Alberta may, perhaps, be most well known today for its quirky monthly street fair, Last Thursday — but this vibrant, street art-filled avenue is bursting with things to do any day of the year. Follow our guide for a perfect day of exploring Northeast Portland’s Alberta Arts District.
Play on Alberta
Experience the “art” in Alberta Arts District by venturing inside the Guardino Gallery. This expansive exhibition space has hosted monthly shows by Northwest painters and sculptors since 1997, and has grown to include multiple gift shops selling items like silver gemstone jewelry, silkscreened clothing and hand-printed cards.
An evening of entertainment awaits at the historic Alberta Rose Theatre toward the street’s east end. First opened as a motion picture house in 1927, the quirky theater now hosts an eclectic array of acoustic concerts, cabaret and circus performances and storytelling shows.
Need a place to sleep? Alberta has a creative alternative to the run-of-the-mill hotel: Caravan, the world’s first tiny house hotel. Each cabin includes a kitchen, bathroom, dining area and loft bed — all in less than 200 square feet (18.5 sq m).
When summertime arrives, Alberta welcomes back its iconic monthly street fair, Last Thursday. The neighborhood’s response to “First Thursday” (an elegant arts walk in Northwest Portland’s upscale Pearl District neighborhood), Last Thursday closes traffic along the main drag of Northeast Alberta Street, inviting local vendors, artists, musicians and some of the city’s most unique performers to showcase their talents and wares on the last Thursday of every month of summer.
Eat on Alberta
Case Study shares a patio with one of Portland’s most popular (and most dog-friendly) brunch destinations, Tin Shed. Chow down on the Thai-inspired “Tim Curry” with roasted sweet potato and organic tofu or try “Everything Nice,” a sampler platter piled with potato cakes, sausage, French toast and scrambled eggs.
When your stomach starts to growl, head to lively Bollywood Theater to feast on Indian street food and small plates (think lamb samosas, pork vindaloo, chicken curry and fried sweet and sour cauliflower).
End your Alberta adventure with a sweet treat from twee Back to Eden Bakery. This gluten-free and vegan bakeshop wins over even the most discerning sweet tooth with chocolate root beer doughnuts and passion fruit cardamom cupcakes, staying open until 10 p.m. for those late-night cravings.
Wake up with a cup of direct trade coffee at hip local roaster Case Study Coffee, which serves seasonal java in an inviting café filled with warm wood beams, leafy potted plants and ample natural light.
Kick back with a mason jar of boozy peach lemonade at the Bye and Bye, a stalwart watering hole where locals chow down on bowls of brown rice, Brussels sprouts and barbecue tofu on a sun-dappled patio.
Shop on Alberta
One of Alberta’s most unique shops, Cord styles itself as “a collection of ranked and well stowed objects.” The shop is stocked with axes, knives, waterproof speakers, titanium sporks, wooden sailboats and other assorted gear for outdoor adventure.
Right next door, you’ll find another curiosity shop, Ampersand Gallery. Visitors can admire installations of contemporary artwork and anonymous, found photography as they browse a tightly curated collection of fine art books with names like One Hundred and Four Digitally Printed Color Photographs of Graffiti-Removal.