Portland has no shortage of trendy bars and breweries to keep residents and visitors busy. New restaurants, bars, and food carts are always opening and provide endless options for culinary delight. But if you’re looking for a unique experience that will get you engaged beyond just sitting on a patio with your brew, check out these attractions that will help you understand why the local moto is “Keep Portland Weird.”
Read on to find out about the best things to do in Portland, Oregon at night!
1. OMSI After Dark
Do you love science? Do you love drinking? Then this is your event. Enjoy an adult beverage at the excellent Oregon Museum of Science. OMSI holds their “After Dark” events once a month and each session has its own theme. This summer, you can learn about the science of cider making, different types of explosions and ocean creatures. The nights include science talks and demonstrations, performances and beverages from local breweries, distilleries, and wineries. You are also free to visit the standard exhibits which are engaging and hands on.
One drawback to note is the high attendance and lines for drinks and food. Arriving early is a good strategy. For those willing to pay a bit more, a VIP pass will gain you access to the museum an hour before the official opening time. That way, you can grab your beverage and get exploring before the other Portlanders descend. Admissions costs are: 15 USD (no drink tasting tokens), 35 USD (10 drink tasting tokens), or 60 USD (10 tokens & early admission).
OMSI After Dark
Address: 1945 SE Water Ave, Portland, OR 97214
2. Ground Kontrol Arcade & Bar
Portlanders love to combine drinking with quirky activities. At Ground Kontrol in the Chinatown district, you can sip your PBR while immersing yourself in all your favorite video and arcade games from childhood. Play classics like Pacman or the Simpsons Game downstairs or head up to the loft to find a wide variety of pinball machines with themes like Jurassic Park or Scooby Doo. A DJ is present to entertain most nights, but occasionally you’ll find a comedy night or a trivia night. This bar does host private events on some off nights, so make sure to check their calendar before you go.
Don’t forget to bring cash for the quarter machine! Admission is a reasonable 3 USD, on tap beer is available for 5 USD, and games are typical 0.25-0.75 USD.
Ground Kontrol Bar & Arcade
Address: 115 NW 5th Ave, Portland, OR 97209
Website: Ground Kontrol
3. Funhouse Lounge
Portland stays weird at this circus-themed bar. Clown portraits line the walls, giving the space a disturbing vibe. On any given night you might catch a theater show, stand-up comedy, dominatrix led improv or a burlesque show. On Sundays, you can enjoy a wild game of bingo. This July you can catch the Portland Queer Comedy Festival. The Funhouse has affordable drinks and an insane atmosphere that will keep you entertained. However, the food doesn’t get rave reviews so stop off at a food cart pod before arrival.
Address: 2432 SE 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97214
Website: Funhouse Lounge
4. 80's or 90's Night at the Crystal Ballroom
Take a trip back to your teenage years by attending a 90’s night on Saturdays at the Crystal Ballroom. The Crystal Ballroom is a historic theater space that evokes Victorian era Portland. Built in 1914, it was first used as a ballroom. However, after becoming a venue for jazz music, the original owner lost the venue. During the Great Depression, the hall hosted square dances before becoming a mainstay for rock music in the 1950s and 1960s. The building fell into disrepair during the 1970s and 1980s and was used as a residence by squatters. The Crystal Ballroom didn’t see shows again until 1997 when it was purchased and reopened by the McMenamins franchise.
The bounced floor at this iconic venue will get you moving as you jam and sing along to your favorite throwbacks. If you are a Millennial in your 30s you’ll be transported to your old high school dances or high school parties. The venue also plays music videos from the golden age of MTV. Make sure to check the calendar before you attend - sometimes these dance nights are bumped in favor of a live show. You can also grab a great burger and brew at Ringler’s downstairs (a part of Portland’s McMenamins franchise). Entry is 10 USD.
Address: 1332 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209
Website: Crystal Ballroom
5. Soul Stew DJ Dance Party at the Goodfoot
Cross the river to get funky at the Goodfoot’s Friday night dance party. Every Friday guests can get down to funk, soul and disco in the basement of this hip east side joint. Get down and dirty with this 1970s sweaty house party vibed event. DJ Aquaman (aka Eric Heford of The Dandy Warhols fame) will bring the party to life with real records. Cool off with a drink upstairs where you’ll be surrounded by pop art and band posters. You can also take your night down a notch by enjoying the pool and pinball available upstairs. A low cover charge and stiff drinks also make the Goodfoot a solid budget choice.
Address: 2845 SE Stark St, Portland, OR 97214
Website: Goodfoot Lounge
Quirky and fun nights out in Portland
As you can see, Portland’s nightlife offers an amazing variety that will not only keep you wined and dined but also entertained! Whether you are bringing a date, going out with a group of friends, or looking for a diversion as you pass through solo, you’ll have a great time at these local venues. Try out one or more of these fun options on your next trip to the city where young people go to retire!
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