Three of My Favorite Places in Portland: Powell’s Books, Bagdad Theater, Voodoo Doughnut

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This month’s Featured Travel Destination is one of the coolest cities in the nation, Portland, Oregon. I confess it’s been a couple years since I was last there – I’m way overdue for a return visit – but these are a few of the places I can’t wait to get back to.


Not many bookstores are thriving these days, but Powell’s seems to be growing strong. Occupying an entire city block, Powell’s is easily the best bookstore I’ve ever been to.

I don’t normally even buy books (thank you, public library), but at Powell’s I was inspired to make a few purchases, especially since some of them were used (cheap) books. Powell’s is where I finally broke down and bought ‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac, a book widely regarded as one of the great travel narratives of all-time (although it ended up boring me!)

I don’t get too bothered when a Borders or Barnes & Noble goes out of business, but Powell’s had better not suffer the same fate. They have an active online store in addition to the main building and a few smaller shops around the city.


Voodoo Doughnut

I mentioned Voodoo Doughnut in my first post on this site, and my love for this strange place hasn’t faded. Voodoo is known for using strange elements as toppings, like Captain Crunch and Fruit Loops cereal, grape dust, oreo crumbles, banana chunks and even Tang – yes, a sprinkling of the orange powder drink Tang!

My favorite is the chocolate cake donut topped with chocolate icing and Cocoa Puffs. The bacon maple bar is a popular one, and so is the cream-filled donut shaped like a penis. Yes, really.

Many of the offerings are vegan. The wait is long, but it’s so worth it. My only complaint? They use the old-fashioned spelling of “donut.” We don’t have time to write out extra silent letters in today’s modern, fast-paced society!


bagdad theater

Theaters that serve alcohol and show slightly older films at discount rates seem to be big everywhere now. The Bagdad Theater was one of the first of those types of establishments that I ever went to. I was a bad customer, because I was on a budget, so I didn’t buy any food or drink and was content with just the film.

The Bagdad sometimes hosts comedians and musicians as well. I love that the movies are still dirt cheap here, most just costing $3. My local second-run discount theater in Chicago just remodeled and doubled its prices, so I would love to have a place like Bagdad in my neighborhood.

Which of these would you most like to visit? Do you have another favorite place in Portland?

About Quirky Travel Guy

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based freelance writer & fan of indie rock, road trips, ice cream, squirrels on power lines, runaway shopping carts, and six-way intersections. Looking for a hotel? I always recommend where you can easily compare hotel rooms, prices, and availability. Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, which may earn me a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.

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  1. Thanks Scott! We are driving up to Portland at the end of the month. Glad you gave me ideas of more things to see. I had heard about Voodoo donuts, but love your description. Will be a destination each morning:-)

  2. I LOVE Powell’s, and since we’re heading to Portland next weekend for my grandparents’ 70th wedding anniversary celebration, we’re hoping to sneak in a few hours to browse. I also want to hunt down some doughnuts!

  3. McMenamins are one of the best things bout the Pacific NW. When I was a kid my parents took us to see Breakin’ there. It was a very sketchy part of town at the time. What I love is that it is not at all unlikely that you could go see Breakin’ there today, only now it is a great part of town and you can get beer and cajun tots.

  4. I head home in 28 days and this post on Portland is getting me even more excited! I agree. Powell’s Books is the absolute best bookstore around. I sing its praises to anyone who will listen!

    VooDoo has two locations now so you don’t have to wait quite as long. My favorite is still downtown though. Did you know you can (or could) take Swahili lessons there? So bizarre, but that’s why it’s great, right?

    I usually go to Laurelhurst theater but maybe I’ll check out the Bagdad this summer. So many great things in Portland to explore.

    Fun post. Looking forward to exploring more of your blog.

    1. Swahili lessons? How peculiar! I still like the downtown location since it’s the original. Thanks for reading!

  5. I love the Bagdad theater! We went and saw Pumpkin Head 2 there (it wasn’t even around halloween). And I couldn’t believe how cheap it was either.

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