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Downtown vs Northeast Portland

W. Winfield, NY
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Downtown vs Northeast Portland

We're planning to be in Portland first week in October and are debating where to stay. Thinking about turning in the rental car (arriving week prior for coast/Mt. Hood exploring first) and going without while in Portland. Looking at McMenamins Crystal Hotel or Kennedy School. Kennedy School is appealing due to the residential neighborhood, although a little more $. It would also be a little more effort to get to downtown where many of the things of interest are. Crystal Hotel looks interesting, but downtown has it's pluses and minuses . . . any concerns about the streets later in the evening? If we stay at Kennedy School we would get day passes for the light rail, which I understand is accepted on all buses and the streetcar, correct? Looked like there are restaurants and microbrewery/brewpubs within walking distance to Kennedy School so it would serve as a neighborhood location. Any thoughts?

Portland, Oregon
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1. Re: Downtown vs Northeast Portland

Kennedy School is very cool, but a bit removed from downtown. Bus lines are kind of convoluted from NE Portland to the central bus mall. I'd go for the Crystal or maybe the Ace Hotel. Easy walking to everything. Another option is The Inn at Northrup Station. Great access via short streetcar ride to pubs, restaurants and music. Have a wonderful visit!

Portland, Oregon
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2. Re: Downtown vs Northeast Portland

Hi Celtic:

Tough call, this one is really gonna depend on your preferences... I happen to live a block from Kennedy School and have worked for years just a couple blocks from Crystal, so I feel well-qualified to speak about both areas...

The fact that you'll be without a car is important because it favors the downtown location. At Crystal, you'll be within blocks of most major bus lines + all MAX/Streetcar. From Kennedy School, there are two 'main' routes, the '73' along NE 33rd and the '72' along NE Killingsworth and Alberta. While I wouldn't call either 'convoluted', you should note that neither connects directly with downtown (i.e. both require transfers on either MAX or another bus line). One nearby line that DOES go straight to downtown is the '9' Broadway (caught 7 blocks from KS front door at NE 27th) - it also goes through some very pretty & historic neighborhoods. I take all three of these lines regularly - feel free to send me a message or re-post to this thread if you want specifics on each line.

Yes, a TriMet day pass works on all forms of transit, all day - currently they run $4.75/day for All Zones; there's also a 7-day pass for $23 so, if you're in town 5 or more days, a better deal.

As for nearby amenities to your two choices, Crystal/downtown has the obvious advantage with sheer quantity of restaurants, shops, etc. The location is right on busy West Burnside, so there is some noise/traffic to expect, to go along with all those Pearl District spots, Powell's Books, etc. Kennedy School is certainly quieter, and has the advantage of an on-site movie theater, a couple extra cool bars (Boiler Room, Honors, Detention, etc) and an indoor/outdoor restaurant (the Courtyard and it's outdoor hearth is GREAT in the Fall). Most of the good places in walking distance of KS are at the Killingsworth/30th intersection (DOC, Cocette, Autentica, Yakuza & the renowned Beast - if you watch Top Chef Masters, that's Naomi Pomeroy's place). New Seasons is a good local grocery chain and Concordia Ale House is a solid taproom, both a block away. There are also a number of restaurants and bars on nearby NE Alberta St. - some upscale, some divey and everything in between.

As far as McMenamins hotels go in general, ALL rooms come *without* phones or TVs (that's part of the concept, get out and explore/socialize/spend...). Most of the rooms at Crystal are European-style (meaning shared bathrooms down the hall); you pay a premium for one of the few with a toilet/shower en-suite. At KS, all rooms have private baths AND are a bit larger (each is one-half of a former elementary school classroom).

A final bit to consider: time of year. Early October in Portland is possibly my favorite couple of weeks in the entire year. A big reason to choose Kennedy (which you alluded to already) is the neighborhood. The foliage should be gorgeous, the nights crisp and (fingers crossed!) dry...and that aforementioned outdoor fireplace should be roaring and making everything around it smell great (in my opinion :-D ).

Choice is yours, but I hope this helps.

