If you’ve never been to Portland, Oregon but consider yourself pretty aquatinted with the city because you’ve seen every episode of “Portlandia” then let me be the one to tell you there’s a lot more to explore. The City of Roses, Portland, has so much to offer its visitors: micro-breweries as far as the eye can see, artesian ice-cream shops, an oasis of food trucks and camp fires when you least expect it, all behind a lush green and mountain backdrop.
To begin our virtual tour of Portland and its custom buttons let’s begin with one of the most popular mentions of the city, Voodoo Donuts (sorry locals, it must be mentioned at least once.) If you are to venture to Voodoo Donuts, it’s definitely worth the short wait in the queue to peer inside the original location which is just off West Burnside. Make sure you have some cash in hand before you step into line, and grab your donut to go–there’s a lot of exploring to do!
Head north through the historic Chinatown district and be sure to stop into The Pony Club Gallery to find some inspiration for your next button design as well. The unique shop curated by local illustrators and cartoonists to brings you makers from around the world with a true Portland aesthetic.
Some of these creators even attended the college just up the road, The Pacific Northwest School of Art which recently housed the SRCCON (Source-Con). A convention created by OpenNews as a way to address the challenges news technologies and data teams encounter everyday. Pronoun buttons were available to conference goers to successfully communicate preferred pronouns.
Let’s continue our stroll back south and allow yourself to become literally and figuratively lost inside the color-coordinated chambers of Powell’s Bookstore. After spending a good hour (or three) reading, we’ll want to have a solid meal to reenergize. Head on down to Tasty and Alder right on SW Alder for their rightly boasted dining experience of “Chophouse Fare and International Flair.” For my over 21 aged friends, I encourage you to try the Tasty Mary, a bloody that you can even make Midwest style with a local craft beer. For your eatables, the knowledgable waitress suggested the Cheddar Biscuit, Potatoes Bravas, and the Radicchio (that’s bacon lardons, manchego, and a six minute egg) which I still dream about.
After your delicious stop, don’t feel guilty about taking a moment to sit down in the Pioneer Square and compose your next steps. To the west are more nature walking trails, the Japanese Garden, and the Portland Zoo where you can fully emerge yourself in Oregon’s natural beauty.
If you’re looking for your retail fix, head across the river to the Mississippi Shopping District. Up and down North Mississippi Ave you’ll discover fun boutiques like the Land Gallery, the brick and mortar store of Buy Olympia, where you can snag Nathan Mckee’s pop culture inspired button packs. As you walk down the street you’ll smell the food trucks and restaurants before you discover the almost secret path to their back patios. Keep your eye out for Reading Frenzy in between snacks as this independent bookstore/gallery/event space is one you won’t want to miss checking out the selection. There may be a Button Zine available there as well!
If you’re looking to try more local beer flavors be sure to head north on 12th street and keep your eyes peeled for Roadside Attraction hidden in the foliage. You’ll know you’re close when you can hear the clinking of glasses, murmured conversation, and perhaps the smell of a bonfire. Inside you’ll find an outdoor patio filled with friendly folks who’d love to strike up a conversation as well as an indoor bar with cozy nooks and a billiard table.
If you’re like me, and would rather end your night with a dessert than a nightcap. Hop across the street from the bar over to is late night dessert spot: Rimsky-Korasakoffee House which opens its doors at 7pm. Since 1980 this early 20th century home has been a sweets oasis that has delighted guests inside with a quirky assortment of knickknacks, live piano performances, and delicious treats. Hint: don’t leave without seeing the bathroom upstairs!
Portland provides a lot of relaxing vibes, great food and beer, and a lot of creative button inspiration. When planning a trip, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to explore and relish in the neighborhoods not mentioned in this tour de button post. We’d love to see the buttons you find in all of your travels as well so be sure to tag Busy Beaver online with any of your rare finds.