Keep Portland Weird
There’s a lot of things that make Portland weird like the bagpipe playing unicyclist or even the weather. Here’s some other weird Portland Oregon things you might want to know or check out while you are visiting.
Witch’s Castle: Forest Park houses a structure that used to be a bathroom but now has may stories and legends that surround it. Whether you think it’s haunted or not it makes for some cool photos.
Shanghai Tunnels: The tunnels are located in Chinatown. Find out about Portland’s shady past with a tour of the underground. I always recommend the after dark tours. They are usually more fun.
Mill Ends Park: Visit the World’s Smallest Park. It’s even better if you get to see it on St. Patrick’s Day since it was created for the leprechauns. You’ll often find it decorated with one thing or another depending on the season or holiday. The flowers also change depending on the season.
Portlandia: See the second largest copper repousse statue in the United States, Portlandia. Also the name of a popular TV show that might give you some ideas as to why Portland is weird. It’s not just the places that you can visit but the way of life is overall weirder than other cities. If you’ve seen the show you might think that it’s slightly exaggerated but hopefully reading this list you’ll realize there’s some truth behind everything that is depicted in the show.
Ghostly tea: Have coffee or tea at an old house where the tables move around or up and down. It’s an unmarked house with ghostly atmosphere but the treats are tasty. Bring cash as that’s the only way to pay at Rimsky’s.
Statues: Plan a scavenger hunt around the city to see the statues like Beverly Cleary, Paul Bunyan, the giant milk carton or rotating bread on top of Franz.
Pony Rings: If you chose to walk around the city in any of the neighborhoods make sure to look down often as you might see an animal or two chained to the old pony rings on the edge of the sidewalk. I’ve personally seen all kinds and sizes of horses and dinosaurs attached. It makes me smile every time I come across something odd on the sidewalk like that.
Nude beaches: Visit a nude beach or two! Collin’s Beach is on Sauvie Island just west of St John’s. There’s also Rooster Rock which is about 20 miles east of the city.
Troll Bridge: The Portland Troll Bridge might not be as cool as the Fremont Bridge Troll in Seattle but it’s all kinds of weird. There’s a train trestle northeast of the city along McNamee Road. The weathered wood provides hiding holes for the trolls of all shapes and sizes. Feel free to bring your own troll to add to the collection.
Vaux Swifts: If you’re in Portland in September make sure to get a front row seat to see the Vaux Swifts. There are thousands of them that roost in a chimney at sunset. It’s quite the show so get there early.
Peculiarium: If you’re into museums you could also check out the hat museum or the vacuum museum. It’s not quote a “museum” but there’s also an odd collection of items at Freakybuttrue Peculiarium. I know, it’s not exactly the museums you would expect but this is Portland Oregon where everything is weird.
Strip clubs: We have more strip clubs per capita than any other city and it’s not just your normal strip clubs. We have clubs that serve the best steak in town and ones that are totally vegan.
Pedalpalooza: A annual free bike festival that lasts for the whole month of June. There are several volunteer run bike events all over the city throughout the month.
World Naked Bike Ride: One of the last official Pedalpalooza events is a well organized naked bike ride throughout the city of Portland. The route is never disclosed prior to the ride but it can be a great spectator sport if you can find out where they are heading and you aren’t on the ride. There’s about 10,000 people that ride every year.
McMenamins: Two brothers that own brewpubs, breweries, music venues, historic hotels, and theater pubs. I highly recommend visiting one or staying in one (Kennedy School, Crystal Ballroom, White Eagle). I’m not sure I’ve experienced anything quite like it including the really weird decor. Kennedy School and Edgefield are two of my favorites. You can even have a drink in detention or if you prefer the honors bar, there’s one of those too.
Secret Mini Golf Course: A homeowner installed a small mini golf course in his side yard. It’s free for all and still kind of a secret unless you count being added to Google and Yelp.
No sales tax: It is kind of a weird thing for almost anywhere you go to not have a sales tax but Oregon does not. You can buy anything for the list price. No surprises at the dollar store, it’s really a dollar!
Full Service Gas: In Oregon we don’t pump our own gas. All gas stations are full service. There was a recent change that said in rural areas that you can pump your own but for the most part you’ll get in trouble for trying to do it yourself. I didn’t even pump my own gas till I was 36 years old. I always let other people do it.
Donuts: Donuts are all the rage in Portland. Locals and visitors can wait an hour for a Voodoo Doughnut complete with oozing “blood”. They’re vegan too…because why not be weird and different than other donut places. Speaking of vegan food or food in general we don’t think it’s weird if you ask questions about what’s in something or want something substituted.Most restaurants have a good vegetarian or vegan option or 17. We love to cater to everyone. It’s not even weird to ask where the chicken was raised. If you eat chicken that is.
Keep Portland Weird: It might be one of the most photographed murals in town. It’s also really close to Voodoo Doughnut. And, yes, Austin Texas had the saying first just like we are the second major city in the United States that has the name Portland. We might just be the more popular one. So, when booking your flights make sure you are going to the right Portland. I’ve heard several stories where people have ended up in the wrong one. You think it’s not possible but somehow it happens more often than you’d think.
Other Keep Portland Weird things to know before you visit:
The local dress: We like to dress weird and no one seems to care. Yoga clothes, hiking clothes or anything you want seems to be acceptable almost anywhere in town.
Portland weather: We love to complain about the weather, whatever the weather. It’s also kind of weird that we can have sun, rain and hail all in a span of 10 minutes. The saying goes, “if you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes”. It’s a very accurate assumption. You can also say that it will be partly sunny with a chance of rain and be right almost all year long.
Unofficial local car: I swear there are more Subaru’s in this town and state than any other. You probably won’t have one as a rental but it’s a good car for both city and offroading.
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