Four Weekends of Fun in the July Sun

Follow our guide to enjoying every single moment of Portland's most glorious season, and leave no weekend behind!

By Ramona DeNies May 26, 2015 Published in the June 2015 issue of Portland Monthly

Image: Shutterstock


July 3—5                                      

I did Independence Day my way.

In Portland, Fourth of July weekend means roots music. Before heading to the 28th annual Waterfront Blues Festival (2015 headliners include Allen Toussaint, Macy Gray, and Buddy Guy), spike the mood with a Saturday-morning constitutional. Whether your optimal pace is pleasant or Prefontaine, you’ll find hearty company at the Sauvie Island Foot Traffic Flat. Distances range from a sweet 5k to full marathon, with nary a bump in the road to spoil the scenery. Take a nap, and then decide how you’d like your evening fireworks: with the American people en masse, staking precious cooler-and-lawn-chair real estate along the waterfront, or peeping the pyrotechnics at greater remove (suggestions at right). Escape from the city on Sunday with a one-hour northwesterly drive to the hamlet of Warren, where the Scappoose Bay Paddling Center kits you out for a gentle paddle through wetlands teeming with turtles, otters, and migratory birds. Be sure to sprint on home by 4 p.m. to catch the Women’s World Cup Championship Game.

Sauvie Island

Image: Shutterstock

July 10—12

Jeeps & geeks

Stumptown’s swingingest Friday happy hour? N Mississippi Avenue whiskey house Bungalo Bar, where a double bank of porch swings starts the weekend on the right foot. (Get it?) Then comb back that duck tail and head to the Portland International Raceway for the long-running Vintage Racing Festival, where classic car heats run all day—from ’70s Trans Ams to Roaring ’20s jalopies. PIR’s high-octane party starts after the last checkered flag, with dinner on the track for competitors, and live music from Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels. Go posh on Sunday with the perfect post-brunch digestif: a free afternoon preview (at the Central Library, no less) of Portland Opera’s The Elixir of Love

July 17—19

Smooth jazz, sour beer & sassy Scotsmen

A Friday-evening picnic under the majestic steel arches of the St. Johns Bridge? Yes, please—especially when you’re serenaded, gratis, by the smooth players at the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival. On Saturday, the 60th annual Portland Highland Games brings on the burlier side of Scottish culture, from kilted piping to you, lassie). Think competitive fife-playing sounds lightweight? Try tossing a 170-pound spruce log end over end. Recover with the event’s single malt whisky tastings, or head back to town for a fruitier flight at Puckerfest 9: Belmont Station’s annual weeklong celebration of original sour beers from breweries including Block 15 and Belgium’s Cantillon. Cap the night at Providence Park, where the Portland Timbers will surely crush the Vancouver Whitecaps. Such intensity begs an easy Sunday, so pick your flavor of chill: peruse chapbooks at the Portland Zine Symposium, groove at Zidell Yards’ second annual Project Pabst (Sunday’s lineup includes Wampire, Weezer, Alvvays, and Aimee Mann), or follow the Eagle Creek trail and take the big plunge into moss-laden Punchbowl Falls.

Punchbowl Falls

Image: Shutterstock

Highland Games

Image: Shutterstock

July 24—26


Now in its 28th year, Waterfront Park’s massive Oregon Brewers Festival is a suds party on steroids—sweaty, sticky, and a little cranky. Thursday afternoon is your best bet: queuing is quicker and the tap handlers are fresh. Feeling extra bibulous? Friday kicks off McMinnville’s annual three-day International Pinot Noir Celebration; absorb wisdom from “University of Pinot” seminars, then toast your education with more wine at the IPNC’s Grand Dinner under the stars at Linfield College. If last night’s wine extravaganza dulled your superpowers, Saturday’s Portland Geek Olympathon is your whetstone. The all-day cross-town tourney challenges with top-secret contests (announced just days in advance) that last year entailed circuitboards, narwhals, and whipped cream; by late afternoon, champions walk away with passes to Seattle gaming fest PAX Prime, sets of Liar’s Dice, and socks. Or opt for Saturday morning's third annual Rip City 3-on-3 coming to the Rose Quarter, where teams of all ages and abilities face off to benefit the Special Olympics. Cheer lustily, but save some for the Bard: at 3 p.m., the Portland Actors Ensemble takes over Laurelhurst Park’s knoll for its free alfresco performance of The Taming of the Shrew. On Sunday, grab your inner tube and head to the fifth annual Big Float on the Willamette. Fun can be had on land, too, at the Lents Street Fair, Northeast Portland’s freewheeling Sunday Parkways, and local indie music showcase PDX Pop Now!

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