Get Cultured in Portland

Content originally written for the Let’s Go: USA & Canada Guide by our researcher-writer, Graham Bishai.

Pittock Mansion

3229 NW Pittock Dr.; (503) 823-3623;; open daily Feb-May 10am-4pm; open daily June-Labor Day 10am-5pm; open daily Sept-Dec 10am-4pm, closed Nov 16-18, closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day

Explore a rich, dead family’s house for an hour! Better yet, no one will yell “get off the property!” Instead, you’ll be free to wander, you’ll get a spectacular view of Portland and its surroundings as well as a taste of some Portland history. If you’re a nosy little rat who likes peering into people’s lives, rifling through their shit, you’ll be right at home. But not, because this isn’t your house, asshole! You’ll sure wish it were though, since it’s a true mansion with exquisite flowering gardens that flow into the dense pine forest beyond the edges of the property. Once abandoned and slated for demolition, this building was saved by community advocacy and preserved as a museum. Inside the history tells of a family influential in the transformation of Portland into an industrial powerhouse. If you’re not into history or seeing a museumed house, (if it sounds boring, you’ll probably find it to be) or just don’t want to spend money on admission, it’s definitely still worth going to walk around the outside to see the flora and the view.

Admission $11; guided tours are free but happen irregularly; limited wheelchair accessibility

Voodoo Doughnut

22 SW 3rd Ave.; (503) 241-4704;; open 24hr

Portlanders will mention Voodoo Doughnuts before any museum, park or other city attraction. Out of this kitschy explosion of pink, butter, flour, sugar and plenty of sexual innuendo comes a doughnut that has eager customers lining up, at all hours of the night. The line often spans out the door, necessitating nightclub-style iron fencing outside, which, of course, is pink. Flavors range from original glazed to “triple chocolate penetration,” to “old dirty bastard,” a melée of chocolate, Oreo, and peanut butter. They used to make NyQuil doughnuts, as well as “Vanilla Pepto Crushed Tums,” but health officials shut that shit down. There’s also the famed “Cock-N-Balls,” which, yes, is exactly what it sounds like. Health officials are cool with that one. Watch out for squirting creme.

Doughnuts $1-3; cash only; vegan options; wheelchair accessible

Powell’s City of Books

1005 W. Burnside St.; (800) 878-7323;; open daily 9am-11pm

Nothing will make you realize just how much of the world’s literature you won’t be able to read in your lifetime like a stroll through Powell’s City of Books. On that happy note, get hyped! The plain wood shelves go on and on, housing roughly a million new and used books side by side. This is not your average independent bookstore. Taking up an entire city block, it claims to be the world’s largest, and with several floors inding one into another, you’ll find in its over 3500 genre sections topics you didn’t even know existed. Nautical Fiction? Yoga? Role Playing Games? (You liked that last one, didn’t you?) Don’t miss the rare book room on the top floor. Attend one of the near-daily events to hear authors speak, usually at 7:30pm.  The in-house World Cup Tea and Coffee will help you sip tea while you read the #tea. Good work.

Book prices vary; guided tours Su 10am and 4pm; wheelchair accessible; rare book room open 11am-7pm daily.; café closes 15min. before store

Portland Art Museum

1219 SW Park Ave.; (503) 226-2811;; open Tu-W 10am-5pm, Th-F 10am-8pm, Sa-Su 10am-5pm

Get your art on at this world-class museum in the heart of downtown Portland, which houses lots of modern and Pacific Northwest art, as well as the regulars, like Van Gogh and Monet. It’s well curated but casual, which means you won’t be asked the difference between Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Go at your own pace. Don’t miss Monet’s Water Lillies or the extensive collections of Native American art. There’s a main building and a Modern and Contemporary building, connected on the lower level.

Admission $20, students $17; tours Tu and Th 1pm, F 6pm, Sa 12:30pm and 3pm, Su 3pm; wheelchair accessible; free entry first Th of the month 5pm-8pm; F 5-8pm admission $5; coffee shop on site

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

1945 SE Water St.; (503) 797-4000;; open Tu-Su 9:30am-5:30pm

Buzzing with Mrs. Smith’s third graders on a field trip, your presence is likely to up the average age at this science museum. If you can do without some damn peace and quiet, you will learn a lot from its interactive exhibits. Don’t miss the life science exhibit on the second floor. Take one of the several daily tours of the submarine parked out back. Learn all about sustainable energy and global warming, and—viewer discretion advised—see the mindblowing week-by-week development of pre-natal life with real preserved embryos and fetuses.

Admission $14.50; wheelchair accessible; café on site

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