How to be a Portland Native

Portland. Also known as Stumptown, The City of Roses, Bridgetown, Portlandia, and Float Tank City. If you want people to think you’re from around here, just pepper these into as many of your sentences as you can.

Really though, the first step to fooling people into thinking you’re a Portland local is to understand how the city is structured. Portland is broken up into 5 main quadrants. The East and the West are separated by the Willamette River, and the North and South are divided by a big street called Burnside. If you’re asking where something is in town, you’ll most likely get an answer that references one of these quadrants.

For example, if you asked someone where our shop is, they’ll say something along the lines of, “Ah yeah, that float tank place? They’re over in the Southeast. Just take the Hawthorne Bridge over, or you could probably take the Ross Island from here if you’re in a hurry. You got a car? No? Well then take the 14 and get off in front of the Freddy’s. But don’t go too far, because you’ll end up going down Foster and things get a lot less pretty once you hit 82nd.”

You’ll most likely be very confused by everything he just said, but you’ll nod politely anyway. Most importantly, you’ll have heard him say “the Southeast,” and you’ll immediately have a reference point for where in town you are trying to head.

The Westside near the river is where downtown Portland is. Here you’re going to find all the big buildings, Art Museums, and fancy shopping that is typical of a big city, but all with a nice Portland flair of course. The Eastside has more of a laid back neighborhood feel, but is home to some of Portland’s best restaurants, fun places like the Science Museum, and some of Portland’s zanier establishments, like beer theaters (Just what you think they are, movie theaters that let you drink beer. Why would you ever go back to a regular movie theater?).

BeerSpeaking of beer, another thing you want to know about Portland is that it is basically the beer capital of the United States. One phrase you’ll want to pick up before coming over is “microbrewery,” which is basically a mini-brewery. Portland is famous for them, and you’ll find that many restaurants and bars in Portland have their own microbreweries, meaning that they are actually brewing their own custom beer in house. In fact, Portland has more microbreweries than any city in the world! So if you want to seem like a native Portlander, it’s a good idea to always have a beer in your hand.

Just make sure you dispose of that beer bottle in the appropriate receptacle, because Portland is also known as one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the United States. You’ll notice this in more than just the recycling, but from the hundreds of people biking all over the city. Biking is a great way to get to see the city, and will make it seem so much like you live here that people will start asking you for directions. Just go ahead and repeat what that one guy told you, and hopefully they’ll just politely nod their head and walk away.