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South Waterfront, Portland: 5 Things We Love

Head to the South Waterfront on the Willamette River for eating, dining and a bird's eye view of Portland.

Portland aerial trams soar above bicycles in South Waterfront District, image
Photo credit
Photo: Brian Overcast/Alamy
Photo caption
A Rose City hood embraces transit.

Portland's new "it" neighborhood, the South Waterfront, rests beside the Willamette River. Glossy high-rises have sprung up here over the past decade, but the hip district still feels human-size, featuring thriving eateries, a street market, and convenient transit options.

  1. The new 14,000-square-foot Oregon Ballet Theatre, with its costuming shop and dance studios, assembles contemporary pieces and classics such as George Balanchine's interpretation of The Nutcracker. AAA members get $20 off tickets in the first four seating areas.

  2. Named for a bridgelike steel crane in recognition of the area's industry, the Gantry at Zidell Yards is the buzziest addition to Portland's potpourri of food cart pods. It offers a cross section of local fare: wood-fired pizzas, Japanese ramen, and cranberry-honey kombucha.

  3. The year-old South Waterfront Greenway mixes riverside pathways with terraces for observing raptors and waterfowl. Look for public art such as Buster Simpson's sculpture Cradle to Cradle, an assemblage of uprooted cedar trunks and angular concrete supports.

  4. Park your bike, then hop on the Portland Aerial Tram just yards from shore. Gondolas ascend 500 feet to Marquam Hill in four minutes, offering city vistas that include a fine view of Tilikum Crossing, the chic new bridge.

  5. A block from the tram terminal, the South Waterfront Farmers Market brings together some of Portland's best souvenirs. Pick up flaky croissants from Fleur de Lis Bakery, small-batch vegan snacks from Portlandia Granola Company, and tea-based spirits from Thomas & Sons Distillery.

This article was first published in July 2016. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.