Portland Walking Tours

Two Extraordinary Weeks of Style: Portland Fashion Week & FashioNXT

September 30th, 2015 By David Schargel

Gorgeous clothes, famous designers, beautiful models, runways, VIP lounges, after parties . . . where are we, New York Fashion Week? Nope, this is Fashion Week in Portland where there are not one but two different main events celebrating the city in style: Portland Fashion Week (Oct 1-4) and FashioNXT (Oct 7-10).

Wait, fashion is so big in Portland that we have two different main events? Yup, it isn’t just plaid, hiking boots, and Gore-Tex anymore. Sure, the lumberjack look will always be a part of Pacific Northwest attire, and you can see local activewear brands like Nike as a prevalent part of street style. But there is an entire community of independent designers creating and selling their own fashions in a way that is unlike any other city. Proof that the fashion industry is big in Portland: there are more Project Runway winners from the Portland area than any other city in the television program’s history. This does not surprise anyone who knows how creativity, innovation, and DIY pride are an integral part of Portland’s heartbeat. As Michelle Lesniak, winner of Season 11 stated, “Portland has strongly established itself as the most fertile hotbed of emerging talents in the fashion industry.” In other words, we have become a hub. Yeah Portland!

So of course we need two big fashion events to showcase all the buzz and excitement that the fashion industry represents here. And we know you want to be a part of it all.


The first event, Portland Fashion Week, is the 3rd longest running fashion week in the U.S. at 11 years old.  “Keep Portland Pretty” is their slogan, and they don’t just talk the talk of eco-chic, they walk the walk — on the runway, of course. They have earned the title of the world’s only Carbon Negative Fashion Week and the World’s Greenest Fashion Week. They were also the first to feature 100% sustainable fashions and plus sized models. Their mission is to “enhance the region’s apparel design and retail economy by marketing Portland as the preferred platform from which to launch a sustainable apparel or accessory collection.”

We love how they’ve planted nearly 8,000 native trees and this year will be using only eco-friendly cosmetics and hair styling products. We also love that they are committed to featuring local designers, food carts, and libations. Their four-night lineup at 333 NW Industrial Street in the shadow of Montgomery Park will feature sustainable fashion, prêt–à–porter (ready to wear), swimwear, urban influences, bridal, accessories, and hair & makeup. We can’t wait. There is even going to be a special Voodoo donut in honor of Portland Fashion Week® for all of October. It doesn’t get more Portland than that.


FashioNXT, the second big event of Fashion Week, is in its third year and focuses on “what’s next in fashion” — anything fashion forward, innovative, and cutting edge. It is being held under a tent in the open air of Station Place in the Pearl District, evoking the experience of the classic New York Fashion Week tent shows at Bryant Park. This is not just “what’s next” but “who’s who” in local, national, and international fashion. Project Runway aficionados take note: winners and all-stars including locals Michelle Lesniak and Seth Aaron as well as Viktor Luna and Mondo Guerra will be showing their Spring 2016 collections along with designers from Shenzhen (China), Montreal, New York, South Dakota, Los Angeles, and Seattle. Can we just say wow?!

The four-night lineup also promises excitement when the big reveal of two contest winners occurs after the showcases of all the finalists. The Wearable Technology Fashion Competition “encourages designers to make technology wearable in a way that stimulates the public’s imagination.” This is where innovation will truly take center stage. And UpNXT, a contest that supports an emerging designer development program, provides the winner with a generous amount of funding, media exposure, boutique accounts, and much more. We love that FashioNXT supports and nurtures designers as part of their “what’s next” mission.

So mark these two Fashion Week events on your calendar, dig way back into your closet for those fancy duds you almost forgot you had, and spend a few evenings of glitz and glamour checking out cutting edge and eco-friendly fashion in Portland.

These events were featured on the Big Red Arrow Hot Sheet! Check it out to find more fun things going on in the Rose City.

Pop-culture Dominates Portland at the 2015 Rose City Comic Con

September 18th, 2015 By David Schargel


Where can you find the original Princess Leia, over 250 artists from around the world, discussion panels with well-known celebs, a Red Cross blood drive at the “vampire cocktail lounge,” and of course fellow comic enthusiasts in spectacular costumes? Only at the 2015 Rose City Comic Con! We know Portland, and we know that an event like this brings out the quirkiness and nerdiness in the best of us, and it’s also one of the reasons we are proud to be keeping Portland weird. This Portland comic convention is in its 4th year, and is bringing in some big names, including Caroll Spinney who was a Sesame Street puppeteer playing Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird. So many memories! Whether you’re a hardcore fan of comics, gaming, sci-fi, cosplay, anime, or fantasy, or if you’re a newbie curious about this community, get yourself over there and expect to have a blast!

What: Rose City Comic Con

When: Saturday September 19th, 2015 – 10AM to 7PM

Sunday September 20th, 2015 – 10AM to 5PM

Where: Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR 97232

Tickets: Purchase tickets online at rosecitycomiccon.com/tickets or see a list of where to save money when you buy your tickets locally at rosecitycomiccon.com/buy-local.

