The author, McKenna Mobley playing pool at McMenamins Tavern & Pool, a top bar for nightlife in Portland, Oregon

Portland Nightlife – Best Bars, Clubs, & Tips (in 2023)

👉 Jump to: Best Portland Bars | Best Portland Night Clubs | Tips | FAQs

As Oregon’s biggest city, Portland nightlife is one of the main reasons to visit “Stumptown.” Between the fun burlesque shows, after-hour speakeasies, live music, nightclubs, and dive bars, you’ll hardly be disappointed in the selection.

I’ve been to Portland, Oregon countless times as a west coast local and have experienced the best of Portland nightlife.

In this guide, I’m going to drop some major tips on where to spend your night out, but be sure to bookmark my guide to where to stay in Portland so you have a safe place to crash. Let’s get into it:

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Best Bars in Portland

McMenamins Tavern & Pool

View of people and pool tables at the McMenamins Tavern & Pool in Portland
The pool tables were packed when I visited the bar

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (503) 227-0929 | McMenamins Tavern & Pool Website | Hours: 11 am-11 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-12 am Friday & Saturday | Entrance: free

You’re not going crazy, there really is a McMenamins on nearly every corner in Portland. McMenamins Tavern & Pool is my favorite of this Portland franchise not only for its central location but also for its abundance of billiards tables.

Besides pool, McMenamins also has two shuffleboard tables and funky artwork lining the bar. Don’t miss one of the most happening spots in the Northwest District, which also happens to be one of the best things to do in Portland.

Matador Portland

View of the entrance going to Matador Portland
The restaurant/ bar entrance

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (503) 228-2855 | Matador Website | Hours: 11 am-12 am Sunday-Tuesday, 12 pm-12 am Wednesdays, 11 am-12 am Thursdays, 11 am-2 am Fridays & Saturdays | Entrance: free

Matador Portland transforms from a Latin eatery during the day to a party bar at night. Matador has one of the best tequila/mezcal bars in the Northwest District and late-night bar food that perfectly complements the cocktails.

Visit during happy hour, 4 pm-6 pm, and 10 pm-close every day for discounted food if visiting Portland on a budget. 

Pink Rabbit

View of people inside the Pink Rabbit
The Pink Rabbit’s neon sign in the small interior

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (971) 255-0386 | Pink Rabbit Website | Hours: 12 pm-1 am Sunday-Thursday, 12 pm-2 am Fridays & Saturdays | Entrance: free

The Pink Rabbit bar is one of the quaintest in Portland. Situated in the Pearl District, the Pink Rabbit focuses on artisan drinks like the Bunny Club blended rum drink and the shaken Travel Kit bell pepper-infused mezcal drink.

The interior of the Pink Rabbit may not be the most spacious, so get there early on the weekends or opt for outdoor seating. The best time to visit Portland to explore bars like this one is in the summer but patio heaters are typically available year-round for guests who run cold.

Nob Hill Bar & Grill

View from the inside of the Nob Hill Bar & Grill in Portland
The bar and grill’s interior

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (503) 274-9616 | Nob Hill Bar & Grill Website | Hours: 9 am-1 am Monday-Friday, 8 am-1 am Saturdays & Sundays | Entrance: free

The Nob Hill Bar & Grill is my favorite late-night place to go during the week. It’s within walking distance of all the previously mentioned bars and is the perfect place to end a night of bar hopping.

The laid-back, diner-style feel of the Nob Hill Bar & Grill attracts casual bargoers and retains a local customer base. Make some new friends at the Nob Hill Bar & Grill while playing pinball machines or other bar games.

Life of Riley

A man playing pool at the basement of Life of Riley
Playing pool in the dark basement of Life of Riley
The author, McKenna Mobley playing pool at the Life of Riley in Portland
It’s my turn to shoot on the first table near the basement stairs

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (503) 224-1680 | Life of Riley Website | Hours: 12 pm-2 am daily | Entrance: free

The Life of Riley is one of the best places to go in Portland for both a beer and some fun bar games. Don’t stop at the upstairs sports bar, take a trip to the basement bar to try your luck in billiards or darts.

