For families ready to make the shift to suburban living, Happy Valley tops the list for its natural wonders and burgeoning food-and-drink scene. Three decades of exponential growth haven’t damped the friendly neighborhood feel of this thriving suburban city at Portland metro’s southeastern edge. The region was originally inhabited and traversed by numerous Indigenous tribes and bands, including the Kalapuya, the Clackamas and the Molalla, all of whom were later displaced. The city itself was incorporated in 1965 and remained sleepy till the ’90s, when families began arriving in droves. Among the recent-ish transplants: Angela and Damon Pryor, plus their 6-year-old daughter, Maggie; 3-and-a-half-year-old son, Grant; and a dog, Neil. The Pryors dig modern Happy Valley’s proximity to natural and urban playgrounds alike: Mountains, farmland, pumpkin patches and fruit picking are close, but so are the lively vibes of inner Southeast Portland.
What Neighbors Say
With so much food and fun nearby, the Pryors find fewer and fewer reasons to hit up Portland proper. Angela Pryor recently even convinced her brother and his own family to relocate here from Finland. That, plus a pandemic-driven shift to working from home, has made life pretty happy, indeed: “We’re lucky enough to have careers where we can work remotely,” says Angela Pryor. “There’s no reason to live closer to downtown.”
Happy Valley offers endless, easy-to-access adventures, from the waterfall and trails at Hidden Falls Nature Park to the broad Mount Hood vista and lush paths up at Scouters Mountain Nature Park — a Pryor family favorite. “We love walking up there to get the kid energy out — hanging out in the grass, making daisy chains and enjoying the view,” says Angela Pryor. The Pryors also love the city’s network of parks, many connected to neighborhoods via scenic walking paths. Says Pryor: “You feel like you’re in nature while you’re still in the neighborhood.”
A recent influx of top-tier food and drink options has sweetened life in the suburbs. Conspicuously missing from local restaurants? The snob factor. (Sorry, Portland!) Residents congregate at Happy Valley Station Food Carts (pictured above), which peddles everything from Thai and Mediterranean food to craft beer, plus coffee and pastries at Le Petit Café (a spinoff of French bistro-and-bakery chain Petite Provence). Fat Cupcake satiates local sweet teeth, while Killer Burger serves up hearty, locally sourced burgers in a family-oriented-but-make-it-rock-n-roll atmosphere. Angela Pryor also loves the vibes at the Whiskey Barrel Lounge. “We were sitting on the patio, and it was like, ‘Oh, wow, I could be in a Portland restaurant,” she says.
To read about more fun neighborhoods like this one, check out the rest of our Neighborhood Guide.
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