About 12 percent of you have a lot of time on your hands this summer, but probably lack the cash for costly vacations. Don't let that stop you from enjoying the sun. Here, and on the following pages, are a few of our favorite ways to enjoy the best this city has to offer without risking overdraft fees.
For the thirsty, curious and undercaffeinated, it's possible to score free coffee and a free coffee education at the same time. Coffee tastings, known as cuppings, are usually led by an experienced barista, who guides you through a side-by-side taste test of various beans. Stumptown's Annex (3352 SE Belmont St., 467-4123, stumptowncoffee.com) is the epicenter of cupping in Portland, welcoming the public every day at 11 am and 3 pm. Coffee Plant (5911 SW Corbett Ave., 293-3280, coffeeplant.net) also holds cuppings of Stumptown coffees at its Corbett location every other Saturday at 1 pm. Small-batch roaster Ristretto offers cuppings at its Williams Avenue location (3808 N Williams Ave., 288-8667, ristrettoroasters.com) on the last Sunday of every month at 11 am. Little Red Bike Cafe (4823 N Lombard St., 289-0120, littleredbikecafe.com) will begin sampling Courier Coffee once a month startig June 15. It's wise to call ahead. (HN)
ALSO: Tired of caffeine? Great Wine Buys (1515 NE Broadway, 287-2897, greatwinebuys.com) offers free wine tastings 2 to 5 pm most Saturdays. Liner Elsen (2222 NW Quimby St., 241-9463, linerandelsen.com) pours free samplers Saturdays beginning at noon. Garrison's Fine Wines (1401 SE Morrison St., 233-8060, garrisonsfinewines.com) offers free pours from 1 to 4 pm Saturdays.
Portland's for-profit art galleries are having a rough go of it—the Quality Pictures, Mark Woolley and Pulliam Deffenbaugh galleries have all closed since the beginning of the year—but fortunately for us, Portland has a plenitude of free public galleries. Many of our favorites are somewhat hidden: Central Library (801 SW 10th Ave., 988-5123, multcolib.org) is a treasure trove of art, from the bronze tree in the children's room and the stunning marble stairway to the third-floor Collins Gallery, which hosts monthly exhibits, and the John Wilson rare books room. Harder to find is the sculpture garden on the ninth-floor balcony of the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse (1000 SW 3rd Ave.). Tom Otterness' cartoonish bronze creatures engaged in various vaguely legal pursuits are delightful, and the view is lovely, but you'll have to visit during work hours (8:30 am-4:30 pm) and brave security to see them. The city's largest sculpture is the Oregon Health Science University aerial tram. Ride it to the top of the hill (the view is worth the $4) and you'll find the Kohler Pavilion, home to some nice artwork. (BW)
ALSO: Most of the city's colleges have good free galleries, including the Hoffman Gallery at Lewis Clark (0615 SW Palatine Hill Road, 768-7682, lclark.edu/dept/gallery), the Cooley Gallery at Reed (3203 SE Woodstock Blvd., 777-7251, reed.edu/gallery), the Art Gym at Marylhurst (17600 Pacific Highway, 699-6243, marylhurst.edu/theartgym), the Philip Feldman Gallery at the Pacific Northwest College of Art (1241 NW Johnson St., 821-8892, pnca.edu/exposure/feldman) and the Hoffman Gallery at Oregon College of Art and Craft (8245 SW Barnes Road, 297-5544, ocac.edu). And Portland Art Museum (1219 SW Park Ave., 226-2811, portlandartmuseum.org) will be open for free from noon to 4 pm Sunday, July 19.
