Quirky Portland
Image by Another Believer under Creative Commons License.

Oregon, Portland Guide (A): Quirky Portland

“Keep Portland Weird” is a slogan you’ll see around the city on signs and bumper stickers. The city is most definitely progressive and unique, and a number of strange sites bare witness to its desire to stand out from the crowd. Tour highlights include some potentially paranormal history, a far-out donut shop, and the longest-running drag show in America.
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Walk Route

Guide Name: Quirky Portland
Guide Location: USA » Portland
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 2.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Spartacus Leathers   Portland Food Carts   Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade   Darcelle's XV Showplace   Voodoo Donut  
Author: Jim Reynoldson
Author Bio: Jim Reynoldson is an avid traveler and writer who grew up on Oregon. He enjoys hiking, camping and sightseeing throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
1
Spartacus Leathers

1) Spartacus Leathers

Founded in 1987, Spartacus Leathers sells an assortment of stylish, raunchy and risqué fashions for people of a variety of tastes, and for gay and straight alike. Everything from basic lingerie to bondage and toys are sold in a variety of materials – leather, rubber, etc. In addition, Spartacus has a variety of adult films, books, and novelty items. Today, Spartacus has two locations and is owned and operated by the same founding family. Active in community events like Trans Revolution, Spartacus seeks to promote greater tolerance. Whether you are into the kinky items Spartacus sells, it’s definitely an entertaining place to look around.
Image by Melissa Doroquez under Creative Commons License.
2
Portland Food Carts

2) Portland Food Carts

This pod of food carts (on 5th Avenue) is just one of many clusters of carts found throughout the city. Portland’s food cart culture has been ablaze in recent years, and getting more popular all the time. The city has nearly 600 licensed carts and a recent article in Budget Travel magazine named Portland #1 in “World’s best street foods” cities. This particular pod includes such food styles as Czech, Polish, Brazilian, Mediterranean, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, Italian, and Mexican right in a small area. With colorful names such as Give Pizza a Chance and Big Ass Sandwiches, the city’s food carts in a wide array of genres are definitely worth a try!
Image by John Dalton under Creative Commons License.
3
Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade

3) Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade

Founded in 1999 by two record store employees with a love for games, this classic arcade pays homage to the history of video games, preserving the retro arcade culture with such stand-up machines as Galaga, TRON, Asteroids, Gauntlet, Dig Dug, Battlezone, Donkey Kong, Pacman, and Frogger. Doubling as a bar, Ground Kontrol also embraces the modern gaming culture, hosting a number of Rock Band events, fighting game tournaments, etc. The arcade also contains the largest collection of pinball machines in the Pacific Northwest. DJs fill the sound system with an array of music – from 80s electronica to heavy metal – while gamers enjoy their childhood favorites in this quirky arcade.
Image by Matthew Oliphant under Creative Commons License.
4
Darcelle's XV Showplace

4) Darcelle's XV Showplace

Darcelle’s XV was founded in 1967 by Walter Cole (aka Darcelle), who has become an outright celebrity in the city as a drag performer, club owner and community activist on issues of gay rights, health care, and homelessness. A native Oregonian, Darcelle served in the U.S. military, married and had two children before coming out of the closet more than a decade later. Darcelle’s is a flamboyant cabaret style performance theater and strip club with shows Wednesday through Saturday. Portrayed in the documentary “Queens of Heart”, Darcelle runs the oldest female impersonator show in America, and reviews routinely rank the shows on par with anything Las Vegas has to offer.
Image by Another Believer under Creative Commons License.
5
Voodoo Donut

5) Voodoo Donut

Purveyors of eclectic treats at two locations in the city, Voodoo Donut is a popular stop after daytime or nighttime adventures alike. Some of the bizarre offerings include the phallus shaped Cock-and-Balls, a variety of breakfast cereal-topped donuts and the original Voodoo Donut – shaped like a gingerbread man stabbed by a pretzel stick and bleeding jelly. This strange fixture in the city’s offbeat culture has been featured on TV shows “The Amazing Race”, “Globe Trekker”, “Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations”, and “Man vs. Food”. Donuts formerly offered include NyQuil glazed and Pepto Crushed Tums – but those varieties have since been banned. To end this tour, simply walk two blocks west and catch the MAX light rail southbound along 5th Avenue or walk another block west to catch the MAX northbound along 6th Avenue.
Image by Mark Wallace under Creative Commons License.