Via magazine
Via magazine - Your AAA Magazine

Portland's Quirky Sellwood Neighborhood

Once an independent town, the riverside neighborhood retains its quirky free spirit.

By
Mary Frances Hinds
three women seated outdoors at picnic table share a pot of tea beside the red caboose that houses Tea Chai Té in Portland, Oregon, picture
Photo credit
Nashco
Photo caption
Tea Chai Té occupies a historic Seattle Pacific Railroad caboose.

Though Sellwood became part of Portland in 1893, the area, now known as Sellwood-Moreland, still has a charm of its own. It's home to a teahouse in a caboose, a puppet museum, and other quaint delights. Here are five things to see in the neighborhood that we love:

1. Green-winged teal, great blue herons, and all sorts of other birds flock to Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, a beloved local park. Wander the wooded trails, and you might see purple loosestrife blooming in the wetlands and hawks nesting in the trees. Hike an easy 2.7-mile loop by taking Bluff Trail around the pond, then returning along the Willamette River on Springwater Corridor Trail.

2. Treasure hunters looking to get lost in Southeast Portland's vintage scene might want to start their quest at Stars Antiques Malls. Founded by four friends, the two shops house a maze of more than 200 sellers who deal in wire birdcages, old croquet sets, vintage movie posters, and all sorts of "extraordinary junk."

3. Think the Sellwood branch of Tea Chai Té looks straight out of Portlandia? You're right: The cozy teahouse, tucked in a Seattle Pacific Railroad car, has often cameoed on the offbeat comedy. Peruse the tea wall, where cubbies hold more than 120 varietals, from the spiced Be Swell blend to the honeysuckle-scented coconut oolong. Then curl up with your cup on a crushed-velvet couch in the tea hall, or sit outside on the patio.

4. Don't be fooled by the ordinary facade: The Portland Puppet Museum is anything but commonplace. Inside sit 300 puppets and marionettes, many of them crafted by museum co-owner Steven M. Overton. Overton founded the Olde World Puppet Theatre in 1976 and has since made puppets for parades, theme parks, and even the live production of Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame. Famous TV puppets live here, too: Look for Lamb Chop, a gift from ventriloquist Shari Lewis.

5. The Moreland Theater opened in 1926 to show silent films and—except for upgrades to accommodate "talkies"— the place remains unchanged. Patrons still enjoy the original handpainted ceilings, arabesque arch entryways, and red-cushioned seats. And with a $6 matinee, the price is a throwback, too.

Up Next: What to See, Do, and Eat in Portland

If you're planning on traveling to Portland, talk to AAA Vacation Experts for free at AAA.com/Travel. ​​

This article was first published in Spring 2019. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.