Northwest Portland activities

In Portland's Nob Hill district, you can explore local history, indulge in entertainment and take a hike.

BodyVox 2BodyVox performances are full of surprises.
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    Lois Greenfield

    This district contains cultural institutions, local attractions and entertainment options — and borders on a huge urban wilderness laced with trails.

    History & mystery

    Designed by San Francisco architect Edward Foulkes for Oregon’s original newspaper baron, Henry Pittock, the Pittock Mansion is a city-owned landmark that offers picture-perfect views of the city and its surroundings, as well as a revealing glimpse of Portland’s past. Marvel at the opulent, baroque staircase during the 22-room tour, then stroll the rhododendron-lined gardens and savor knockout vistas of downtown’s skyline and snowy Mount Hood.

    Back on street level, the Oregon Jewish Museum houses the largest collection of Jewish historical artifacts in the state. Photographs and sound and film recordings date back to the 1850s, while temporary exhibits memorialize noted locals like legendary voice actor Mel Blanc.

    Looking for a vampire-killing kit, an interactive alien autopsy or maybe a live magic show? Enter the one-of-a-kind Peculiarium, part museum, part art gallery, part ice cream parlor and 100 percent fun.

    The great outdoors

    The aptly named Forest Park puts wilderness within minutes of Nob Hill. For easy access, take the Lower Macleay Trail in the adjacent Macleay Park. This eight-mile-long “forest in the city” supports more than 112 bird and 62 mammal species and contains 70 miles of trails popular with runners, equestrians, hikers and cyclists alike.

    Every evening in September, crowds of spectators enjoy picnics on the lawn while observing the swifts at Chapman Elementary School. Thousands of migratory Vaux’s Swifts — small, swallow-like birds — pour into the chimney at Chapman Elementary School during this community ritual known as the Swift Watch. Portland Audubon Society volunteers are on hand to answer questions about the birds.

    It’s showtime

    Portland’s wildly imaginative — and often hilarious — BodyVox dance troupe performs in a 150-seat studio at its dance center, which opened in 2009. Younger patrons of the arts will enjoy Northwest Children’s Theater, which produces five major shows a year; recent kid-pleasing hits have included Annie, Pinocchio and Alice in Wonderland.

    Want to see a movie? The historic Cinema 21 offers art-house, foreign and classic films, accompanied by microbrews and wine, while McMenamins Mission Theater, another favorite “brew ‘n’ view” cinema, is also located in Northwest.

    At Voicebox Karaoke Lounge, you’re the star — inspired by the traditional karaoke “boxes” of Japan, Voicebox offers six private suites, as well as wine, beer, saké and snacks.

     


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