In Portland – a city known for exciting left-of-center art, boutiques, coffee and wine – the indie spirit is almost the mainstream. Fun and unfussy, urban yet intimate, it’s a destination where it’s fun to kick back and people-watch or actively explore.
While the entire city is ripe for discovery, the few downtown blocks surrounding Hotel Vintage Plaza are a microcosm of all that is interesting and eclectic. Here’s our guide to the best.
Pick up your morning cup of joe around the corner from the hotel at the bustling cafe The Fresh Pot. We crave the perfectly frothy cappuccinos made with Stumptown coffee, the local roaster with a rabid following. 724 SW Washington St., 503-780-4504.
Up-and-coming art and more than 20 indie clothing and accessory lines fill Radish Underground, a living room-like boutique/gallery owned by two childhood friends with a passion for craftsmanship and community. A new designer and artist are featured every month. 414 SW 10th Ave., 503-928-6435.
Pop next door to Tender Loving Empire, a shop supporting local artists and their wares. It doubles as the shop/office of a record label so you can get introduced to the Portland indie music scene. 412 SW 10th Ave., 503-243-5859.
Lunch time! Eat like a local at Portland’s famous food carts. One of the main downtown pods is at SW Alder and 9th., where you can indulge in battered mahi-mahi at The Frying Scottsman Fish & Chips or guava chicken with black beans and rice from El Cubo de Cuba.
Sample some of the Northwest’s best pinot noirs at Oregon Wines on Broadway. They offer 36 wines that can be enjoyed by the taste or glass. Or, choose a bottle off the shelf; they’ll open it for you to drink on-site without charging a corkage fee. 515 SW Broadway, 503-228-4655.
The labyrinth-like Powell’s Books is the largest independent used and new bookstore in the world, covering an entire city block. We dare you to not get lost in one of its thousands of reads, ranging from contemporary novels to biographies to travel guides. Author readings and appearances happen regularly. 1005 W. Burnside St., 800-878-7323.
Of course you’ll want to make it back to Hotel Vintage Plaza in time for its complimentary evening wine hour featuring local pours — and plenty of homegrown spirit, of course.
Smile and say “indie” at Hotel Vintage Plaza, 422 SW Broadway in Portland (800-263-2305 or vintageplaza.com).
Story by Amy Drews. Hotel Vintage Plaza photo by Eric Holland; food cart photo by Camknows, via Flickr.