Hello to you, lovers old and new. Here we are in the quiet moment between the stress of the holidays and the inevitable dashed hopes of Valentine’s Day. (Just kidding, this year is the year it’s gonna be great!). This is the time when single people revel in their singleness – quiet Saturday nights with library books or cleaning the bathroom – fantastic! But for those of you with SO’s (Sexy Others) in your lives, and more time than money, my belated holiday gift to you are five fun, flirty, and frugal winter date night ideas. You’re welcome.
#1. Get Tipsy Together at Aalto Lounge’s Happy Hour (3356 SE Belmont; Happy Hour: 5 to 7 p.m)
This place can get nuts, so it’s not for the enochlophobic among you. By “nuts,” I mean that it fills up pretty much right after the doors open at 5, and just keeps going. But I absolutely adore this place. Despite the crush, the bar staff are swift, talented, and efficient and the environment is cozy and made for getting silly drunk together. They have bar none the best happy hour deals in town: $3 specialty cocktails (may I suggest the Belmont Jewel for fellow bourbon lovers?), $10 bottles of wine, and – also for a trifling three bucks – grilled cheese sandwiches served with tomato soup!
#2. Bundle Up and Get Dreamy at The Grotto (NE 85th & Sandy Blvd)
A very reasonable six dollar admission sets you loose to roam the upper and lower grounds of The Grotto, wander through trees, ponds, and, yes, religious iconography. That’s what The Grotto is all about, but don’t let that dissuade the non-religious among you. Called a place for solitude, peace and prayer, this meditative oasis is an ideal destination for lovers who’d enjoy some quiet time in nature together, without requiring the trappings of a typical nature outing – a vehicle, gear, fancy outdoor duds, stamina. The views are stunning, there are benches a-plenty for sitting close and snuggling, there’s even a labyrinth. Winter hours are only until 5 p.m. – that makes The Grotto a perfect prelude to an evening together on the couch with popcorn and Netflix.
#3. While Away an Afternoon (or Night) at Water Trough Saloon (4815 SE Hawthorne)
Pool is one of the last great American pastimes, IMHO. Water Trough is a rare combo of divey bar with pool tables that are rated some of the highest quality in the city along with a great selection of booze (and a juke box). At just 50 cents a game, you can easily afford to sip a highball or two while engaging in a little friendly billiards competition.
#4. Campfire Cuddle at Kelley Point Park (N Marine Drive & Lombard)
You may have noticed a pattern here: Things to do involving booze, things to do not involving booze. That’s because I want to be inclusive to those lovers who may not drink, are in recovery, or just don’t want every outing to be about spending money getting drunk. This one’s for you! Of course, you need a car or access to one to get to Kelley Point Park, but it’s totally worth it. The park is open until 10 p.m. and you can even have a campfire on the beach. If you’ve never built your own fire, I submit that it is a great way to learn cooperation and outdoor survival skills with your beloved. Your reward for learning the difference between cedar and fir kindling will be … an awesome fire! Then cuddle up with a thermos of cocoa and your sweetheart and watch the stars come out. Free, like all the best things in life.
#5. Take a Fubonn Excursion (2850 SE 82nd Ave.)
Fubonn is, “The Largest Asian Shopping Center in Oregon” – and a total blast. Admittedly, if you have no interest in Asian food, then this isn’t the place for you, but if you enjoy eating, cooking, or learning about Asian delicacies, then a trip to Fubonn Supermarket is foreplay for lovers who love to eat. And you’ll stretch your grocery dollars in the process. Here’s an idea: Go to the library and check out a book on some type of Asian cooking; pick a recipe you’d like to try; go to Fubonn and get the ingredients; come home and cook it together; enjoy. There, I’ve just filled practically an entire frugal weekend for you crazy kids.
We live in a pretty great town and it’s not just for the One Percent. Get out there, experiment, have fun, forget about being cool, do your thing, live your life. Sexy fun is a state of mind.