The dark basement of this underground bar isn’t the most glamorous and serves decent bar food at best but Life of Riley made this list for the experience alone. Feel like a teenager again in this ill-lit speakeasy-style dive bar.  

Kelly’s Olympian Bar

View of neon lights inside the Kelly’s Olympian Bar
The neon-lit interior of Kelly’s (photo: Chris Owens / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (503) 228-3669 | Kelly’s Olympian Bar Website | Hours: 5 pm-2 am Monday-Friday, 1 pm-2 am Saturdays & Sundays | Entrance: free

Kelly’s Olympian Bar has been a proud Portland staple for over 100 years. This Old Town Chinatown bar is one of the oldest continually-operated bars in town and is high on visitors’ Portland itineraries.

Besides local brews, you can also find video poker, to-go alcohol, and live music at Kelly’s Olympian Bar. 

🛎️ Not sure where to stay in Old Town Chinatown? Here are some of the top places to stay in the area.

Deschutes Brewery

View of the signage at the entrance of Deschutes Brewery
The Deschutes entry sign welcomes brewery-goers (photo: Bandersnatch / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (503) 296-4906 | Deschutes Brewery Website | Hours: 11 am-10 pm Sunday-Thursday, 11 am-11 pm Fridays & Saturdays | Entrance: free

The rising brewery scene is one of my favorite aspects of Portland. Test out a new brewery or two every day you’re in town, like Deschutes Brewery in the Northwest District. Also dubbed a Portland pub, Deschutes offers 26 taps brewed on-site.

My favorite time to visit Deschutes Brewery is on a Monday during trivia night from 7 pm-9 pm but there are fun events happening all week. Wednesday hosts drag bingo nights and live music can be heard from Deschutes most other days of the week.

Best Clubs in Portland


View of cars parked at the entrance of Dante’s in Portland
Dante’s entrance repping Portland’s famous slogan (photo: Kaytoo / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (866) 777-8932 | Dante’s Website | Hours: 11:30 am-2 am daily | Entrance: tickets vary per show

Look no further for quintessential Portland entertainment. Dante’s is one of the most happening clubs in Portland for burlesque shows, DJ sets, and karaoke nights. 

Check out the Sinferno Cabaret, one of Dante’s most popular shows. A parade of fire-dancing debauchery comes alive every Sunday at Dante’s. This show is the longest-running cabaret show on the west coast and is worth checking out next time you’re in Old Town Chinatown.

Darcelle XV

View at the entrance of Darcelle XV in Portland
The front facade of Darcelle XV (photo: Dee Browning / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (503) 957-6723 | Darcelle XV Website | Hours: 6 pm-9:30 pm Tuesdays, 6 pm-12:30 am Fridays & Saturdays, 11:30 am-2:30 pm Sundays | Entrance: tickets start at $28

Darcelle XV hosts Las Vegas-style cabarets with “glitz, glamour, and comedy.” The entertaining drag shows premiere Tuesdays with the “Catch a Rising Star” show, Fridays and Saturdays, and for Sunday brunch.

I recommend catching a show during Sunday brunch so you can try one of Darcelle XV’s creative cocktails named after the show performers. 

McMenamins Crystal Ballroom

The McMenamins Crystal Ballroom building from the outside in Portland, Oregon
An advertisement for the ballroom (photo: TFoxFoto / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (503) 225-0047 | McMenamins Crystal Ballroom Website | Entrance: prices vary per show

Portland, Oregon has quite a reputation for live music. Catch one of your favorite performers or discover a new favorite artist at the McMenamins Crystal Ballroom, one of the best things to do in Oregon.

