Experience Portland: Explore the Rose City’s arts, culture, and sports

Stephanie Michel

Portland’s vibrant cultural scene offers a diverse array of options to entice you to explore the city. Stroll through a classical Chinese garden, explore Italian fashion, delve into Oregon history, cheer on the home team, or relax to jazz, blues, or other live music in a neighborhood club. From the Oregon Convention Center, you can hop the MAX (light rail), streetcar, or bus to easily get downtown or into one of Portland’s unique neighborhoods. TriMet’s Trip Planner (www.trimet.org) will help you find your way around this dynamic city.


Museum of Contemporary Craft

(724 NW Davis Street, http://museumofcon-temporarycraft.org/)

Described as the oldest continuously running craft institution on the West Coast, the Museum of Contemporary Craft, in partnership with the Pacific Northwest College of Art, presents the history of the studio craft movement as well as the influence of craft and design on contemporary culture. The museum’s collection offers more than 1,000 ceramic, clay, fiber, glass, metal, and wood objects from the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Portland Art Museum

(1219 SW Park Avenue, www.portlandartmuseum.org)

As the oldest art museum in the Pacific Northwest, the Portland Art Museum covers the full range of ancient to modern art. The collection’s strengths include art of the native peoples of North America, English silver, and the graphic arts. A special exhibit on “Italian Style: Fashion Since 1945” will be featured during the ACRL conference and will offer a glamorous look into the individuals and organizations that have shaped Italy’s fashion scene since the Second World War.

Oregon Historical Society

(1200 SW Park Avenue, www.ohs.org)

Explore Oregon’s past from our early history to the present day at the Oregon Historical Society. In addition to the permanent collection, special exhibits about Portland’s black residents during the 1940s and 1950s and about the Portland General Electric power utility will be presented. You may also register to use the Research Library, which provides significant collections of books, maps, manuscripts, photographs, videos, and more covering local, state, and regional history.

Oregon Historical Society. Photo Credit: Daniel X. O’Neil, https://flic.kr/p/odZKzs


(Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) (1945 SE Water Avenue, https://www.omsi.edu)

An interactive, hands-on science museum for kids of all ages. Visit one of the five exhibit halls, eight hands-on science labs, tour the USS Blueback submarine (used in the filming of The Hunt for Red October), enjoy laser light shows set to popular music in the Kendall Planetarium, or watch educational and second-run feature films in the Empirical Theater.

Live music

Oregon’s classical music options (including the Oregon Symphony and Portland Opera) don’t currently have any performances scheduled during ACRL 2015. However live music of all types will be readily available throughout the city.

McMenamins Crystal Ballroom

(1332 W. Burnside, www.mcmenamins.com/425-crystal-ballroom-home)

The McMenamin brothers are renowned for purchasing historic properties that have fallen into disrepair and turning them into popular venues for dining, music, and overnight accommodations. The Crystal Ballroom is no exception. It celebrated its 100th anniversary this year, and on any given night it features bands playing rock ‘n’ roll, country, hip hop, big band, or other styles of music. Check out their online calendar for events offered during the conference, and come experience the unique “floating” dance floor for yourself.

McMenamins Crystal Ballroom. Photo Credit: Heidi De Vries, https://flic.kr/p/KeXNN

Doug Fir Lounge

(830 E. Burnside Street, www.dougfirlounge.com/)

This trendy Portland venue offers music nearly every night of the week.

Jimmy Mak’

(221 NW 10th, www.jimmymaks.com)

Listen to live jazz music in this intimate Pearl District club.

To venture slightly further afield, check out these neighborhood venues for live music:

Alberta Rose Theater

(3000 NE Alberta Street, https://www.albertarosetheatre.com/).

Aladdin Theater

(3017 SE Milwaukie Avenue, www.aladdin-theater.com/).

Mississippi Studios

(3939 N Mississippi Avenue, www.mississippistudios.com/).


Artists Repertory Theatre

(1515 SW Morrison Street, www.artistsrep.org/)

As Portland’s longest-running professional theater company, Artists Repertory Theatre offers adventurous comedies, dramas, and musicals that range from world premieres to new takes on the classics. During the ACRL conference, Artists Repertory Theatre will be offering a Portland premier of The Invisible Hand by Ayad Akhtar, a 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a kidnapped American futures trader in Pakistan who bargains for his life.

Portland’5 Centers for the Arts

(1111 SW Broadway, www.portland5.com/)

Portland’5 Centers for the Arts includes five venues around downtown Portland that collectively offer more than 1,000 music, theater, dance, and lecture performances each year. Check the website closer to the time of the conference to see what events may be offered.

Portland sign on Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Photo credit: Travel Oregon

Visiting authors

Powell’s City of Books

(1005 W Burnside Street, www.powells.com)

Powell’s Books offers author readings nearly every night of the week at one of its six locations around Portland, including its newly remodeled flagship location downtown (the largest used and new bookstore in the world). Check the calendar of events to see which authors may be speaking during the conference, or just drop by to lose yourself in this city block devoted to books. Open daily until 11 p.m.

