From second-run movies to first-rate comedy acts, Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard is home to an eclectic array of daytime activities and outstanding nightlife options. Get in on the excitement at these indie venues and only-in-Portland places.
The Bagdad Theater and Pub, first opened in 1927, is a wonder of Moorish architecture restored to its original glory by Portland’s popular brewers, the McMenamin brothers, in 1991. The theater, one of the city’s many view-and-brew-style venues, got a complete revamp in 2013, and now features digital projection, surround sound, a larger screen, rocker seats and first-run features—in addition to craft beer, pizza and pub fare. After the show, play pool behind the screen at the Backstage Bar or visit the adjoining Greater Trumps and Bagdad Pub.
While it doesn’t boast a showy marquee like the Bagdad, CineMagic Theater has seniority, having opened in 1914. Head here for a good deal on new releases, which share screen time with second-run films and classics.
At the east end of Hawthorne, you’ll find Mt. Tabor, one of only a handful of extinct volcanoes within city limits in the U.S., a 636-foot cinder cone that boasts panoramic views of downtown. On its fir-shaded flanks, explore hiking trails, a playground and an amphitheater for summer-evening concerts.
Fun & games
A Portland institution since 1983, Do Jump! Extremely Physical Theater makes its home just off Hawthorne, near the Bagdad Theater. Do Jump’s “actorbats” blend theater, dance and acrobatics into shows that appeal to family audiences as well as seasoned theater-goers.
Rock club Hawthorne Theatre attracts such diverse acts as crossover thrash pioneers D.R.I., alt-country band The Deep Dark Woods and Northwest rapper Grieves, and serves as a venue for the annual Bridgetown Comedy Festival, held each April.
The Sapphire Hotel, a great place to meet for a drink and dessert, is a dark, candlelit bar that was once a hotel and brothel.
Every August, the neighborhood rallies together for the Hawthorne Street Fair, one of the city’s finest fairs, with music stages spread throughout the shopping district, sidewalk sales and kids’ activities.
For more than 10 years, overgrown kids have taken part in the Portland Adult Soap Box Derby, hurtling down Mt. Tabor in homemade vehicles, while sunbathing, beer-drinking spectators cheer them on. The big race is held every August.