Six Ways to Spend Valentine’s Day in the Willamette Valley
Valentine’s Day will look a little different in 2021: Gone are the darkened restaurants, quiet cocktail bars, and live performances that have long been hallmarks of the holiday.
But even without opportunities to go out, there are still plenty of possibilities for planning the perfect holiday. If you can’t go out, for instance, get takeout from your favorite restaurant. And if you can’t go wine tasting, bring the winery to you; many Willamette Valley wineries offer shipping and curbside pickup.
So as you plan that special holiday, here are a few fun ideas for making the most of Valentine’s Day in the Willamette Valley.
Get Takeout From Your Favorite Restaurant
This Valentine’s Day, you don’t have to worry about making reservations weeks in advance or hoping a last-minute opening becomes available at your favorite spot; chances are good you can enjoy a romantic meal from the Willamette Valley’s best restaurants in the comfort of your own home.
Many restaurants even offer special menus specifically for Valentine’s Day: Albany’s Sybaris Bistro is putting together a four-course carryout dinner centered around beef tenderloin and lobster wrapped in a house-made puff pastry, along with a lobster cream. And in Eugene, Lion & Owl is dishing a fine-dining menu that includes crab and celery root bisque, New York steak, and a smoked carrot and hazelnut pot pie.
And even if you’re not making reservations, you’ll still have to plan ahead: Given the nature of takeout dining and the high volume of Valentine’s Day orders, try to place your order at least one week prior to the holiday, if possible.
Cook a Meal Together
Don’t feel like eating out? Cook a meal together, and enlist a little help from local markets.
Provisions Market Hall, for instance, carries a variety of artisan items, high-end pantry goods (like local honey, infused vinegars, and the market’s own housemade jams), local wines, and more; you can even order certain items online, or order prepared food for pickup.
Elsewhere in the valley, see what’s new each Saturday at the Corvallis Indoor Winter Market; vendors sell baked goods, winter squash, fresh and canned seafood, grains, cheeses, and more. And if you’d rather pick your order up in one fell swoop, advance orders are available online.
Crack Open a Bottle of Wine
Granted, you never need an excuse to crack open a bottle of wine—but grab a special bottle out of the cellar this Valentine’s Day. Or better yet, order something new from your favorite winery.
Many wineries are offering curbside pickup and shipping while tasting rooms are either closed or limited. Search wineries, and see what sounds good, through the Willamette Valley Wineries Association.
Relax With a Staycation
A night away, even if it’s just down the road, can refresh the spirit—and plenty of lodgings around the Willamette Valley are eager to help you celebrate.
The Oregon Garden Resort, for instance, hosts 103 guest rooms in a series of cozy, cottage-style buildings just outside Silverton; each room comes with a gas fireplace, private garden patios, comfortable beds, and a complimentary breakfast.
For something a bit more remote, get away to Leaping Lamb Farm & Farm Stay, just outside Alsea. The farm dates back to 1862, and guests can enjoy whatever experience feels right for their stay—whether that’s relaxing in the cottage and going for casual hikes along Honey Grove Creek, or by helping out with feedings, egg collection, and other farm chores.
Hit the Trail for a Quiet Hike
If the outdoors are calling, the Willamette Valley boasts plenty of quiet hiking trails in winter—even as the Cascades are inundated with snow.
The 1,330-acre Willamette Mission State Park borders the Willamette River and is home to several miles of hiking trails that pass through quiet forests, open meadows, shady orchards, a peaceful lake, and more. Even on winter weekends, the park’s mostly flat trails stay relatively quiet and can provide a quick escape without journeying too far from town.
In Albany, hikers can connect roadways and waterfront trails to follow the banks of the Willamette River through the heart of town. The 6.8-mile (mostly flat) hike gains about 60 feet, passes through forests of maple and cottonwood, and offers a quick diversion to Talking Water Gardens (a series of wastewater treatment ponds that have earned plaudits for attracting a wide variety of birds all year long).
Get Chocolates Delivered to Your Door
Wine isn’t the only thing Willamette Valley makers are shipping this season; chocolatiers all over the valley are shipping their best truffles, fudge, and other confections straight to your doorstep.
Just outside Amity, The Brigittine Monks Gourmet Fudge and Truffles ships their decadent fudge and several varieties of truffle (including cherry, hazelnut, and salted caramel); you can even order limited-edition boxes of chocolate chosen specifically for Valentine’s Day.
And Euphoria Chocolate Company, a Eugene staple since 1980, boasts a variety of chocolates to satisfy every sweet tooth—a wide range of truffles (some crafted with local Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Pinot Gris wines), chocolate sauces, gift boxes, chocolate bars, cookies, and even chocolate hearts.