Shopping

9 Portland-Area Malls, Ranked 

Pioneer Place, Clackamas Town Center, Washington Square, and more—which ones are retail heaven, and which should come with a sad trombone? 

By Shannon Daehnke, Katherine Chew Hamilton, Michelle Harris, Fiona McCann, Conner Reed, Margaret Seiler, and Julia Silverman

Read on to find out where Tigard's Bridgeport Village ranks.

Even if you’re not a teen with hours to kill and a disaffected attitude, or Jason Lee trying to win back his girlfriend, malls have a certain timeless appeal. The well-kept corridors lined with stores! The aromas of warm cinnamon and frying oil! The giant expanses of glass and concrete and metal! The whole shiny retail experience all under one roof!  

We’ve got a few in the Portland area, but which one boasts a Crate & Barrel and an Apple Store? Who’s got golden elevators? Where can you take a MAX to get a quinceañera dress? We evaluated what we consider our nine closest malls on shop selection, access, dining options, potential setting for a horror film or teen rom-com, ability to take the weight of the world off our shoulders, and general malliness. So yes, it's a little subjective. But which majestic mall rules them all?  

Mall rats everywhere, read on for our reverse order ranking.

9. Mall 205 (In Memoriam)

10100 SE Washington St, Portland 
Though it now technically exists as “Marketplace 205,” Mall 205—yes, a mall named after a freeway—was Oregon’s first enclosed shopping center when it opened in 1970. Built over the site of the former Morningside Hospital—a psychiatric institution (with a questionable past) that, over six decades of operation, housed thousands of Alaskans and Alaska Natives deemed mentally ill—Mall 205 may have been doomed from the beginning. Even before its interior section and food court closed in spring 2022, it was a virtual ghost town, most of its foot traffic credited to the DMV inside. There was also a nail salon, an entrance to the 24 Hour Fitness, and All American Magic, a long-running magic theater and trick shop. One of the last places that gave Mall 205 a modicum of character, the magic shop has since moved to Lloyd Center. On a visit shortly before the closure, “New Sensation” by INXS was blasting inside the mostly empty corridor, where a man sat at one of the tables downing a burger, and the magic shop was having a blowout sale inside what used to be Performance Bicycle. Now it's just a regular shopping center with big box stores Home Depot, Target, and Famous Footwear. Dining options, which include an Olive Garden, Red Robin, and Panda Express nearby, are slim. We don’t yet know what Marketplace 205 will bring us, but for those of us who’ve inevitably found ourselves there more often than we’d care to admit, it will always be Mall 205. —Michelle Harris 

8. Lloyd Center (How the Mighty Have Fallen)

Between NE Multnomah & Halsey Streets, from Ninth to 15th Avenue, Portland

Image: Fiona McCann

When it opened on August 1, 1960, to fanfare and free candy, the then open-air Lloyd Center mall was one of the largest urban shopping centers in the US. The first shopping center of its kind to include an ice rink (one of two local mall rinks that were swooshing grounds of disgraced Olympian Tonya Harding), and even entered the Guinness Book of Records in 1973 when it hosted the largest simultaneous chess tournament of its day. Over the years, this expanding shopping mecca housed Woolworth's, Naito Gifts, Morrow's Nut House, JC Penney, Meier & Frank, Nordstrom, Old Navy, Marshall’s, H&M, and a cinema. But one by one the shutters went up. Prepandemic plans for a concert venue and revamped cinema were ultimately abandoned. These days, a few die-hards remain—Forever 21, living up to its going- nowhere moniker, stays strong with pillars like Orange Julius, Harry Ritchie’s Jewelers, Barnes & Noble, and somehow a wildly disproportionate number of game shops. The magic store from Mall 205 is a shot of life into its west concourse. But for the most part, Lloyd Center is a cavernous, depopulated husk of glass and concrete and stairs that go nowhere, with a children’s vaccine clinic temporarily occupying one end, and a mute-looking Carrington College on the top story of the other. In October 2021, lenders KKR Real Estate Finance Trust announced they would repossess the property and tapped a Seattle-based developer for potential “revitalization.” There’s been chatter about relocating a school there, or opening a community health center. Till then, the ever-shiny ice rink of Olympic lore and so many oversugared birthday parties abides. —Fiona McCann 

