What to do in Portland’s St. Johns neighborhood

The St. Johns Bridge rises over a canopy of trees.
The St. Johns Bridge is also known as the “Grand Lady of Portland.” | Photo by PDXtoday staff

Spending time in North Portland’s St. Johns neighborhood is like visiting a small town with oodles of charm. It’s a whimsical place with unique shops, pubs, cafes, and scenic urban parks, as well as Portland’s only steel suspension bridge, an unopened time capsule with volcanic ash from Mount St. Helens + an annual parade + “bizarre” (which will resume in 2023).

⛴️ The early days 

St. Johns was once its own city. It was named after James Johns, though his last name may have also been John (that’s a debate for another time), who left Ohio in 1841 and struck out for California. He made his way north from there, eventually taking out a 320-acre donation land claim across the Willamette River from Linnton

James — also known as “Saint John” + “Old Jimmy Johns” (no relation to the sandwich empire) — had a country store and a ferry service running by the 1850s, and filed a plat for his town in 1865. The city was incorporated just after the turn of the century, then annexed in 1915

🎸 Shop 

St. Johns still has its small-town charisma and is home to many locally-owned shops. 

A person sits on the outdoor patio at Leisure Public House.
Leisure Public House has ping pong tables + a bocce court. | Photo by @leisurepdx

🍽️ Eat + drink 

From pub crawls to retro eateries, the food + beverage scene in St. Johns is one of the best in Portland. 

  • Try a hot-pressed sandwich like the parmesan breaded eggplant + a Guinness float at Leisure Public House. Pro tip: Bring your dog.
  • There’s no shortage of coffee shops in St. Johns — Cathedral Coffee is a local favorite, serving rotating baked goods and seasonal drinks. 
  • Hand-slung pies made inside a repurposed vintage gas station? That’s what you’ll find at Signal Station Pizza
  • If you’ve never been to a self-serve “kombucha speakeasy,” this is your sign to visit SOMA
  • Occidental Brewing found its niche in a city bubbling over with breweries, crafting award-winning lagers + ales
  • Get your chocolate fix right from the source at Moonstruck Chocolate Company’s factory + HQ. Pro tip: Watch the artisans in action via the factory viewing window. 

🌳 Outdoors 

Some of Portland’s most iconic views can be found in St. Johns. 

Shelves of frisbees and disc golf gear at Huk Lab.
Serious disc golfers, meet Huk Lab. | Photo by @huklab

🥏 Entertainment 

Round out a day of exploring this neighborhood (or getting to know it better if you already live there) with some fun, St. Johns style.

🏠 Live in St. Johns 

St. Johns is a close-knit, walkable community that’s just a 12-minute drive from downtown Portland. Residents have views, wildlife, and a slice of a unique part of Portland. 

  • For $271,000, this 934-sqft 2 BD, 1 BA condo has a view of the water.  
  • For $550,000, this 1,938-sqft 3 BD, 2 BA home is a stone’s throw from Cathedral Park. 
  • For $696,500, this 1,989-sqft 2 BD, 2 BA floating home has unparalleled views of the Columbia River.
  • For $2.15M, this 5,836-sqft 15 BD, 7 BA brick complex is brand new + features seven units.