Pedalpalooza: The Ultimate Event for Bike Fun

In addition to making smooth, hoppy microbrews and putting birds on things, Portland is really great at cultivating a thriving bike culture. With bike shops on every corner and a city planning committee that, in the past, put building bike lanes at a higher priority than fixing the sewage system, it’s safe to say that Portlanders, simply, love bikes.

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Along with this love of bikes comes a love of costume parties, themed events, and anything out of the ordinary (see the Urban Iditarod as another example). Thus Pedalpalooza was created.

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For over two weeks every summer, the organization SHIFT puts on the ultimate event for bike enthusiasts. This year, there are over 234 different events from June 9th through June 26th, a majority of which includes a visit to local restaurants, bars, and other businesses around Portland.  For example, on June 10th at 7pm, you can join the Prince v. Bowie event, a costume ride that stops frequently to dance to the best 80s tunes.

Saturday, June 18th is the World Naked Bike Ride. Over ten thousand people are expected to participate in this clothing-optional ride through downtown Portland, finishing the night at one of the many afterparties.

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Other events include Karaoke 2 Karaoke, Unicycle Basketball, Gaga v. Madonna, Breakfast on the Bridges, Find that Dino!, and many more.

We are fortunate at the NW Portland Hostel to be included in this fantastic event. On Wednesday, June 15th, Pedalpalooza is hosting “Simpsons Streets and Alphabet Soup”, an evening of trivia and interesting history of the Northwest neighborhood and its pop culture references. The bike tour will stop at the hostel to watch an episode of the Simpsons and meet some travelers!

For more information on Pedalpalooza and how to participate, visit their website and their Facebook page.


Meet Deb, Nici and Leo: Our Newest Volunteers

I would like to introduce the newest volunteers who joined our great volunteer team this spring. Deb, Nici and Leo are all locals who share a love of Portland, an enthusiasm for traveling, and a desire to show off this great city to people from around the world.

As a volunteer at HI-Northwest Portland, you have the opportunity to meet and connect with people of all ages and nationalities, and this cross-cultural exposure helps further the mission of Hostelling International, which is “To help all, especially the young, gain a greater understanding of the world and its people through hostelling”. Hostels provide a safe, comfortable and fun environment for people diverse in cultures, backgrounds and opinions to build relationships by sharing communal living spaces, exchanging stories, and experiencing new places together.


But that’s enough from me. Here is what Deb, Nici and Leo have to say about volunteering at the hostel.


Deb was born in the Mojave Desert in California, but has lived in Portland for about fifty years. When asked why she volunteers at the hostel, she replied, “I simply enjoy walking around Portland and getting to share some history with visitors. Another plus to volunteering is meeting people and hearing about their own towns and countries”.

One of her most memorable travel experiences was a recent trip to the Atlantic Ocean, where she visited towns like Monticello, Harpers Ferry and Williamsburg.

Here in Portland, Deb enjoys hiking in Forest Park (especially on hot days), walking around the Willamette River Esplanade and then recuperating at Newport Seafood Grill’s Happy Hour (on the patio), and browsing in Powell’s Bookstore.


Nici has lived in Portland for ten years, but grew up in Minnesota. She   enjoys volunteering at the hostel because it is always refreshing to be around travelers. “Travelers are always interesting and up for a good laugh”, says Nici. This year, she started her own tour company called myportlandtours and volunteering keeps her in tune with new and exciting things going on around Portland.

When asked about her past travel experiences, Nici replied, “I have many great memories from traveling.  Most of them involve never having a plan, which leads to an amazing day.  I got to be a sheepherder for a couple of days.  I really just had to stand in one spot (in a pretty field) and make noise every now and again.  Easiest money I ever made.”

Some of her favorite places in Portland include Laurelthirst Public House (6pm free music almost every night with an entertaining, loyal, and local crowd), the Bye and Bye for great vegan food, the spicy margaritas at Nuestra Cocina, and fresh, authentic Mexican food at ¿Por Que No?. For a yummy slice of pie she heads to Random Order, and for a cup of freshly brewed coffee she likes Ristretto Roasters. Nice outdoor spots? Laurelhurst Park and Forest Park…. and she could go on and on!


Leo moved out to Portland from the great state of New Jersey two years ago, and he likes volunteering at the hostel because he “loves traveling, loves travelers, and loves Portland—so why not combine the three!”

A memorable travel experience for him was a bicycle trip from Richmond, Virginia to Kansas City, Missouri in 2009. “The scenery was beautiful and the people I met along the way showed me more kindness than I could have ever hoped for. What a trip!”

Some of Leo’s favorite spots in Portland? The Horse Brass Pub, Alberta Rose Theater, and Jeld-Wen Field. LET’S GO TIMBERS!

Thanks to all of you for your enthusiasm and dedication as volunteers. Your time and hard work is very much appreciated by the hostel staff and the many visitors who come to Portland year-round.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact Tessah at

Lace Up Your Hiking Boots and Start Exploring

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are fortunate to be surrounded a variety of landscapes and environments, both urban and natural. The city of Portland is nestled in the northern corner of the Willamette Valley where the Columbia and Willamette rivers join together, creating an abundance of greenery and natural beauty.

