Diving into Portland, Oregon’s Stag, Drag, Beers, + Neighborhoods

Portland, Oregon, renowned for its progressive culture, lush greenery, and thriving arts scene, stands out as a beacon of inclusivity and acceptance, making it a top destination for LGBTQ+ travelers. Whether you’re strolling through the eclectic neighborhoods, enjoying the stunning natural beauty, or immersing yourself in the local LGBTQ+ community, Portland offers a wealth of experiences that celebrate diversity and pride.

A Welcoming Hub for All:


Portland’s LGBTQ+ community is an integral part of the city’s vibrant tapestry, with a plethora of LGBTQ+-owned businesses, bars, and events that welcome visitors with open arms. Start your journey by exploring the iconic LGBTQ+ district, affectionately known as the “Gayborhood,” located in the heart of downtown Portland. Here, you’ll find a variety of LGBTQ+-friendly establishments, from bars and clubs to shops and restaurants, all contributing to the neighborhood’s lively and inclusive atmosphere.

Exploring Portland’s LGBTQ+ Nightlife:

So if we’re starting off talking about the bars, let’s! Just recently we received a survey titled Party in the USA: The Best Cities for a Night Out in America in 2024. Research by online casino reviewer The Casino Wizard analyzed multiple factors people may consider necessary when planning their nights out. These factors include the number of bars, average hotel prices, average drink prices, activities available, weather, and other metrics. The study analyzed the 100 most populated cities in America. Portland made it to the number four spot on the list right behind some pretty big and popular competition.

  1. Las VegasParty Score: 40.39 out of 60
  2. San FranciscoParty Score: 37.10 out of 60
  3. New York – Party Score: 37.01 out of 60
  4. Portland – Party Score: 36.88 out of 60
  5. Orlando – Party Score: 35.79 out of 60

Portland is a city known for its hipster culture, craft breweries, thriving food scene and abundance of attractions for visitors. Nightlife in Portland thrives, with 47 bars per 100,000 of the population this is not far behind the figure for Las Vegas (51). Some notable party hot-spots include Old Town Chinatown which has a high concentration of bars such as Stag PDX and the Dixie Tavern, other areas include Downtown Portland and the Central Eastside. Portland has average hotel prices of $119 per night, which is great value for money, and has 134 natural beauty spots or parks for visitors to experience for a bit of a change of pace and to ease the hangovers.  


I’m sorry, but I was floored when I saw this survey highlight Stag PDX as one of the bars that made the mention list for Portland.

An unabashedly Pacific Northwest gentleman’s club and lounge geared toward the LGBTQ+ community. Whether it’s our nightly male dancers, drag entertainers or our (in)famous weekly Sunday Drag Brunch – we’ve got you covered. Stag PDX is now entertaining you better than ever, 7 nights a week.

Hell yes, I go here every time I am in town. It was the first bar in Portland I visited where I learned the dancers can show everything legally. Men and transgender women were doing an amazing job of entertaining me all night long and this was on a Monday. 

What about the drag? The Portland drag scene is opulent and oozing with a wide range of artistry and entertainment available at most hours of the day: A late-morning boozy drag brunch can be followed with a drag queen-hosted afternoon fundraiser for a good cause; evenings can be filled with glitzy drag shows or laid-back drag bingo nights. One thing is for sure: The Portland scene isn’t a drag!

Darcelle’s Cast of Entertainers for a spectacular Tuesday night.

One place I had not gone to before was to the Drag Show at Darcelle XV Showplace (@darcellexvshowplace). The time was set this trip to stop in for one of their special Tuesday night shows. 

Tonight enjoy the “Catch a Rising Star” show at the historic Darcelle XV Showplace. Established in 1967 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, Darcelle XV Showplace has hosted the longest-running drag show on the West Coast.

Legendary Portland drag icon Darcelle, who died at the age of 92 in March of 2023, earned a Guinness World Record in 2016 as the world’s oldest working drag performer. Poison Waters (@poisonwaters)was our host that night. 


