Nestled between the Willamette River and Columbia River, Portland is the biggest and most populous city in the U.S. state of Oregon. The biggest and most populous city in the state, Portland serves as a major port for the Pacific Northwest and has become one of the hottest destinations in the region.
Also known by the moniker “City of Roses”, Portland has emerged as a must-visit tourist destination. The city has a laidback atmosphere and is popular for its lush green spaces, outdoor trails, diverse street food and dining scene, an array of topnotch microbreweries, historical attractions and so much more.
When planning a trip to Portland, one of the biggest factors to consider is where you will be staying during your time here. Do you want to stay somewhere that is strategically located? Are you looking for an area that’s easy on the pocketbook? Or maybe you’d like to go off-the-tourist path and stay somewhere obscure?
Whatever your preference may be, you’ll find that there are plenty of Portland neighborhoods to choose from. To help you decide, we’ve created this comprehensive guide on where to stay in Portland. This list includes the best neighborhoods and areas in the city depending on the kind of traveler you are. For a fun and hassle-free experience, don’t forget to utilize a bag storage locker in Portland where you can safely deposit your luggage.
Downtown Portland: For first-time visitors
If you are visiting Portland for the first time and would like to stay in an area with a central location, then downtown Portland is your best bet. Considered as the city center, the district is situated near the banks of the Willamette River and is just a few kilometers away from the Portland International Airport (PDX).
Downtown Portland is home to a number of attractions and points of interest that you would definitely want to visit during your trip, which makes it the perfect base for those who want to see the best of the city. One of the top attractions that you can find in the downtown area is the Portland Art Museum, which is famous for its impressive collection of Asian and Native American artifacts.
Some of the other noteworthy sites found within the city center include Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Pioneer Courthouse Square, Washington Park, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, among others. Downtown Portland also boasts some incredible eateries, cafés and food trucks that showcase Portland’s bustling dining scene.
When it comes to accommodation, the downtown area hosts some of Portland's most recognizable establishments. Top choices include the Paramount Hotel and the Mark Spencer Hotel, both of which can be found in the heart of the district.
Pearl District: For foodies and shopaholics
Perhaps the trendiest area in Portland, and definitely one of the most popular, the Pearl District is among the best places in the city to stay at. Located just north of the city center, the area is a former warehouse district that was developed during the 1980’s, turning into the fun and fashionable neighborhood that it is today.
Pearl District is especially ideal for travelers who would like to do some retail therapy during their time in Portland. This is because the area is home to a number of shops – from upscale boutiques and designer brands to bookstores and souvenir shops. One of the biggest draws in the district is Powell’s City of Books, which has been open since 1971 and has become one of Portland’s most iconic landmarks.
The Pearl District is also the perfect spot for foodies who want to sample some of Portland’s popular eats. This is because the area is home to a number of Portland’s most acclaimed restaurants. In addition, the district serves as a great base for those who want to see the city’s beloved craft beer culture. Pearl District boasts a range of notable breweries and even hosts various craft beer tours and beer crawls.
Central Eastside: For nightlife
If you’re a “party animal” or someone who likes to socialize, then Portland's Central Eastside is an attractive option for you. Located within the Kerns neighborhood in Southeast Portland, the district sits on the east side of the Willamette River (hence the name) and was formerly an industrial zone. Today, Central Eastside is widely regarded as one of the hippest and most vibrant areas in the city and is an excellent choice when looking for a place to stay in Portland.
Central Eastside is an area that is renowned for its coffee culture, thanks to the presence of several cafés in the area. At night, however, this vibrant district transforms into a go-to spot for a fun night out; there is a multitude of bars, nightclubs, pubs, comedy clubs and other entertainment venues where both locals and tourists hang out and go to grab a drink or two. In terms of accommodation, Central Eastside has numerous hotels and residential units that suit all tastes and budgets.
Old Town Chinatown: For culture vultures
The original downtown area of Portland, Old Town Chinatown is a historic district that can satisfy the biggest of culture vultures. Nestled between Willamette River and Burnside Street, it is the oldest neighborhood in the city and has a wide selection of accommodations that cater to all budgets and preferences.
The Old Town Chinatown is where you can find some of Portland’s most historic and iconic landmarks and attractions. One of the main tourist spots in the neighborhood is the Lan Su Chinese Garden, which was built using materials imported from China and is regarded as one of the most authentic Chinese gardens in the entire United States. Additionally, you can find a range of museums and other cultural attractions within Old Town Chinatown.
