Editor’s note: Oregon’s COVID-19 restrictions have eased, but businesses may ask you to wear a face cover – bring one along and be patient and kind if asked to wear it. It’s also wildfire season – plan ahead and do your part to prevent wildfires.
Nothing says “I love you” (or “Thank you for putting up with me”) like a romantic date night with your partner, especially after nearly a year of stay-at-home orders. But the traditional dinner-and-a-movie (outside the house) experience isn’t an option this year. That opens the door to a more creative experience, one that will give you a chance to reconnect and give each other the attention you both deserve. Here are a few ways to make it a memorable occasion, Oregon-style.
Take a Next-Level Snowshoe Picnic
Studies show that both physical activity and the reward of eating tasty foods release dopamine and serotonin, the love hormones of the brain. You can get a dose of both in February with a sweet snowshoe adventure — the perfect couples’ activity that’s as simple as putting one foot in front of the other. Read up on what to expect at Oregon sno-parks during COVID-19 before you go, and consider a guided tour for a no-hassle experience. Remember that sno-parks near major cities, like those in the Mt. Hood and Deschutes national forests, tend to get busy so opt for a less-popular spot or postpone your outing to midweek.
Take your blissful escape to the next level with takeout from your favorite restaurant for a winter-wonderland picnic. In Central Oregon, snowshoe the 2.5 miles along Skyliners Road to Tumalo Falls and make sure to visit during the weekday for the best chance at limited parking. Enjoy the view of the falls while eating takeout from Bend’s Nam Tok Kitchen, which you can pick up on the way to the trailhead. (Keep your food warm in a Hydro Flask container, a Bend-based company.)
At Mt. Hood, go on a weekday when it’s less crowded to Trillium Lake. It’s about a 2-mile snowshoe hike to the lake. Sit on the dam with views of the mountain while enjoying warm hatch-chile tamales or chile rellenos from The Taco Shoppe in Government Camp, with lots of veggie options available. Or if you’re coming from Hood River, stop into Romul’s Restaurant the night before for a hearty lasagna or carbonara to pack up for your hike.
Don’t forget the craft chocolate bars, the perfect pocket pick-me-up. Cap your experience with a thoughtful future gift for outdoor adventure seekers, to be redeemed when it’s safe to gather again.
Enjoy a Warm and Cozy Night In
If you prefer to keep it cozy indoors, there’s one main rule to follow: Turn off the screens. Agree to put phones, iPads, laptops and TVs away for a while — your queue won’t go anywhere. Then set the ambiance for a quiet meal at home with a handmade Glow of Love candle from a Portland maker, Lovely Lavender bubble bath from an Eastern Oregon maker, and all-natural body lotion inspired by Koosah Falls and other wild spaces in Oregon, handmade by a Willamette Valley artisan.
Tee up those appetizers with an artisan cheese assortment and box of juicy Bosc pears from Medford-based Harry & David, home of those classic gift baskets. Pair it with a fruit-forward grenache from Hummingbird Estate in the Rogue Valley, which is packaged with a DIY recipe for German-spiced mulled wine. Prepare a meal together with a DockBox of fresh Oregon seafood, with all ingredients and recipes included. Dessert options abound — support a local baker and order a special cake or a dozen macarons from The Naked Lemon in Astoria or other top Oregon bakeries.
Think about starting a new tradition together, like Takeout Tuesdays or Food-Cart Fridays. And while you’re thinking ahead, stock up on libations for a cozy weekend at home with a local craft-beer delivery order or curated cocktail or wine kit. If you really want a gift-wrapped token of love, Beaverton’s Mamancy Tea & Chocolate sells a tea-and-chocolate subscription box. How about a beautiful “She Flies” beanie, a Hot Mama Salsa chili oil gift set (to keep things spicy) or a bar of effervescent Unicorn Dreams soap to add some sparkle to your handwashing?
Find more gift ideas for foodies and those who appreciate local handcrafted goods at online platforms including Built Oregon Marketplace, My People’s Market, Portland Indigenous Marketplace, Portland e-Bazaar and Portland Saturday Market.
Plan a Future Adventure Together
Optimist or pessimist, it doesn’t matter. All of us can plan a trip for the future and reap the mental health benefits of it now. Yes, that’s right — planning a trip is definitely not the same as taking it, but it can definitely make us happier, imagining ourselves on a tranquil beach, forest, river or hilltop, far away from the land of Zoom meetings, remote learning, social feeds and the same old view out your front window. What better time to envision a new year of adventure with your loved one than Valentine’s Day? Clear the tables, get out your top Oregon guidebooks for inspiration and check out this roundup of iconic Oregon trips to bookmark.
Consider buying a gift card for a future romantic getaway for whenever it’s safe to travel.
A getaway to Southern Oregon wine country in fall is timed for the gorgeous fall foliage at Lithia Park in Ashland and patio sipping and vineyard views all around. You can even stay on a vineyard and make friends with the resident alpacas and llamas at Rellik Winery in Jacksonville, with three luxury suites perfect for couples or families. Read up on 10 top marvels of Southern Oregon to find the experience that best suits you.
Book a hiking extravaganza to Mt. Hood and the Columbia River Gorge or a long weekend stay at the remote Minam River Lodge in Eastern Oregon, accessible only by small plane or an 8-mile trek. (You can glamp in a wall tent, stay in a deluxe cabin or stay in the main house.) Here are 10 awe-inspiring places in Eastern Oregon to start dreaming about.
Take the ultimate road trip along the Oregon Coast and tuck in for the night with your pod in a decked-out Airstream trailer or a Scandanavian-inspired cabin at Bay Point Landing in Coos Bay, or pull in your own RV. Enjoy the plush accommodations while you roast marshmallows at your own personal campfire and soak up the bay views. Find lots of room on the Coast to socially distance, including these top 10 don’t-miss places on the Coast.
Put together a mountain-bike adventure to one of the state’s most famous trail systems, in Oakridge, or plan a retreat to a countryside cottage at Leaping Lamb Farm & Farm Stay — both among a myriad of delightful spots in the Willamette Valley. If the mountains are calling, you can also think about backpacking one of the epic peaks in the Central Cascades. (Permits are required May 28, 2021, through Sept. 24, 2021.) In addition to backpacking, find more big and small adventures in Central Oregon to get you pumped up.
If you live in the Portland area and have a case of cabin fever but want to stay close by, you’re in luck. There are so many iconic sites in the Portland Region that are perfect for social distancing and positively beautiful any time of year, like paddling on the Willamette River Water Trail or uncovering a lesser-known path at Forest Park.