Technically Portland Downtown Neighborhood is just on the SW side of the city, but the city of Portland has it catagorized under the NW Neighborhood Associations, so to avoid confusion, we are including it in both the NW Neighborhoods, and also have made a category for it by itself, since it is The Downtown!

portland neighborhood guide, Portland downtown collage


Portland Downtown Neighborhood has so much to offer from its world class restaurants to its farmers markets and festivals. Downtown is found in the SW Part of the inner west side of the city, including everything from from the Willamette to Interstate 405, and south from Burnside Street to just south of the Portland State University campus. North of Burnside is the Pearl closer to the Willamette, and the Alphabet District west of about 14th. This part of downtown is more the cultural district, with the University, museums, art etc.

The Waterfront area of the Portland Downtown Neighborhood has long green lawns, lush trees, riverside paths and fountains that offer a haven for active people and happy pets. There are also summer festivals most weekends, including the century-old Rose Festival (May-June) and the legendary Oregon Brewers Festival (July). McCalls huge fountain is right above the water. My earliest memories of Portland with my kids when they were little, was riding our bikes along the waterfront from John’s Landing, past the Old Spagetti Factory and through the big fountain on a hot day! Kids love to run through it when it is hot, and it is a great excursion for the family!

The Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall is crowned by the Iconic 65-foot-high “Portland” sign illuminated with 6,000 lights. The “Schniz” is home to the Oregon Symphony.

The Keller Auditorium is the home stage for the Oregon Ballet Theatre and
the Broadway Across America series.

There are 3 different Farmers Markets in Portland Downtown Neighborhood. Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays at PSU, Pioneer Square and Shemanski Park. They have more than 200 vendors with deep roots in Oregon and Southwest Washington, including farms, nurseries, bakeries, meat and seafood providers, cheese makers and specialty food producers.

Parks and Museums in Portland Downtown Neighborhood

The fountain at the end of the plaza built for the Saturday Market has two separate areas,  a blowhole-dotted section that operates when no events are taking place on the plaza and another one by the amphitheater that runs more often. The blowholes are perfect for toddlers and older kids, and the amphitheater creates a series of unique arches.

The wading pool in the Pearl at Jamison Square is perfect for babies and toddlers because it is pretty safe, but older kids have fun in it too!  It is right on the Portland Streetcar line, so very easy to access, with a big lawn kids can run on, and there’s even an ice cream shop (Cool Moon Ice Cream) across the street.

Controlled by an underground computer, fountain overlooks the Willamette River and changes constantly into different fountains and streams. It is a fun place to run through in hot weather, ride your bike through, because it is totally flat, or let your little ones play in!

Located in downtown’s newest public square, this fountain was created especially for toddlers with gentle jets and bubbles that fill a shallow basin ringed by low wooden benches.

This fountain was supposed to remind you of the cliffs and waterfalls of the nearby Columbia River Gorge. You can either splash in the pools at the bottom, wade in the shallow basins at the top of the waterfalls, or just sit on the stones. It is right in the middle of the cultural center of Portland, downtown.

The lovejoy fountain is designed after the lakes and streams of Oregon. It is a mountain giving birth to a river  that cascades down as waterfalls to the lakes and rivers below,  ending in a calming lake.

There are also lots of Splash Pads all through the city that kids can run through and cool off.

Splash pads can be found at Columbia, Grant, Kenton, Peninsula, Pier and Woodlawn Parks, among others. Check out the city’s entire list on their website.


Looking for a walk score of 99? Don’t want to ever have to deal with rush hour again? Live in one of the condos downtown in the heart of the city.

  • University Park Condominiums
  • Harrison West is on 2nd and Harrison- Has panoramic views of the city and mountains!
  • Benson Tower- is in the heart of the Cultural District. Steps from PSU and everything! Stunning views!
  • The Portland Plaza on SW 5th Ave. Iconic building has rounded windows- built in the 1970s. Complete remodel will be done in 2018 for Lobby, Library, community room and Terrace with Pool and BBQ pit.

History of Portland Downtown Neighborhood

portland neighborhood guide, History of Portland

Here is what Portland downtown area and the West Hills looked like in 1873

Portland neighborhood guide, Portland downtown history

Here is downtown Portland in the late 1800s

portland neighborhood guide, history of Portland

Here is Union Station Portland in the early days