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8 Offsite Event Venues That Make Portland Meetings Shine

Photo of mural in Portland, Oregon's Alberta Arts District.

While Portland, Oregon, has everything a planner would desire in a meetings destination, including 255,000 square feet of space at the Oregon Convention Center and a list of recently opened convention-ready hotels, a city that adopted the unofficial motto “Keep Portland Weird” in 2003 because of its proudly quirky nature begs for event organizers to look beyond the ordinary.

Photo of Keep Portland Weird sign on building.
Portland, Oregon's Alberta Arts District. Credit: Travel Portland.

Travel Portland, the city’s DMO, is certainly in lockstep with the oddity parade, marketing a “Weird” section on its website one layer deeper than the culture section, with a hyperlink that entices users to discover “More Weird.”

Medieval fantasy-themed mead hall? The appropriately named Wyrd Leatherworks and Meadery has you covered. Want to explore an emporium housing Bigfoot displays and celebrating other paranormal phenomenon in the Pacific Northwest? Freakybuttrue Peculiarium awaits your patronage.

“One of the world’s largest naked bike rides?” Portland’s your place.

And while nothing on Travel Portland’s website or perhaps anywhere on Earth is as undeniably weird as the city’s now-defunct 24-hour Church of Elvis, where visitors could legally tie the knot for $25 or witness a facsimile of the King give a sermon and hear you confess your sins for a quarter, weirdness is certainly still on the agenda.

[Related: Sustainable Venues for Greener Meetings in the Pacific Northwest]

Just don’t try to hold a special event in downtown’s Mill Ends Park, because the smallest public park in the world is a sphere that measures only two feet across—forget projection mapping, much less food trucks.

For those coming to town with attendees both weird and not-so-weird, compromise is in order. In that spirit, following are Portland offsite venues that veer from the drab while showcasing the spirit of the Rose City.

Get Your Brew On

Steeplejack Brewing Co.

With three locations in the Greater Portland area, Steeplejack is a brewing company with meetings and events on tap. Steeplejack’s meeting rooms are equipped with blazing gigabit Wi-Fi and outdoor seating for more than 60 is available at its Steeplejack Broadway Brewpub; an outdoor patio is in the offing at its Steeplejack Pizza and Beer location.

Photo of Steeplejack Brewing Co., Portland, Oregon.
Steeplejack Brewing Co. Credit: Steeplejack Brewing Co.

Aimsir Distilling Company

This Irish-inspired brewery and distillery producing highly crafted aquavit, vodka, bourbon and gin—including a rose gin distilled from Oregon wine—offers the Art Deco-designed Emerald Room for group rentals of up to 50. 

Aimsir is located a little over a mile east of the Oregon Convention Center and serves up an inventive collection of craft cocktails and mocktails, along with Pan-Asian specialties from chef Cyrus Ichiza’s Jade Rabbit at the Emerald Room. Jade Rabbit also excels in vegan options such as vegan dim sum and vegan Italian cuisine.

Photo of Aimsir Distilling, Portland, Oregon.
Aimsir Distilling Company. Credit: Aimsir Distilling Company.

Artsy Options

Lolo Pass

Opened in 2021, Lolo Pass offers an interesting, and artsy, mix of guest rooms—ranging from shared dorms to private rooms—that cater to a younger demographic. 

The hotel’s Lolo Pass Roof terrace provides views of Mount St. Helens and downtown, and can accommodate up to 150 standing and 50 seated. Other rooftop features include two fire pits. 

The property’s art gallery can also be used as an event space, holding 40 standing and 30 seated, as well as the lobby and 5th floor Penthouse. A full-service bar is provided along with cuisine ranging from snack food to fried chicken sandwiches, black bean and lentil burgers, veggie paella and desserts.

Photo of Lolo Pass, Portland, Oregon.
Lolo Pass. Credit: Lolo Pass.

Day in the Life

Described as “Portland’s fine-craft jewel box,” downtown’s Day in the Life gallery and design studio celebrates American fine craft, including glass, ceramics, wood, fiber, leather and metal art. 

The venue represents more than 50 artists hailing from the Pacific Northwest and throughout the world. Private or small-group tours are available. 

