Weekly updates from BLDG 25

Off The Beaten Path: Portland, Oregon

A few weeks ago I embarked on an adventure that would take me down the western coast of the United States, via airplane and automobile,  to explore the west coast off the beaten path.  I’m so excited to finally share my discoveries with you, and announce the launch of an exciting sweepstakes starting today. We’ve partnered with Beach Tomato, a UK-based website with a focus on travel and all things beach, to give you the chance to win a west coast dream trip of your own, along with a Free People shopping spree! Click here to enter the competition, and be sure to check back here daily to read more about the destinations! Up first, Portland, Oregon – let the journey begin!

mt. hood portland

portland oregon

I fell in love with Portland before the plane even hit the ground.  I just sat and stared out the window, in awe of the landscape…rolling bluish green tree-covered hills, like wrinkles in a sheet, as far as the eye can see, and then Mt. Hood, so close you feel like you could touch its snow-capped peak.  Of all the destinations I would be visiting, Portland was the only one new to me.  There’s something so exciting about going to a place you’ve never been to before… it’s a journal full of blank pages waiting to be filled with stories, doodles, and photographs.

portland vw bus

free people portland

I arrived in Portland in the early afternoon and had some time to kill before checking in at my hotel.  The first place I went was Free People Portland – I wanted to get some insider tips from the local FP girls on what to see and do, and they had some amazing suggestions (thank you ladies!).  I jotted down too many notes for my short stay in the city, but at least I knew where I was headed next.

off the beaten path portland

n mississippi ave portland

n. mississippi ave portland

n mississippi ave portland

n mississippi ave portland

n mississippi ave portland

N. Mississippi Ave is a quiet street in the NE outskirts of the city.  Here you’ll find quaint houses, quirky shops, vintage, bars, and loads of character.  The laid back atmosphere of this street made me feel instantly at ease and if I lived in Portland it is definitely where I would spend a lot of my time.  I checked out some of the shops and really liked Animal Traffic, a vintage and western clothing store with women’s items sorted by labels like “virgin suicides” and “90210 love.” I picked up a floral printed skirt with buttons down the front and a leather and western-printed tote bag that I couldn’t walk away from.

vintage clothing

Another fun store was Flutter, an eclectic array of vintage and unique items that I could have spent hours picking through.  I walked out with a harmonica and then went to another place recommended by our FP Portland girls, Interurban, for happy hour.  This laid back bar was just my speed, and had sunny backyard seating and a rotating beer and cheese pairing during happy hour – yum.

flutter clutter portland


flutter clutter portland

flutter portland

portland oregon

I knew I wouldn’t have much time in the city on the following day, and there was still one more neighborhood I wanted to explore, so I reluctantly left N. Mississippi Ave and made my way down to the Hawthorne District, in the southeast section of the city.  Hawthorne is said to be Portland’s version of Haight Ashbury, a counterculture scene with vintage shops, bars, record stores, and quirky cafes. It is another chill neighborhood where I could see myself spending time, and is also home to one of the best vintage stores I’ve ever been to – House of Vintage. It’s the type of place you need hours to fully peruse and absorb.  Around every corner is another room packed to its brim with treasures, the walls holding countless stories and long-forgotten memories.

hawthorne portland

house of vintage portland

house of vintage portland

house of vintage portland

house of vintage portland

house of vintage portland

house of vintage portland

hawthorne portland


hawtorne portland

hawtorne portland

portland oregon

After a long day I returned to my hotel, the Vintage Plaza in downtown Portland.  I went to bed early, my mind racing with thoughts about what I was doing and where I’d go next. Traveling alone is so empowering.  It makes you realize strengths you never knew you had – you learn so much about yourself, and you surprise yourself with how readily you adapt to being on your own in an unfamiliar place.  You do things you normally wouldn’t do, like conversing with strangers, trying new foods or activities, taking extra time to really think about things, or write in a journal.  After day one I felt so grateful for the opportunity to make this journey on my own and so excited about the road ahead of me. I fell asleep dreaming of the next day’s journey, to the coast…


Enter our Off the Beaten Path Sweeps.

Follow FP Julia on Twitter.

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Liz -August 26, 2013, 8:12AM

Oh my gosh, it’s so beautiful. I always joke with my husband that Lexington, KY (our home) is like a mini Portland. Some of this stuff looks quite familiar haha. I can’t wait ti visit on my own!

meg -August 26, 2013, 8:58AM

Looks like I need to book a trip to Portland ASAP!
It looks so nice!

Saylor -August 26, 2013, 9:35AM

These photos are so lovely and inspiring !! What are you using to edit them ?

Sophia -August 26, 2013, 10:09AM

So beautiful, I’m moving to the Bay Area in less than two weeks..of course winning the sweepstakes is a long shot, but I’d be so excited to explore the coast near my new home, so different from the East Coast where I’m from. Love the pictures!

