Portland City Guide:
Neighborhoods & Things to Do

Some people call Portland a weird, liberal, even “crunchy” hipster city. Others simply call it unique. But no one can ever claim that Portland is boring. The beautiful city in the Columbia River basin has plenty of natural beauty, including waterfalls, parks, trails, gorges and more. After spending a day in the great outdoors, you’ll appreciate the city’s healthy food truck obsession. You’ll find everything from Japanese and Mexican food to menus with a mishmash of cultural flavors. If you’re a fan of tiny homes, Portland is also home to Tiny Heirloom, a custom tiny house company that is family owned and operated (they even had a show on HGTV). Are you ready to make the move to this eclectic city? Make sure to check our Portland city guide to help you find the best rental options for your needs.

Portland city highlights

Portland has so much to offer to both tourists and residents. Once you move to this great city, you’ll have access to the following attractions – just to name a few!

  • Portland International Raceway: Located in North Portland, the Portland International Raceway is a fun destination for anyone who loves cars and motorcycles. There’s drag racing, motocross, motorcycle road racing and more. You can even learn how to race or browse your favorite classic cars during the summertime Cruise-Ins.
  • Powell Butte Nature Park: This beautiful park is in East Portland. It’s 603 acres of natural beauty. It also offers some of the best hiking trails in the city. Walkers and hikers enjoy the clearly marked trails, as well as the dense forests and wildflowers. The Park is ideal for people who want to get some exercise, need time to think and meditate or those who love taking nature photos.
  • Portland Japanese Garden: Looking for a magical place to visit? You’ll love the Japanese Gardens, complete with rock gardens, rock pathways and little bridges throughout. It’s the perfect place for some peace, quiet and reflection. There is a fee to access the garden but it’s worth it!
  • Take a Food Tour: Portland is the perfect place for foodies. There are so many craft breweries and restaurants that even the most passionate foodie might feel a bit overwhelmed – but definitely in a good way! To help you enjoy all that Portland has to offer, try taking a food tour, where you’ll get to experience everything from international cuisine and food truck fare to fine dining restaurants.
  • Powell’s City of Books: This is one of the most famous bookstores in the country. Within the nine rooms are housed over a million books divided into 3500 sections, making this the world’s largest independent bookstore. They sell new books as well as second-hand books.

Portland city guide to the best neighborhoods for renters

Our Portland city guide can not only help you find the best Portland apartments in your budget but also the neighborhood that fits your needs best. Make sure you’re surrounded by like-minded people or in the midst of the bustling city or living on the outskirts and enjoying the beauty of nature by comparing Portland neighborhoods. Here are a few of the most popular.

Northeast Portland

Northeast Portland is home to the Alberta Arts District. In this neighborhood, you’ll find some of the largest, most historic homes in the city. You’ll also find quaint and quirky shops, the best eateries and breweries in Portland and the 1920s-built and newly renovated Alberta Rose Theatre. The area is also home to the Rose Garden basketball stadium and the Oregon Convention Center. Each month, enjoy the Last Thursday Street Fair where there’s live music, delicious food and so much more to enjoy. The area is diverse and a mecca for hipsters.

Nob Hill

If you love repurposed, ornate Victorian buildings, Nob Hill (located in Northwest Portland) is the neighborhood for you. The tree-lined streets guide you to a variety of trendy shops (ideal for some regularly planned window shopping) and incredible dining experiences. You’ll get your choice of refined restaurants or more laid-back eateries. International cuisines abound, as do coffee houses. If you want to be surrounded by natural beauty, you’ll love Nob Hill. Here you’ll have easy access to Forest Park and its 70 miles of walking/hiking trails, as well as the Portland International Rose Test Garden, home to over 10,000 varieties of roses.


The Downtown neighborhood is in Central Portland. It is a high-energy neighborhood full of indie boutiques, eclectic food trucks and other creative dining and shopping experiences. Each week, you’ll be able to visit the Portland Saturday Market where you can experience live music and purchase your fill of leather crafts, art, glass and jewelry. If you want to experience more culture and refinement in your life, you’ll probably want to regularly visit The Portland Art Museum (Native American and Asian art exhibits), as well as the Keller Auditorium where you can witness the best ballet dancers and experience enthralling concert performances.

