More than 100 years ago, leafy St. Johns existed as a small, quiet town at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Today, the quaint North Portland neighborhood retains its small-town charm with its many locally owned shops, pubs and cafés. Pack a picnic blanket for an afternoon in Cathedral Park, cross the picturesque St. Johns Bridge and get ready to explore a lovely, lesser-known side of Portland.
St. John’s Coffee Roasters runs a cheery café in the center of town. Peek through a window and you’ll see organic, fair-trade beans being roasted on-site in small batches.
If you like a pastry with your coffee, set a course for The Sparrow Bakery and try their signature The Ocean Roll. For traditional and not-so-traditional coffee drinks, take a stroll down Willamette Boulevard to Cathedral Coffee where you’ll find a rotating menu of baked goods and seasonal coffee concoctions.
Tucked away in the back of a Mexican grocery story and bakery, unassuming Tienda Santa Cruz garners rave reviews from the city’s foodies for its enormous, budget-friendly tacos and burritos, packed with authentic flavors.
Another perennial pizza favorite, the Signal Station serves hand-slung pies inside a repurposed vintage gasoline station complete with a spacious patio.
One of the city’s most cherished green spaces, Cathedral Park attracts dog walkers, picnic goers, boaters and wedding parties. Mark your summer calendar for can’t-miss annual events like the free Cathedral Park Jazz Festival. Within an easy walk of the park, visitors can sample artisanal sweets from the Moonstruck Chocolate factory, and beat the heat with a summery kolsch in the airy tasting room of the Euro-inspired Occidental Brewing.
Entertainment and Events
Find Frito pies, rockin’ bands and bourbon-spiked sweet tea at Southern-inspired bar and music venue The Fixin’ To. The patio of Leisure Public House, another favorite watering hole, hosts bocce ball and ping-pong matches late into the night. For a different kind of local brew, visit SOMA, a self-serve “kombucha speakeasy” featuring exotic rotating flavors.
St. Johns’ two top movie theaters were both built more than a century ago, but that doesn’t stop them from showing first-run films with classic style and cutting-edge cinematic technology Better yet, St. Johns Twin Cinema and McMenamins St. Johns Theater & Pub both serve local beer and buttery popcorn, along with hearty fare like pizza, tater tots and burgers.
Photographers from around the globe make pilgrimages to Blue Moon Camera and Machine to peruse a veritable museum of vintage film cameras and one of the world’s last remaining optical printing labs.
Gorgeous window displays tempt shoppers at Etcetera, a woman-owned shop sporting well-curated gifts and home goods. Another go-to spot for browsing, Salty Teacup brims with whimsical jewelry, soap, housewares and art, all handmade by Portlanders.
Fun Facts About St. Johns
It’s named after a real person
According to the journals of Lewis and Clark, there was a Native American settlement near the area we now call Cathedral Park.
There’s an annual parade and “bizarre”
Forest Park is just across the bridge
Portland’s beloved “brew ‘n’ view” movie theaters run the gamut from funky to swanky, serving up all manner of drinks, food and films.
Browse costume jewelry, tailored suits and racks upon racks of dresses at Portland's nearly 50 vintage shopping destinations.
Pick up a winning read at one of Portland’s many independent bookstores and curl up in a cozy corner of one of these eight local coffee shops.
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