CELEBRATE YOUR LOVE, PORTLAND STYLE
Does you sweetheart go gaga for ice cream and chocolate and a walk in the park?
Or maybe a day of urban wine tasting, bike riding and cozying up to an indie film is more their speed?
Whatever spells romance to you, Portland is made for celebrating. Here are eight ways to chase endorphins on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14 (which is also, by the way, Oregon's 158th birthday):
Find chocolate heaven
If it's sweets you crave, February will be your favorite month. All month, a dozen local restaurants and bakeries will serve up special chocolate desserts made with Theo Chocolate, with a dollar from each sale benefiting the nonprofit Eastern Congo Initiative. Design your own chocolate-crawl, or make a month of it at these spots: Baker & Spice, Bar Avignon, Bistro Agnes, Coquine, Le Pigeon, Little Bird Bistro, Maurice, Oui! Wine Bar + Restaurant, Quaintrelle, Tusk, Pacific Pie and Ox.
Some of their creations sound to-die-for: At Le Pigeon, go for the chocolate malted chestnut mousse cake with cassis chocolate chip ice cream. At Quaintrelle, swoon over the flourless chocolate cake with dark chocolate mousse and salted caramel bananas, chocolate-dipped cashew brittle and coconut.
Cruise on two wheels
Haven't ridden one of those orange BikeTown bikes yet? Now's the time, when a little sunshine and a crisp winter wind will make the adventure all the more memorable.
Rent a bike and cruise over the Tilikum Crossing, which will be blissfully free of crowds in the winter yet still safely protected from vehicles, as Portland's only pedestrian-light rail-bike bridge.
Criss-cross through the Alberta or Belmont district and stop for coffee and vintage finds, or take the scenic route along the waterfront. Route suggestions are posted at www.biketownpdx.com.
Learn the tango
In the mood for something more spicy? Take a tango class or find inspiration from the experts at the 21st annual Portland ValenTango — billed as the largest and longest-running tango festival in North America.
This year's event runs Feb. 8-13 at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel. Kick it off with a killer happy hour and dinner at someplace sultry, like Lechon or Bar Casa Vale, and end the night at Expatriate.
Find wine country deals
Time for a day trip? Less than an hour west of Portland, it's Taste McMinnville Month in close-in wine country, with $10 tasting fees at 22 wine tasting rooms, seven craft beer stops, and prix-fixe menus at hot spots like The Barberry, Bistro Maison and La Rambla.
A Wine Walk Passport lets you collect 10 or more stamps during the month to trade in for prizes. Many wineries also will be serving special pours of library wines and debuting new releases. Or find a great deal on lodging and make it a long weekend. Find more at the Taste McMinnville Facebook page.
Sip at urban wineries
Can't make it out to wine country, but still feel the need for a wine-cation? Portland's urban wine scene makes it easy.
Oui! Wine Bar + Restaurant at the Southeast Wine Collective is an ideal spot to sample more than 60 wines by the glass and flights from the collective's 12 winemakers. Dinner, happy hour and family-style prix-fixe dinners make for an immersive experience. Check their lineup of chefs' dinners and special events.
Play a game
Up for some friendly competition? We all have more fun when we play, so why not drop in for a few rounds at Topgolf in Hillsboro or share a pitcher over bowling at Grand Central Restaurant & Bowling Lounge? Or head downtown to Punch Bowl Social, a giant emporium for grown-up games, bowling, karaoke, billiards, pingpong and more.
Speaking of pingpong — Pip's & Bounce is a Portland tradition. Book one of the 10 tables or just walk in, and bounce the night away while munching on nachos and sipping a delightful cocktail like the Pom-Pong, with gin, lime, grenadine and pomegranate juice.
Find your zen
The newly remodeled Portland Japanese Garden just launched its first exhibit of 2018, "Hanakago" (which means flower basket). The rare display features masterpieces from Portland resident Peter Shinbach's bamboo art collection, highlighted by the ikebana (flower arrangement) art of Etsuho Kakihana, a master teacher of ikebana at one of Kyoto's oldest and most revered Buddhist temples.
Enjoy an afternoon stroll through the garden and a tea ceremony in the treehouse-like tea shop, snap selfies at the epic views of the city, and then jump onto the Wildwood Trail in Forest Park afterward to earn a well-deserved meal. Bamboo Sushi and Zilla Sake House are surefire bets.
Catch a flick
There's nothing like a tale of forbidden love; the Cascade Festival of African Films highlights seven spectacular filmmakers in February, with themes ranging from love and loss to friendship and identity.
Take your date to "A Season in France" on Feb. 15 to see the story of an African high school teacher who flees his wartorn country for France, where he falls in love with a French woman who offers a roof for him and his two children.
Hosted by Portland Community College Cascade Campus in celebration of Black History Month, the film is a sure way to spark deep conversations over coffee and doughnuts afterward.