Southeast Portland mainly refers to the area between the Willamette River and Gresham (which is legally a suburb, but you’ll enter without realizing you’ve left Portland’s city borders) and Burnside Street and the Sellwood neighborhood. It’s a large area, but the majority of it is residential, so the areas where visitors will spend their time are considerably easier to navigate. The following are some of the smaller neighborhoods in SE that may be of interest to visitors.
Hawthorne and Belmont districts
The Hawthorne and Belmont districts, which are centered on Hawthorne Blvd. and Belmont St., respectively, are some of SE Portland’s livelier locations. Hawthorne has a longer history as Portland’s hippy district, with eccentric stores and eateries on both sides of the street, but Belmont has been refurbished in recent years and is now a popular spot to go shopping or locate good restaurants. Many of the communities around these two major avenues were historically popular for folks with blue-collar incomes, but home prices in this area have risen in recent years, forcing many lower-income families to relocate.
Sellwood, which used to be its own town, was annexed by Portland and is now a pleasant neighborhood. It boasts a lot of antique shops and some great eateries. It can be difficult to get parking, so take the bus if possible; once there, it’s a joy to meander around and poke your nose in the lovely shops. Mount Tabor Park, one of Portland’s most popular parks, is located in Southeast Portland. It’s a dormant volcano that’s wonderful for bike rides and hiking.
Sellwood is a close-knit community filled with meticulously preserved turn-of-the-century Victorian homes. It is directly across the Willamette River from downtown Portland, across the historic Sellwood Bridge. With over 50 antique businesses in the neighborhood, Sellwood is a terrific place to go antiquing. Oaks Park is surrounded by towering oak trees along the banks of the Willamette River and is home to the Pacific Northwest’s largest roller skating rink. Skaters glide across the floor while listening to live music from a Wurlitzer pipe organ. A little amusement park in the park has been amusing local children since 1905. Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, located north of Oaks Park, is a 160-acre bird and wildlife sanctuary that draws over 125 bird species, including blue herons. A popular trail for bikers, walkers, and joggers, the Springwater Corridor, winds through the refuge alongside the Willamette River.
Parts of Division Street, Clinton Street, and 82nd Avenue may also have tiny clusters of businesses and restaurants. The latter is hit or miss, as it was previously one of those parts of town that even inhabitants were hesitant to enter. It’s still too densely packed with used vehicle businesses to be worth the trip, but it’s also a terrific spot to find a variety of ethnic markets, particularly Asian.