Beneath this year's early arrival of warm, sunny weather lurks a dark truth.
A heat wave is inevitable.
Even when temperatures don't reach triple digits, the ceaseless sun of Portland summers is both a blessing and a curse. At some point, it starts to feel oppressive.
Thankfully, there are plenty of places in the city that offer year-round respite. Here are our favorite places to hide if you don't have AC, or are just sick of the sun.
1332 NW 21st Ave., 503-223-8825. 7 am-2 am daily.
Dive bars are generally good places to hide from the sun, but Joe's Cellar seems particularly designed to make you forget sunlight exists. Home to a "flannel shirt and baseball hat" kind of crowd, the wood-paneled bar has the unpretentious attitude of a watering hole far outside of town, or at least outside of Slabtown. Joe's is windowless and mostly lit by the glow of lottery machines, TVs and neon beer signs. And there's always a sweaty tallboy waiting for you behind the bar.
Washington Park MAX station
TriMet stop ID 10120
Drilled deep into the West Hills, the Washington Park MAX station looks like an underground bunker. The dim tube with lofty stone walls is 260 feet underground, making it the deepest transit station in North America and the closest thing to an actual cave within Portland city limits. After overheating at the Oregon Zoo, stepping out of the station's elevator feels like walking into a meat locker.
1719 NE Alberta St., lescavespdx.com. 5 pm-midnightm Monday and Thursday-Saturday, 5 pm-10 pm Sunday.
Through an alley off Alberta and down a flight of stairs, you'll find one of the city's friendliest and best-stocked wine bars. Le Caves has the vibe of a cozy, subterranean lodge. Warmly lit and dotted with twinkling candles, the bar has hefty wooden tables, a Pendleton blanket hung as tapestry and a couch for two squeezed into a cubby in the middle of one of the concrete walls. Best of all, you can get seriously good deals on rare, adventurous wines.
712 NW 21st Ave., coffeetimepdx.com. 7 am-midnight daily.
Due to its low ceilings, even the window-lined front room of Coffee Time looks a little like a Hobbit home. But if you go past the counter, there's a long, narrow backroom lit by lamps and sconces. It's like a loosely steampunk clubhouse—black-and-white portraits, jacquard wallpaper and a mural of staircases and clocks that's somewhere between M.C. Escher and Alice in Wonderland. Maybe it's just an the effect of the subdued, jewel-toned walls, but Coffee Time seems to attract a particularly quiet crowd of patrons.
7818 SE Stark St.. Open daily. See academytheaterpdx.com for movies and showtimes.
Cold, dark movie theaters are an obvious place to seek refuge from the heat, but $11 is a hefty price to pay if you're mostly just looking to get out of the sun. One of the few second-run theaters left in town, Academy's tickets are only $2 on Tuesdays and $4 the rest of the week. This summer, Academy is upping its repertory screenings to two titles a week. For the price of a first-run ticket, you can see a double or even triple feature. There's ample seating in the vaguely art deco foyer, and since the theater serves thick slices of pizza from Flying Pie next door, it's hardly a bad place to hang out between movies.
The Lovecraft Bar
421 SE Grand Ave., thelovecraftbar.com. 8 pm-2 am Sunday-Thursday, 4 pm-2 am Friday-Saturday.
If you're anti-sun, you're likely to find some kindred spirits at the Lovecraft. Decorated with pentagrams and Cthulhu monster illustrations, the cavernous bar and venue has two backrooms cluttered with Tim Burton-esque décor and seemingly only enough lighting to comply with safety standards. And if you go for one of the Lovecraft's moody DJ nights, the dance floor is usually further obscured by a fog machine.
PSU Smith Memorial Student Union, 1825 SW Broadway, pdx.edu/student-union/play-at-
Deep in the basement of Portland State University, there's a six-lane bowling alley. It's one of the few left in the city and the only one that's literally underground. Drenched in neon party lights and soundtracked by everything from reverberating synth pop to booming trap, it's only $1 to rent shoes and $2 per game. If bowling's not your thing, there are also pool tables, air hockey and TVs hooked up to Xboxes. Best of all, when school's out in the summer, the place is practically empty.