#AWP19: Need a break? My Favorite Things in Portland

Note: You can see this sign from the Old Town VooDoo Donuts and it's located at: 3rd Street between Burnside and Ankeny, if you're looking to do your own photoshoot. 

If you need a break from AWP and just want a few places to visit, here are a few of my favorite things in Portland.

Note: And if you're happy to walk, you can start at WildFang then head to the Trifecta to the Poet Introvert (if you do this, I'd suggest skipping Sizzle Pie and eating at the Teahouse), then end at VooDoo Donuts for Dessert all in order as they are all pretty much 

The Trifecta (I Read, I Wore, I Ate):
Powell's Books (biggest indie bookstore --yes, you must go here, the poetry section will blow your mind alone)

    1005 w. burnside st., Portland

Buffalo Exchange (across the street, cool consignment shop for men and women)
     1036 W. Burnside St., 

Sizzle Pie: Delicious pizza and salad and great for vegans/vegetarians
       926 W Burnside

How to do this? Go to Powell's until you're *just* about hungry. Then cross the street to Buffalo Exchange to pick up a cool vintage sweater, shirt, or hat. Once you're done, head over to Sizzle Pie for lunch (Pro tip: if it's sunny and they are busy, there is outside street seating all down the street (it may not look like their seating as it's a bit down, but it is.) 

The Poet Introvert (I Need Me/Quiet Time):

Lan Su Chinese Garden:  In the middle of this wild and weird city is one of the most beautiful secrets, this garden. This feels like a private, yet interactive, meditation room. Take all your anxiety and distress and watch it fade away here. This is probably my very favorite place in the city.

And if you visit here, you MUST eat at the Teahouse. Another incredible experience, the menu is a poem on its own. I have eaten most everything on this menu and have never been disappointed. This place is often overlooked, but it is truly one of Portland's gems. 

Pro Tip: Order the mooncake, no matter what.

Address: 239 NW Everett St, Portland,

The Sweet Tooth (I'm Hungry & I'm a Tourist):

VooDoo Donuts: You will hear that they are overrated especially from the locals, but this is the stop you make just before you leave so you can have donuts and feel as if you left nothing in Portland overlooked. 
22 SW 3rd Avenue

ProTip: BRING CASH, they do not take cards. 

Also, if you want shorter lines and a place to sit, hope a Lyft or Uber to: Voodoo DoughnutDavis –  1501 NE Davis Street, Portland-- across the bridge. Same donuts, less touristy location, shorter lines, places to sit, and a giant pink VooDoo mural outside in the parking lot to pose by.

Retail Therapy (Bring Your Inner Feminist to Your Outer Wardrobe):

Wildfang Clothing Store:

I put this last (or first depending if you want to go to all of these places) because it's a feminist clothing store and if you're not into cool clothing, this may not be your place. 

I have numerous items from here and I love them, their style, their mission, and supporting this store. Yes, things cost more because when you actually produce good clothes that do not hurt others, you sometimes pay a bit more. And they do a lot of good in the world, this is from their About Me page:

In 2013, we set out to create a home for badass womxn everywhere. It started with the “radical” belief that a womxn has the right to wear whatever the hell she wants and be whoever the hell she wants.

And speaking of rights, in 2018 alone, we raised over $400k for charities that support reproductive, immigrant, and women’s/human rig

I think they are incredible, and I've already got several dozen Seattle friends addicted to their stuff (and I know it's working because I got a Carrie Fisher candle for my birthday!)

1230 SE Grand Ave, Portland

ProTip: When in doubt, get the WILD FEMINIST t-shirt. 

Final thoughts on Portland:

Portland is one of my favorite cities. It usually warmer than Seattle (though always have layers on and a warm jacket) and if you're looking for material to write about, it's all around you. Old Town Portland is probably my favorite part of the city and gritty and fun, it's relatively safe but be aware and keep your face out of your iPhone, and there is always a lot going on. 

The NW has a huge homeless problem that we are trying to make better, but you will see it firsthand. If you have never been here, you may be shocked. If you live here, you may have huge opinions about it. But it's something I just want to share here so you realize--yes, we see it, we know it's an issue, but neither Portland or Seattle has really created any solution to what is happening and the rising cost of living in the Northwest isn't making anything better. But if I gave you this info without acknowledging it, I wouldn't feel right because it is a huge part of our cities.

I find whenever I'm in Portland and especially in Old Town, someone interacts with me--all the interactions have ended up okay, but there have been some odd moments (Note: not all the interactions have been homeless/drug user related, there is just an energy to this city I can't describe, but it usually shows itself by feeling as if you're in one big impromptu improv event.)

An example of what I'm talking about is once I was standing at a crosswalk and a man jumps out of nowhere, puts a cup of "water" ?? (I hope) over the head of a friend I was with and then directly in front of my face and yells, "You are hypnotized!" before deciding we were not hypnotized and wandering away. While these moments make me laugh afterward, the "that was weird" part of the trip, they remind me to tell you to keep your eyes open and do travel with a buddy, especially if you're a woman.

Again, I have been to Portland numerous times without incident, but every. single. time. It's something. Someone wants to dance with me on a sidewalk, someone is yelling something my direction from across the street, someone is shouting "let me hold your kneecap" out a car window, someone is blowing bubbles at everyone who passes by, someone has decided to ask random people their favorite type of shoe. It's both inspiring and tiring. It's "I'll use this in a poem" and "I think we're done here." 

So if you're from a small town or a city where people keep to themselves, this may feel different and maybe a bit uncomfortable. 

But there is also someone willing to help you, offer ideas of where to eat, and point you in the right direction. The people of Portland have always come through for me. And it's why I keep coming back.

Ultimately, be safe. Have fun. Make good choices. 

~ Kells 


  1. What fun! Hey, I was just in Portland (before AWP...and now am gone), and we did have Voodoo donuts, and guess what? Now they do "finally take credit cards," as in their posted sign. We also had Blue Star donuts on another day!


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