A Portland Walking Tour of "My Own Private Idaho"

Released in 1991, Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho painted a bleak picture of a Portland of street prostitutes and violence.

Porn shops. Dumpy Chinese restaurants. Jake's Crawfish.

Yeah, downtown Portland used to be a real hellhole.

Released in 1991, Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho painted a bleak picture of a Portland of street prostitutes and violence.

To help get you in the mood, WW has created a handy walking tour of select Portland locations featured in the film, guiding you through Mike (River Phoenix) and Scott's (Keanu Reeves) journey to find Mike's mother. Map of Italy not included.


1. Oregon Route 216, halfway between Maupin and Grass Valley


Make your way to the middle of high-desert nowhere, have a narcoleptic episode (or eat a couple of Xanax) and somehow get back to downtown Portland.

2. 915 SW 3rd Ave.

Screen Shot 2016-10-10 at 2.59.34 PM

Do you like this beautiful, vine-covered courtyard? Well, it used to be an unnamed porn shop with bars on the windows. Gentrification has ruined this city.

3. Elk (David P. Thompson Fountain), Southwest Main Street between 3rd and 4th avenues


In MOPI, Van Sant painted one of his production assistants green and had him climb atop downtown's second-most prominent sculpture.

4. Bailey's Taproom (213 SW Broadway)


You can't get Chinese food here anymore, but you can down a frothy pint at the westside's best beer bar and chase it with a big ol' burrito from Santeria across the street.

5. Outside the Union Pacific Railroad office (301 NE 2nd Ave.)

You could hang out under I-5 then. You can hang out under I-5 now.

6. Empty lot (1401 N Hayden Island Drive)


The former Thunderbird on the River Hotel, closed in 2005 and burned down in 2012. Mourn the loss at nearby Boomers (1335 N Hayden Island Drive) with some baby back ribs.

7. Cathedral Park, under the St. Johns Bridge


At some point in the late '90s, most of Portland's parks changed from terrifying wildernesses rife with knifings to pleasant spots to walk your dogs. Mike and Scott got robbed under the St. Johns Bridge. Pet a dog instead.

8. Hotel Lucia (400 SW Broadway)

The former Imperial Hotel is looking a lot better now that it's one of the fanciest boutique hotels in the city. Enjoy some fried chicken at Imperial, WW's 2015 Restaurant of the Year.

9. Sentinel Hotel (614 SW 10th Ave.)


Mike and Scott squatted in the now very nice Sentinel Hotel back when it was the Governor Hotel.

10. Jake's Crawfish (401 SW 12th Ave.) and Huber's (411 SW 3rd Ave.)


Plot twist: When Scott enters Jake's with a client's wife, the interior of the restaurant is Huber's. Finish your tour with some lobster tails at Jake's and a Spanish coffee at Huber's, Portland's oldest restaurant.

Related: These Five Portland Bars Are Over 100 Years Old

Willamette Week

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.