Thanks to this stunning landscape, Portland attracts many outdoor enthusiasts, as well as a large number of sustainably minded individuals and businesses that understand the privilege of living in a region like ours and want to maintain its health and beauty.

A great way to experience the landscape around Portland is by hiking one of the numerous trails. From the rocky cliffs of the Oregon coast to the rolling hills blanketed in wildflowers, the opportunities to explore are endless—each with their unique, rich qualities.

One of the most popular destinations is the Columbia Gorge, and for a good reason. The road from Portland to the main trailhead at Multnomah Falls Lodge skirts along the Columbia River, nestled between the wide, choppy waters to the North and the steep cliffs of the Gorge to the South. Waterfalls fall from the cracks, some trickling while others pour into larger ponds and then continue into the Columbia.

A great day hike at the Gorge is the Multnomah Falls/Wahkeena Falls loop.  About 4.8 miles, it isn’t too long, but it’s challenging due to the steep incline. Switchbacks take hikers straight up from the road to the top of Multnomah Falls, where a concrete lookout has been built. The trail then continues over the falls and East to the top of Wahkeena Falls, cutting across the edge of the Gorge so hikers get stunning views of the river. The loop can be hiked starting at the base of either falls.

Many tour companies take visitors to the Gorge for hiking, including Eco-Tours and Portland Oregon Tours. Starting June 1st, Big Pink Sightseeing will offer daily trips to visit the Columbia Gorge.

If you want to stay in the city but feel like you’re in the wilderness, you’re in luck! The 30-mile Wildwood Trail in Forest Park , the largest city park in the United States, is pristine and great for walking, running, hiking and mountain biking.

Washington Park also offers a variety of hiking trails, including the Hoyt Arboretum.

For more information on hiking in Portland, including maps and directions, see the front desk of the hostel or the Visitor’s Center by Pioneer Courthouse Square in the downtown.

Peace and Tranquility in the Japanese Garden

The Portland Japanese Garden is one year away from celebrating 50 years of being open to the public. 50 years of offering thousands of visitors the chance to escape the city–even escape the United States–and experience the peaceful beauty of a traditional Japanese landscape. With over 200,000 visitors per year, the Garden is becoming a major destination for both residents and travelers in the Northwest.

Designed to reflect traditional Japanese style, there are five types of gardens present, which include the Flat Garden, Strolling Pond Garden, Tea Garden, Natural Garden, and Sand and Stone Garden. According to the Japanese Garden website, the three elements which make up a traditional Japanese garden include stone, the “bones”, water, the “life-giving force”, and plants, the “tapestry of the four seasons”.

This quote by the designer of the Portland Japanese Garden, Professor Takuma Tono, describes the purpose and meaning behind traditional Japanese gardens.

“A Japanese Garden is not only a place for the cultivation of trees and flowering shrubs, but one that provides secluded leisure, rest, repose, meditation, and sentimental pleasure…

The Garden speaks to all the senses, not just to the mind alone.”

During your visit to Portland, it is highly recommended you experience the Japanese Garden. Rich with culture, art and history, the Garden is an educational experience as well as a place of serenity, peace and reflection. The exquisite grounds are only blocks from Portland’s Nob Hill neighborhood, and are adjacent to the International Rose Test Garden.

The Japanese Garden offers daily tours, both public and private, and is open seven days a week year-round (except major holidays). For more information about the Garden, visit the website.

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Portland Scavenger Hunt

Excitement builds as you step foot off the train in a new city, surrounded by unfamiliar streets and buildings, with your backpack on and your map in hand. This is why we love to travel.

There are few ways to explore. One is to simply wander, with no agenda or itinerary, and soak up as much newness as possible, allowing spontaneity to steer you down street after street, across bridges, and into hole-in-the-wall eateries.

There is also the guidebook method, where no major landmark or attraction goes undiscovered. Follow the advice from seasoned travelers and your trip will most likely be a success, although you might miss that tiny dive bar with the best $4 burger that the guidebook writers overlooked.

Here, at the HI-Northwest Portland, we’re presenting another option of adventure: The Scavenger Hunt method.

We have compiled a list of 20 must-see attractions and local favorites, sure to keep you busy and entertained during your stay in Portland. Plus, who doesn’t love prizes? Grab some friends, a camera, and your detective skills to complete this Portland Scavenger hunt. Get 15 out of the 20 and you win a Heart In Oregon sticker and your choice of a candy bar! Get all 20 and you win a Heart In Oregon sticker, your choice of a candy bar and a secret prize! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to learn about the Scavenger Hunt events and secret monthly prizes!

This is also a great way share your discoveries with others. Photograph your findings and upload your pictures to Flickr or Facebook and share them with us.

Flickr: hinwportlandhostel
Facebook: nwportlandhostel
Twitter: @nwportlandhostl

Here is a little preview of what you can expect. Stop by the front desk for a copy of the full thing!

