Portland's Quirky Sellwood Neighborhood

Five things to do in Portland's riverside Sellwood neighborhood.

three women seated outdoors at picnic table share a pot of tea beside the red caboose that houses Tea Chai Té in Portland, Oregon, picture
Tea Chai Té occupies a historic Seattle Pacific Railroad caboose.

Though the town of Sellwood officially became part of Portland in 1893, Sellwood and its neighboring district, Westmoreland, still have a charm all their own. The area, known as Sellwood-Moreland, is home to a teahouse in a caboose, a puppet museum, and other quaint delights. Here are five of our favorite neighborhood spots:

1. Green-winged teal, great blue herons, and all sorts of other birds flock to Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, a beloved Sellwood park. Wander the wooded trails, and you might see purple loosestrife blooming in the wetlands and hawks nesting in the trees. Hike an easy 2.7-mile loop by taking Bluff Trail around the pond, then returning along the Willamette River on Springwater Corridor Trail.

2. Treasure hunters looking to get lost in Southeast Portland's vintage scene might want to start their quest at Stars Antiques Malls. Founded by four friends, the two Westmoreland shops house a maze of more than 200 sellers who deal in wire birdcages, old croquet sets, vintage movie posters, and all sorts of "extraordinary junk."

3. Think the Sellwood branch of Tea Chai Té looks straight out of Portlandia? You're right: The cozy teahouse, tucked in a Seattle Pacific Railroad car, has often cameoed on the offbeat comedy. Peruse the tea wall, where cubbies hold more than 120 varietals, from the spiced Be Swell blend to the honeysuckle-scented coconut oolong. Then curl up with your cup on a crushed-velvet couch in the tea hall, or sit outside on the patio.

4. Don't be fooled by the ordinary facade: The Portland Puppet Museum is anything but commonplace. Inside sit 300 puppets and marionettes, many of them crafted by museum co-owner Steven M. Overton. Overton founded the Olde World Puppet Theatre in 1976 and has since made puppets for parades, theme parks, and even the live production of Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame. Famous TV puppets live here, too: Look for Lamb Chop, a gift from ventriloquist Shari Lewis.

5. The Moreland Theater opened in 1926 to show silent films and—except for upgrades to accommodate "talkies"— the Westmoreland movie house remains unchanged. Patrons still enjoy the original hand-painted ceilings, arabesque arch entryways, and red-cushioned seats. And with a $6 matinee, the price is a throwback, too.


This article was first published in Spring 2019.