John Clark
The Sellwood Riverfront Park is pefect for afternoon picnics and long strolls around the river.

Embark on a day trip to one of Portland’s most interesting neighborhoods

Johanna Silver  – March 10, 2011

Why go now: What you might recall as a stretch of musty antique shops is now a neighborhood blooming with chic boutiques, farm-fresh eats, and garden inspiration.

A real urban hike: Take a woodsy walk through the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge (S.E. Milwaukie Ave. at S.E. Mitchell St.), and you’ll think you’ve left the city limits.

Fresh cuts: By the Bunch (closed Sun, 7042 S.E. Milwaukie, 503/236-4286) uses fern curls and berry-laden branches as teh foundation for its whimsical arrangements.

Farm to table: A Cena ($$$, 7742 S.E. 13th Ave., 503/206-3291) does springy takes on Italian dishes, like potpie with local lamb and morels foraged by the chef himself.

Remember roller skating: It’s alive and well at Oaks Amusement Park (from $5.25, skate rental from $1.50, 7805 S.E. Oaks Park Way,, where all ages skate to 80’s rock and occasionally to a live Wurlitzer organ.

What every gardener needs: A soothing soak at Ashiyu Foot Spas ($10/half-hour, 8015 S.E. 13th, 503/232-0902).

A park made for a picnic: On the east bank of the Willamette River at Sellwood Riverfront Park, picnic tables are perfectly places and the lawn is an ideal spot to spread a blanket. The park is popular with dogs, and if you want to take a walk, the wetland at the northern edge makes a pretty loop. S.E. Spokane St. at S.E. Oaks Park Way,

Gardeners’HQ: Compost, tools, and seeds are just the beginning: Naomi’s Organic Farm Supply will help you become the urban homesteader you’ve always wanted to be. On land owned by the local tire store, you’ll find miniature goats, chicks, and demonstration garden classes. A city oasis transformed by Naomi Montacre, husband Neil, and mom Mary. Classes from $10, 2500 S.E. Tacoma St., 503/517-8551.

A different bakeshop: One bite and, we swear, you won’t miss the butter. Cravin Raven Bakery somehow manages to make gluten-and dairy-free goodies that are delicious–and actually sort of good for you. Special kudos go to the chocolate cupcakes and peanut butter quinoa cookies sweetened with agave nectar and dark chocolate chunks. Closed Sun, 8339 S.E. 13th Ave., 503/234-0603.

And for antiquers…:At new shop Unique Antique, you’ll find buckets of garden inspiration: bird feeders and birdhouses, outdoor art, locally made potting benches crafted from old barn planks, charmingly rusted metalwork. Don’t miss the back patio. 7908 S.E. 13th Ave., 503/232-5865.

3 more spots around Portland for every wannabe green thumb:

Urban gardening 101: Through it has been operating since 1913, there’s nothing out of date about Zenger Farm. Its latest iteration as a nonprofit educational farm lands it at the forefront of the city’s ag scene. Take a free guided tour (4-5 Fri), or sign up for classes (from $25) in composting, checken keeping–even sausage making. 11741 S.E. Foster Rd.;

From arugula to zucchini: Portland Nursery has so many edible seedlings, it has no choice but to organize them alphabetically. There are two locations; the 5.5 acre Southeast Division Street store is hopping with free April classes. 5050 S.E. Stark St and 9000 S.E. Division St.;

Queen bee shop: In business 113 years, Ruhl Bee Supply was around long before beekeeping became trendy. They also know a few things about candlemaking, soapmaking, and aromatherapy, and they teach classes to spread the word. Closed Sun; 17845 S.E. 82nd Dr., Gladstone;