Little Joys of Summer

Walk This Way toward Your Own Personal Portland Scavenger Hunt

Neighborhood walks aren't canceled this year, so add these spots to your route and explore the city.

By Margaret Seiler Photography by Mike Novak August 1, 2020 Published in the August 2020 issue of Portland Monthly

Portland is all about the 20-minute neighborhood, the idea that most residents should be within a 20-minute walk or bike ride of grocery stores, banks, bars, restaurants, parks, and other nonwork destinations. Throw in stay-at-home orders, postponed vacations, and canceled kids’ camps, and that neighborhood walk might be your best shot at adventure and discovery this summer. Here are a few finds to add to your personal scavenger hunt. (For even more ideas, check out the Hidden Portland for the Curious Facebook group, search for local oddities on, or ask your oldest and youngest neighbors for their own tips—they might have longer memories, fewer blind spots, or simply a different perspective.)

Robot Alley 

Between N Kerby and Borthwick Avenues just south of Skidmore, prepare to be ordered around by stormtroopers and droids peering over the fence from the backyard of artist Robert Fortney (

Image: Mike Novak

Bridge Vistas in North Portland 

Skip the arterials and take a bluff-hugging walk from St. Johns east, taking in the views from the city-owned, not-quite-a-park green expanse at N Crawford and Pierce, the Student-Led Unity Garden (SLUG!) at N Warren and McKenna, and the statue-lined east side of the University of Portland campus.

Image: Mike Novak

Morris Marks and Alice Druhot Houses

Go Oooollllld Portland with a stroll through Goose Hollow that takes in two of the city’s oldest homes, built in 1882 and 1891, respectively. The Warren Heywood Williams–designed Morris Marks House was originally built closer to the South Park Blocks before being moved to SW 15th and Harrison, while the Italian villa–style Druhot House was moved 18 feet over and one story up when a basement was added around 1910.

Image: Mike Novak

Chickie Crossing in Concordia

Toss some provided treats to the chubby residents of the rainbow-muraled chicken coop in the alley north of Ainsworth between NE 23rd and 24th Avenues.

Image: Mike Novak

Heritage Trees 

You don’t have to be in Hoyt Arboretum to learn about Portland’s green canopy. There are more than 300 labeled Heritage Trees throughout the city, including a London planetree along SW Park Avenue at Main Street, across from Shemanski Park, planted by a 19th-century cannery and logging magnate to shade his yard but now shading your car while you’re at the farmers market.

Image: Mike Novak

Poetry Pottery Box

On SE 48th Avenue, grab a bowl with the words of local poets, well-known writers, or the band They Might Be Giants. Leave a donation, or some verse of your own and see what artist Daniel Peccia does with it.

Image: Mike Novak

Rusty Christmas Tree 

It’s December year-round on SE Lincoln, where a metal, Charlie Brown–style Tannenbaum is hung with found ornaments, old keys and locks to participation medals and a wee Eiffel Tower.

Image: Mike Novak

Before I Die Wall

Part of a global project started in New Orleans by artist Candy Chang, North Portland’s Before I Die wall off N Prescott Street invites passersby to fill in the blank following “Before I die I want to.”

Image: Mike Novak

Birdbaths Galore 

Anyone who’s caught the 19 bus at the corner of NE Glisan Street and Floral Place knows about the “Birdbath House” and its stunning collection of not just baths but statues of beakless birds, moss-covered fawns, gnomes, frogs, and turtle-riding children

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