The proverbial tumbleweeds of mid-winter have cleared to make way for what's shaping up to be an eventful weekend here in town (COVID restrictions still in place, of course). With the Lunar New Year on Friday, Valentine's Day on Sunday, the continuation of Black History Month, and snow on the ground, you might find yourself in the unique position of deciding between multiple activities (!). To help you through, we're back with another roundup of suggestions, from date ideas (like a Le Pigeon room service pop-up that starts today at Jupiter Hotel) to last-minute shopping tips (like a Valentine's Market at Coopers Hall), and from places to celebrate the Lunar New Year (like daytime activities at Lan Su Garden) to places to get waffles for Galentine's Day (like Waffle Window). For even more options, read our guides to the best online events this week, the best movies to watch this week, this week's food news updates, and the best things to do all month long.
In-person events are subject to change and restaurants may close early due to snow, so it's a good idea to call ahead or check with organizers online before leaving the house!
VALENTINE'S DAY: DATES
Get a two-player board game. Whether or not you and your partner are known to throw down in a crowded game of Catan, cozying up for a little friendly competition one-on-one is an excellent course of action for a snowy, pandemic-era Valentine's Day. To avoid the headache of modifying the rules of your favorite big-group game, head to a local shop to pick up a new one meant just for two. Over at Mox Boarding House (which is open for in-store shopping and pickup), suggestions include the "rom-com in a box" Fog of Love, which has you and your partner facing some of the trials and tribulations you may have already faced in your relationship; Patchwork, a quick half-hour of competitive quilting (hot); and Codenames Duet, which, just like the classic Codenames, tasks you with contacting 15 secret agents without getting caught by assassins. Loser does the dishes.
Check into a hotel offering special deals for Valentine's Day. It's a good weekend to get away, not only because a simple change of environment can be the difference between crying and laughing in these times we live in, but because several hotels in Seattle and nearby are offering Valentine's Day specials to lovebirds. The hip and happening (you heard it here first) Jupiter Hotel and its twin, Jupiter NEXT, have recently partnered with Gabriel Rucker's popular French restaurant Le Pigeon for a three-course pop-up of sorts in your room, which starts this Friday and runs every Thursday-Saturday through March 6. In addition, the hotel's Cozy package includes options for those who want to stay overnight and those who just want to escape into a room for a few hours with a hot toddy from Hey Love. For something even fancier, the luxury downtown hotel the Nines offers a Love at the Nines romance package that includes flowers and sparkling wine (and champagne flutes) with your room, as well as $40 of food and drink credit. McMenamins Edgefield also has day passes that get you $90 of food and drink credit, pool access, and a few hours in a hotel room.
Other notable weekend events:
My Muddy Valentine
What's more romantic than hurdling through an obstacle course and getting covered in worm food with your dearest valentine? This socially distant 5K or 10K V-Day obstacle course at Lee Farms invites you to do just that. Alternatively, you can complete a challenge on your nearest muddy trail and submit your photos online.
Lee Farms, Southeast, or wherever you are (Saturday)
Valentine's Weekend with Kellen Erskine
Laugh your pre-Valentine's Day feelings away, whatever they may be, in a pod of four or fewer as comedian Kellen Erskine (whom you may have seen on Conan, Jimmy Kimmel, or America's Got Talent) graces the Helium stage.
Helium Comedy Club, Southeast (Saturday)
VALENTINE'S DAY: SHOP LOCAL
Say how you feel with flowers. Flowers can say many different things, but on Valentine's Day, the message is pretty universal. If the lineup of bouquets at your local supermarket isn't doing it for you, stop by a local purveyor of seasonal arrangements. Portland Florist Shop offers curbside pickup and delivery on their arrangements (like their Love Conquers All bouquet), Solabee Flowers & Botanicals offers in-store shopping and pickup, and Flowers in Flight offers in-store shopping, pickup, and local delivery.
Do some last-minute IRL Valentine's Day shopping. Still haven't picked out a gift for your sweet honey pie/sugar plum/lima bean aka your valentine? Not to fear. If you've missed the boat on online ordering, there are plenty of places open for in-person shopping. For book lovers, the doors at Powell's, Broadway Books, and Daedalus Books are open to masked patrons. If your valentine is a vintage fiend, try your luck at House of Vintage, Vintage Pink, or Magpie (which happen to all be on the same street, more or less). Record collectors can head to Jackpot, Everyday Music, or Exiled Records. For even more options, check out our full shopping directory.
