A Guide for Broke College Students

As someone who enjoys good food and good experiences, but is also a broke college student who is balling on a budget, I decided to compile a list of places that won’t break your wallet if you feel so inclined to venture off campus for a good time. Whether you desire a delicious meal or a fun day out with your friends, I’ve got you. Here is my comprehensive guide for broke college students:

Hollywood Theater 

I am such a fan of this place. A 12-minute drive or 30-minute bus ride away, this theater is a nonprofit that screens classic old movies–and some new ones too. And, if you show your student ID, you get $3 off (usually $10) general admission! They also have great decor, so good vibes all around. 

Electric Castle’s Wunderland

Just a 10-minute drive or 20-minute bus ride off campus gets you to Electric Castle’s Wunderland. This arcade has unbeatable prices, with 5-25 cent games, $2-$3 snacks, and only $4 movies! Only spending $5-$10 will get you a long way, and you will have a great time feeling like a kid again playing old arcade games!

Goodwill Bins

I’m sure you have already heard of/experienced this magical place, but if not, I will put you on to it. A 5-minute drive or 25-minute bus ride from campus takes you to a warehouse filled with bins stuffed to the brim full of clothes. They charge by the pound (around $2 I think), and if you go at the right time, you can strike gold. Make sure to bring gloves and maybe coffee though, as you may find some strange things in the bins, and rifling through them takes a lot out of you.

Multnomah Library

Yes, we have a library here, so why would you go all the way off campus for a different one? Well, if you sign up for a Multnomah library card, they have something called a Discovery Pass, which gives you free tickets to educational and cultural experiences around Portland. These include things like the Portland Art Museum, the Japanese Gardens, and even the Portland Symphony and Opera. Be sure to get one of these to experience all that Portland has to offer!

The Grotto

Described as a “cliffside Catholic sanctuary known for its Pieta replica in a grotto & serene botanical gardens,” the Grotto is a place to go if you want to look at beautiful scenery and relax. Located a bit farther from campus, it’s about a 17-minute drive or 50-minute bus ride away, but so worth it. And, the lower gardens are free to enter! (While admission to the upper gardens are $10).


Rimsky’s is a classic place for Reedies to venture to, being only a 10-minute drive away. Though I’m not adding this for its affordability–its a coffee and dessert shop with normal Portland coffee and dessert shop prices–but it had to be on the list simply for its entertainment factor. Plus, what’s a $5 coffee in return for a great experience? This place is only open Wednesday through Sunday from 7 pm-12 am, and has amazingly strange furniture, wall decor, and even dishes, with a place even set up for occasional live music! Make sure to take a trip to the bathroom while you’re there for a weird surprise!

808 Grinds Food Cart

Hidden behind Gigantic Brewery, this food cart is only a 5-minute walk off campus, and serves really great Hawaiian food in huge portions. My personal favorite is the Kalua Sandwich, which for only $11 gets you a delicious sandwich overflowing with kalua chicken and a side of mac salad. Definitely worth it, since the food will probably leave you with breakfast or lunch for the next day.

Gyro House

A personal favorite that my friends and I DoorDash from frequently, Gyro House is great if you appreciate affordable and delicious Greek food. While the kebob plates are a bit on the pricer side (still very worth it in my opinion though), you can pay less than $10 for a gyro and will have leftovers for days. Make sure to get the fries loaded with feta and special sauce, they’re to die for!

Ardent Coffee

Located super close to Reed (like a less than 5-minute walk), this cafe is completely volunteer-run and pay-what-you-want. 100% of profits go to help end modern through donations to the International Justice Mission, so what you do pay goes to a great cause!

Bai Mint Thai

Located on Woodstock, Bai Mint Thai has delicious Thai food, and generously gives 15% off to Reed Students! So don’t forget your student ID when popping your head in for delicious Thai food.

Portland has so much to offer, being on a tight budget isn’t something that has to stop you from going out and experiencing the city! Take my advice and go out, and if you go to any of these places, tell them I sent you!

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