Top 7 activities to start your Portland summer off right
More so than anywhere else I’ve ever lived—northern and southern Idaho, Seattle, Albuquerque, and Bariloche, Argentina—the people of Portland live for their summers. They’ve spent eight-plus months in dark, drizzly hibernation, and are ready to spring back to life—with uninhibited enthusiasm.
So it’s probably no coincidence that Portland has an abundance of summer activities to gather its residents together under the sun and the stars.
Here are seven of my favorites, all of which support a sustainable local economy and healthy, vibrant community. And they’re all free to attend.
- Farmers markets: Portland has a farmers market somewhere (almost) every day of the week. The biggest happens right smack dab in the middle of PSU’s campus each Saturday. And—it’s strawberry season! Get them while they last (’cuz it won’t be for much longer). Artichokes, fava beans, and garlic shoots also make a brief appearance in Portland markets during the early summer season. If you’ve never tried them, don’t be scared of these somewhat strange-looking (but delicious!) veggies, just follow the hyperlinks above to find preparation and serving tips.
- Pedalpalooza: Did you happen to catch the World Naked Bike Ride last Saturday, when thousands of Portlanders shed their threads and took over the streets in a mobile mob of nakedness? That was part of Portland’s annual Pedalpalooza—a grassroots festival featuring nearly 300 themed bike rides and related events during the month of June. Check out a full calendar of events here.
- Movies in the Park: When was the last time you watched the Labyrinth, Back to the Future, or the Neverending Story? The Goonies? Indiana Jones?! Well, you are in for a treat. All summer long, Portland Parks and Rec sets up a huge inflatable projection screen in different parks around the city and shows some of your favorite movies. Bring a blanket and a picnic dinner, and you’re set for night.
- Last Thursday on Alberta: A “community-grown” event featuring artists, musicians, and performers who line Alberta Street to hawk their wares and talents to passers-by. You’re sure to see some fascinating songs and dances, maybe even some kind of fire or light show. The neighborhood galleries also hold their monthly openings and shops stay open late. There are currently no fees, registration, or designated spots, so if you’re a creative looking to sell your goods, head on down—but get there early!
- Sundown concerts: Each Thursday in July, local nonprofit Ecotrust hosts Sundown—an event billed as “equal parts indie concert, block party, and classic Portland street fair.” Catch local favorites like the Portland Cello Project and the Builders and the Butchers while sipping local beer and chatting with vendors who represent the theme of the week: energy, water, forestry, or food.
- Sunday Parkways: Five times a summer, the city of Portland closes down a network of streets to cars and makes them available only to bikers, walkers, and other human-powered transport. The routes connect neighborhood parks and other greenways. Expect hula-hoops, live music, local food vendors, and more. Check the schedule here to see when Sunday Parkways is coming to a neighborhood near you.
- Street fairs: Portland abounds with neighborhood street fairs—outdoor parties featuring live music, food, drink, and unique local vendors. You might even catch some impromptu street performances or break-dancers. The Mississippi Street Fair on July 12 is one of my personal favorites, but be sure to check out your local fair—they take place in neighborhoods all around town.