7. Fubonn Shopping Center (Not Just a Grocery)

2850 SE 82nd Ave, Portland 

All the fun at Fubonn

For east-side Portlanders, particularly back when the now H-Mart on Belmont was still a Zupan’s, the opening of the Fubonn Shopping Center in 2006 signaled the dawn of a new day. No longer would a full grocery store’s worth of Asian produce, endless cans of anything that could possibly be pickled, 17 different brands of fish sauce and 50-pound bags of sushi rice require a trip across the river to Uwajimaya. The mall’s opening also solidified 82nd Avenue and environs as the center of gravity of the city proper’s Asian communities—no longer the Old Town-Chinatown area. Now sweet 16, the Fubonn grocery and the small storefronts and restaurants that cluster around it in this indoor complex are showing their age (or possibly the effects of a pandemic that hit this community hard). The grocery store is still the draw, but the stores around it sell plenty of treasures for those who are willing to dig, including discount-priced Chinese qipao, Vietnamese ao dai, and bins of summer-ready flip-flops and slides at Studio Buda, and tasty mooncakes at Meianna Bakery, which draws a perpetual crowd. Teenagers and gamers need not be fooled by the official-looking sign advertising “Restrooms & Arcade”—there are restrooms, but the arcade is just one lone Rush Hour console. —Julia Silverman 

6. The Streets of Tanasbourne (A Cali-Style Contender) 

10050 NW Emma Way, Hillsboro
Like Bridgeport Village, its sister to the southeast, the Streets of Tanasbourne takes a stab at mimicking the outdoor malls of sunny California. What it lacks in Bridgeport’s commitment to that bit, it makes up for in being more presentable than traditional shopping centers like Tanasbourne Town Center, a retail rival nearby on NW 185th Avenue. Opened in 2004, Streets still sports vestiges of its origins: the P. F. Chang’s stands tall, as does the Macy’s that opened as a Meier & Frank just before the name of the Northwest chain was retired in 2006. Other anchors are a little more contemporary: an enormous H&M threw open its doors in 2013, and the demise of the Macaroni Grill has made room for (slightly) more local fare like the kitschy Rock Wood-Fired Pizza and no-nonsense Killer Burger. Mostly, you’re getting the basics, with a mildly upper-middle-class waft. There’s a Loft, a Banana Republic, and a Sephora; Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works make obligatory appearances. An REI helps establish this as a Mall in Oregon, and a complex near the eastern edge sporting a Zumiez, American Eagle, and Claire’s is reliable teen flypaper. There’s very little shock or awe on offer—save a lone fountain by the sushi bar—but it’s an easy in-and-out, with two parking lots plus a garage, and easy access to the 48 bus which runs from the downtown Hillsboro Transit Center to the Sunset Transit Center off US 26.
—Conner Reed 

5. Pioneer Place (Escalator to Heaven)

700 SW Fifth Ave 

Whether it be the intrigue of a two-story Zara, the discovery that Raising Cane’s does in fact exist in Oregon, literal golden elevators extending toward a glass ceiling looking up on a Portland sky (a welcome change of pace from some other abandoned-Walmart-esque malls we’ve encountered), or it’s simply the first time you’ve stepped foot in a shopping mall since you were holiday shopping in 2019, a trip to Pioneer Place may cost you more Parking Kitty meter refills than originally anticipated. (Next time, we’re definitely taking the MAX.) Spread over multiple blocks and connected by a skybridge overlooking SW Fourth and tunnels under Fourth and Yamhill, this 1990s-era mall was intentionally designed to blend in with the city and accommodate pedestrians—essentially, to be less obstructive than typical retail projects—which resulted in tons of windows, lots of natural light, cityscape views for days, and the seemingly roundabout, dizzying, architecture. Once home to a Saks Fifth Avenue (most of which is now the unconnected Apple store, which sits on top of the basement food court), Pioneer Place today is home to Gucci slides, charmingly cheesy Made in Oregon tchotchkes, plushies vaguely resembling Squishmallows from Go! Calendars and Games, and vibrant local suit shop N'Kossi Boutiuque. Jumbo Zara aside, relive your “my mom can drive us if yours can pick up” teenage mall days at the somehow-still-in-business Forever 21 (sadly, there’s no Wetzel’s Pretzels to complete the picture), snag some cheaper-than-Zara slacks and button-ups across the way at H&M, or grab some boba at Kung Fu Tea, the only shop with a longer line than the one outside Louis Vuitton. Catch a movie on the top floor, let the alcohol-and-arcade setting of Punch Bowl Social make your office happy hour less awkward, and later this year watch for the opening of Oregon's second Din Tai Fung and the annual return of Hipster Santa, who wears the Pendleton sweater of Big Lebowski fame and sits on a chair upholstered in a the pattern of the old PDX airport carpet—Shannon Daehnke 

