Local, “Out of the Chocolate Box” Valentine’s Day Ideas

Want to do something a little different than a fancy dinner and a movie for Valentine’s Day this year? I know the feeling! I’ve rounded up some of my favorite unusual things to do for Valentine’s Day right here in the Portland area.

These are perfect whether you’re going out with a special someone, with a group of guys or gals, or if you want some quality alone time on the big day.

Creep Out with a Haunted Valentine’s Pub Tour

You’ve probably done a Portland pub tour, but have you done a haunted one? On Valentine’s Day? Make a romantic holiday a little more interesting and a little less cheesy by exploring Portland’s spooky side.

You’ll go inside two historic Portland pubs for a total of six beer samples, featuring three dark chocolate stouts and porters. You’ll also get to see one of Portland’s original Shanghai tunnels (the Old Portland Underground that connected many hotels and taverns back in the 19th century).

Go here to get your tickets!

February 14, 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Go Nuts at Cupids Technicolor Party

Want to attend a vibrant exploration of music, art, and love at the brand-new Rainbow City venue? There’s no more energetic way to celebrate Valentine’s Day—dance the night away in a place of vibrant color and music.  DJs will be there playing dance music all night long. Make new memories and meet new friends from this open-hearted community this Valentine’s Day.

Go here for your tickets.

February 14, 8 p.m. to February 15, 2:30 a.m.

Check Out Old-School Montavilla

Have you been to the quickly growing Montavilla neighborhood? It’s a little quirky, and there are all kinds of fun date nights there. Start your night off at Pottery Fun, where you can create your own masterpiece (even if it’s not a masterpiece, there’s no judgement here)!

Then, head to the Vintage Cocktail Lounge for a fresh, classic cocktail. Their friendly cocktail experts can help you pick exactly the right drink for you. Plus, the drinks are inexpensive.

Then, why not let go of all the stress by stopping at Tub and Tan? Enjoy hot tubbing by the hour in private indoor suites that include music, private restrooms, showers, and towels. Strict standards for water cleanliness and pH are always in place, so sit back and relax in the water!

Get Your Geek on at OMSI After Dark

Have you always dreamed of being at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry after dark? For the 21+ crowd, this is a night full of drinks, water rockets, science experiments, and other adult fun.

The February 15th event will include shooting off water rockets, concocting chemical creations, and talking to a brewer about the science behind beer. Don’t forget to sample products from local artisans!

Tickets sell out, so buy them here right away!

February 15, 7 p.m.

Catch Some Stand-Up Comedy

Portland is filled with stand-up comedy options for every taste. And a lot of it is surprisingly good! Isn’t laughter really the key to any good relationship?

It’s Gonna Be Okay is a free Monday night East Burn comedy show featuring the best comedians in Portland plus some comics that travel across the country. The show is ALWAYS smart, fun, quirky, and unique. That you can count on!

Helium Comedy Club is another place with some very talented comedians. Helium is hosting a “He’s Just Not That Into You” special event on Valentine’s weekend this year. (Greg Bernhardt is a comedian and co-author of that famous book.) Tickets for this event start at $17.

Make Your Own Pancakes at Slappy Cakes

Who doesn’t love pancakes? And who doesn’t love adding their own ingredients to their pancakes? There are so many delicious options. You want to head to Slappy Cakes for a pancake meal with your date (this is a really good brunch date, too).

This interactive restaurant includes griddles built into each table so you can make your own pancakes right where you’re sitting. Pick your batter (buttermilk, chocolate, vegan,  or one of their seasonal offerings), add your fixings (chocolate chips, fruit, scallions, bacon, cheese, nuts, and more), and then add your toppings (honey, lemon curd, syrup, goat cheese, cinnamon sugar crème fraiche, whipped cream, and more). You’re sure to end up with a delicious masterpiece that’s unique every single time!

In addition, there’s a full menu of from-scratch breakfast and lunch entrees and a bar with organic juices, lattes, and cocktails (I hear the Bloody Mary is an excellent choice).

Daily, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Try a Trivia Night

Geeks Who Drink is a homegrown pub trivia quiz modeled after trivia quizzes in Europe. They cover topics like wordplay, television, celebrities, and more. Each quiz has two audio rounds and another round with soundbites from TV and movies. Win bar cash and other prizes. You can come yourself or bring a team (teams of six people play). Here’s a full schedule of the many events hosted at various bars throughout Portland.

If you don’t want to go to a chain (like Geeks Who Drink), try a local Portland option: ShanRock’s is a good one! Join Trivia Jock ShanRock and team as they host trivia nights all over town. It’s free to play, and the victory team gets cash or prizes and all the glory!  Check out upcoming ShanRock events here.

Try Swing Dancing at Stumptown Dance

Are you ready to move? Bring your dancing shoes and tear up the dance floor with your swing skills at Norse Hall! This is Oregon’s largest weekly swing dance, and there are lessons to help both beginning and proficient dancers enjoy the experience.  Norse Hall stresses that dancers of ANY LEVEL are welcome to come and have fun!

The event is on Sundays with lessons at different times. See more info here.

Play Games at Ground Kontrol

Ground Kontrol is a local restaurant and bar with a gigantic collection of both modern and antique arcade games in an authentic game-room environment. Is anything more fun than competing at classic Pac-Man during date night? Don’t let things get too heated!

Don’t forget to grab some snacks and a drink to make your night even more enjoyable. The Killer Nachos are delicious, as is the BLT. And why not try a Princess Peach cocktail? Yum!

Daily, noon to late

Get Your Ping Pong on at Pips & Bounce

Is ping pong more your jam? With fun vibes and fun music, a game of ping pong with your date is going to be a good time. Ping pong has never been so lively. Plus, Friday and Saturday evenings are COSMIC pong. That’s right, cosmic pong.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite from all your ping pong playing, it’s time to get some delicious food and drink. The wings, pigs in a blanket, and crab Rangoon are all excellent choices, and enjoy the local draughts and handcrafted pong-tails, as well.

Hours vary daily

Pretend You’re in Europe at Villa Catalana

A local couple bought an old hayfield and turned it into a scene straight from old-timey Europe for you to enjoy. Villa Catalana’s main home is modeled after San Clemente de Tahull, which is a 12th-century church in Catalonia, Spain. Grab a class of wine before walking amongst the olive trees, Italian cypress, and eucalyptus.

Most Saturdays, they have wood-fired pizza available to go with your wine. Click here for more information and to learn about special wine events throughout the year. This venue is pure class.

If you have any other out of the box Valentine’s date night ideas, leave me a comment below! I’d love to hear about them.

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