Katya is a personal trainer, climate resilience activist, and community organizer based in Portland, and the founder of @klipkloproductions – a production company dedicated to creating “organized chaos”, amplifying media and resources, the hottest events, and much more. Here are their inside tips for dating in Portland.
Dating? In this economy? In Portland? Absolutely.
These times be wildin', and meeting up with strangers for a possible good time and connection can seem daunting. But in my six years of dating and navigating polyamory in the Bridge City, I have had my share of romantic adventures in public settings of all varieties (to various degrees of success – *hold for applause for my sad love life*).
But truly, with a lil’ elbow grease, an openness to adventure, and appreciation for the weird, you’ll find Portland has a tremendous range of locations for rendezvous of all sorts.
Nature is all around us
When I first moved to Portland, I was balling on a budget and was obsessed with the fact I could just go out with a cutie to a nearby park for a quick hike, a little picnic, or a lovely chat on a simple bench. I also like how these activities are low-risk, low-commitment, and you can always cancel for bad weather!
Mount Tabor is my absolute favorite spot with its beautiful locks, grassy knolls, and picturesque sunset views. Overlook Park, Skidmore Bluffs, Rose Gardens, Hoyt Arboretum, and Powell Butte are all within a 10-15 minute drive from the town center, and are also fabulous walk and talk locations. All are free with tons of beautiful places to post up on a blanket and chat about your upbringings, fave SNL skits, or maybe a kink or two.
Girls’ gotta eat
Now the next level of date commitment is keeping it classy and dining out with your dear! Sometimes I can find a full-on dinner date to be a little overwhelming, between feeling like I’ve got to be charming, keeping the conversation flowing, and trying not to show my bottomless pit of a stomach too quickly. So you gotta choose the right place, for the right vibe, with the right cuisine.
Maybe it’s anniversary time, or you are craving a fine dining experience at a neighborhood queer-owned restaurant. Either way, Cafe Nell is the quintessential NW American and French fusion spot, with an absolutely divine patio. And if you are a foodie girl in a foodie world, Portland is a utopia. My favorite date spots are Por Que No, Pho Van, and Hawthorne Asylum Food Trucks – for more recommendations in this vein, follow @sloppyjopdx to find all the best food carts and restaurants in town.
If I have tested the waters with a new fling in Mother Nature, and they have seen me eat in public and still want to hang, then it’s time to get cute with my cutie. Here are some of my top places for wholesome fun:
- Get into an arcade moment at Ground Kontrol
- Check out a movie at the Living Room
- See a show at Clinton Street Theater
- Test your coordination roller-skating at Oaks Amusement Park
- Have fun at trivia and/or Piano Queen at The Queen’s Head
- Work on your fitness together at an Orangetheory class
A night out on the town
Alright, you are now ready to show off your cutie to your friends and the world. An evening of socializing and dancing is always an important litmus test for me to see how we handle the chaos together. But you gotta pick your poison correctly!
I love a good dive bar moment, usually picking The Standard or Yur’s. For a lighter evening of mischief, my OG home bar Holocene consistently has stellar concerts and dance nights with welcoming crowds of all varieties, including the iconic Opal Underground. It's a fabulous place to also invite friends, if a group setting is the vibe.
For a night of organized mayhem, some of my best party dates have been at North Warehouse. They always pull major talent from around the country and the space is unifying and vast at the same time, allowing you and your boo to see lots of friends or get lost in the crowd. And finally, if you are hankering for an afternoon outing, White Owl offers the best Sunday day parties all throughout the summer.
When you are ready to get hot and sweaty with your fellow queer, you have to take each other to the iconic Blow Pony party that happens every fourth Saturday of the month. You get dressed up in your most ridiculous outfits, dance the night away to gay anthems, and you walk away aglow with unapologetic queer energy. Everyone comes out for this event, and it won't leave you without conversation subject matter. And if I am out with someone newer to the LGBTQ scene, a drag show at Stag PDX with Amy Ta'Kill or Kharisma, or a lap dance from a sexy stripper at Silverado, are the perfect entry points and crowd-pleasers if you or your partner are still finding your comfort zone out and about.
Sexy sex time
One of the Rose City's finer qualities is a plethora of sex-positive places and parties! Once you feel comfortable and ready to share some PDAs with your boosky, or maybe even just explore and observe, check out the neon joy that is Sanctuary PDX, where you can usually find Atlas and Nightmare Ada hosting events. The Eagle PDX is another great location that hosts a safe space for kink communities! And you absolutely have to bring a date to the nude beach at Rooster Rock. It is the most beautiful setting in the Columbia River Gorge, and I have had some of my most liberating, fulfilling moments with a partner here.
A quick getaway
The next stage in the date evolution is get into a vehicle with your significant other(s) and go on an adventure, and Portland and all of the PNW are full of perfect destinations. Take a hike on of the many trails in the Gorge (Angel's Rest is a relatively easy one with great payoff at the top), see a show and soak at the spa at Edgefield, or drive to the Oregon Coast. All these locations have cute hotel and Airbnb options if y’all are like me and want to get crazy and then cozy!
Whether you are new to town or if, like me, you have been around the block, hopefully this list will help you find and enjoy connection in Portland!
Want more Katya? Check out their Feeld interview to learn more about their favourite things (and what they keep on their nightstand).