The gallery/design studio is owned by Wildwood & Company, which offers three distinct spaces combining to total 2,000 square feet (including a speakeasy complete with a hidden door and featuring fine whiskeys) available for event rental in the 1892 Hamilton Building following the gallery up front.

Challenging Environments

Hotel Zags’ Colosseum

Set in downtown’s Fountain District, the independent Hotel Zags features a stylish inventory of 174 guest rooms, a corporate boardroom and a popular Restaurant & Patio serving signature island-inspired cocktails, salads, sliders and pizzas.

Receptions for 90-plus and teambuilding programs stoking a little friendly competition can be held in its 1,600-square-foot Colosseum room, offering pool, darts and online gaming, promising groups they’ll never “be trapped in a nondescript banquet hall.”

Photo of Hotel Zags’ Colosseum, Portland, Oregon.
Hotel Zags’ Colosseum. Credit: Hotel Zags.

[Related: The Hotel Zags Portland Opens in Oregon]


Described as a “workshop meets bar”—what’s not to love!?—DIY Bar facilitates guest production of a variety of items, including flasks, wallets, bracelets, bottle openers, coasters, luggage tags and other delightful, crafty projects. 
This North Portland venue has beer and wine on tap and its workshops are facilitated by instructors guiding participants through projects such as bath bombs, macrame wall hangings, water-color greeting cards, block printing, paper marbling and more.

Photo of DIY Bar, Portland, Oregon.
DIY Bar. Credit: DIY Bar.

Outdoorsy Escapes

The Side Yard Farm & Kitchen

This urban farm, catering company and venue space is located in northeast Portland and hosts more than 10,000 visitors annually to take part in workshops, farm events, dinners and brunches, tours and more.

Groups of up to 60 can hold private events at the farm, which includes use of its greenhouses, outdoor dining spaces, back lawn and bar, as well as incorporate an onsite event coordinator. The venue has an in-house catering company, Side Yard Kitchen, that creates custom seed to plate menus around what is growing on the farm.

Photo of The Side Yard Farm & Kitchen in Portland, Oregon.
The Side Yard Farm & Kitchen

Lan Su Chinese Garden

Opened in 2020 as the result of a partnership with Portland’s sister city, Suzhou, China, famous for its Ming Dynasty gardens, this stunning botanical and Chinese architecture treasure was built by artisans from Suzhou. 

Dinners for 20 or receptions for up to 250 can be held in this wondrous space that features winding walkways, a lake with a bridge and open pavilions. Exclusive catering is provided by Vibrant Table Catering and private events are available after the garden is closed to the public for the day. 

The venue’s Tea House is an especially popular facility for visitors and small group events, and is operated by Portland’s Tao of Tea, which promotes the art and culture of tea.

Photo of Lan Su Chinese Garden, Portland, Oregon.
Lan Su Chinese Garden. Credit: Lan Su Chinese Garden.

Portland Welcomes First PNW Ritz-Carlton

Portland is set to welcome its first five-star hotel, The Ritz-Carlton, Portland, in summer 2023. The hotel will also be the first Ritz property in the Pacific Northwest.

According to Travel Portland, the city’s central city hotel room inventory has grown by nearly 50% since 2016.

Topping out at 35 floors, The Ritz-Carlton, Portland will offer 225 guest rooms and 138 residential units, along with a full-service spa, fitness center and a 19th floor swimming pool. At publication time, plans for the $600 million project also called for a food hall on the ground floor of the property as well as 17,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including an 8,000-square-foot ballroom/exhibit space and five meeting rooms.

Groups can avail themselves of an indoor/outdoor bar on the 20th floor for events that boast panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains and Willamette River.

Other Portland properties on tap include a 176-room, 11-story Hyatt Place, opening in August 2023 in the Pearl District; and the 150-room, nine-story Portland Proper Hotel, scheduled for a Q3 2025 opening in the Pearl District with 6,300 square feet of meeting and event space, a rooftop restaurant and a pool deck.

Photo of The Ritz-Carlton, Portland.
The Ritz-Carlton, Portland. Credit: The Ritz-Carlton, Portland.

Q&A With Desiree Everett

VP of Convention Sales, Travel Portland

Why is Portland an interesting destination for a meeting or convention?