On weekends, the entire city block is closed off to cars and becomes a pedestrian-only zone, where locals and tourists come together to shop, dine and go sightseeing. Every Saturday and Sunday, Old Town Chinatown also hosts the Portland Saturday Market, an arts and crafts fair and one of the most famous street markets in Oregon. Here, locals and visitors can shop from an assortment of vendors, watch live entertainment, attend art shows and sample some authentic Asian cuisine.
Hawthorne: For those on a budget
If you want to stay somewhere that won’t burn a hole through your pocket, you should consider staying in Hawthorne in Southeast Portland. Named after Dr. J.C. Hawthorne, who founded the city’s first mental hospital, the district has a distinct and trendy atmosphere that hip travelers and the younger crowds will enjoy. While you won't find luxury hotels or five-star establishments in the area, there are plenty of boutique hotels and other quaint accommodation options here that are extremely budget-friendly.
Spanning 43 blocks, Hawthorne is lined with establishments that cater to all interests. The area is filled with vintage stores, book stores, thrift shops and eco-friendly boutiques and so much more. Additionally, the area has become known for its selection of dive bars, microbreweries and craft pubs, perfect for visitors who want to try out the different local brews and learn about their history.
Moreover, there are several points of interest around Hawthorne that are worth checking out while you’re in Portland. One of the most popular spots in the district is the Bagdad Theatre, a historic theatre that has since been converted into a seven-story brewery. Since 1989, the iconic landmark has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Nob Hill (Northwest District): For families
For families that are planning to visit Portland, especially those with children in tow, Nob Hill is arguably the best area to stay in. Also commonly referred to as Alphabet District, Nob Hill is one of the more upscale neighborhoods in the city and has a small village feel to it. Additionally, the area is centrally located; Nob Hill sits in Northwest Portland and is walking distance from Pearl District and about a 5-minute drive from the city center.
The neighborhood features plenty of attractions that families can enjoy. One of the most visited places here is Forest Park, a public green space with plenty of amenities for people of all ages to enjoy. The outdoor park is home to more than 60 species of mammals and 100 species of birds and has over 70 miles of trails for cycling, walking and hiking.
Another point of interest in Nob Hill that you and your kids will absolutely love is the Oregon Zoo, where you can find animals across all species, including insects, reptiles, mammals and more! The Portland Japanese Garden is also a major draw in the area because of its collection of lovely flora as well as its relaxing ambiance. After a full day of activities and sightseeing, you and your family can enjoy some food at the different restaurants and eateries found all over Nob Hill.
Lloyd District: Best for business travelers
Not all trips are for leisure; there are times when you visit a place solely for work purposes. If you’re coming to Portland for business reasons, then you may want to look for accommodation within the Lloyd District. Located in the north and northeast section of Portland, Lloyd District is a predominantly commercial neighborhood that’s close enough to the downtown area and is well connected to the rest of the city via public transportation.
For business travelers, Lloyd District is perfect as it is home to the renowned Oregon Convention Center, which regularly hosts some of the biggest exhibits and events in Portland. In the district, you can also find the Lloyd Center, a massive shopping mall that has an array of amenities, including restaurants, cafés, cinemas and even an indoor skating rink.
If you happen to be a fan of basketball, you can also catch a game at the Moda Center, a 19,000-seater sports venue and the home of the city’s NBA team, the Portland Trail Blazers. The Lloyd District also has some up-and-coming restaurants as well as a variety of hotels that can accommodate all kinds of travelers.
Alberta Arts District: For a second or third visit
If you have already been to Portland before, chances are you’ve already covered most of the popular sights and attractions in the city. Most of the time, returning visitors want to enjoy the other aspects of Portland, including the city’s bustling dining and craft beer culture as well as its interesting art and festival scene. If this is the case, you would probably want to stay somewhere a little less crowded that has a more authentic feel to it, such as the Alberta Arts District.
The area, which is centered on Alberta Street, used to be notorious for its high crime rate but has since undergone a major transformation. Today, the Alberta Arts District is one of the coolest districts in Portland and is popular for its bohemian and artsy vibe. The district is home to numerous galleries and even hosts the annual Last Thursday Art Walk, an outdoor festival where traveling merchants and local artists set up stalls to sell their products and showcase their works.
The Alberta Arts District is also home to a number of bars, restaurants, cafés and shops that are worth visiting. The area is definitely a top choice for those looking for a trendier place to stay and for visitors who are a fan of counter culture.
Staying in Portland
Flying into Portland Airport to see this terrific Oregon city? Portland is a unique city that has something to offer for any traveler, regardless of your interests and preferences. This Portland neighborhood guide can help you make informed decisions and choose where to stay during your time in the city. From a busy nightlife scene to a neighborhood full of trendy eateries, every Portland area has a charm of its own.