Alcohol-free fun in Portland

Portland's nightlife options go beyond the usual bars and clubs.

Avalon TheatreSkee ball at the Avalon Theatre
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    Just because you’re older than 21, doesn’t mean you have to act like it. Portland has a wide range of events that require no alcohol whatsoever to enjoy.

    For example, the weekly Portland Spelling Bee at Mississippi Pizza turns the classic elementary school anxiety-fest into an evening of excitement (or embarrassment). Free to play, winners walk out with prizes and renewed confidence when later battling autocorrect on their phones. At downtown’s Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade, it’s all fun and games when regular events like Rock Band Tuesdays and their Joystick dance party pack the already crowded space with 8-bit themed fun. But with more than 60 games, 27 pinball machines, a full menu and hours until 2:30a.m., this coin-operated mecca is a go-to any night.

    Of course, learning is a life-long adventure, and as the packed houses of the OMSI Science Pub show, Portland is full of brave brainiacs. The 21-and-up discussions of science and technology bring in leading minds like astronauts and environmentalists to explore and explain the world from new perspectives. Looking at it from ground-level, Back Fence PDX is a quarterly gathering of local and out-of-town storytellers who share personal tales based on the night’s theme. Never told in public before, these tales are equal parts heartfelt, cringe-worthy and hilarious, and they feel like intimate secrets shared by friends.

    Speaking of friends, you may want to gather your best buds for battle at one of Portland’s many bar trivia nights. Held all over town every night of the week, these competitive gatherings of geeks stretch the limits of the mind through puzzles, games and good old questions, with winning teams walking out with everything from prizes and gift certificates to cold, hard cash. And if you know a thing or two about music — especially lyrics to some rock anthems — the twice-weekly Karaoke From Hell can turn you into a star. But leave your MIDI tracks at home, because this crooning is backed by a live band, which has a 500-song repertoire to make you sound better than you ever have before.

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