Outdoor market/street fair

Last Thursday on Alberta

(NE Alberta between NE 15th – 30th, www.lastthursdayonalberta.com/)

An evening street fair of artists, performers, musicians, and outstanding people-watching opportunities occurs on the last Thursday of every month in the Alberta Arts neighborhood. Public transportation is recommended, since parking can be limited.

Portland Saturday Market

(2 SW Naito Parkway, www.portlandsaturdaymarket.com/)

Every Saturday and Sunday from March until Christmas Eve, several blocks in Old Town and along the waterfront are transformed into a vibrant outdoor market selling arts and crafts from Pacific Northwest artisans. The selection ranges from the funky to the fine art; there’s something for everyone. Street musicians and performers add to the festive atmosphere.


Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

(6015 SE 28th Avenue, www.rhodies.org/xtal/csg_index.htm)

Established in 1950, the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden includes more than 2,000 varieties of rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias, and other flowering plants. Early rhodies and azaleas should be in bloom, and the paths through the garden and along the lake are lovely in all seasons.

Lan Su Chinese Garden

(239 NW Everett, www.lansugarden.org/)

Created in partnership with artisans from Portland’s sister city of Suzhou, China, the Lan Su Chinese Garden offers a blend of art, architecture, design, and nature providing tranquility within the heart of the city. Wander the paths to explore native Chinese plants, watch the koi swim leisurely around the large pond, or visit the teahouse (Tower of Cosmic Reflections) for a variety of Chinese teas and light snacks.

Lan Su Chinese Garden. Photo credit: David McSpadden https://flic.kr/p/dmMSKm

Washington Park

One of the oldest parks in Portland, Washington Park includes 400 acres of gardens and attractions on the hills above downtown Portland, just a short MAX or bus ride from downtown. Washington Park includes the following sights:

Hoyt Arboretum

(4000 Southwest Fairview Boulevard, www.hoytarboretum.org/)

Founded in 1928, Hoyt Arboretum includes 12 miles of hiking trails across 187 ridge-top acres of Washington Park. This living museum offers more than 1,400 species of plants from around the world.

International Rose Test Garden

(400 SW Kingston Avenue, www.rosegardenstore.org/international-rose-test-garden.cfm)

One of Portland’s nicknames is the Rose City, and in the height of summer, this garden splendor of roses of every possible color. Although in March the roses will not yet be in bloom, on a clear day the International Rose Test Garden offers beautiful views of downtown Portland and of Mt. Hood in the distance. The Shakespeare Garden (which includes herbs, trees, and plants mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays) may also offer early spring blooms.

Oregon Zoo

(4001 SW Canyon Road, www.oregonzoo.org/)

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Visit more than 200 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and more in exhibits featuring animals from the Pacific Northwest, Africa, and Asia. Construction is underway to update several major exhibits at the zoo; the newest exhibit. Condors of Columbia, features three adult condors and tells the story of the Oregon Zoo’s efforts to restore condors to their native habitats in the wild.

Pittock Mansion

(3229 NW Pittock Drive, http://pittockmansion.org/)

Built in 1914 by Henry and Georgiana Pittock and occupied until 1919, this beautifully designed home blends Turkish, English, and French styles and offered progressive amenities, such as intercoms and a central vacuum system. The mansion fell into disrepair in the 1960s, but has been fully restored to its former glory and is open to those who desire a glimpse into Portland’s past.

Portland Japanese Garden

(611 SW Kingston Avenue, http://japanesegarden.com)

Emphasizing the connection between visitors and the environment, the Portland Japanese Garden offers five distinct styles of Japanese gardens. The garden is beautiful in all seasons. In March, you may see cherry blossoms or other early blooming shrubs, such as azaleas or camellias.

World Forestry Center Discovery Museum

(4033 SW Canyon Road, www.worldforestry.org/)

Explore the importance of forests and trees in our lives through a birds-eye view of the forest, a virtual trip to forests around the world, or a ride to the top of the forest canopy.


Portland hosts three professional sports teams playing basketball and soccer. At the time of writing, the 2015 schedules were not available, so check back to see if any events will take place during the ACRL conference.

Portland Timbers


Join the rowdy and enthusiastic Timbers Army to cheer on the home men’s soccer team, if you can get a ticket. Every home game since the team’s first match in March 2011 has sold out. Games are held at Providence Park (1844 SW Morrison).

Portland Thorns


Established in 2012, Portland’s women’s professional soccer team has a strong following. Like the Portland Timbers, the Thorns play at Providence Park (1844 SW Morrison).

Portland Trail Blazers


Portland’s men’s professional basketball team plays in the Moda Center, located in the Rose Quarter (an easy walk from the convention center).

Rose City Rollers


More than 400 smart, tough, athletic women compete on multiple teams within this all-female flat track roller derby league. Most events take place at The Hangar at Oaks Amusement Park (7805 SE Oaks Park Way).

This is just a sampling of the performances, museums, gardens, and sporting events offered across the Portland area. Many opportunities await you during your upcoming visit to Portland.

Rose City Rollers. Photo credit: Masonite Burn, https://flic.kr/p/awEcjQ
Copyright 2014© Stephanie Michel

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