Portland's nightlife oozes that patented laid-back charm that the city is known for. This is not the land of velvet ropes, megadance halls, and VIP bottle service. Instead, it's indie-cool, with a lively happy hour. Cocktail bars and trendy lounges fill up in the Pearl District after work. In warm weather, people spill out onto sidewalk tables, with jovial groups gathering for a few pitchers of microbrew and couples enjoying a glass of local pinot gris or a specialty cocktail before dinner. For those aiming bigger than that, things get going around 10 or 11 pm and start to fade by around 2 am. It's worth keeping an eye out for late-night happy hours that draw crowds into the wee hours.
Portland is also a veritable who's who of indie music. Members of the Shins, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, Spoon, the Decemberists, and Sleater-Kinney as well as rock royalty Stephen Malkmus of Pavement all call the laid-back city home. Head to East Burnside to check out the music clubs and lounges, like Doug Fir. Dress hip but casual, and don't worry too much about getting in anywhere. This is a democratic city, and all are welcome.