The venue itself is over a century old and its regal interior makes each live performance that much better. Recent performers at the Crystal Ballroom include Bryson Tiller, An Orchestra Rendition of Dr. Dre 2001, and Noah Cyrus.

Shake Bar

The DJ mixing tracks at the Shake Bar in Portland, Oregon
The DJ mixing a track

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (360) 798-0991 | Shake Bar Website | Hours: 10 pm-2 am Thursday-Saturday only | Entrance: $10

Looking for a hip-hop club in Portland? Look no further than the Shake Bar. The “hottest bar in Chinatown” mixes both hip-hop and the top 40 hits each weekend in Downtown Portland. 

It’s easy to make new friends at the small, intimate venue of Shake Bar. The taco eatery next door is also one of the highlights of Shake Bar. Dance up an appetite at Shake Bar then try the carne asada from Fabos Tacos.


The DJ mixing tracks at Holocene in Portland, Oregon
The DJ is in his element under the neon lights

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (503) 239-7639 | Holocene Website | Hours: 7 pm-1 am Sunday-Wednesday, 7 pm-2 am Thursdays, 7 pm-2:30 am Fridays & Saturdays | Entrance: price varies per show

Holocene is one of the best places to see underground artists in Portland. This music and arts venue hosts dance parties, live DJ sets, and private events in East Portland.

The two-level nightclub and bar is located in a former automobile warehouse and hosts epic, large-scale parties. Some Holocene events this summer include Goth Prom, Club Blush, an Ethereal &  Euphoric Dance Night, and Ambar Lucid.

Tips for Experiencing Nightlife in Portland

Stay in a Centrally-Located Hotel

The author, McKenna Mobley taking a photo at her hostel in East Portland
I had easy access to public buses from my East Portland hostel

Staying in a centrally-located hotel will make transporting to and from downtown bars or dance clubs hassle-free. Stay in nightlife-intensive areas in Portland like the Pearl District or Old Town so you can walk from one bar to the next.

Staying in centrally-located hotels also saves you money on rideshares, as you can walk or ride a bike to most bars and venues in Downtown Portland.

🛏️ Need a Place to Stay? Check out affordable hostels in Portland on Hostelworld. The last time I was in Portland, I stayed at Lolo Pass Hostel that I found from Hostelworld, and cannot recommend it enough.

Take a Rideshare

Take a rideshare to live music venues or bars that aren’t within walking distance of your hotel to have a safe night out. Rideshares are widely available in the big city around the clock; I’ve taken rideshare as late as 2 am in Portland without a problem. 

Downloading Uber and Lyft is a must when visiting Portland for the nightlife.  

Check Closing Hours Ahead of Time

Most Portland bars and clubs stay open later on the weekends, but that isn’t always the case. Be sure to check closing hours ahead of time so you aren’t unexpectedly kicked out of the club when you planned on staying all night.

Most establishments in Portland’s entertainment district close at 2 am on the weekends and around 10 pm during the week. 

Get to Bars and Shows Early

If visiting trendy spots in Portland like rooftop bars, cocktail bars, or live performance venues, I recommend getting there as early as possible to snag a spot. Nightlife in Portland certainly gets crowded, especially on the weekends.

You should still arrive at least 30 minutes ahead of time even if visiting ticketed venues like Dante’s to get a good seat with a view of the stage.

Bring Quarters/Small Bills

A pool table at the Life of Riley in Downtown Portland
A pool table at Life of Riley’s in Downtown Portland

Most dive bars in Portland have games like billiards, darts, and pinball. Bring quarters or small bills to play arcade games while sipping on an adult beverage at Portland breweries and bars. 

If all the pool tables are taken, put a dollar bill on the table to display proper billiard etiquette. This signifies to the players that you’re up next.

Stay Hydrated

Nobody wants a hangover on vacation. Make sure you stay hydrated while out exploring the top Portland nightlife spots so you don’t have to put your vacation on a standstill the next day.