This event was featured on the Big Red Arrow Hot Sheet! Check it out to find more fun things going on in the Rose City.


Make a Name for Yourself! Discover the Pioneer Courthouse Square Bricks in Portland’s Living Room

September 15th, 2015 By David Schargel

What makes a living room inviting? How about opening it up to the public?! Pioneer Courthouse Square, affectionately known as Portland’s Living Room, is one of our many gathering places where we find all kinds of fun and interesting uses for such an open, inviting space. We build sandcastles, celebrate diverse cultures, attend concerts, watch movies, light a giant Christmas tree, peruse the farmers market, or even just sit down for lunch. There is so much going on in the Square that it can be easy to overlook a very special detail about the more than 72,000 bricks that are under our feet: they are inscribed with names. So what’s the deal with these Pioneer Courthouse Square bricks?

The city block that is currently the Square has been many things over the last century and half since it was bought by the city in 1856. During its last metamorphosis, when it turned from parking lot to urban public park in the early 1980’s, opposition to high construction costs almost derailed Pioneer Courthouse Square from coming into being. Citizens with a strong sense of community and civic pride formed the organization Friends of Pioneer Square and raised $750,000 selling inscribed bricks for $15 each. Lots of people – 50,000 in fact – embraced the idea of honoring a loved one in a way that would literally be a part of the foundation of the city.

Today a brick costs $100, which let’s face it, is still a great deal for owning a piece of Portland’s history, especially because it is guaranteed for perpetuity. Starting in the Fall of 2016, any bricks that have become too weathered throughout the 30 year history of the Square will be replaced as part of a $10 million renovation program.

How does it feel to be a permanent part of the Square? One of our tour guides, a lifelong resident of Portland, can tell you. His children surprised him and his husband with a brick for Christmas in 2013. He says, “We love visiting our brick, realizing we are an official part of maintaining this great gathering place for Portlanders and visitors alike. After all, where else can you claim that you hang out with Elvis, Will Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes, Bruce Springsteen, and even Frodo and Bilbo Baggins!”

In typical Portland fashion, the Pioneer Courthouse Square bricks have also become a form of creative expression to celebrate favorite entertainers, U.S. presidents, fictional characters, and even television and radio shows. John Lennon, Mr. Bill, Barbara Walters, David Bowie, George Washington, “Wheel of Fortune” . . . they’re all here. Even God has a brick.

If you’d like to buy a brick, it’s easy. Just go to thesquarepdx.org/shop/bricks to fill out a simple form, choosing who you would like to honor in 18 characters or less. You’ll get a Certificate of Brick Ownership signed by the mayor, and when your brick is installed, you will receive a brick map showing you its exact spot. And then you, too, can proudly declare that you’ve become a timeless part of Portland’s Living Room.

Hit the bricks with one of our Resident Experts on the Best of Portland Walking Tour to learn even more about the evolution of Pioneer Courthouse Square, as well as many other things that make our city so unique!

Portland Makes History: Tilikum Crossing and the MAX Orange Line Opening

September 11th, 2015 By David Schargel

We still can’t believe it’s finally here! After a few years of planning and construction, not to mention the huge hype of what was to come, the MAX orange line opening is just around the corner and we seriously couldn’t be happier. Not only does this light rail route connect Portland to Milwaukie, it’s also the fifth TriMet MAX line, and it comes with bragging rights. The newest addition to our many bridges, Tilikum Crossing, was constructed as part of the light rail project and is the only bridge in the country designed to carry light rail trains, buses, streetcars, bicyclists, and pedestrians, sans private automobiles. They don’t call us “Bridgetown” for nothing!

The official grand opening of the MAX orange line is Saturday September 12, 2015 beginning at 11:00 AM, and includes a lively party all day long. Not only do we get free transit rides all day (no joke!), but there will also be various activities going on at all the new MAX orange line stations. You can expect music from some of your local favorites, traditional Native American activities, chow from great food carts, vendors with some free goodies, art installations with the artists present, and so much more we can’t even begin to tell you. For more information, including a station-by-station event schedule, visit catchtheorange.com


We’ll See You in the Theater

November 11th, 2014 By David Schargel

Portlanders have many stereotypical quirks. Supposedly, we’ll put a bird on anything that stands still long enough to get DIY’d. We all commute to work by bike (when our unicycles are in the shop). We will walk half a mile to find a recycling bin for the bottle of artisan cold-brew coffee we just chugged, and we’ll walk even further to find a microbrew on draft.

This is just nonsense. You shouldn’t need to walk more than a quarter mile to find draft microbrew in Portland. Here’s the real secret about Portlanders: we don’t like standing around outside (unless it’s for brunch). It’s in this spirit that we are pleased to announce the new departure location for the majority of our walking tours: the Theater on the Square inside Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Whether you’re arriving for a Best of Portland, an Epicurean Excursion, a Flavor Street, or a Chocolate Decadence, the Theater on the Square is the place where you can take a seat and relax before your walking tour begins.

