The 5 Best Shopping Districts in Portland

Portland’s shopping offerings range from luxury shops to hipster makerspaces.

By Nathan Isaacs, ContributorJuly 19, 2017
By Nathan Isaacs, ContributorJuly 19, 2017, at 9:00 a.m.
U.S. News & World Report

The 5 Best Shopping Districts in Portland

Portland Gear

Portland Gear offers sweatshirts, baseball caps, T-shirts and casual wear to show off local pride.(Marcus Harvey)

Portland, Oregon, has a mix of great shopping districts for visitors to explore – from its downtown chains and luxury stores to independent makerspaces and thrift shops in its neighborhoods.

“It just depends on what your vibe is,” says Jordin Heath, front office manager at The Heathman Hotel. “If you're looking for something a little more hip and funky ... you can find the right neighborhood for it.”

And don’t forget: There's no sales tax in Oregon, which can mean big savings on big-ticket items.

West End

Tender Loving Empire(Jaclyn Campanaro)

“One of the best areas, I think, for shopping in Portland right now is an area in downtown called the West End,” says Marcus Hibdon, director of communications and public relations at Travel Portland, the city's tourism organization. “It has all types of different shops, from ladies’ boutiques to menswear to home decor places.”

The district’s borders are Yamhill Street to the south and Burnside Street to the north, and Park to 14th avenues from the east and west. West End places to explore include the outdoor specialty shop Poler Portland, which sells funky and fun performance apparel. “They brightened it up. They've made it more hip,” Hibdon says of the store's clothing line. “But it still has that functionality.”

Complete your outdoor look with a pair of Danner boots, which have been made in Portland since 1936. “They have a beautiful fashion line of really well-made, durable cosmopolitan footwear that complements their line of heavy-duty hiking boots and work boots,” Hibdon says.

Other West End options include the nearby Tender Loving Empire, which sells handmade goods as well as music released by its own record label. “A little bit of everything to be found in there and definitely a fun one to spend some time in,” Hibdon says. Another must-see is Wildfang, a women’s clothing store that emphasizes female empowerment and equality.

Ryan Lettier, concierge at the Kimpton Hotel Vintage Portland, says, “I am observant of the shopping bags that people come back into the hotel with, and many are carrying bags from the downtown’s West End area. There is something good happening over there.”

The Pearl District

Powell’s Books(Courtesy of Powell’s Books)

The Pearl District is north of the West End, across Burnside Street, and was once an industrial area of town where you didn’t wander into after dark. Now, it’s one of downtown Portland’s tony shopping districts. “[There is] lots of small boutique shopping in quite a small area; very easily walkable, very eclectic mix of shops,” says Alex Dawes, general manager at Embassy Suites Portland – Downtown.

Powell’s City of Books, which claims to be the world’s largest independent bookstore, anchors the district. But Dawes says there's much more to explore. MadeHere PDX, located near Powell's, "is full of quirky, interesting, handmade items. Basically, it's all stuff that has been made here in Portland.” You'll find a range of products, from chocolate to stationery.

Nob Hill

Salt & Straw(Leela Cydross)

Another option west of the Pearl is a neighborhood Portlanders call Nob Hill, which basically runs north and south along NW 23rd Avenue and some surrounding streets. “That is one long road full of very small boutique shops, restaurants and bars along a beautiful tree-lined street," Dawes says. “And all of the trees have fairy lights on in the evenings. That's a really nice, beautiful place to go and find some really interesting shops.”

Places to visit include the artisanal ice cream shop Salt & Straw. The street also has Portland’s own Kitchen Kaboodle, which has a bit of everything you'd need for your kitchen and home. There's also a Restoration Hardware, Williams Sonoma and Pottery Barn.

Katie Gallagher, front desk supervisor at Hotel Lucia, says, "It’s a really quaint street. I like the energy that it provides. It kind of has something for everyone. There are cafes and coffee shops to keep you fueled as you're shopping. There are shops for everyone and lots of good finds on that street.”

Portland Gear(Marcus Harvey)

Hibdon says that also nearby is "a really fun store called Portland Gear, which has sweatshirts, baseball caps, T-shirts and casual wear with some really nice Portland logos and branding on it. If you want to pick up that T-shirt that lets people know you visited, it's a great option for that.”

Pioneer Courthouse Square

If you're looking for major retailers, head to Pioneer Courthouse Square and the Pioneer Place shopping mall, also located downtown.

With high-end stores like Nordstrom, Apple Pioneer Place and Tiffany & Co. nearby, Pioneer Courthouse Square is a good place to take advantage of sales tax-free shopping. “If it’s time for a new iPhone, it might make sense to buy one in Portland,” Hibdon says. “If you are looking to buy that Tiffany diamond ring to propose to your girlfriend, or maybe just a nice Valentine's gift, you can buy that here tax-free, too.”

Hawthorne

“If you're going across the river, going over to Hawthorne is awesome for vintage shopping – whether it be vintage clothes or antiques,” Heath says. “That's definitely a fun area for that.”

Just a few of the Hawthorne vintage shops to visit are The Red Light Clothing Exchange, Vintage Pink and the Goodwill’s boutique location.

To experience more of what Portland has to offer, check out the U.S. News Travel guide.

Nathan Isaacs, Contributor

Nathan Isaacs writes about travel for U.S. News & World Report. He is based in Portland, ...  Read more

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