Live out your HUMP! fantasy with a new sex toy and call it a V-Day treat. Toys and tools abound in the latest iteration of Dan Savage's currently streaming amateur porn festival HUMP!, which may have you feeling inspired to upgrade your own collection of bedroom accouterments, either for yourself or your valentine(s). Enter: She Bop, Portland's favorite place to buy lube, books about sex, and equipment that vibrates, pulses, spins round and round, and does other saucy things to suit your needs. They're open for curbside pickup in North Portland, but their hours are subject to change at the whim of the snow, so keep an eye on their website. They even have Valentine's Day picks!
Other notable weekend events:
Le Jour de l'Amour
Shop for locally made goods in an open-air market set in the outdoor greenery of Pomarius Nursery, knowing that your $5 reservation will benefit the Oregon Humane Society.
Pomarius Nursery, Northwest (Saturday)
Valentine's Market: Local Gifts + Sparkling Wine
Pick up a bottle of sparkling wine to accompany a local gift from over 20 Portland makers.
Coopers Hall, Southeast (Saturday-Sunday)
VALENTINE'S DAY: FOOD & DRINK
Get some last-minute Valentine's Day treats. Procrastinated on making your Valentine's Day plans? No worries—you can still snag some tasty specials for the occasion. Lauretta Jean's will have adorable heart-shaped, pink-and-white-iced sugar cookies, while the irreverent doughnut stalwart Voodoo Doughnut will have some conversation-heart-inspired treats frosted with messages like "Yeet, "U Slay," and "NSFW." Plus, Pix Patisserie's handy 24-hour contactless vending machine will be stocked with boxes of chocolates, fishnet stockings, chocolate roses, Valentine's Day cards, heart macarons, vegan gift boxes, and desserts like the "Black Hearts Matter" (caramel almond truffle in a chocolate mousse heart with cinnamon macaron)—10% of proceeds from the latter will be donated to Don't Shoot Portland. Finally, Barrio has lots of goodies for sale (including chocolate cake from Second Star Pies, mulled wine from Pono Brewing, chocolate-covered strawberries and champagne, and even fleece dog blankets for your shivering pup).
Celebrate Galentine's Day. The pre-Valentine's Day holiday dedicated to friendship, coined by Leslie Knope in a 2010 episode of Parks and Recreation, has surpassed its fictional origins and is here to stay. Though it's not advisable to round up your entire crew for a boozy brunch right now, you can certainly toast to your friends virtually over various breakfast foods (a key element of the festivities). If you, like Knope, are partial to waffles, grab some from the Waffle Window. Alternately, check out Gravy for comforting pancakes, oatmeal, challah French toast, chicken fried steak, salmon hash, and other diner-style favorites, or head to Pine State Biscuits for brunch packages and mimosa and bloody Mary kits.
Try wine tastings for Valentine's Day. This Valentine's Day, treat yourself to the experience of swirling and inhaling the scent of a glass of wine and engaging all of your senses as you savor each sip. If you're an aspiring oenophile but have no idea where to start, Hip Chicks Do Wine is offering wine and chocolate pairings with free Zoom tastings through Valentine's Day, so you can hone your observation skills and taste along at home. Plus, Stem Wine Bar is offering a flight of Spanish, Italian, and French sparkling wines paired with dessert on their outdoor patio by reservation for the holiday, as well as a home wine and chocolate flight with three curated bottles and a box of artisanal truffles available for pickup or delivery.
LUNAR NEW YEAR
Celebrate the Year of the Ox. This Friday marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Ox, which is said to usher in career advancement, success in business, prosperity, and wellness for all. Though celebrations certainly look different in 2021, there are still plenty of ways to mark the occasion in Portland, including themed food and drink specials from places like Berlu and Farmhouse Kitchen Thai Cuisine and in-person and virtual events. See our full roundup here.