If you’re taking an Underground Portland or Beyond Bizarre tour, you’ll still meet your guide outside 202 NW Davis, which will familiarize you with perhaps the most universally Portland trait: discussing the weather.

It’s Summer Time…. Let’s Eat!

July 9th, 2014 By David Schargel

Nothing says summer time better than dining al fresco. To celebrate summer we will be offering our fun (and delicious) Flavor Street tour 6 days a week — Mondays through Saturday. The tour begins at 1 PM and lasts a little under 2 hours from the library of the Mark Spencer Hotel. Be sure to get tickets in advance as space is limited and tours often sell out.

The Best of Portland is Getting Better!

January 29th, 2014 By David Schargel

Our flagship tour, the Best of Portland Walking Tour, is on the move!

suddenly-concierge-herb-smStarting this Saturday, February 1, 2014, our Best of Portland Walking Tour will start at the forthcoming Big Red Arrow “Portland in a Box™” location at SW Sixth Ave and Yamhill St. Map it here »

This allows us to get you right into some of Portland’s top attractions from the very first minute of the tour, such as Pioneer Courthouse Square, the “Animals in Pools” exhibit, the transit mall and more.

Plus, it make the tour easier to get to by rail. It’s right at the MAX stop!

Come try the new “Best.” It’s better than ever!

Honoring Dr. King and his legacy

January 20th, 2014 By David Schargel

Today we honor Dr. Martin Luther King – his life, his legacy, his accomplishments, his vision.

There are many ways to honor Dr. King. Many of us take the day off from work, hopefully spending at least part of that time reflecting on the sacrifices and leadership he put forth to make the world and in particular our country a better place. Considering some of the shameful ways that people of color have been treated over the years, including in Oregon, it is well worth taking that moment to thank him, albeit posthumously, for all that he has done.

Many remember him by rereading his speeches, such as his “I Have a Dream” speech. Words well worth remembering.

Some remember his marches for freedom, equality and justice. A worthy endeavor. We need not all march, but perhaps as we walk around our beautiful city, we can march with Dr. King in spirit if not in person.

How we choose to honor him, though, is perhaps not as important as just making sure that we do. We all owe him a great debt of gratitude – no matter what the color of our own skin.

Portland named among top ten cities in the world

January 16th, 2014 By David Schargel
Rough Guides names Portland tenth best city in world to live

Rough Guides names Portland tenth best city in world to live

We love top ten lists.

We love them even more when they say nice things about our city.

And even best when we’re rated one of the top ten cities in the world – yes, world – to live.

Rough Guides (http://www.roughguides.com) has done just that in its latest issue. They include Portland in a list that includes Sarajevo, Rotterdam, Marseille, and Glasgow.

And they give good reasons. For example:

“Smaller than San Francisco but with the same green, open-mindedness,” the article states. It lauds our creativity (“Portland is a city that loves to innovate”) and our greenery (“Breezy gardens stud Downtown’s grid of tree-lined streets”) and food (“more than four hundred food carts dotted across the city”) while not neglecting our Beervana status (“home to the laidback bars that support one of America’s best craft beer scenes”).

What else is there to love? “Farmers’ markets, doughnut shops and brunch joints.”

But don’t take just the writer’s word for it. Local singer Beth Ditto is quoted too: “Portland is a place where you can find a community… Artists, musicians, knitters and filmmakers can all meet like-minded souls.”

We think those are good reasons to live here. And, we think we’ll stay.

Portland’s Top 5 Beer Bars (Best in U.S.)

January 13th, 2014 By David Schargel

We all know Portland is the best city for beer in… well, anywhere. Usually what we have in mind when we say that is that Portland make the best craft beers, or has the greatest selection, or both.

Add a third meaning to the phrase. Portland is the best beer bar city, too.

Draft Magazine rated America’s best 100 beer bars for 2014. Almost a third – 31 of the 100 – were in the Pacific Northwest. Of those, five are in Portland.

Our big sister city to the north… you know, the one with the football team and over twice our population… yeah, they only had four.

Without further ado (and bragging constitutes “ado”), here’s the list of best beer bars in Portland, according to Draft:

  • Bailey’s TapRoom
    • 213 SW Broadway, Portland, Ore.
    • baileystaproom.com
  • Bazi Bierbrasserie
    • 1522 SE 32nd Ave., Portland, Ore.
    • bazipdx.com


  • Belmont Station
    • 4500 SE Stark St., Portland, Ore.
    • belmont-station.com


  • Imperial Bottle Shop & Taproom
    • 3090 SE?Division St., Portland, Ore.
    • imperialbottleshop.com


  • Saraveza Bottle Shop & Pasty Tavern
    • 1004 N. Killingsworth St., Portland, Ore.
    • saraveza.com

For the full list of America’s best 100, see http://draftmag.com/features/americas-100-best-beer-bars-2014/.

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