Portland is anything but ordinary, so to impress a date here, you’re going to have to think outside the box. Luckily, there’s no shortage of fun activities and unique bars, restaurants and cafés to help set the mood. Whether you’re planning a first date or your 50th anniversary, here are some surefire romantic date night ideas.
For the sporty couple
If you’re visiting during the NBA season (October–April), start the evening with drinks and pinchos at Toro Bravo. Grab a pregame beer at Spirit of 77, a Blazers-themed bar, then head to the Moda Center for an evening of pro basketball.
From spring through fall, you and your date can slurp noodles at Boxer Ramen before catching a soccer match. Providence Park is home field for the Timbers (men’s team, March–Oct.) and Thorns (women’s team, April–Aug.). Celebrate a Portland victory with a bigger-than-your-head margarita at Mazatlan or a frosty pint at Civic Taproom. (Bonus points if you spot a player or two!)
For the outdoorsy couple
Grab your water bottles and hop on a TriMet bus bound for Macleay Park, the southernmost tip of Forest Park. After hiking to your hearts’ content, relax with a cocktail at The Fireside or a legendary dessert at Papa Haydn.
If you’re up for a trek, explore one of the Columbia River Gorge’s many spectacular waterfalls, then refuel with a pint and some New Haven-style pizza at Hood River’s Double Mountain Brewery.
For the geeky couple
If you and your boo are more into Dragonball than sportsball, Portland has many nerd-tastic attractions to offer. Play a round of Settlers of Catan at Guardian Games, pick up a few booster packs at Time Vault Games, or browse the eclectic selection at Floating World Comics. Need a drink? Swing by arcade-bar Ground Kontrol for a pint and a round of Pac-Man, Time Crisis II or Q*Bert. Time your visit just right and close out the night at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Its monthly “OMSI After Dark” events offer food, drinks and a kid-free museum experience. (Check the calendar for up-to-date event listings).
For the artsy couple
Every Friday evening, the Portland Art Museum lets its hair down and offers a slate of fun, interactive events, including an Art Pub, photo booth, museum tours and rotating pop-up programs and performances. Best of all, admission is only $5. Round out the evening with matcha lattes and Japanese treats at super-cute Behind the Museum Cafe, or a candlelit dinner at nearby Higgins.
For the boozy couple
Portland is famous for its many breweries, but the city also has ample distilleries, urban wineries and wine tasting rooms. Oenophiles can try a flight at one of Portland’s urban wineries or head out of town for a winery tour. If your sweetie would rather sip whiskey, pick up a Portland Distillery Passport and tour some of the city’s finest craft distilleries, including Stone Barn Brandyworks, New Deal and Wild Roots Vodka. The passport includes tastings, gift cards and maps for both the Central Eastside Distillery Row and the Northwest Distiller’s District. Wrap up with happy hour at the east side’s Kachka, or, in Northwest Portland, try Ataula for modernist Spanish fare.
As far as beer goes, there’s no shortage of beer tours that let you sample the best of the city’s brews in an afternoon. For a more hands-on experience, try a tour of Ecliptic or a brewing class at F.H. Steinbart Co.
For the animal-loving couple
Sip coffee or a “meowmosa” as you and your date say hello to the whiskered denizens of Purringtons Cat Lounge in Northeast Portland, then head up the street to Bye and Bye for stiff drinks and vegan comfort food. If you have a four-legged friend in tow (or if you’re just looking for some prime dog-spotting), walk a few blocks east to the pup-friendly Tin Shed Garden Cafe, which offers a special menu just for Fido.