ethos of Portland better than a dozen lavish public institutions. It is home to the largest collection of Arctic kayak forms in the world: the majority are full-sized, functional replicas built by proprietor/curator Harvey Golden. “Perhaps no single object created by genus Homo better represents our ancestors’ ingenuity, survival instinct, and desire for exploration than the canoe,” he writes on the museum’s website. The museum itself is proof of what ingenuity and curiosity can create.
Cost: Free; hours 5 to 7 p.m. Thursdays or by appointment
Location: 5340 SE Lincoln St., Portland
Mount Tabor is actually the cinder cone of an extinct volcano. How cool is that? The original park planners had no idea, they just knew its sweeping green hills and lush woods made an ideal urban oasis. In fact, it supplied water to the city for many years. Its reservoirs, no longer in use, are beautiful examples of functional architecture. Its trails, picnic areas, tennis courts and dog park make it an invaluable communal space.
Location: SE 60th Ave. and Salmon St., Portland
The train tracks that criss-cross Portland are just a remnant of the golden age of railroads. As a major port, the city was also a key depot for major rail lines. The Oregon Rail Heritage Center not only preserves this history, it keeps it alive. ORHC is home to two fully restored engines, making Portland the only city in the U.S. with two operational steam locomotives. A third historic locomotive is undergoing restoration. Other highlights of the collection include maps and exhibitions about local rail yards.
Location: 2250 SE Water Ave., Portland
Celebrating the oddball, occult, deviant, and downright peculiar, the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium invites you to join it in keeping Portland weird. The quirky musuem-cum-shop-cum-leftfield-social-scene promises “interactive displays for all six senses.” This includes art, books, “one-of-a-kind-oddities,” toys, gifts, and more.
Cost: $5 per person. Dogs and decent costumes get in free.
Location: 2234 NW Thurman St., Portland
These possibilities are the tip of the iceberg of cool Portland places that you may be neglecting. Stay tuned to this space for more suggestions.