S.E. Belmont St. II



If you adore swingy little skirts in kicky patterns, duck into ZA ZEN (3415 S.E. Belmont St., 503-236-8991 or go to, a little boutique that’s the muse of Alicia Arney, who splits her time between Portland and London.

You’ll find an eclectic collection of palooza pants ($29), skirts ($36), sundresses ($29) and stylish travel belts ($29 to $49). Arney’s best friend in London displays her tribal-inspired jewelry here as Etincelle Designs ($16 for a sterling ring), along with hip Passion Flower earrings, the handiwork of Portlander Heidi Cain, who makes them out of heat-hardened plastic material called Shrinky Dinks ($20 to $26).


ANTHEM RECORDS (828 S.E. 34th Ave., 503-963-9000) is a modern man cave of a music store, where you’ll find used and new CDs, albums and even the odd 78 or two ($5.99 for Ella Fitzgerald with The Song Spinners’ 1948 rendition of “My Happiness”). The concrete-floored shop is well-organized in a Real Simple sort of way: We’re gonna steal the RECENT RELEASES chalkboard idea, where titles are Velcro-ed to the wall in Scrabble tiles, for a fun grocery shopping list worthy of any style of kitchen. Look for new and old releases in categories such as Rap & Hip Hop, Jazz and Electronic—among tons of others.



Image You know you’re getting close to SAINT CUPCAKE (3300 S.E. Belmont St., 503-235-0078), when you start seeing cool neighborhood kids like Rowan Skylar (pictured) peeling away a fluted paper cup from a soon-to-be-history pile of cake, icing and sprinkles. Located in NOUN, Saint Cupcake presents mouth-watering cupcakes ($2.50 each for a large cupcake; $1.25 for a “dot”) in such tantalizing flavors as Coconut Cream, Chocolate Cake, Pumpkin Spice, Vanilla Toffee, Poundcake, Buttercream, and even Vanilla Vegan or Chocolate Vegan. Day-old sweets sell for a reduced price ($1.50 and 75 cents), but don’t count on finding any pennies to pinch here. These cupcakes sell like the hotcakes they are!



Trust me, there’s nothing like returning from a long walk to the smell of burning tea kettle to make you paranoid about checking your stovetop every time you leave your house. A better way to bone up on fire safety is to visit THE HISTORIC BELMONT FIREHOUSE (900 S.E. 35th Ave., 503-823-3615), where Don Porth will slide down a 20-foot-tall fireman’s pole to greet you rather than walk down the 27 steep steps from his second-floor office.

Image You’re prepared to see historic photos and fire-fighting artifacts such as an 1860 hose cart—and you do—but the genius of this SAFETY LEARNING CENTER & FIRE MUSEUM is its interactive exhibits that teach you about fire safety in a fun way. You can take a back seat in the “Fire Engine Experience,” a simulator that takes you on a fire call (actual Portland streets appear in the windshield, with real drivers not pulling their cars over for your engine to pass safely!).

“This isn’t a ‘Look, but don’t touch!’ kind of museum,” says Porth as he coaxes me down a 6-foot-tall mini-me of the pole he slid on.

On your way out, buy a Dalmatian-spotted patch ($2) as proof of your tour or a safety gadget ($4 for furniture wall straps; stove knob covers are $8) from a small display near the door.

Or better yet, schedule your kid’s next birthday party here ($4 per person with a $40 minimum).