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Things to Do in Portland - page 2

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Portland Chinatown
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2 Tours and Activities

Dating back to the 1880s, downtown Portland's compact Chinatown isn't as big as what you might find in San Francisco or New York. However, it's still worth a visit for its restaurants, bars, photogenic entry gate, and its star attraction, the Lan Su Chinese Garden.

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North Mississippi Avenue

North Portland's Mississippi Avenue sits close to the border of Northeast Portland, and shares characteristics with both. Mostly, North Mississippi Avenue is today a hip and funky neighborhood in what was for a long time a forgotten part of the city.

Much of North and Northeast Portland have historically been home to Portland's African American population, but these days Mississippi Avenue is pretty well packed with hipsters. The street has a fantastic array of great restaurants and bars, eclectic shops, and even its own food cart pod.

There's a great (and tiny) music venue, a fabulous ice cream shop, a bar with hammocks instead of chairs on the back patio, and a retro barber shop. There's what one tour guide calls the “Goodwill for old houses,” where renovating Portlanders can get old appliances and house fixtures discarded in someone else's remodel. There's a serious old-fashioned curiosities shop that defies all expectations, a shop that only sells light bulbs, and a few “Portlandia” filming locations along the street, too.

Each July, North Mississippi Avenue is home to the Mississippi Avenue Street Fair, and the area is also host to Second Thursday – the second Thursday of every month, when art galleries open new shows.

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The Grotto
12 Tours and Activities

Tucked into a corner of Northeast Portland in a park-like space is a Catholic sanctuary known as “The Grotto.” The official name is the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, and it's a shrine and botanical garden. It covers 62 acres that were purchased by Father Ambrose Mayer in 1923; he intended to build a shrine to the Virgin Mary on the land. The project was even blessed by then-Pope Pius XI in a handwritten letter, and the first mass was held at The Grotto in 1924.

The sanctuary garden includes a church, a meditation hall, and long walking trails. One of the trails allows visitors to stop at each of the Stations of the Cross. One of the most popular annual events at The Grotto is the Festival of Lights during the Christmas season, when the entire park is lit up beautifully and there are concerts and other events.

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Oregon Rail Heritage Center (ORHC)

Portland's Oregon Rail Heritage Center (ORHC) pays homage to the days when trains were the primary way in and out of the region.

The Oregon Rail Heritage Center was opened in 2012 on the east side of the Willamette River after the demolition of an historic roundhouse necessitated moving three steam locomotives owned by the city of Portland. The three locomotives are now at the ORHC, which is near the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

Two of the three steam locomotives are operational, and are sometimes used on special train trips in the area. The three were built in 1905, 1938 and 1941. In addition to the steam trains, other pieces in the ORHC collection include vintage rail cars and special seasonal exhibits on Portland's historic rail network.

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