Walking Tour: The Pearl District

  • Start Center for Contemporary Art & Culture
  • End Powell's City of Books
  • Length 1 mile; three hours

Begin your exploration of the Pearl District at Pacific Northwest College of Art's Center for Contemporary Art & Culture, which houses thousands of works from the now-shuttered Museum of Contemporary Craft. After you've gotten a dose of modern design, stop into Thelonius Wines, located a block away, to taste natural and organic wines and pick up a bottle or two for souvenirs.

Head northeast a couple of blocks to Jamison Square for a bit of fresh air, where you'll see people enjoying the fountain jets on a warm, sunny day. Afterwards, walk two blocks west and one block south to Irving Street Kitchen for a lunch of Pacific Northwest plates with a Southern touch.

Stave off a potential food coma by heading one block south to Barista, one of Portland's best coffee shops. If a craft brew is more your speed, Deschutes Brewery is four blocks south and two east. Sample suds from 26 taps before crossing over NW Davis St for a peek at the historic and high-tech Armory, where Portland's main theater company, Portland Center Stage, performs.

A visit to the Pearl wouldn't be complete without a bit of shopping. Boutiques abound in the area – for something with local character, swing over one block to MadeHere PDX on Couch St, where you can browse all sorts of Pacific Northwest–made wares. The expansive shop features everything from twee greeting cards and screen-printed posters to artisanal soaps and finishing salts, plus lots of stylish clothing, jewelry and accessories by hometown designers.

Finally, finish things up at Powell's City of Books, located on the other side of NW 10th Ave. Walk a block west down Couch St to NW 11th Ave so you can check out the 'Pillar of Books' column on your way into the store. You can easily spend the rest of your day here, browsing nine color-coded rooms across five floors.