Roses in the Rain

Finding romance in Portland’s eclectic hot spots

By: Bob Demyan

PORTLAND, Ore. In 1851, two New Englanders stood atop a hill in the Oregon Territory and imagined a shining city rising up from the banks of the river below. Asa Lovejoy wanted to name this new city after his hometown, Boston, Mass. His partner, Francis Pettygrove, wanted it named after his hometown, Portland, Maine. To end the impasse, the two decided a coin toss would settle the matter. The toss went to Pettygrove and the rest, as they say, is history.

Today, Portland, Ore., consistently rates in national surveys as one of America’s most livable cities. And the opportunities for romantic getaways are as abundant as the roses the city is famous for. So tell your clients to grab a loved one and their rain slickers and get to know Portland.

Funky Charm and Plenty to Explore
Often overshadowed by San Francisco to the south and Seattle to the north, Portland has a charm and allure very different from these two giants. Its human scale and well-planned layout allow for a combination of activities that would be hard to put together in any other city.

For instance, how about spending a day in the woods and a night at the opera? Portland’s Forest Park is the largest urban wilderness in the nation, with over 5,000 acres of hiking and biking trails just minutes from downtown. And Portland’s cultural scene includes a variety of opera, theater and music.

If your clients’ idea of romance includes a Shakespearean sonnet or two, then they should spend an afternoon at Powell’s City of Books. Aptly named, Powell’s is the largest bookstore in the country, and is to book lovers what Broadway is to theater lovers.

Cafes have been synonymous with romance for centuries, and in Portland there’s no shortage of cozy places to snuggle around a latte or a brandy. And let’s not forget brewpubs. Portland started the trend two decades ago and is still the microbrew capital of America. Finally, Portland put Northwest cuisine on the map. Here, the emphasis is on fresh local ingredients prepared in innovative and eclectic ways.

Portland’s romantic accommodations run the gamut from elegant hotels in the heart of downtown, to luxurious 19th-century mansions in grand old neighborhoods.

Topping many lists is the Hotel Vintage Plaza. With its Tuscan decor, rich, jewel-toned lobby and sofas surrounding a marble fireplace, it’s easy to understand the Vintage Plaza’s reputation as one of the best places to kiss in the Northwest.

On a clear night, clients will never forget a stay in one of the Starlight rooms that feature solarium-style windows with electric blinds for nighttime stargazing. The Garden Spa rooms offer secluded outdoor Jacuzzis. And if your clients want to go big, they can’t beat the Romance Package in the bi-level Townhouse Suite. With chilled champagne, rose petals scattered on the king-size bed at turndown and breakfast delivered when they call, they might not find a reason to venture outside.

If bed and breakfast is more their style, then consider the MacMaster House in Portland’s historic King’s Hill neighborhood. Dating from the 1880s, this Queen Anne-style mansion will make visitors feel like they are back in the Gilded Age. Each of its seven suites is handsomely adorned with a variety of antiques. Most have separate sitting areas and four have fireplaces. The largest and most attractive is the MacMaster Suite, decorated in a safari theme with carved-wood furnishings, a private deck and four-post, canopied wicker bed.

Portland’s version of New York’s hip Tribeca and Soho neighborhoods is the Pearl District. Once a home to warehouses and breweries, the Pearl, as it has come to be known, has experienced a renaissance over the last decade. Trendy and seductive, the Pearl has embraced its past, preserving much of the area’s character and architecture while adding a healthy dose of funky chic. Not far from the Pearl is Portland’s famous Northwest 23rd Street, home to an array of boutiques, cafes and stylish eateries.

A Valentine’s Day specific: From February11th through the 20th, the city becomes a jazz lover’s paradise as the Second Annual Portland Jazz Festival comes to town. With some of the biggest names in jazz and more than 75 performances and events, this festival is fast becoming one of the West Coast’s premier musical events.

The week features a Valentine’s Day Jazz Dinner and Dance with Valerie Day and the Knights of Swing. And when the evening seems just too early to end, clients can take in a late night jam while gazing out at the glittering lights of the city, or they can ease into the weekend with a Jazz Brunch and Cruise along the Willamette River on the Portland Starlight.

Sure, it’s likely to rain in February, but hey, if your clients are looking for excuses to snuggle, Portland has them covered.


Portland Oregon Visitors Association

Hotel Vintage Plaza
MacMaster House


Portland Jazz Festival
Portland Starlight

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