south waterfront map oregon header

The Complete South Waterfront Portland Neighborhood Guide

Portland’s South Waterfront neighborhood, also known as SoWa or John’s Landing, is renowned for its green spaces, luxury high-rises, and picturesque views of the Willamette River. As one of the country’s largest urban redevelopment projects, today the former industrial area is home to the Oregon Health & Sciences University (OHSU), hip restaurants, and a large urban walkway with a riverfront view.

Black man on bus, looking at phone and holding standing rail

Sustainability and green living are at the heart of Portland’s South Waterfront, and this pedestrian-friendly neighborhood is designed to be a great place to live and work through a 2010 EcoDistrict program. The scheme promotes sustainability initiatives to ensure the area remains an environmentally-friendly zone with LEED-certified buildings and structures built with renewable and sustainably-harvested building materials. For those looking for an active, outdoors lifestyle, the area is brimming with parks, walkways, and plenty of urban space to forget you’re in one of the Pacific Northwest’s most-populated cities.

Likewise, Stocked with fresh vegetables and flowers, the South Waterfront Community Garden is located near Elizabeth Caruthers Park. The garden is home to more than 50 beds, available for a $150 yearly seasonal gardening fee.

Best Things to Do

Nature lovers will appreciate the South Waterfront Greenway, which extends from the Marquam Bridge to Portland’s business park, the River Forum Building. The city developed the Greenway to offer more green space and parks in the city, and today it is a recreational zone open to all. Bound by the Willamette River, the 4-acre Greenway features public art of the river along the length of the walkway; it is ideal for residents looking to relax, walk their dog, bike, or take a leisurely stroll. It’s open from 5 AM to midnight.  

Afterwards, head over to the Tilikum Crossing, the “largest car-free bridge in the U.S.” The pedestrian-friendly bridge is illuminated at night by an LED art system designed by artists Anna Valentina Murch and Doug Holli. The bridge carries pedestrians, bicyclists and mass transit users via the Portland Streetcar, the MAX Orange Line, and TriMet buses. Residents can watch the glowing West Hills and Willamette River.

Four people and a dog having a picnic in a sunny park, on the grass.

Art enthusiasts will enjoy a stroll in Elizabeth Caruthers Park, named after one of the first women settlers in Portland. In 1868, Caruthers’ name came into the spotlight when the Supreme Court decided that women were entitled to the same property rights as their male counterparts. Today, Caruthers’ park has a bocce court, a splash pad, walking paths, and public art for residents, alongside kinetic sculptures and benches to sit on unwind. The park is open from 5 am to midnight.

Where to Eat

Two women eating bruschetta in a restaurant.
    1. Al Hawr is a Middle Eastern restaurant that uses fresh ingredients to bring hummus, baba ghanouj, and pita to Portland residents.

    1. Jolly Roger – The pirate decor at this sports bar makes this a fun spot for trying the “shipwrecked pizza” and “homemade pirate chili.”

    1. Bambuza Vietnam Kitchen – Opened in 2003, this Vietnamese family restaurant, named after Vietnam’s bamboo plant, uses fresh, local ingredients, and celebrates star items like lemongrass, fish sauce, and chiles.

    1. Cha Cha Cha Taqueria Moody – For authentic, homemade Mexican food that is rooted in sustainability, try this taqueria started by chef Javier Hurtad in 2001.

  1. Elephants Delicatessen – For more than 40 years, Elephants Delicatessen has offered an assortment of picnic fare for Portland residents seeking quick on-the-go food to bring to one of the city’s parks.

Where to Shop

South Waterfront boasts a wide variety of boutique luxury shops.

For home decor, artisan candles, body care or sterling silver, try Wonderful PDX, which specializes in bringing luxury gifts to loved ones. Or buy a fresh flower arrangement at the environmentally-friendly retail flower outlet LilyRoot Flowers, which specializes in floral designs for weddings, funerals, baby showers, proms, and other occasions.

Ecru is a woman-owned stationery business featuring artisan cards, postage stamps, printing and more. The stationer carries a large volume of Portland-themed gift cards, books and sweets to send to family and friends.

From June to October, there is a South Waterfront Farmers Market at Elizabeth Caruthers Park from 2 pm to 7 pm. Featuring fresh, local vegetables and handmade goods, it’s best to pick up local produce, fruits or snacks, and head to one of the many parks that make this area an urban nature oasis.

Moving to South Waterfront?

This South Waterfront neighborhood guide just scratches the surface of what SW Portland has to offer. If this neighborhood sounds like somewhere you could envision yourself living, we are here to help with all of your moving needs. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a free estimate or send us a message at

Josh & Rudy made my move go much more smoothly than I imagined it would! They were prompt and efficient, professional and personable! I couldn’t be more pleased with their service. Thanks!

-Jan Ball | Location, OR

Our move went so smooth due to Kevin, Richard and Ryan. They were very professional and efficient as well as just good guys. Your estimate was right on target so no surprises. Thanks for making our move a positive experience.

Name of Customer | Location, OR


Hollywood Neighborhood Guide - Portland
St Johns - Portland Neighborhood Guide
Hawthorne Neighborhood Guide - Portland