4. Bridgeport Village (Bougie in the Burbs) 

7455 SW Bridgeport Road, Tigard 
If the entire Pearl District and NW 23rd Avenue shopping districts were suddenly transformed into a mall, they would probably look a lot like Bridgeport Village, opened in 2005 and firmly ensconced ever since as the swankiest mall in the state of Oregon. Last time we checked, for example, the Lloyd Center wasn’t offering valet parking or free umbrellas for use whilst browsing. (OK, to be fair, Lloyd Center is mainly inside. And that valet is worth considering, because surface parking here is kind of a pain—you can either circle for a spot or make your way to the parking garage and hoof it.) The biggest draw here has been Crate & Barrel’s only Oregon outpost (though the Pearl is soon to get a CB2 in the old Sur La Table space), but there are also branches of tasteful and hyperlocal Tender Loving Empire and small-batch kiddo fashion store Le’D Bug. Local eats represent, too, with Bunk Beer Hall and quaffable cocktails direct from Hawthorne Boulevard’s Straightaway. Also worth noting for devotees of Madewell denim: the branch here is bigger than the one in the Pearl. This is also a good destination shopping day-out for the in-laws who will appreciate the Tommy Bahama shop and the J.Jill storefront, and for any gadget-y needs. The Apple store here is noticeably less crowded (and less fenced off) than the downtown store. —Julia Silverman 

3. Clackamas Town Center (The Phoenix)

12000 SE 82nd Ave, Happy Valley

Clackamas Town Center's play area

The fatal shooting here two weeks before Christmas 2012 is surely the low point in Clackamas Town Center history, but choosing a second-lowest point is tough. Was it the media circus that swarmed the place during the Tonya Harding episode in 1994, or when her old training rink closed in 2003? What about the many times its parking lot has seen a news mention in conjunction with heroin busts, sex trafficking, and racial profiling by security guards? It's its own cruel, cruel world. But it's a cruel world with both Popeye’s and Bonchon fried chicken chains, a two-story Barnes & Noble, a 20-screen cinema, an escape room, Puffle Waffle, a PlayLive Nation gamer den, minicars and mechanized animals to ride, a MAX stop, a a fricking carousel! How can a place with such a tragic past feel so alive and kicking? Born in 1981 (so technically one of those “geriatric millennials” all those trend pieces last summer were about), Clackamas Town Center hasn’t always been everything and more in the mall department, but a late-’00s major renovation and the addition of the Green MAX line in 2009 kicked off a renaissance. It’s still ever-changing: a sad Sears and an out-of-place-in-the-people's-mall Nordstom both closed in the past few years. The JC Penney is hanging on, and there’s both a Dick’s and the closest REI to Mount Hood. It’s a positively central location for gleaming quinceañera and prom dress shop LadySecrets (a real glow-up from its long-closed N Lombard storefront or current Gresham space). Stylish chairs under skylights offer spots to sit and people-watch, and there are enough entrances that you rarely feel trapped indoors. Outbuildings accessed by covered escalators and towering new apartments in view make the place feel like its own small city. A city with some issues, yes, just like Portland itself. —Margaret Seiler 

