Summer might be the Northwest’s best-kept secret. In this series, we’ll share our top recommendations for events and activities that you won’t need a car to enjoy.
It’s fitting to spend the 4th of July listening to blues by the river, and even more so to end the day witnessing the biggest fireworks display in the state.
The Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival, now in its 28th year, is a marquee event for the Portland region, featuring 100 artists over four days. Looking at this year’s lineup, you’ll see that the festival also spans generations: among the acts are flat-out legends like Buddy Guy and Gregg Allman, along with rising stars like YouTube sensation Christone “Kingfish” Ingram and Oregon native Ty Curtis.
To get your fill of blues (and Zydeco, and R&B, and jazz…) and to secure the best seats around for the fireworks show, the Oregon Food Bank suggests a minimum donation of $10 for entry. Or, get a pass to cover the entire festival, including re-entry, for $40.
At last count, there were 58 breweries in Portland. If you think that’s something to celebrate, you’re not alone. Nearly every one of those brewers will be on hand at PCBF to showcase a beer, with styles ranging from lagers to sours to stouts and, of course, IPAs.
More of a cider fan? Or maybe you’re the wine & cheese type? There will be something for you, too, along with food carts, coffee and ice cream vendors.
This three-day festival (open only to the over-21 crowd) goes down in The Fields Neighborhood Park; get there by bus or streetcar.
Starting your day with a little exercise isn’t a bad idea (especially if you’re thinking of drinking all the beers at PCBF). It’s worth getting up early to beat the heat at Freedomthon, a 5K run/walk starting outside Beaverton City Library — every participant gets a medal, a flag to wave as they cross the finish line and a spot at the Pancake Bar. It’s a fast and flat course, and it runs along closed streets. Is a personal record within reach?
The Grand Marshal at this year’s event is retired Hillsboro Police officer Steve Vuylsteke, who’s been attending since long before he earned his stripes. It’s clear that the parade is a product of a close-knit community, but this is much more than a small-town affair.
According to the presenters at the Hillsboro Rotary Club, the parade is one of the largest this side of the Mississippi. It’s accompanied by a pancake breakfast and a fun run. If that sounds like a great way to start your Independence Day, just hop on MAX »
Rides are open until midnight at Oaks Amusement Park’s annual 4th of July event; time it right, and you might catch the fireworks from the ferris wheel. (Or the Scream’n Eagle — but that’s a very different experience). Picnic spaces are first come, first served, so be sure to snag a spot to relax in after a round of mini golf and a spin through the roller rink. Entry to the “Coney Island of the Northwest” ranges from $2–$5 per person at the gates.
A note on getting there by transit: Oaks Amusement Park is on the Willamette, nestled within acres of parkland. If you’re going car-free, it’s best to get there on the Springwater Trail, a major pedestrian and bike path that happens to offer some incredible views. Service to this section of the Springwater will improve drastically when the MAX Orange Line opens later this year. Then, stations at OMSI/SE Water Ave and SE Tacoma St/Johnson Creek will put riders right on the path to the park!