This was not RuPaul’s drag show and I was loving it. I would say about half of the performers were drag performers, with half of those being people that signed up online to perform that night. They had brought friends, family, and coworkers to watch them give it a go. The other half of the performers were made up of comedians, dancers, a contortionist, a singing cowboy, and more. I think my mouth might have been open and dropped for most of the night. I laughed and yes, almost cried, got turned on, and smiled so much. The place has a great charm about it. Next time you are in Portland, look at their schedule and make sure to check it out with dolla dolla bills in hand. 

Where else to check out for the booze and the boys? 

Scandals – Relaxed gay bar features a large patio, DJs, live shows & occasional karaoke events. I like just stopping here and having a nice beer in a nice bar. 1125 SW Harvey Milk St

CC Slaughters (OLD TOWN, walking distance from Darcelle’s) Part cocktail bar and part dance club, it’s an approachable introduction to LGBTQ+ nightlife, which is why it’s most Portlanders’ first gay bar (I personally still have not been). I’ve been told the drinks are cheap, the greatest gay pop hits and deep cuts are on repeat, and you really never know who you’re going to see, whether it’s old college friends or RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni popping in on tour. 219 NW Davis St

Mawlee Jones (right) gets comfortable with his “sit down” with Shandi Evans (left) at the Eagle Portland. Photographer Cai Indermaur

Natural Beauty and Outdoor Adventure:

Portland’s stunning natural beauty is a major draw for outdoor enthusiasts. Explore the city’s lush parks and gardens, such as the iconic Portland Japanese Garden and the sprawling Forest Park, which offers miles of hiking and biking trails. For a truly unique experience, take a trip to the nearby Columbia River Gorge, where you can marvel at breathtaking waterfalls and explore picturesque hiking trails. We loved bundling time in Portland and then some time in Hood River (A Rainbow Journey to Hood River, Oregon) as well as McMinville (Wine + Rainbows, Elite Food + Lodging, Experiencing McMinnville, Oregon) and were able to see some beautiful scenery all over Northwest Oregon. I have never seen so much moss and greenery, even in winter.

Culinary Delights and Craft Beverages:


Portland’s food and drink scene is a culinary delight, with a plethora of restaurants, food carts, and breweries to satisfy every palate. Sample the city’s renowned farm-to-table cuisine at one of its many restaurants, or explore the diverse offerings at the famous Portland Food Carts. Wash it all down with a visit to one of Portland’s craft breweries, where you can sample locally brewed beers and ciders.

I have eaten quite well while in Portland without even trying to hit all the hot spots as they are everywhere and everything.  

Per a recommendation we made a reservation at Can Font – Spanish Restaurant & Tapas, (1015 Northwest Northrup Street) which was in a very nice part of the walkable downtown. We actually were early for our reservation and had a spot of tea at Tea Bar next door. I would go there daily!

Once we were in Can Font, we knew we were in the right spot as the owner Vlad was present with a great waitstaff on hand. We sat in the corner of the restaurant with a great view, but next time, I think I will request the bar seating overlooking the open kitchen. Spotless, elegant, homey, and perfect was the setting.  The food was right there, too. I had the ensalada de remolacha (beet salad) and the Painted Hills filet mignon. I will do better next time on branching off to the Spanish flair, but what I had will be hard to beet… or beat. 


Savor the fusion of Catalan and Northwest flavors at Can Font, a queer-owned restaurant that seamlessly blends tradition with local ingredients. From the tantalizing aroma of roasted meats to the delicate balance of flavors, Can Font offers an elegant dining experience. Immerse yourself in a rich tapestry of culinary influences while celebrating the queer-owned heritage that thrives within this Portland establishment.

