Portland is generally temperate and comfortable in the summer, except for a few days here and there; on average, only half the days in June, July, or August hit or exceed 80 degrees. But this summer brought a heat wave, with June and July both including highs of 100 degrees or above for several days, which increases risk of forest fires, heat stroke, and having a miserable time in a city where many homes—and even restaurants and coffee shops—don't have air conditioning. No matter how scorching it gets outside, here are our tips for staying cool there this summer.
Go For a Float in Dougan Falls
Though it's technically in Washington, this is the most popular swimming hole for Portlanders to escape to on really hot days, as it's just about an hour drive from the city. There are lots of spots to swim along the Washougal River, but Dougan Falls is especially great for its clear, deep, natural pools, large rocks to sit on and eat lunch, and scenic waterfall—off of which some locals like to jump into the pool.
Take a Dip at Grant Pool
Who needs a country club membership? For only $4.25, you can spend the whole day at the Grant Pool, where the loudspeakers often blast The Flaming Lips or Death Cab for Cutie. Insider tip: go after 1 p.m., after Parent and Preschooler Swim—when the pool is especially besieged by splashing little ones—has ended. And readers shouldn’t miss the chance to dip in the park's Beverly Cleary fountain—the beloved young adult author grew up in town.
Sip a Frozen Beer
Famed Pok Pok chef Andy Ricker also owns its sister bar across Division Street, Whiskey Soda Lounge, where he serves Thai street food and the coolest drink in town: a Singha slush. Servers take a Singha, the light national beer of Thailand, freeze it in a special machine, tap it on the floor or side of your table to break the ice, and stick a straw in it, making for sips that are so slushy, they will redefine how you think of an “ice-cold beer.”
Cool Down in a Cold Theater
Take in an indie, foreign, or artsy film from a plush recliner at the Living Room Theater downtown, and you guarantee yourself two-plus hours of air-conditioned time. The theater menu offers salad, pizza, sandwiches, handmade chocolate truffles, beer, or wine that can be delivered to your seat during the show—making for the ultimate chill afternoon.
Sarah Z. Wexler is on the Oregon beat for Travel + Leisure. Based in Portland, you can follow her on Twitter at @SarahZWexler.