easy to get around on foot or by public transportation here, and drivers are known for
obeying our pedestrian right-of-way, making
it safe and relatively stress-free to walk the
Portland’s downtown city blocks are an
eclectic collection of both older, grittier
institutions like the Portland Outdoor Store
in Old Town and high-end, shinier options,
like the two-story REI in The Pearl.
For those who want easy access to nature,
Forest Park lies just west of downtown. You’ll
forget you’re in a city once you enter one of
the country’s largest urban forest reserves,
covering over 5,000 acres. Hikers, joggers,
bikers, and dogs enjoy 70 miles of recreational
trails, weaving through Douglas fir, western
hemlock, and western red cedar. Most of the
forest is second growth, but you’ll still find a
few patches of old growth giants.
The sprawl of houses in the hills is considered the Northwest Heights, where you’ll
find some of Portland’s most expensive
properties. The sweeping views of downtown and Mt. Hood in the distance, as well
as its proximity to Forest Park, make this a
premium spot for those who can afford it.
Victorian facades and boutique stores dominate Nob Hill, also known as the Alphabet
District, where sophisticated come to play.
The narrow streets are filled with storefronts,
from the uniquely Portland Moreland House
which displays an impressive selection of
gifts and collectibles for the dachshund
lover in your life, to well-known chains like
Pottery Barn and Urban Outfitters.
The Portland streetcar connects Nob Hill
to the Pearl District for a 4. 8 mile shopping
loop that will leave you in need of a lift. You
wouldn’t want to walk with all those bags!
There’s plenty of variety within this part of
town, where downtown meets miles of trees,
shoppers quickly shift to hikers, and the grittier sections of downtown quickly meet some
of the trendiest streets in Portland. For those
looking for variety, activity, and plenty of
style, Northwest might be the place for you.
The downtown energy is turned down a notch
in Southwest Portland, where you’ll find more
high rise buildings and college-aged residents,
hailing from Portland State University. Due to
the higher concentration of residential buildings and lower concentration of nightlife, the
Southwest is generally quieter — although
you’ll still find plenty to do.
The concentration of high rises along the
Southwest waterfront make it look like a
second downtown, and the Willamette River
glistens with light from those tall buildings
at night. It’s a beautiful area that’s been the
When you move to Portland, you’ll discover that there is always
something new to explore on foot. When planning your move,
you may want to make your new home in one of Portland’s most
convenient, walkable neighborhoods.
Definitions of walkability vary. Walk Score® rewards neighborhoods with access to things like grocery stores, restaurants,
libraries, parks, and schools. Another definition of walkability
factors in the amount of trees, homes, crosswalks, mass transit
stops, etc. You can learn more about walkability and how it is
calculated at walkscore.com, where you can even compare
Portland’s walkability to the city from which you are moving.
It might surprise you, but according to Walk Score, Portland
isn’t one of the top walkable cities in America, but is in the Top
20. New York City sits at the top of the list for overall walk score.
Still, Portlanders know this city is full of neighborhoods that are
great for walking.
The problem is that not every neighborhood has everything. If
you’re looking for a place to settle down with the family, what
good is the world’s most pedestrian-friendly neighborhood if
there are no parks or backyards in sight?
Here are a few of the most walkable Portland neighborhoods
for your specific needs.
DELICIOUS FOOD: PEARL DISTRICT
According to Walk Score, the Pearl District is the number one
most walkable neighborhood in the city. Most residents don’t
need a car for day-to-day errands, and the densely populated
area is full of crosswalks and stoplights.
The Pearl is small enough that you can easily enjoy coffee with
lunch at Lovejoy Bakers, stroll through a few art galleries, buy a
book at Powell’s, and still have time to spare before heading to
dinner at one of Portland’s finest restaurants.
QUIRKY PORTLAND CULTURE: ALBERTA ARTS DISTRICT
Many of Portland’s most famous oddities are in these two
locales. Both neighborhoods are slightly more residential than
the Pearl District, and that makes zig-zagging across the street
easier and safer.
People flock from all over Portland and beyond to walk up and
down NE Alberta Street, home to both Last Thursday and the
Alberta Street Fair. Walking at these events is even easier in
summer, when the city closes the street to cars.
Sunnyside-Hawthorne is the place to go for vegan food and
people watching. The Bagdad Theater on Hawthorne Street is only
a few walkable blocks away from the local New Seasons Market.