For every alcoholic beverage consumed, you should also have a glass of water. Before you go out drinking, be sure to have plenty of food in your system. This helps absorb the alcohol and prevents you from getting sick. 

Check Out Happy Hours

Checking out different bars’ happy hours is a great way to save money while traveling without having to completely skip experiencing nightlife altogether. Don’t let lack of funds keep you from a night out on the town by going happy hour hopping.

Most happy hours take place during the early evening, usually around 3-4 pm until 7-8 pm. Research specific happy hours online first then enjoy an evening of discounted food and drinks.

Try Karaoke

A singer performing using a retro microphone in Portland, Oregon
A karaoke singer takes hold of the retro microphone

Step outside of your comfort zone while in Portland with a go at karaoke. Top Portland karaoke bars include Voicebox Karaoke, The Alibi Tiki Lounge, and Baby Ketten Klub. Most of these venues offer food and drinks and a night filled with fun karaoke ballads. 

Be Prepared for a Club Cover Charge

Most Portland bars and breweries have free entry but don’t get caught off-guard if a nightclub charges a cover fee. You will be able to pay most entrance fees with a card, but I recommend carrying cash to make the process move faster.

Pack the Essentials

You don’t want to forget your going-out essentials when exploring Portland nightlife. Items on this Oregon packing list include your ID, wallet, a drink protective cover (just in case), and small miscellaneous items like feminine products, a lighter, and chewing gum. 

I have the Nightcap Drink Cover Scrunchie and it’s proven to be useful more than once. 

Go With Friends

I don’t recommend going out to bars and nightclubs alone in Portland if it’s your first time. Stay as safe as possible by going out with friends and by having a designated driver if you aren’t taking a rideshare.

Try to make friends at your Portland hostel to go bar hopping with you in Downtown Portland for a safer overall experience. 

Reserve a Table

Reserve a table at a Portland nightclub to give your feet a rest. Split the cost with your group for a more affordable experience and save money on drinks, as table service often comes with an included bottle.  

Check the Dress Code

Most Portland bars and breweries don’t have a strict dress code like clubs, but you should still check beforehand if you plan on wearing sandals or other casual wear. 

Most clubs, on the other hand, do enforce a strict dress code. No t-shirts, sandals, and in some cases, jeans are allowed at most Portland clubs so be sure to check the club website beforehand to be up-to-date on the regulations.

Take Recommendations from Locals

Talk to a Portland local to discover a hidden gem that isn’t on this list. Taking recommendations from the locals is the best way to explore a new town and have experiences you wouldn’t otherwise have. 

Go to at Least One Show

View Portland's famous saying on a shop
Portland’s famous saying (photo: steve estvanik / Shutterstock)

Wacky shows are what help “keep Portland weird.” I recommend going to at least one show while you’re in town. Check out the Sinferno Cabaret at Dante’s or a drag show at Darcelle XV for a true Portland experience. 

FAQs About Portland Nightlife

Does Portland have good nightlife?

Portland Oregon has some of the best nightlife in the Pacific Northwest. From country music clubs to trivia nights, comedy shows, craft breweries, and indie music venues, Portland has every kind of nightlife imaginable.

What part of Portland has the best nightlife?

The Historic Mississippi District, the Pearl District, Northeast Portland, and Old Town Chinatown have the best nightlife.

Is Portland a good city for singles?

Portland is a great city to meet new friends. Singles can meet new people every night of the week in Portland during happy hour, on rowdy dance floors during the weekend, or at live music performances at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall or Mississippi Studios. 

What are the best bars in Portland?

McMenamins Tavern & Pool, Life of Riley, Kelly’s Olympian Bar, Mississippi Studios, Doug Fir Lounge, and Jack London Revue are among the best bars in Portland.


Thanks for reading my complete guide on Portland nightlife! Drink responsibly while in town and be sure to check out our best hikes near Portland guide for some daytime entertainment in the big city.

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