Playing golf is relaxing. You tee up, line up your shot, then let it rip while avoiding cars and hoping you gave it enough spin to handle the 90-degree dogleg past the dumpsters. Urban golf (myspace.com/nwurbansports) offers anyone the opportunity to play a round in Portland without dealing with pesky greens fees—or greens, for that matter. Teeing off on streets and around buildings, urban golfers play a 13-hole course with tennis balls, aiming for pieces of the city arbitrarily marked as holes. From telephone poles to forklifts, anything is fair game. Frequent bar stops are scheduled along the route, players are encouraged to dress in their most outlandish golf attire, keeping score is entirely optional and everyone is welcome. (RF)
ALSO: Santacon, the annual rampage of drunks in Santa suits, has expanded into the summer months. Santacon will start at 9 am Sunday, June 21, at Peninsula Park (North Ainsworth Street and Albina Avenue), and "Santa Anarchy Critical Mass" will strike downtown on Friday, June 26, starting at 4:30 pm at City Hall (1221 SW 4th Ave.).
The 1,400-acre "dispersed recreation site" at Sandy River Delta (Exit 18 off Interstate 84), where the Sandy and Columbia rivers meet, is Portland's unofficial, unleashed playground for dogs of every spot, color or stripe. Sometimes they outnumber humans 2-to-1. The delta is a wide-open, largely unspoiled mess of channels, backwaters, rivers and whatever grows near rivers—grasses, reeds, cottonwoods, blackberries. There are paths made for now-forgotten reasons, and a small dam on the Sandy so obscure it has bushes and trees growing on it. Of course, these days anything remotely untended must have its own monument to remaining so: Here it's a bird blind built by Maya Lin, the artist who designed the Vietnam War Memorial, inscribed with the names of 134 bird species. The birds are, we presume, a metaphor for fallen soldiers, or maybe vice versa. (MK)
ALSO: The Audubon Society of Portland's wildlife sanctuary (5151 NW Cornell Road, 292-6855, audubonportland.org) comprises 150 acres of public forest trails and one wildlife care center, home to Julio the horned owl and Ruby the friendly turkey vulture. Admission is free.
With its remarkable density of strip clubs and porn stores, Portland is indeed the city of other people getting publicly naked. But don't you sometimes feel a little left out? Well, no worries. You can get your exhibitionist ya-yas out—or exercise your belief in bodily liberation, or smudge your tan lines, or whatever—at two prime sunning spots in town. The popular Collins Beach (follow the signs from the Sauvie Island Bridge) is Sauvie Island's answer to Ibiza's tops-off-bottoms-up, provided you don't mind the breezes off the Columbia or the regular horse-cop patrols down the sandy strip's open expanse. For the skittish, the undergrowth in the clothing-optional portion of Rooster Rock State Park (exit 25 off I-84)—the oldest sanctioned nudie beach in the country—offers a little more privacy. This also makes it a little creepier, seedier and more likely to contain used condoms, but sometimes that's part of the fun, right? (MK)
ALSO: This summer offers three opportunities to swing your thing through the streets. The Fig Leif 5k run and 10k off-road bike ride through Forest Park kicks off at 7:30 pm Saturday, June 13, on Northwest Leif Erickson Drive 500 yards into the park. There will be a rehearsal at the same time on June 6. The World Naked Bike Ride (worldnakedbikeride.org) is also the 13th, kicking off at 11:59 pm at 2181 NW Nicolai St. A daytime "Sunny Nekkid Bikeride" will precede the WNBR, starting at 2 pm at Coe Circle (Northeast 39th Avenue and Glisan Street).
Need some mental stimulation? There are numerous free lecture events and discussion series around town. The City Club of Portland, bastion of the city's intellectocrats, sponsors small, free programs through its "Agora" series (pdxcityclub.org/agora/agora.php). The younger, hipper Think + Drink happy hour series gears up again June 17 at rontoms (presented by the Oregon Council for the Humanities, oregonhum.org). PSU hosts a weekly Monday night art lecture during the school year (pdx.edu/art/psu-monday-night-lecture-series). If you're feeling flush, the OMSI-sponsored Science Pub event convenes monthly at the Mission Theater for a $2 lecture on science topics from spider venom to the neuroscience of music (omsi.org/education/adults/sciencepub). (HN)
ALSO: The number of bars hosting arguably educational free trivia nights has ballooned of late. Shannon Donaldson has expanded her ShanRock trivia empire to include nine bars (shanrockstrivia.com). Last Call Trivia claims four bars (lastcalltrivia.com). Each of the New Old Lompoc pubs has an excellent, tough trivia night (newoldlompoc.com). Dozens of other bars, including Basement Pub, Crush and the Thirsty Lion, offer independent quizzes.