I tried to eat a lil’ LGBTQ at Lil’America (1015 Southeast Stark Street), but I was in Portland for Monday and Tuesday and some things are closed or less open during those days in the winter months. So, check their schedules as I will next time as I wish to give Lil’ America a try and my business.

Bursting onto the Portland food cart scene in 2023, Lil’ America is a community of BIPOC and queer chefs serving up a wide variety of tempting, inventive eats. Try the snow cheese chicken at Korean fried chicken cart Frybaby, or sample the fry bread bakes (among other authentic Guyanese dishes) at Bake on the Run. Level up your visit with a vegan espresso drink from Speed-o Cappucino or a local pint from the adjoining Fracture Brewing Taproom.

For breakfast one day, we walked from our hotel to one of Portland’s legendary spots. Screen Door has two locations so be cautious of which ones you get directions to. We went to the East Side location (1131 Northwest Couch Street), but both are a brunch hot spot (reservations recommended).

The Beers:


Portland, Oregon, is a mecca for craft beer enthusiasts, boasting a plethora of breweries that showcase the city’s innovative spirit and dedication to quality. Definitely bring your empty beer belly and a map. I don’t have all of the best ones on a list, but check out travelportland.com/culture/portland-breweries/ . We did many but one that we enjoyed this trip was the Backwoods Brewing Company.

The Other Adult Beverage – Coffee

In Portland, Oregon, coffee is the new wine, baristas are akin to rock stars, and only the most tricked-out espresso machines are trusted with unique house roasts. Visitors will find Portland’s bean scene is as accessible as it is diverse. Here’s a round up a few options that have coffee and non-coffee options. We loved the first one on the list and enjoyed their chai, breakfast sandwich, and maybe something sweet, too.


Accommodations for Every Taste:

Portland offers a range of LGBTQ+-friendly accommodations, from boutique hotels to cozy bed and breakfasts. Stay in the heart of the city and immerse yourself in the vibrant downtown scene, or opt for a more secluded retreat in one of Portland’s picturesque neighborhoods.

Even on a cloudy day, our Jupiter Next room was vibrant and bright

Our choice of lodging was the Jupiter Hotel complexes and more specific Jupiter Next.

The Jupiter Hotel concept launched in 2002 with an 81-room motor lodge renovated into a modern hotel for nomads and business travelers alike. Connecting guests with the vibrancy of Portland from a local perspective and building a community where visitors felt at home were critical. That vision is alive and well today with Jupiter NEXT, an intentionally understated evolution of Portland’s original boutique hotel, opened in June 2018.

Just minutes away from downtown, the Oregon Convention Center, Rose Garden Arena and Portland’s most popular neighborhoods, Jupiter NEXT is complete with open-air porches, a secret garden and a fifth-floor perch overlooking the city.

We were on the fifth floor of Jupiter Next with a huge picture window overlooking the Jupiter Hotel and the city of Portland. What sealed the deal about this place was that our Iranian Uber driver mentioned to us as we pulled up, “You need to see this place on the weekends and in the summer (pointing to the Jupiter Hotel’s courtyard). It’s great year round but it’s really hopping with fun when it is warmer.” 

It was a cloudy Monday and Tuesday, but there was still a great view out our window at Jupiter Next.

The Jupiter has been involved with the LGBTQ+ community since its inception in 2004. Their unofficial motto has always been “Everyone is Welcome”. They’ve embodied that by being a long time partner and sponsor of Portland’s Pride Festival and it was the first hotel in Portland to host the “Oregon Bears” for a public facing buyout event of the property. Over the years, they’ve partnered with many LGBTQ+ organizations and events such as Bearracuda, Blow-Pony, The Red Dress Party, and the Cascade Aids Project. And for the past 3 years, they’ve been the headline sponsor of The Lumberjacks, Portland’s only International Gay Rugby club. Jupiter is also sister properties with the Hood River Hotel (we stayed there!) and Campfire (Bend) which both host their region’s local WinterPridefest celebrations.