Photo of Desiree Everett, Travel Portland.
Desiree Everett

Portland offers a wide variety of meeting and convention options that reflect the city’s distinct personality. From large venues like the LEED Platinum 478,000-square-foot Oregon Convention Center to non-traditional options such as church-turned-brewery Steeplejack Brewing Co., there's something for every planner and attendee.

Planners also love Portland because there is no sales tax—that means 0% sales tax on everything from F&B to vendors and venues. In most cases, planners can save anywhere around 5%-10% off their bottom line with no paperwork required. You also can’t forget the robust collection of boutique and big-name hotels, offering 10,000 rooms in the compact city center. Just across the street from the Oregon Convention Center is the 600-room Hyatt Regency Portland, and another 1,400 rooms are easily accessible using the MAX Light Rail system.

What are some food and beverage highlights for groups visiting Portland? Any good restaurants for receptions or buyouts?

Portland's culinary scene continues to flourish with new restaurant openings such as Tercet, Janken and Kann, which is owned by Top Chef Alumni and James Beard Award-winner Gregory Gourdet. Kann has received numerous accolades, including being named one of 2022's Best New Restaurants by The New York Times, Esquire, Bon Appetit and others.

What new hotels/venues/attractions have recently come online, or are upcoming, in Portland?

The Ritz-Carlton, Portland will be Portland’s first five-star hotel when it opens this summer, and the first Ritz-Carlton in the Pacific Northwest. The 35-floor tower will offer 251 rooms, a pool on the 19th floor and an indoor/outdoor restaurant and bar on the 20th floor with panoramic views of the Cascade Mountain range and Portland’s cityscape. 

The building will also feature over 13,000 square feet of meeting/office space, condos and a food hall on the first floor showcasing local chefs.

Non-traditional meeting venues in Portland include cultural spots like the World Forestry Center, Portland Japanese Garden and Lan Su Chinese Garden. We’re also excited about Travel Portland’s new Portland Visitor Center, opening early summer 2023, conveniently located in downtown Portland near hotels, shopping and local attractions. It will serve as an additional resource for incoming attendees ready to explore Portland. 

Portland has always been a leader in sustainability. What are some highlights in that area?

We’re proud to tout that the Oregon Convention Center is the only U.S. convention center to achieve level 4 APEX/ASTM certification, verified by the Events Industry Council. It provides a roadmap for planning sustainable events, cultivating environmentally friendly event planning practices and promoting green habits among vendors and guests.

In fact, Portland's Oregon Convention Center was the first convention center to earn LEED certification for Existing Buildings in 2004 and achieved LEED Platinum status in 2014, demonstrating the city's leadership in sustainability. More than 25% of all electricity used at the facility is generated by the rooftop solar panels, one of the highest-producing solar panel arrays ever placed on a U.S. convention center. Additionally, the facility has a long-term goal of reaching at least an 80% waste diversion rate. The Oregon Convention Center is actively taking steps to reach this goal by implementing an extensive waste recycling, composting and food and reusable material donation program in partnership with many local nonprofit and community assistance organizations.

The city’s priority on sustainability is reflected in its walkability and bike-ability, along with light rail accessibility from the convention center, making it easy for attendees to explore the restaurant scene, entertainment venues and tax-free shopping, all from the Oregon Convention Center.

What are some must-consider activity options groups should consider when they’re not in the meeting room in Portland?

We encourage groups to take advantage of our arts, culture and culinary scenes by booking group activities, such as group rates for the NBA Trail Blazers, a tour of Portland’s 500-plus food carts or a private dining experience at one of our diverse restaurants. 

Portland is also unique in that it provides so many opportunities for attendees to venture outside of the meeting venue and explore outdoor activities and adventures in and around Portland’s city limits. The juxtaposition between urban and nature that exists here is like nowhere else; Portland is literally a city in a forest. In fact, Forest Park, Portland Japanese Garden and Pittock Mansion all showcase aerial views of Mt. Hood, and the evergreen landscapes of the Rose City and are within walking distance of popular meeting venues and lodging.


Travel Portland 
(503) 275-9751

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About the author
Tyler Davidson | Editor, Vice President & Chief Content Director

Tyler Davidson has covered the travel trade for nearly 30 years. In his current role with Meetings Today, Tyler leads the editorial team on its mission to provide the best meetings content in the industry.