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Maximizing enjoyment of the summer solstice with fun and games in Portland

Due in part to Portland’s often drizzly demeanor, some tease and say this Oregon city only has two seasons: summer and rain. Although Portland has charm and allure even during its soggiest days, the city surges to life with a newfound energy when the sun finally bursts through the clouds. 

With this in mind, June 21, the first day of summer in 2014, certainly should be worth rejoicing. If Mother Nature cooperates, the sun will illuminate Portland for a much-welcomed 15 hours, 41 minutes, and 14 seconds. Cross your fingers for signs of the solstice sunshine, and follow our guide for the longest day of the year in Portland.

Early Morning

Council Crest Park. As one of the highest points in all of Portland, this lookout spot enthralls with an all-encompassing view of P-Town and the Cascade Range. Grab an early morning cup o’ Joe and venture over to the park by 5:22 a.m. to watch the solstice sun rise over the skyline.


Irving St. Kitchen. Let this Pearl District eatery be your official wake-up call with its divine brunch menu featuring decadent chocolate banana bread pudding French toast and smoked scrambled-egg nachos. Though this brunch spot is slightly swankier than your average breakfast diner, the house-made smoked tasso ham makes everything groovy.  

Cider Summit PDX. With a selection of more than 120 crisp artisanal ciders from around the globe, this sampling event introduces your taste buds to the wonderful world of these fruity, unfermented brews. From 12-6 p.m., sample the hard cider and check out the food vendors along with the music performances by Melody Guy, the Norman Sylvester Trio, and the Ellen Whyte Trio. Purchase tickets for $25 in advance or $30 at the door.

Mount Tabor Park. Become one with nature at this urban gem. The scenic park sits on a volcanic cinder cone, and offers hiking trails, water reservoirs, and sweeping views of the city. If you're traveling with Fido, don't fret—four-legged companions are welcome here.


Voodoo Doughnuts. This quirky doughnut shop is a staple in Portland, and is well-known for its freakish and fantastic selections. Channel any built-up aggression as you pretzel poke a Voodoo Doll Doughnut and marvel at the oozing raspberry filling. Or go a slightly tamer route and order the Dirt doughnut covered with vanilla frosting and crumbled Oreo cookies. This peculiar sweet shop tends to draw a crowd at nearly every hour, so arrive before you’re especially hungry, and prepare to make friends while standing in line. 

Portland Farmers’ Market. Stock up on fresh, organic produce at the Portland Farmers’ Market. This grassroots (see what we did there?) event attracts a diverse crowd, from eco-conscious farmers to locals looking to snag some tasty samples. Search for fresh pears straight from the nearby Hood River Valley, and gobble up some blueberries as they’re juiciest in June. The market is open every Saturday from 8:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m. at Portland State University.

Viewfinder Tip: Turn up the heat and brave The Fire Dash on June 21. Firefighters designed this smoking 5-kilometer course to mimic real-life firefighting conditions.


North 45 Pub. One of the best dining patios in Portland is at North 45 Pub. While relaxing under the shade of nearby trees, leisurely sample some Belgian ale and nosh on a variety of coconut lemongrass, Thai peanut, and arugula pesto-flavored mussels. Sunset on the solstice won’t occur until 9:03 p.m., so you’ve got plenty of time to appreciate the daylight with a cold brew in your palms.

2014 Risk/Reward Festival of New Performance. This annual event pushes the limits and celebrates performance art at its finest. Showcasing music, dance, theater, and even puppetry pieces, performers are given the artistic freedom to create their own 20-minute productions. The show is at the Artists Repertory Theatre, and starts at 7:30 p.m.

Ground Kontrol. End the day at Ground Kontrol, an eccentric arcade and bar packed with pinball madness and video games. Order a cocktail and cozy up with Mr. and Mrs. Pac-Man for an evening of old-school classics from Frogger and Tetris to Mario Bros. and Big Buck Hunter.

What are your favorite ways to spend a day in Portland?

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