Have you noticed an abundance of red and pink decor swathed across shopping aisles? How about gigantic stuffed bears, advertised for an absorbent sum, spilling from displays? 

Do you sense that? Love is in the air, with so much candy-coated sweetness that it could give you a cavity. 

The Valentine’s Day we have today in our city is far different from the celebrations of yesteryear. It wasn’t until the 19th century that the first mass-produced valentines were sent and red roses became the customary flower of love. Today, Americans like to spend a lot on their affection. 

The national holiday for lovers sees twitterpated consumers spending $27.4 billion on gifts each February, with the jewelry the most expensive and candy and flowers the most popular. Each year on the day, 145 million cards are exchanged, eight billion conversation heart emojis are texted, and six million people are engaged. 

Though it’s now known for romance, chocolates, and Hallmark cards, Valentine’s Day was surprisingly originated from sketchy (and very not sexy) roots. 

V-Day History 

There are two different possible explanations for the holiday. To some historians, Valentine’s Day commemorates the death of St. Valentine on February 14th — the rebel that defied Emperor Claudius II’s ban on marriage and illegally married couples in the spirit of love. His matchmaking ways ended tragically; once his banned nuptials were discovered, he was publicly executed. 

The second theory believes the celebration is a copycat of a Pagan fertility festival called “Lupercalia”. Set in ancient Rome, stripped animal hides were used to spank women, a practice believed to increase fertility. 

Both of these drastically different backstories were scrapped in the Middle Ages, when the holiday finally became associated with love and romance, citing the European bird mating season that started on February 14th. 

It took a while, but sugary product innovation started in the 1900s, introducing the world to candy hearts, boxed chocolates, and chocolate-covered strawberries. 

The Best Valentine’s Date Ideas

We thought we would help you out here with some great ideas for Valentine’s Day. Gentlemen, you can’t go wrong with these ideas! Here are The Top Five Valentine’s Day Activities In Portland. 

Take In A Drive-In

If you’re looking for dinner and a movie, why not pull up to the Washington Square Mall. Swing over and order to-go at familiar favorites like Cheesecake Factory, Red Robin, and nearly 30 other dining options. 

Then, shift the car into park at the appropriately named Love Struck Drive-In. Take in a double feature each night with the best romantic comedies and Valentine’s films on the very, very big screen. Holiday offerings include the following screenings: “He’s Just Not That Into You”/“Dirty Dancing” (2/11/22), “How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days”/“Me Before You” (2/13/22), “The Notebook”/“The Proposal” (2/13/22). 

Experience how your parents (or grandparents) lived their date nights. 

Love The Zoo

Though they don’t have alternative Valentine’s activities like the notorious San Antonio Zoo, the animals will still feel the love at our local wildlife exhibit. 

If you want an affordable date, look no further than this Rip City safari. The Oregon Zoo will be discounting admission prices to $4. 

Keepers traditionally gift the critters nontraditional enrichment treats this season, including candied treats, cream cheese messages to lick, and plenty of heart-shaped toys to play with. Additionally, the grounds will feature special Valentine’s Day shows starring elephants, orangutans, and various jungle cats. 

For the kiddos, the facilities host a special “I love the zoo” overnight camp the weekend prior, giving parents much-needed date nighttime. And, if you go, make sure to check out the “leaping lemurs.” 

The Not-So-Secret Garden

This is no surprise. Anyone that’s a local knows all about the intimacies that can be found at the International Rose Test Garden. 

No matter your standards, the site is a gorgeous nature retreat that impresses by celebrating the natural beauty of our city. The location consistently tops everyone’s ‘most romantic destination’ in the Pacific Northwest. 

The garden boasts 7,500 rose bushes, 20,000 roses from 650 varieties (including globally significant imports), and innumerable tulips and daffodils. Several dispersed gardens create a beautiful and intimate backdrop for conversing with a lover, including the All-America Rose Selections garden and a fragrance garden. 

Founded in 1917, it is the oldest operating public rose garden in the entire country. The annual Valentine’s Day at the Rose Garden includes a ceremony scored to live music, food and wine tastings, and much more. 

Eat To Your Heart’s Content 

Valentine’s Day is one of the biggest days of the year for the restaurant industry that sees both surging sales (65% average increase) and innumerable reservations (220%+ average increase). Of course, there are plenty of culinary offerings in our city. After all, the quickest way to woo someone’s heart is through their stomach. 

Argentinian cuisine Ox Restaurant will host a three-course menu for $125, including steaks, pork chops and scallops. For quality entrees, Parkside, Urbaneta, and Yonder are all offering notable three-course deals. 

Anyone wanting lighter appetites and more wine can try Bella Organic Pumpkin Patch & Winery offered Valentine’s package deals. Indulge in hand-dipped chocolate-covered strawberries accompanied by meat/cheese boards presented on a 16-inch charcuterie board. Wash it all down with a bottle of 2018 Chehalem Mountain and a Bella Farm Chardonnay. 

For desserts, look no further than Northwest staple Papa Haydn. Give your partner a much-need treat by sampling from heart-shaped petite framboise, conversation heart cookie boxes, Neapolitan meringue kisses, and so much more. 

Fancy Some Tea? 

Are all these too exciting and adventurous for you? How about something a little more chill. 

There’s nothing more relaxing on Valentine’s Day than picking at finger foods and sipping a cup of tea. Originally an antique shop that exclusively served tea, the interior has remained an eclectic and quirky place, much like the vibe in our city. Mismatched china and furniture highlight a facility brimming with tea cozies and assorted collectibles. 

Lovejoy’s Tea Room curates a “RoyalTea Service” all month long. The menu includes salads, sandwiches, desserts, and bottomless tea. After the pandemic shutdown their local crumpet provider, Lovejoy now has their own bakery, creating fresh crumpets at their location. 

And, of course, our best idea: Gentlemen, if you really want to impress your lady, have Patch Pro come to fix that hole or chip in the wall that you’ve promised her you’d fix. (Shameless self-plug, we had to!)