Cheers,

Brian

Edited: 10 May 2011, 00:07
W. Winfield, NY
11 posts
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3. Re: Downtown vs Northeast Portland

Awesome info . . . exactly what I was looking for. I keep leaning toward KS since I like the idea of returning to a neighborhood feel at night and hoping for a solid night's sleep by doing so. We aren't afraid of walking so to walk several blocks or a half mile plus to get to either restaurants, bus, or whatever is not at all an issue. We're runners so being on our feet is what we do. We may keep the car too, but with parking at a premium for our downtown days not sure that makes a lot of sense unless it's to drive to a MAX parking lot to catch the light rail in. We're very excited about this trip - my husband works at Cooperstown Brewing and we've been home brewers for a long time. Thanks for the restaurant suggestions . . . I'm overwhelmed by the quantity and diversity of food available! We'll only be in Portland Monday through Thursday (catching the overnight home) and I'm trying to calculate how many meal we can manage - ha!

Thanks again and if there are specific questions, I'll give you a shout!

Portland, Oregon
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4. Re: Downtown vs Northeast Portland

CT:

If you do keep the car, then KS is an easy choice. You'd have free parking and an option to explore more Mon-Thurs if you don't want to solely rely on TriMet. You mentioned a 'parking lot' to catch light rail - really there aren't any stations that have designated lots except further out in the suburbs.

I'm a (reasonably) avid runner, too, and I think you'd enjoy a run down NE Ainsworth St (flat & a block north of KS) - it's about 35 blocks of residential sidewalks and a tree-lined median/park. A few blocks north of Ainsworth is NE Dekum - you should definitely check out Breakside Brewing. They're creating some interesting stuff on a 7-barrel system that most just supplies the pub (I'm sure Ben or Scott would gladly show you two around). On a run south, cut through Beaumont-Wilshire and Alameda neighborhoods (slight ridge) to NE Fremont; visit Alameda Brewhouse and continue further to NE Sandy for Laurelwood (at 51st, contact Chad Kennedy) and Columbia River Brewing (near 40th). I could go on... ;-)

You mentioned having a car over the previous weekend. I *highly* recommend planning a trip to Hood River on Sat. 10/1 - the annual Hops Fest hoodriver.org/events-festivals/…hops-fest in their small downtown is one of the fests we look forward to every year. It's harvest time in September, and many of the beers on draught are loaded with hops picked weeks (or days) prior to the fest. I recommend seeing the Falls and Gorge in the morning, then hitting the fest later in the day. Visit Double Mountain in HR and cross into Washington to stop at Everybody's Brewing (White Salmon) and Walking Man (Stevenson).

OK, done typing for now...

B

W. Winfield, NY
11 posts
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5. Re: Downtown vs Northeast Portland

Well - we are of like minds! That's exactly our plan - we will hit the coast for 2/3 days, Hood River for the festival for 3 or 4 days, and finish in Portland. We will stay in Hood River for the festival! We should buy you a beer! We'll make sure we wear our Cooperstown Brewing shirts so you can spot us - ha! Not sure whether to spend 2 or 3 nights on the coast and the extra day in Hood River hiking/hanging out there. But it's all good . . . can't wait to hit the food carts too! I think we should lose some weight before we go on this trip!

Troutdale, Oregon
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for Hood River, Troutdale, Cascade Locks, The Dalles, Portland, Oregon
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6. Re: Downtown vs Northeast Portland

If you would like to stay in Hood River, you might like the Columbia Gorge Hotel, a historic hotel downtown. I would make early reservations though. They will be busy.

min

Portland, Oregon
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7. Re: Downtown vs Northeast Portland

Min:

Strangely enough, the last two years we've made reservations at HRH just a month or so in advance of the Hops Fest (always first week of October) and found several types of rooms available even that late in the game. Of course, both times we cancelled: once because we had a designated driver to take us home to Portland and the other because of a last-minute camping arrangement at nearby Tucker Park. Maybe someday we'll actually stay in Hood River...

CT:

I think a Cooperstown Brewing tee will be easy enough to spot ~ see ya in about 4.5 months! Last year I wore a Foothills 'Sexual Chocolate Stout' shirt, with which I met a few people... :) If you or your husband are BeerAdvocate.com users, hit me up over there. Same user name... And re: food carts, you're opening a whole new can of worms there... LOTS of recommendations...

B

W. Winfield, NY
11 posts
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8. Re: Downtown vs Northeast Portland

Nice - will look you up there - we're also BeerAdvocate users and don't travel w/o checking there! Have to hit ya up on the food cart/food bits - we're foodies as well as beer geeks! We've tentatively booked w/Hood River BnB. I'll get in touch via message for some more details! Thanks, much!

9. Re: Downtown vs Northeast Portland

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