Overview: University District Neighborhood

The Portland State University campus is the focal point of the city’s University District. But this downtown neighborhood isn’t just textbooks and classrooms — there’s great bites and beverages, quaint boutiques to peruse, and plenty of art to enjoy. Below, your best bets for a day spent in and around the University District.

Admissions Stock Shoot


On the go? Start your day with a perfect cup of coffee from Olé Latte Coffee and a breakfast burrito from La Casita Mexican Grill— two food carts popular with PSU students. Those looking to sit and linger a bit longer should check out Moberi, a local chain that serves acai bowls and hearty oatmeal with a cozy outpost on 5th Avenue. And finally, those in need of an early morning sweet treat will appreciate the glazed offerings at Sesame Donuts.


The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, featuring works from Northwest artists, is just the latest in a number of spaces and pieces enjoyed by art lovers. The Littman and White Gallery is located on the second floor of Smith Memorial Student Union, and the Art Building is home to three galleries of its own: Lobby Gallery, MK Gallery, and Sugar Cube Gallery. Those with an appreciation for public art should seek out The Knowledge (at SW 5th & Hall), Tecotosh (outside the Engineering Building), and Knight Of Tomorrow (located along the Walk of The Heroines, outside Hoffman Hall). 


Board the Portland Streetcar at SW Park & Mill for a short ride to the shops lining 10th Avenue. Woonwinkel offers unique home decor, while Tender Loving Empire (a local music label with multiple retail outlets throughout the city) is a hip spot for Portland-centric gifts. Wildfang and Compound PDX are go-to’s for the city’s most fashionable. And Powell’s City of Books, the world’s largest independent bookstore, is just a few steps away. 


The crowds descending upon Duck House during the week are onto something. The sizable portions are perfect to split with friends! Nearby Phat Cart serves up Asian-fusion bentos. Unable to decide? The Fourth Avenue Food Carts may be your best bet – with offerings representing cuisine from across the globe. Dosirak and Chopollos are stand-outs! 


While the Park Blocks remain the go-to spot for Portland State students looking to enjoy a day of Portland sunshine, that’s far from the only green space worth checking out! Lovejoy Fountain Park and Pettygrove Park offer quiet retreats from the downtown buzz, while nearby Director Park is a lively urban plaza great for people watching. 


Catch a movie at PSU’s student-run Fifth Avenue Cinemas or take in a film screening at the Art Museum’s Whitsell Auditorium hosted by the NW Film Center. Looking for live theater? Keller Auditorium plays host to Broadway In Portland, with big-name productions Hamilton, Cats, and Pretty Woman headlining the 2020/21 season. The Armory, Newmark Theatre, and Brunish Theatre offer patrons live theater and music performances year-round. 


Debrief the evening’s entertainment over a Captain Neon burger and cajun tots at McMenamins Market Street Pub. Night owls should check out the themed dance parties at Lola’s Room before checking in at The Roxy, a kitschy 24/7 diner with breakfast served at all hours. 

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