Other notable weekend events:
Chinese New Year at Lan Su Garden
While their nighttime Lantern Viewings are sold out, you can still celebrate the Chinese New Year at Lan Su Gardens by enjoying festival decorations, contact-free audio tours, mobile scavenger hunts, educational displays, and more.
Lan Su Garden, Northwest (Saturday-Sunday)
Lake Oswego Community Cultural Celebration
Wear two masks and join Lake Oswego businesses in Millennium Plaza Park for an hour of activities, including a White Lotus dragon and lion dance and a wushu (kung fu) performance by the Oregon Hope Chinese School.
Millennium Plaza Park, Lake Oswego (Saturday)
Washington Square Lunar New Year Celebration
In addition to snapping photos in front of a red ribbon display in the Summit Court, which is inspired by the Lunar New Year Wishing Tree tradition, Washington Square invites you to visit their Facebook Live page for craft demonstrations, stories, and dance performances.
Washington Square Mall, Southwest (Friday-Sunday)
FOOD & DRINK
Take a tropical staycation with takeout
Snowy days might have you daydreaming about booking a flight to a balmy climate. But since the CDC recommends against traveling right now, your plans might be on hold for a while. One idea to consider is redirecting your wanderlust to tropical specialties from local restaurants. Check out the recently opened tropical food cart Kuli Kuli, or opt for the Hawaiian cart-turned-brick-and-mortar GrindWitTryz. You can also catch some warm island vibes at Tropicale, which slings Latin American fare as well as margaritas, spicy mango margaritas, and (its signature offering) piña coladas made with fresh pineapple and coconut cream—one sip and you'll practically be able to imagine your feet sinking into the sand beneath your lounge chair.
Other notable weekend events:
As we head further into the season of dark and heavy brews, Fort George Brewery has you covered with a lineup of hearty food specials (like beer-braised beef with potatoes and mushroom gravy and bacon on a stick) to complement your stout of choice.
Fort George Brewery + Public House, Astoria (Friday-Sunday)
Winter Soup Festival To-Go
Warm up with steamy, restorative Latin American soups available for takeout or for covered outdoor dining from a variety of Portland Mercado businesses, including Xocotl, Tierra Del Sol, Fernando's Alegría, Barrio, Kaah Market, La Arepa, Que Bacano, and Alecocina.
Portland Mercado, Southeast (Saturday-Sunday)
Dam It! Beavers and Us
Learn about Oregon's semiaquatic rodent mascot, the beaver (like how they were once parachuted from the sky in wooden crates in an attempt to relocate them in an Idaho wilderness) in this exhibit at the Bend museum, which reopens Friday.
High Desert Museum, Bend (Friday-Sunday)
Ishimoto Yasuhiro: Architecture + Nature + Culture
Head to the Pavillion Gallery to see Ishimoto Yasuhiro's collection of photographs of Kyoto's Katsura Imperial Villa, an architectural treasure.
Portland Japanese Garden, Southwest (Saturday-Sunday; opening Saturday)
Portland Winter Light (non)Festival
Instead of a single space, this year's Portland Winter Light Festival will cheer your icy spirits with installations throughout the city, to accommodate socially distant viewing.
Various locations (Friday-Saturday)
Shelley Turley: Sound of Silence
Shelley Turley's paintings explore themes of displacement, longing, mourning, and spiritual reflection. Her latest collection is inspired by cookbooks, soap operas, pop music, advertisements, and pagan rituals of the 1960s and '70s.
HOLDING Contemporary, Northwest (Friday-Saturday)
Timelines for The Future: Christine Howard Sandoval
The first exhibition under resident curator Lucy Cotter's Turnstones program, which "[brings] together artists who refuse the available vocabulary and prefer to seek new frameworks," features photographs and drawings by Christine Howard Sandoval, whose practice revolves around the act of walking on sites of precarious and contested land.
Disjecta, North Portland (Friday-Sunday)
We Got Each Other's Back
Together with artists Heldáy de la Cruz, Julio Salgado, and Edna Vázquez, interdisciplinary artist Carlos Motta's three-part video installation features portraits of openly undocumented queer artists and activities in the US whose work condemns this country's history of unjust immigration laws.
PICA, Northeast (Friday-Sunday)