Choosing a Portland Neighborhood: A Moms’ Guide to Southeast

Before moving to Portland we did lots of research, toured around, and finally landed in what we think is the best part of Portland, inner Southeast Portland. Inner SE has twenty different neighborhoods that all have their own unique flare. It has some of the industrial, old-Portland businesses and train depot, but also the hip and up-and-coming spots that all the young people want to live in. It’s both quirky, weird, grungy, and “normal.” It appeals to families as well as the single, hipster crowd. There really is something to love in southeast for everyone!
 southeast portland

Here are some fun facts and favorites you may want to know or keep in mind when considering moving to or visiting southeast Portland.


Public transportation around the city is pretty great with the TriMet bus and max system. The new orange line goes from Milwaukie into downtown and my kids love riding it. Portland is also one of the most bike-friendly cities in the U.S., emphasized by the new addition of BikeTown bike share stations located all over Portland’s tri-counties. Add in Uber and Lyft, and you can get anywhere you need quickly!


From public, private, charter, focus option, Montessori, and homeschool coops, educational options are endless here. In SE alone there are about 20 elementary schools that feed into two high schools, Cleveland and Franklin. My best advice is to do your research before moving into a neighborhood. It may not have a school that you are able to attend without winning a lottery spot, and then you’ll have to shuttle your child to another school farther away. Yes, we are speaking from experience here and it was incredibly frustrating. Make an appointment and go and visit the school of your choice; it makes a huge difference. Also, be your children’s biggest advocate, because schools are often under-resourced and overworked, and you have to be the one to look out for the needs of your child. 

Where to Eat

There is no lack of delicious and family-friendly places to eat in southeast Portland. Seriously there are thousands! Our amazing city is known for food, coffee, and breweries, and they rarely disappoint. In my opinion, southeast Portland also has some of the best food cart pods in town. Some of our favorite, brick-and-mortar eateries are: 

Sweets and Treats

For a cold treat in SE, visit Nectar Frozen Yogurt or Cloud City Ice Cream where my kids favorite choice is the Circus Friends Ice Cream. My personal favorite for dessert is the Waffle Window, where you can’t go wrong with the seasonal options or the banana, Nutella waffle. And there’s always doughnuts. Our favorite in the neighborhood is Coco Donuts

Indoor Fun

Living in a city that rains a lot requires fun, indoor places where kids can burn off some steam. Here are our favorite, indoor play places in southeast Portland:

Outdoor Fun

Our city has beauty in every corner. Rain, snow, or shine, we love to get outside any time during the year and explore at these fun southeast Portland parks and activities.  

southeast portland

Coffee Shops

You can always find a great cup of joe in southeast Portland. Some of the best places to go have a cup of coffee, meet a friend, and let the kids play on this side of town are The Living Room, Rose City Coffee, Warehouse Cafe (we love the kids shows and entertainment), and The Rocking Frog Cafe (which also has delicious donuts).

Toy Stores

Oodles for Kids is a family favorite. They have amazing customer service, will gift wrap for you and they have always come through for me in a pinch for any birthday gift need I’ve ever had. They also do events and kids activities throughout the year. 

Come to southeast Portland; we hope you’ll love it as much as we do!

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Jody grew up in a small town in Central Oregon, graduated from Oregon State University, traveled to Africa for three months and, upon returning, moved to Montana to be near her then fiancé. They lived in Bozeman, Montana for nine years working on the Montana State campus in full-time ministry. They now have lived in SE Portland for nearly eight years and work part-time with the same faith-based non-profit. She is also now a business owner and helps others find health and happiness through Plexus. She has been married for 16 years and they have two beautiful kids. Their 11 year-old daughter is a miracle biological child after years of infertility, and their son 7 is a miracle child through the gift of adoption. Jody loves living in beautiful Portland where flowers are always in bloom and there is always an adventure around the corner to be had. She loves Jesus, coffee, a good book, deep conversation with people she loves, being intentional to love those around her, hosting events in their backyard, sausage, beer, traveling, and being a wife and mom. The beach is her happy place. She also blogs occasionally at about motherhood and ministry.