Top Historic Movie Theaters in Portland, Oregon
December 16, 2021
Planning to visit Portland during the rainy season? Or are you a local that is eager to escape the wet and looking for an indoor activity to remedy those inevitable rainy-day blues? Why not check out one of Portland’s many boutique movie theaters?! There are dozens scattered throughout the city, and each one adds its own little twist to the big screen experience! We’ve gathered a list of some of our favorites, suitable for just about any interest and occasion.
Most fun for the whole family:
The Avalon Theater is hands down our favorite theater for an evening of family fun. Located on Belmont Avenue, in the heart of Portland’s Southeast neighborhood, this theater usually features several kid friendly flicks and has some of the most affordable ticket prices around—Check out their deal on “tantalizing Tuesdays,” and get tickets for just three dollars per seat! This theater is teeny tiny and has just two screens that are often rotating 3 to 4 movies at a time. But, the absolute best thing about the Avalon? It’s attached to Wunderland, one of the areas last standing nickel arcades! You’ll find everything from Skee-Ball and classic car racing games to more recent releases like Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero. Once you’ve had your fill of games, you can visit the ticket counter to trade in any tickets you’ve won for an awesome prize. We’re saving up for a lava lamp!
Best for date night:
Is there anything more synonymous with date night than dinner and a movie? Well, Portland is well known for its restaurant scene, and we’ve got the theaters covered, too! It felt impossible to narrow it down to just one recommendation for this one, so we’ve got two for you to choose from!
Living Room Theaters – This boutique theater is in Downtown Portland next to Portland’s beloved Powell’s Bookstore and an easy walk from the Pearl District. With just 6 screens, you’ll find a mix of big, blockbuster flicks and small indie films to satisfy everyone’s tastes. What makes this a great place for date night are the big, cozy chairs and the delicious food and beverage menu! Order at the counter before taking your seat, kick back and get comfortable, and your food will be delivered to you, complete with a convenient little tray that makes eating from a movie theater seat a total breeze.
Our second pick for date night is practically a Portland institution! Located in the trendy NE Alberta District, McMenamins Kennedy School is a retired primary school that has been seriously repurposed. Within its walls, you’ll find classrooms that have been made over into restaurants and bars, a courtyard for outdoor dining when the weather is nice, and last but obviously not least, an auditorium that currently houses the McMenamins Kennedy School movie theater. Audiences will be delighted with plush, vintage style couches and cozy chairs—the perfect way to snuggle up inside for your favorite flick on a rainy day. This theater features mostly second run films and often, some themed classics that you won’t want to miss. Treat yourself to a tasty beverage and a slice of pizza from the bar, which you’ll find at the entrance to the theater, and get comfy!
Best for those with alternative interests:
The Hollywood Theater was built in 1926 and is credited with giving the surrounding neighborhood its name, the Hollywood District! You won’t find many blockbusters showing here, but for those of you interested in independent, foreign, and locally produced films, the Hollywood Theater is the place for you! You’ll also find a little bit of cinematic nostalgia, with the occasional rerun of cult classics like Die Hard, The Matrix, and of course, seasonal favorites like A Christmas Story and It’s a Wonderful Life to round out the holidays. If you are visiting Portland from out of town and are passing through PDX, you’ll be pleased to know that the Hollywood Theater has its own little annex (which is appropriately named a “Microcinema”) in Concourse C! Unlike everything else at the airport, this little gem is absolutely free! If you’ve arrived and made it through security with some time to spare, pop inside for one of their film shorts, all produced locally by Oregon filmmakers.
These picks are only skimming the surface of the many historical theaters that you can found ‘round every corner in Portland. All of them have something fun to offer, and we encourage anybody who is up to the challenge to discover their own favorites and visit as many local theaters as they possibly can.