Photo courtesy fauxels

If your evenings are stuck in neutral — dinner, then an episode or two on Netflix of something you’ve watched a million times — it might be time to switch gears. Even during the continued pandemic, there are fun, safe and friendly on the wallet date-night ideas that will get you and your partner out of the house, rediscovering your playful sides and a renewed appreciation of our city. 

Relive the video game glory days at Ground Kontrol. After a long closure, the beloved arcade place, Ground Kontrol is back! From 5 p.m. to midnight it’s adults 21 and over only. And eat just like you did when you were a kid: there’s nachos, hot dogs and grilled cheese, plus, canned beers and cocktails. 

Sip it up at PDX Urban Wineries. Thirteen wineries all within the city limits of Portland comprise the PDX Urban Wineries association. Make a night of it by stopping by one or more of these in-the-city wineries and tasting rooms. Many have reopened for tastings — some even offer private tastings and have food menus. Even better, a few of the wineries offer wine delivery within the Portland metro area. 

Play Bingo at Mississippi Pizza. Bingo! You don’t have to be in your 70s to play this iconic game, and the folks at Mississippi Pizza agree. The pizza pub transforms into a bingo hall with Bingo and Bourbon with Brian Perez. $5, online advance tickets required. 

Picnic at a Portland park. Enjoy one of the city’s beautiful green spaces during a sunny daytime date or at sunset with a blanket or chairs and a tasty takeout spread. Places such as Providore Fine Foods’ grazing boxes and vegan Vietnamese Mama Dut have stellar packable takeout options. All that’s needed is you, your partner and big appetites. 

Drive to the drive-In. The classic drive-in is having a moment again thanks to the pandemic. Not only is it a fun — and romantic — way to catch a flick, but it’s perfect for our socially-distanced times. The 99W Drive-In makes for a great date: Snuggling together in the car, munching on salty popcorn and watching a fun, often retro movie. $9 per person. 

Dinner, any way you like it. Sometimes we should take advantage of just how great our dining scene is, including the variety of delicious food carts. There’s the Latin-themed carts at Portland Mercado, Cartlandia with its huge selection and The French Quarter in Multnomah Village. 

Go roller skating at Oaks Park. Tuesdays from 7 to 9:30 p.m. are just for the adults. There’s a live DJ playing hits from the ’70s to today, sure to make you boogie with your sweetie around the rink. So lace up the quad skates and go! $10 per person, including skate rental; online ticketing and masks required. 

Go for a soak at the Kennedy Pool. Relax and unwind in the saltwater soaking pool at McMenamins Kennedy School. The heated ceramic-tile pool is nestled in a private, outdoor courtyard. And since it’s a McMenamins, enjoy a beer and burger after your soak. $8 per person; reservations and masks required. 

Go bowling at Grand Central. Engage in some friendly competition at Grand Central Bowl. For $8 each game (and $3 shoe rentals), see who can get the most strikes. Even better, the Southeast alley has burgers, sandwiches, tacos and from 4 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, happy hour. Reservations and masks required. 

Treat yourself with a scoop at one of Portland’s ice cream shops. We have some pretty amazing scoops shops in this city. Whether you’re in the mood for something rich and chocolatey, refreshing and fruity or completely creative (Thai Rice, anyone?), there’s a flavor or two waiting to be licked up. 

Know before you go

Since COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise again, it’s best to be prepared before leaving the house. This includes grabbing takeout for an impromptu date night at the park, getting drinks at your favorite bar with an outdoor patio, or anything indoors — especially if you’ve done the hard work of scheduling, and later paying, a babysitter. 

In addition to once again wearing masks virtually everywhere (remember the seemingly carefree days of hot vax summer?), some businesses, restaurants and bars are requiring all eligible patrons to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result in order to step inside. So have that photo of your card on your phone handy. 

Tiffany Hill
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