About St. Johns
North Portland, or “NoPo” as the locals call it, is home to St. Johns – a neighborhood often described as a small town within a big city. Somewhat removed from the zany hustle and bustle of Portland’s more metropolitan areas, St. Johns offers the comforts and close-knit community vibes more often found in suburban locales. But make no mistake, St. Johns is steadily becoming one of Portland’s most sought after spots to live and visit. With a tree-lined main street home to many local shops and restaurants, St. Johns has its own distinct charm and attracts families and recent college grads alike. The University of Portland is located nearby, providing the area with a stream of youthful exuberance and local business.
With the stunning St. Johns Bridge as the community’s unofficial center, and the Cathedral Park sprawling beneath it, there is no shortage of family-friendly activities put on at any given time of year. The Jazzfest in the summer in particular offers fun for the whole family along the banks of the Willamette.
Hold onto your hats all you history buffs! As it turns out, St. Johns’ Cathedral Park has been cited as one of the overnight spots hit by Lewis and Clark during their expedition West! This historic park is also home to some terrific views and entertaining shows of all kinds, so give it a visit when you’re in the area.
Getting to St. Johns
Quaintly tucked away from the busier areas of Portland, St. Johns in North Portland remains easily connected to the rest of the city via bus lines and Portland’s light rail the MAX.
Things to do in St. Johns
St. Johns is home to some of Portland’s best-kept secrets when it comes to fantastic food. Most of the shops and eateries are found along N Lombard Street, which is where you can find Tienda Santa Cruz – a Mexican grocery store which houses arguably Portland’s best tacos in an unassuming counter-serve café in the back. Other local favorites include the hearty bagel sandwiches at Bernstein’s Bagels (second only to those found at Spielman’s in SE) and Gabagool an intimate Italian which specializes in mouthwatering handmade pasta along with happy hour food and drink deals.
Family-friendly comfort-food staple, Mama San Soul Shack, offers up heaping portions of delicious classics sure to please the whole family.
Sample some local coffee at Two Stroke Coffee Co – a two story café complete with motorcycles – or St. Johns Coffee Roasters which offers single batch espressos and coffees with local flair.
For something sweet, head over to Affogato for outstanding house-made gelati and espresso.
With Cathedral Park and St Johns Bridge, there’s no shortage of fun things to do in St. Johns. Not only is there a great deal of fantastic food found along the main drag, St. Johns is also only 20 minutes away from Portland’s beloved Sauvie Island, known for fun seasonal activities along the Columbia River. For more outdoor fun, take a picnic basket to the Skidmore Bluffs and enjoy fantastic views of the Willamette River and the Portland city skyline.
Heading indoors, the St. Johns Twin Cinemas is a great local haunt offering discount movies in a cool 1905 building, with beer and pizza on tap as well. Fair warning though, after 8pm this hip spot is 21+.
Down by Cathedral Park, Hoplandia and Occidental Brewing Company and Taproom both offer a great selection of local brews and tasty standard pub fare. For something with more of a lounge-vibe, be sure to give Slim’s Restaurant and Lounge a try – it’s a local favorite that puts on great live music and offers open mic nights regularly. McMenamins St. Johns Theater and Pub is housed in a historic domed building and filled with comfortable couches to enjoy a film and drink a local beer.
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