Northwest District

This affluent neighborhood is a great place to raise a family, with all the public schools in the area highly rated. Residents love the mix of vintage shops, stores run by local designers and big-brand stores. The neighborhood is also home to gourmet restaurants and stylish bistros. The green spaces are gorgeous, with large gardens and areas to hike and bike.

Hawthorne District

Are you looking for a neighborhood that radiates an eclectic, bohemian vibe? Then, you need to check our Portland city guide for apartments for rent in the Hawthorne District. Here you’ll find quirky shops, a plethora of bookstores and vintage and retail boutiques. There’s a low-key, laid-back energy in this neighborhood, where you can enjoy a night out at a fun pub, beer bar or club. You’ll also have access to some of the best vegetarian restaurants in the city. Like most bohemians, you probably thrive in the Great Outdoors. This neighborhood doesn’t disappoint. Make regular visits to Mt. Tabor (an extinct volcano) Park, which has breathtaking panoramic views of Portland and several walking/biking trails.

South Waterfront

Looking to live in a posh neighborhood? The options are expanding! The South Waterfront has been redeveloped and is now home to luxury housing, high-rises and boutique shops. If you’re a foodie, you’re in luck because you’ll find global eateries and modern restaurants – as well as a few fast-food favorites. If you love experiencing nature, there are walking and biking trails along the South Waterfront Greenway and the Portland Aerial Tram for some panoramic views of the city and surrounding green space. The sophisticated neighborhood has several buildings with lux studios and condos. We’re positive you’ll find the style of rental that’s perfect for your aesthetic sensibilities.

Lair Hill

If you love history, you’ll love the Lair Hill neighborhood. This area is packed with Victorian homes built from the 1870s through the early 20th century. Periodically, the Heritage Society hosts walking tours of the neighborhood where you can learn about the history of this part of Portland, as well as the homes themselves. The neighborhood has a laid-back feel to it and there are plenty of outdoor activities you can enjoy often, such as boating and other water activities or waterside walks in Willamette Park.

Alberta Arts District

Northeast Alberta Street is a residential neighborhood in Portland that eventually transforms (when it crosses Northeast 14th Avenue) into the Alberta Arts District. Here you’ll have access to a unique part of Portland that attracts people from all over the city. The motif of the buildings in the area reflects the influences and sensibilities of the African American, Latino and Asian communities. Young professionals and artists alike find the Alberta Arts District to be a thriving yet welcoming haven for all. The Last Thursday Street Festival is evidence of this, where people come together to celebrate each other and their community at large, as well as the unique food and art of the district.


The Buckman neighborhood is a great location if you’re looking for an apartment that’s near some of the most popular neighborhoods in Portland. Buckman is famous for its food. In fact, they say that there’s so much to eat and drink in this neighborhood that you can try a new place every day for a year and still not make your way through all of them. Portland has more microbreweries per capita than anywhere else (we’re talking globally!), most of them seem to be in Buckman.

Multnomah Village

Multnomah Village is a charming, rustic, cozy Portland neighborhood. It’s a book-lover’s paradise, with plenty of bookstores and several sidewalk cafes to enjoy your new book and a delicious latte. The neighborhood has traditional Italian restaurants, modern American cuisine and even funky taverns. At the local shops, you’ll find clothing boutiques, home décor shops and antique shops, too. The area is an especially nice neighborhood to raise a family. The schools are high-quality and Gabriel Park has a large sports field, skate park and areas for a lovely family picnic.

Pearl District

One of the poshest neighborhoods in Portland is the Pearl District. It’s a fashionable area with indie boutiques and some of the hippest brands available. Warehouse spaces have been reclaimed and formed into artisan coffee shops and craft breweries. Bars and high-end restaurants abound, too. However, this isn’t just a neighborhood for folks who crave a lively nightlife. It’s also a very artistic part of the city with multiple galleries showcasing glass art, contemporary paintings and sculptures, as well as photography.

St. Johns

Over a hundred years ago, there was a small town at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers called St. Johns. Since then, the town has transformed into a rustic, cozy neighborhood in North Portland. Cathedral Park in St. Johns is a hub of activity for people who love being outdoors – and for their pets! During the summer months, you can enjoy the Jazz Festival, as well as boating activities on the river. If you want something fun to do over the weekend, make sure to check out the “Brew ‘n View” movie theaters where you can enjoy delectable food and drink while watching a movie with your friends and neighbors.

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