Grooming on the cheap is what the Aveda Institute (325 NW 13th Ave., 294-6000) is all about. Your choice of spa and hair services are available for next to nothing, including waxing (half-leg, $15), facials ($25), body wrap ($25) and nails (mani, $10; pedi, $15), as long as you're willing to give yourself over to the ginger ministrations of their beauticians-to-be. I had much of my nuptial preening done at the behemoth Portland training facility, and the whole catastrophe cost about $70 (compared with about $300 at a salon). They did a great job. Nevertheless, it's always worth remembering that you're in inexperienced hands. On one visit for a pedicure, my toes looked as if they had been painted by my 7-year-old nephew (lumpy). I recommend their hair services for basic trims ($10-$16) in between more expensive and professional cuts. (HN)
ALSO: Portland Parks and Recreation offers evening yoga courses all over town for around $5 or $6 per class (portlandonline.com/parks), the Portland Chinese Garden offers free tai chi classes at 10 am every Thursday (127 NW 3rd Ave., portlandchinesegarden.org) and the Oregon School of Massage offers $30 hourlong massages (9500 SW Barbur Blvd., Suite 100, 892-5753, oregonschoolofmassage.com).
Catch Dinner and a Show
Eating on rooftops at Noble Rot, Departure or Portland City Grill is dandy, but it doesn't come cheap. Takeout and a city park with a good view is the way to go. Grab a dozen wings ($10.50) from Fire on the Mountain (4225 N Interstate Ave., 280-9464, portlandwings.com) and head four blocks south to Overlook Park to watch the sun set over Swan Island. Pick up a ham sandwich ($7) from Laurelhurst Market (3155 E Burnside St., 206-3099, laurelhurstmarket.com) and head two blocks southeast to Laurelhurst Park to watch hoity-toity purebreds take on Sunnyside's mutts. Nab a $2 taco at Tienda Santa Cruz (8630 N Lombard St., 289-2005) and walk a half-mile southeast to Cathedral Park to marvel at Portland's most beautiful bridge. For a trashier evening, buy a Blizzard at the Mount Tabor Dairy Queen (5605 SE Division St., 235-0238) and hike a mile northwest into the park to slurp your frozen sugar on the hill over Portland Reservoir No. 5. Aaah, summer. (BW)
ALSO: The best people-watching opportunities of the year are the street fairs on North Mississippi Avenue (July 11), Southeast Clinton and Division streets (July 25) and Northeast Alberta Street (Sept. 12).
All the drinking it takes to become a bar regular is downright expensive, not to mention fattening. Hence, the Coed Bar Softball League, or Sunday Softball (myspace.com/sundaysoftball), during which the whole bar comes out into the free and open air. It turns out it's also expensive to play and drink legally on local fields, but a Pabst Blue Ribbon sponsorship helps with the cost. The league started in 2004 as a pick-up game at Harriet Tubman Middle School but has expanded over the years into a 20-team tournament consisting mostly of teams representing local bars (Tiga, The Slammer, The Know, Slabtown, etc.), plus a smattering of teams fielded by other hard drinkers like the employees at Powell's, Disjecta and, yes, Willamette Week. So how to get involved? Make friends with your local bar—all team rosters are set in stone by July 4—or just come out and tap the keg. (MK)
ALSO: If all the activity is just too much, your best bet for free outdoor drinking and athletics is the awesomely anarchic Adult Soapbox Derby, an annual race in which brave souls, many of them intoxicated, careen down the east slope of Mount Tabor in homemade cars while bloodthirsty spectators, all of them drunk, cheer them on. This year's race is Aug. 22 from 10 am to 4 pm.