1. Find Portland’s famous directional pole and tell us how far it is to Lillehammer, Norway
2. Stand on the Pioneer Square echo chamber and sing the first line of your national anthem.
3. Take a photo in front of the 24-Hour Church of Elvis.
4. Sample the Rubinator at a McMenamins Pub.
5. Take a photo with a hipster.


Bye Bye NW Portland Hostel…Hello World!

Today, I’m saying good-bye to the NW Portland Hostel and the hostel blog. I was interning here from October 2010 to March 2011. The internship covered working shifts at the front desk, activity/event coordination, and for the most part web design, social media, and marketing. We were working on the brand new website (check back soon to see it!). I hope you like it.

I’m from Germany and after graduating from the University of Stuttgart, I came to Portland in March 2010 for another internship and decided to stay longer after already a short time. Portland is a great place to be. People are friendly and open-minded. The spirit of the 90s is still here (watch ‘Portlandia’). I was riding a bike the whole summer and met lots of people of the so called bike community which made me go to bike events like Pedalpalooza or the World Naked Bike Ride (you don’t have to be completely naked 🙂 ). I really appreciate all the good food and beer Portland has to offer. I don’t know how to survive without Hummus anymore. The diversity of neighborhoods, local shops, and nature of people in Portland is unique.

If you have the chance, visit Portland, Oregon. Here are some things you should do, they will make your day:
Line up at Voodoo Doughnuts, buy a book at Powell’s, hang out in a local coffee shop (my favorite: Vivace), go on Pedalpalooza rides in summer and the World Naked Bike Ride, go to the Last Thursday, see local bands, make a brew pub crawl (my favorite: Bridgeport), try food carts (I have too many favorites 🙂 ) and restaurants with their special creations. Explore this fabulous and outstanding city. I can’t stop raving about Portland. I had a really good time here and it never became boring. I fell in love with this city.

I like traveling and living in different places. Being surrounded by travelers and hearing their stories always made me feel a bit like traveling on the one hand and inspired me on the other hand. I will never forget a guy who stayed with us for some days, he was from Australia and when he arrived in Portland he was already traveling for 9 month on his own. He had amazing stories to tell. I really enjoyed my time at the hostel. I like the happenings there like dinners at the hostel, you always meet nice people, and when summer starts, there will be music in the secret garden every Tuesday. It’s always a good atmosphere there and it feels like home.
That all couldn’t have been so great without some really special people…therefore:
Thanks Britta and Jim for letting me do an internship at your hostel and guesthouse. Thanks Britta for all I have learned and the great team work. Thanks Tracy and Torello for training me to work at the front desk, and a special thanks to Tracy for training me in ASSD :-). Thanks Tessah for making activity coordination so much fun. Thanks Abby, Alicia, Catherine, Kate, Mary Liz, Nathan, and Rachel for being so great and fun colleagues. You all made my time at the hostel very special and I will miss each one of you!

I hope that my blog posts gave you an idea about how living in Portland feels and that you guys have the chance to visit Portland and make all the great experiences I made. Stop at the hostel!

Save travels!


Stumptown….or why there are 100s of coffee shops in Portland

Coffee Culture in Portland

Portland is well known for its coffee culture. You might think about Starbucks now, yes, it started here in the Pacific Northwest, but since they went corporate, the locals prefer our locally owned coffee shops. You’ll find them in every neighborhood.

Every coffee shop has its special atmosphere. Some are chic and elegant, some are alternative, some have all kinds of games to play, some are actually galleries, some have a whole bunch of vinyl to listen to…all of them have their special, unique atmosphere…well, all of them are typical Portland and you will find a lot of bikes parked in front of them and nice people sitting inside to hang out with.

As the TV show ‘Portlandia’ already showed, people in Portland hang out in coffee shops, work from there or do whatever. The local coffee shop is our living room. It’s like back in the 90s.

Our hostel is surrounded by cozy coffee shops and gourmet coffee. World Cup Coffee is right across the street. They actually roast their own beans right on site. You can sometimes smell the aroma from the hostel! They usually have a stack of daily papers from the local Oregonian to the NY Times sitting on the counter near the door for your reading pleasure. If you prefer, sink into one of their cozy chairs with your laptop or your favorite book. They’ve got yummy baked goodies, sandwiches, and decadent desserts, too. Receive a 10% discount when you show your HI-membership card.
By the way, we serve World Cup Coffee at our hostel too.
Check out the map, dedicated to our coffee culture in the neighborhood. It shows our favorite coffee shops such as Vivace, Backspace, Coffee House Northwest, Barista or Anna Banana.

Portland’s east side has also some great coffee places which are worth to check out like the Pied Cow Coffee House on SE Belmont or the Record Room on NE Killingsworth.

Quite a few of the coffee shops serve a local roasted coffee called Stumptown. Yes, that’s why one of Portland’s nicknames is Stumptown! They also have a few of their own coffee shops. The closest to our hostel is next to ACE hotel on SW10th and Stark.

Going to the coffee shop is not just having coffee. It always feels special and we really appreciate living in a city which offers such a variety of coffee shops. So, when you visit Portland don’t miss hanging out in a coffee shop and trying some of their sweet treats (a lot of them are also available vegan)! Come up to the front desk and ask us for more recommendations!