Juliette Laura -August 26, 2013, 10:23AM

Oh goodness I am dying to visit there. These photos are beautiful! And the contest sounds wonderful!

xo, Juliette Laura

Danielle Wallis -August 26, 2013, 10:32AM

THOSE vintage shops! Amazing!

Annejelina -August 26, 2013, 11:04AM

I really loved this post, thank you so much for sharing.
Really nice photographs and it was well written as well.
Made me feel like I was right there with ya all along! <3

Visit my shop:

Abriana -August 26, 2013, 11:11AM

Your trip looked amazing. Too bad I can’t enter the sweepstakes. :/

estée -August 26, 2013, 12:03PM

Beautiful photos. I used to lived a few blocks away from Hawthorne. This post makes me miss my life there!

Anonymous -August 26, 2013, 12:36PM

Love this sweepstakes :]

Emerald -August 26, 2013, 12:40PM

Love this sweepstakes :]

Paige -August 26, 2013, 12:42PM

I live right in Portland! :D Lovely photos to capture how lovely the city is

Sarah K -August 26, 2013, 1:08PM

Great pictures. Portland is definitely on my list of places I have to go in my lifetime. Awesome sweepstakes too!

Britt -August 26, 2013, 1:28PM

Glad you enjoyed Portland! I live a few hours away, and I always love stopping in and taking in some sights. I think my only qualm with Portland is the water tastes like dirt and chlorine. Haha.

Mary -August 26, 2013, 3:28PM

I have always wanted to check out Portland, and stop by Flutter, so thank you for allowing me to live vicariously through you! I am super excited about the contest too! Fingers crossed…whee!!!! ♥

Maddie -August 26, 2013, 5:11PM

is it open to Canada?

Becky -August 26, 2013, 5:19PM

Is this contest open to URBN employees?

Sierra -August 26, 2013, 5:27PM

I love how you featured Portland. You posted about some of the best hidden gems around town, I love my city! :)

Arvolyn Hill -August 26, 2013, 9:29PM

The submit button doesn’t work on the website :(

Maggie -August 27, 2013, 12:56AM

Would y’all do a blog on photo editing how-tos? That would be amazing. Love all of your edits, they look so beautiful!

Ruth -August 27, 2013, 2:47AM

Lovely post but too bad the contest is not open to all countries :-(

Chinese Clothing Hisotry -August 27, 2013, 5:30AM

lovely beautiful and awesome…

jelena -August 27, 2013, 6:16AM

Aww too bad I can’t enter the contest :(

The photos are amazing, wonderful!

fp julia -August 27, 2013, 1:49PM

Thanks so much guys! I edited these with photoshop and exposure 4…a post on editing photos is a great idea!

Jillian -August 27, 2013, 10:00PM

Yes! A post on editing photos would be A-mazing :)

lori -August 29, 2013, 10:51PM

I love how you added the text – is that by hand or a program, i have to know lol – can you do a post a tutorial !!!

Najlepsze wycieczki dla grup zorganizowanych -September 21, 2013, 2:56PM

I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your website. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much
more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often.
Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Exceptional work!

Vintage A Go Go -October 12, 2013, 1:47AM

Wow you captured Portland so wonderfully in this post.Thanks for sharing. Next time you’re in town hop on the Vintage A Go Go bus, we’re a mobile vintage shop located inside a 1979 school bus.
Rock on Freepeoplexoxo

Emily Grosvenor -October 28, 2013, 1:49PM

Seems like you went to many of the great places in Portland and fell in love a little in the process. Are you going to move now? Portland is for dreamers, as is much of Oregon…

Emily -April 8, 2014, 1:00PM

What a beautiful read! And your pictures are fantastic. As a Portland native — I approve! :) -July 5, 2014, 7:05PM

Hi, so your story has inspired me a little. I have always had a fascination with the northwest coast of America, & i’ve recently been considering re-locaing to Portland indefinitely, from Sydney, Australia! There are a few reasons for me to do this, but the reason i’ve been considering Portland is, well, i’ve always loved the idea of living in Oregon.. I love the idea of living in a city in the middle of the forest! Being so close to nature.. It just seems like a lifestyle that I would fit into with ease, and your photos and things have really supported that.

I guess I just thought i’d ask about cost of living there.. Would love to hear some feedback from you.


Candace -November 29, 2014, 1:43PM

I’m so glad you discovered some of the best places in my city! And you visited places that the visitor doesn’t always go, more local ‘famous’ neighborhoods. There are more that are almost as cool as these as well. It really is a quirky and fantastic city! So glad you got to visit!

Missy -December 2, 2014, 2:33AM

Love Portland, was born here and lived here off and on for 50 yrs … My family were smarties and moved here in 1845 … There is So much to see besides Voo Doo Donuts, Powell’s Books and Mississippi and Hawthorne … Not bad, but they’ve been done … Yes, we’re a mixture of Grimm meets Portlandia …! Explore on your own …

A -October 20, 2015, 8:23PM

Thank you for posting these. I live right here in Portland and sometimes i forget to take a step back and really look at how beautiful our city really is!

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