Once a warehouse district, Portland’s Central Eastside now stores exciting ways to connect with natural wonders, innovative tastemakers and bright minds.
Located on the east bank of the Willamette River (and accessible via the Portland Streetcar and MAX Orange Line), the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is a ringer for all-age family entertainment. Check out permanent draws like a four-story movie theater, high-profile traveling displays like Body Worlds and Mythbusters, or special exhibits on everything from retro video games to nanotechnology.
If you can’t resist the pull of getting out on the water, Alder Creek Kayak rents boats, and you can shove off from the dock near the Hawthorne Bridge.
In a titanic, century-old industrial laundry warehouse, Yale Union (YU) inspires with events, exhibits and lectures that highlight emerging and established contemporary artists from around the globe. The Central Eastside’s industrial aesthetic provides a fitting backdrop for Distillery Row, a collection of five neighborhood micro-distilleries producing everything from homegrown cherry brandy to barrel-aged bourbon. Coffee is the only beverage of concern at the Stumptown Annex, where beans are available for sale in bulk, but tastings of their various blends come gratis.
When night falls, the Central Eastside offers plenty of entertainment. Hipster biker bar White Owl Social Club serves shoestring fries and rave-worthy beet burgers on its expansive patio, where patrons can roast s’mores on tabletop campfires. Housing hundreds of barrels filled with award-wining sour ales, Cascade Brewing Barrel House offers a tart tap list ripe with beers made with berries, apricots and even local coffee.
Remodeled in 2015 inside a century-old high school, 830-seat theater Revolution Hall hosts big-name musicians (recent acts include Neko Case and Yo La Tengo), inspiring tech conferences and other local events. Hosting nationally renowned headliners like Norm MacDonald and Maria Bamford, weekly open mics and comedy battles, Helium Comedy Club showcases some of the Northwest’s best laughs in an intimate 275-seat venue where every seat is within 60 feet of the stage.
Pips & Bounce is a palace of pingpong action. (Yes, pingpong!) Packed with 10 tournament-quality tables, hundreds of paddles and even ball-shaped lights, players can work on their backhand or kick back with vittles like local smoked sausage from Zenner’s. Staffers even scoop up stray balls to help keep the volleys coming. Around the corner, the traditional bowling alley gets a reboot at Grand Central Restaurant & Bowling Lounge. Giant projection screens play B movies and music videos to accompany the crashing pins and classic arcade games, air hockey and billiards. Order pub grub and signature mojitos straight from a comfy couch by your lane.
Feel like breaking into song? At Voicebox Karaoke, even shy crooners can slam the door on stage fright thanks to private, soundproof suites. Confidence-boosting beverages like sake cocktails along with pita pizzas and tater tot nachos help feed the need to belt out “Bohemian Rhapsody” until the wee hours. Singers can even order gummy worms and M&Ms by the half-pound — virtually guaranteeing a sweet note to end on.