2. Washington Square (The OG Nice Mall) 

9585 SW Washington Square Blvd, Tigard 

Beginning construction 50 years ago and welcoming its first tenant (Meier & Frank, which is still there but morphed into a Macy’s) just over a year later, Washington Square underwent an embiggening in 2005 that solidified its place as the local stand-in for the Onion’s satirical story “Family Takes Rare Trip to the Good Mall.” Accessed by not one but three exits from 217, Washington Square is definitely in car country, but multiple TriMet lines let off passengers just steps from the doors to JC Penney and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Lego, Star Wars, and Build-A-Bear shops lure families, while anime-obsessed teens head for BoxLunch and Hot Topic. Godiva Chocolatier, Cheesecake Factory, and Din Tai Fung (the Taiwanese soup dumpling chain opened its first Oregon location here in 2018) make this an eating destination as well as a shopping one. As at most of the local indoor malls, a soft-surfaced toddler play zone (accessible again after being off limits through much of the pandemic) gives parents a break, and massage chairs are comfy perches even if you don’t put any money in. We recommend sitting in the one outside the Peloton store and just glaring. Then pop in the Tesla shop to complain about Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover, and try to figure out what in the world Lovesac sells next door—all we know is it’s not what you think. While a few stores might feel like they’re just hanging on, the corridors can feel dark and gloomy, and the upstairs food court seems transplanted from somewhere less classy (why are there stores off the food court? to make them smell like a food court?), at least being inside Washington Square doesn’t make you feel like a witness to the demise of the American mall. Instead, you can bask in convenience, luxury, and choices galore—there’s both a Wetzel’s and an Auntie Anne’s, for god’s sake! The feeling fizzles, unfortunately, as soon as you get in your car and realize you have no idea how to find your way back to 217. —Margaret Seiler 

1. Vancouver Mall (But the Taxes!) 

8700 NE Vancouver Mall Dr, Vancouver

See what we mean about the claw machines? 

The dream of the ’90s is alive—in Vancouver. If you’re looking for a place to celebrate your anticapitalist tendencies and pose in a dead mall, this is not your spot. But if you want to relive the days of yin-yang choker necklaces from Claire’s and do a formal taste test of Wetzel’s Pretzels vs. Auntie Anne’s, this is your spot. As at Washington Square and Clackamas, this mall boasts dueling Ulta, Sephora, and Sephora-inside-JC Penney shops, while competition rages between surf and skate shops Journeys, Vans, Tilly’s, Zumiez, and PacSun. Your typical mall delights abound: on my visit, I tasted my first Cinnabon and bought a cow print bucket hat at Fuego. But if you’re going to be a mall 20 minutes away from tax-free Portland, you’ve got to go above and beyond mall staples—and this is where Vancouver Mall soars. The food court has handmade biang biang noodles, mangonadas, boba, pho, and Orange Julius, with a bungee trampoline right in the middle to help settle your stomach. The independently owned stores here are a draw in their own right. Jami (and its smaller location in the same mall, Jami II) sells pillows plastered with K-pop stars’ faces; Beyond the Veil recasts an Abercrombie and Fitch into a bridal boutique better than anything on Say Yes to the Dress; Prestigio Artesenal sells huaraches, beaded jewelry, and hand-embroidered shirts; and Vancouver Art Space offers art supplies and workshops. There’s also no shortage of things to do: electric motor-powered stuffed Angry Birds that your kid can take on laps around the Cinnabon, a movie at AMC, and laser tag. Other malls have those, too, but they don’t have the biggest draw: Round1, a Japanese arcade chain full of Japanese arcade games like Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero, plus claw machines rewarding players with extremely cute stuffed animals and packages of spicy buldak ramen. There’s also a full bowling alley in the basement. And there's a libraryThere’s one ugly exception to all this fun—Alley Cat Pet Center, where sad-looking puppies sit for sale in glass cages. It’s old-school in a decidedly uncomfortable way. Take away this sad spectacle, nix that annoying sales tax, and you’ve got the perfect mall. —Katherine Chew Hamilton 

  

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