Inclusive and Diverse:

Portland’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity makes it a welcoming destination for LGBTQ+ travelers. Whether you’re exploring the city’s vibrant neighborhoods, immersing yourself in its rich cultural offerings, or simply enjoying its stunning natural beauty, Portland offers a truly inclusive and unforgettable experience for LGBTQ+ travelers.

And that is something I did more of this time around, explored neighborhoods and streets that I missed the first time around. There’s a great deal to see in each and every neighborhood. 


Mississippi AvenueNorth Mississippi Avenue features a long stretch of vibrant shops, unique bars, music venues and restaurants. The street is also home to the Q Center, the Pacific Northwest’s largest LGBTQ+ community center. 

For an introduction to Portland’s food cart culture, start at Prost Marketplace, with mobile vendors serving inventive cuisine. From there head south to browse the numerous shops, eateries and bars that line this street. 

North WilliamsFrom Mississippi Ave, make your way a half-mile north to North Williams Avenue for a coffee break at LGBTQ+ owned coffee bar Either/Or, which offers a and bar offers a variety of rotating coffee cocktails and zero proof mocktails. With a large LGBTQ clientle, this location is a self-described queer friendly space.

Take a stroll along the street, and take in the vibe of this trendy stretch lined with many local boutiques and restaurant. Take a peek in window at Monocromatic (closed Monday), a women-owned business committed to providing pronoun inclusive, ethically made clothing with a playful workwear vibe.


West End – Within easy walking distance of central downtown and accessible by both the Portland Streetcar and MAX light rail, Portland’s burgeoning West End district is a true haute hot spot. Wildfang headlines the trendy cluster of shops with its iconic streetstyle apparel, shoes and accessories that transcend gender. Union Way occupies an alley between the Ace Hotel and Powell’s Books with a European-style arcade filled with shops and restaurants. The offerings include high-end denim from Self Edge, made-in-Portland Danner Boots and more. 

Pearl District – One of Portland’s top shopping destinations, this walkable former warehouse district adjacent to downtown houses a wide range of national and international retailers, as well as homegrown favorites like Nau. Their flagship store features the latest selection of seasonal outerwear, apparel and accessories. Clothing includes but is not limited to unisex/gender-neutral pieces all made with high quality materials and commitment to sustainability.

Don’t Forget to Treat Yourself:

I often like to do some kind of special appointment or spa treatment when on vacation. This trip it was a Morning Soak and Foot Rub at Knot Springs.

Luxurious, with incredible views of downtown and the Willamette River, Knot Springs (33 NE 3rd Ave Fl 5) is a high-end social club with fitness classes and a world-class spa with its hot, tepid and cold pools, plus a sauna and steam room. We had a 75-minute soak prior to our foot massage, after exploring all of those neighborhoods, it was needed. Bathing suits are required for the Springs.


An Unforgettable Experience:

Portland, Oregon, shines as a beacon of inclusivity and acceptance, making it a premier destination for LGBTQ+ travelers. Its vibrant tapestry of neighborhoods, lush greenery, and thriving arts scene offers a wealth of experiences that celebrate diversity and pride. The city’s LGBTQ+ community is integral to its cultural fabric, with a plethora of LGBTQ+-owned businesses, bars, and events that create a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. From exploring the eclectic neighborhoods and enjoying the stunning natural beauty to immersing oneself in the local LGBTQ+ community, Portland offers a truly unforgettable experience. Whether savoring the culinary delights, exploring the craft beer scene, or indulging in the vibrant nightlife, Portland embraces diversity and offers a warm welcome to all travelers.

With all of that, don’t look at Portland as a gay mecca like Provincetown, Wilton Manors, or San Francisco, where there may be gay and rainbow overload for some of us, but Portland, Oregon is one of the more welcoming cities that doesn’t make us being gay a big deal, a negative, something to be concerned about. It’s there, it’s welcoming, it has amazing gay options, and we will return soon.

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