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There are times in our often-hectic lives when getting out for a night on the town just isn’t viable; the kids have swimming lessons, you have to work the night shift, or you have to get up so early that going out at night seems like a chore. Fortunately, we have another option: a full-blown date day! And we have just the place to head for: Sauvie Island.
Often people think of Sauvie Island once a year when they head out to the pumpkin patch or the corn maze, but Sauvie Island is a low-key paradise featuring tons of great things to do outdoors, including berry picking, wine tasting and a day on the beach.
The first stop on the island is actually the most essential: get a parking permit. There are several places on the island that sell permits, but the easiest place to grab one is at the Cracker Barrel Grocery store on the left just after crossing the bridge to the island. The permit runs $7 and allows the holder to park in any of the island’s designated areas. Permit secured, it’s on to the first stop: berry picking.
There are plenty of options when it comes to U-pick farms on the island; for the full list, just check out the island’s website, sauvieisland.org. Your choices are many, including strawberries, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants, peaches, vegetables, and even flowers. It’s the freshest produce you can get at the heart of each season. Either bring a container from home, or use one provided by the farm. Then, get the freshly picked crop weighed. Harvesting berries is not only great fun, it’s very economical. All that hard work creates a thirst — so then it’s time for a drink!
There are a couple of places to get a drink on the island, but one of the most interesting is Bella Organic Winery, which specializes in berry wines. They offer a tasting of five wines for $4 a person. Though not really a wine drinker, I really enjoyed their rhubarb wine, which was a nice blend of sweet and tart. They’ve got wines made from just about every berry under the sun, from dry to very sweet. If you’re hungry or just looking for some fresh produce, the winery also doubles as a farm stand, complete with snacks and fresh fruits and vegetables.
To end the day, check out the island’s many beaches (including one that is clothing-optional) and wildlife areas. A quiet stroll on the beach, plus a fresh bottle of berry wine, plus watching the ships pass by can equal a perfect end to your date day. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the assorted birds of prey fishing in the river. As you sit, place friendly (or romantic) bets on whether they catch anything. Before you know it, your date day may have turned into a date evening.
Sometimes you just don’t want to deal with the bustle of downtown, and a peaceful destination may seem like a better option. If that’s the case for you, trade a night on the town for a day on the island and make the short drive to Sauvie Island for a delightful date in Northwest “paradise.”