5 transit-oriented dates for Valentine's Day
Taking public transit adds opportunities for collaboration, problem solving, and focused time together.
The Street Trust Action Fund is challenging our community to ride 5,000 miles on public transit in a single day, THIS Saturday, February 18th. The rider to log the most miles will win a $250 Kuto gift card. There will also be consolation prizes for other participants. Learn more and register to ride here.
If you grew up watching family sitcoms on cable, you may have formed an early impression of “I’ll pick you up in my car after school” as the default gesture to express your romantic interest in someone.
And then came the era of “Netflix and chill,” which somehow started all the way back in 2009 (Wikipedia).
It’s Portland, it’s 2023, the FX-2 line is servicing an area with roughly a million amazing date sites; and we’re going to make “Meet me at the bus stop” happen. The legacy of the Muppets will live on!
Taking public transportation, albeit not typical date fodder, removes the stresses of parking, traffic, and gas prices, and in their place adds opportunities for collaboration, problem solving, and focused time together.
Here are a handful of itineraries to help you test out the New Portland way of dating.
1. The Portland by Streetcar Tour
The Portland by Streetcar Tour App provides Streetcar riders with an interactive map of landmarks, historical sites and points of interest located within three blocks of the tracks. Major public attractions include: Jamison Square, Powell’s Books, Pioneer Courthouse Square, Oregon Historical Society, Portland Farmers Market, and several projects of the RACC Public Arts Murals Program and Portland Street Art Alliance.
Museum lovers might want to stop off at the Oregon Jewish Museum, Portland Art Museum, OMSI or Architectural Heritage Center. If your love language is gifts, check out the NW 21st shopping district or a thrift shop in the Central Eastside. Shout out to Memory Den Vintage Mall and The Goodwill on SE 6th!
If their love language is receiving gifts, consider these tokens for the transit lover in your life.
📝 Pro tip: After 5pm, hop on the North South (NS) line and ride to the South Waterfront neighborhood. Get off at Stop 12760, S Moody and Gibbs, and board the Portland Aerial Tram for a twilight view of the city skyline and, if you’re lucky, a mountain peak or two.
Thanks for reading #OurStreets! Subscribe for free to receive new posts to your inbox.
2. Castles, Mansions, and Slugs, Oh My!
Hidden treasures abound in the woods of Forest Park. Among the most valuable are a Victorian-era mansion, Portland’s tallest tree, and a decommissioned restroom that looks straight out of a fairy tale; which can all be found along the hiking route from Balch Creek to Pittock Mansion.
Start by taking TriMet Bus 77 or Bus 15 to NW Wardway & Montgomery Pk (Stop ID 8481). Walk 7 minutes to the Lower Macleay Trail Head.
If you have physical limitations, or aren’t that outdoorsy, Lower Macleay Trail has some nice views to offer for a short-out-and-back hike. It’s also the only ADA accessible trail segment in Forest Park. End at Witches Castle and make your way back into Slabtown for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a beverage. Some hidden treasures include Stepping Stone Cafe, Bing Mi Dumpling and Noodle, Phuket Cafe, and Freeland Spirits.
For the full Pittock Mansion Hike, continue south for 2.5 miles on the Wildwood Trail, climbing several switchbacks as you ascend out of Balch Canyon. When you arrive at the mansion, you’ll have gained nearly 450ft! Commemorate this feat with a portrait of your partner in hiking and love. There are several beautiful backdrop choices, but expect to wait your turn to get a good photo.
Your options for the return trip include: retracing your steps to Slabtown, and then proceeding with the itinerary above, or navigating a maze of neighborhood streets in the NW Hills (Google Maps) until you pop out in Nob Hill. Extreme urban hikers might enjoy continuing on to Hoyt Arboretum via Barbara Walker Crossing (Oregon Hikers), eventually making their way home via the MAX Red or Blue Line from Oregon Zoo.
3. MAXed Out on Art
What’s more fun than playing Where’s Waldo at home? Riding along the 13 miles of track from Portland Expo Center to Milwaukie, searching for the more than 120 artists and writers featured in public art projects on the Yellow and Orange lines.
Whether or not you find them all, you’ll find yourself on the opposite side of the city from where you started, enjoying the thrill of something new or different.
If you’re a North Portlander, stop into Hosford-Abernathy, Sellwood or Downtown Milwaukie. If you’re a South Portland or Milwaukie resident, check out the Boise-Eliot, Overlook, or Kenton neighborhoods. For the artsy couple from either side of the tracks, consider a pitstop in the Pearl District for a gallery stroll along the North Park Blocks and shopping at Blick Art Materials.
4. Bus Life, But Make it Posh
If you’ve read Lizzy Acker’s article “9 places to soak and sauna in Portland,” you’re primed for this date. If you haven’t, we forgive you for taking a break from #OurStreets to read it now.
After months of bundling up in layered outfits, many of us relish an opportunity to get back in touch with our body and sense of style. Fortunately, you don’t have to fly south to show off your legs, or disappear into a crowd of strangers (to each their own). The land of such opportunities is Troutdale, and it's a $2.50 bus ride away. You’ll be happy you saved on transportation, because this is going to be a relatively expensive date.
Catch the TriMet Bus 77 from the Rose Quarter, 82nd Ave transit station, or multiple stops on NE Halsey St, then sit back and relax for 40 minutes to one hour. Your first stop will be the outdoor, heated soaking pool at McMenamins Edgefield. Ruby’s Spa is an Edgefield attraction you might not have heard of before, because it’s open exclusively to overnight hotel guests and those with salon appointments.
Whether you spend the night, or a few additional hours to catch a movie or a drink, pencil in some time to head one more stop east to Historic Downtown Troutdale. If shopping is more your speed, treat yourself to something Gorge-ous from the Columbia Gorge Outlets.
📝 Pro-tip: Weekday nightly rates start at $145 for a basic room that can accommodate up to three people. This date is just as fun, if not more fun with friends and family. Invite your two favorite people and you’ll spend closer to $50 per person.
5. Multnomah Falling in Love
Many Portlanders contend that Multnomah Falls is overrated, in large part because they don’t want to contend with parking. But what if they didn’t have to? In addition to Oregon’s most famous waterfall, the Columbia Gorge Express offers daily service between Portland and Hood River, with additional stops in Cascade Locks and Troutdale.
The Eastbound route begins at Gateway Transit Center in Portland, with departures between 7:50am and 6:40pm. From Multnomah Falls, access Angel's Rest, Wahkeena Falls, Horsetail Falls via the Sasquatch Shuttle (seasonal) or this challenging 10.5 mile loop trail. Or, continue on to Cascade Locks or Hood River for lunch and a casual walk along the Columbia at Cascade Locks Marine Park or Hood River Waterfront Park. Any and all Columbia Gorge breweries are a good way to top off the day.
📝 Pro-tip: On Wednesdays and Thursdays, connect to Mount Hood in Hood River via The Gorge-to-Mountain Express, departing from Hood River High School at 3:20pm.