Portland spots for booze-free fun

In Portland, when the sun goes down, the bars fill up (assuming we've had sun that day). But that doesn't mean that's all there is to do when the city is dark. Yes, you can find midnight bowling and mini-golf places nearly everywhere you travel to, but there are a few other cocktail-free activities to do in Portland once the sun sets. Here are several, because every now and then we all need a break from the regrettable decisions and soul-crushing hangovers that boozy outings bring.

Be artsy ... or smartsy

If you're into foreign films, obscure documentaries, or other cinematic delights too pretentious for HBO, then a visit to the Whitsell Auditorium at the Portland Art Museum will do you well. You can view new and old movies here multiple nights per week, from black-and-white dramas to locally produced short films.

A little more left-brained? No problem. Instead you can nerd out at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry during OMSI After Dark. These 21-and-up eventsusually held on the last Wednesday of every monthteach guests how to concoct sweet science experiments, and about things like ghosts and explosions. Did we mention there's no kids allowed?

Listen to stories
BooksGetty Images/iStockphoto

Who says story time is just for children? Quite often at Powell's City of Books—otherwise known as the largest new and used bookstore on earth—you can catch authors chatting about their latest published works, from graphic novels to philosophical fiction (we know this article is about alcohol-free fun, but there's no harm in sparking a doobie from one of our legal weed dispensaries before attending the latter discussion).

If you're in the mood for something a bit off-kilter, find out where Back Fence PDX is holding its next live storytelling show. You'll hear true tales from a set of local narrators, which can range from funny to touching to just plain outrageous, depending on the night's theme.

Game on

Remember when you were a teenager and one of the best parts of going to the movie theater was the arcade games you got to play afterward? Well, Portland has some serious electric-gaming arenas to dig up the braces-wearing adolescent you buried deep inside yourself (mostly because of the awkwardness). Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade features more than 90 arcade games of past and present, and Electric Castle's Wunderland has four locations of fun to get lost in. Some spots even have laser tag.

If you want to avoid flickering arcade lights, you can still forget about the woes of adulting during modern-strategy board game nights at Cloud Cap Games. Feel free to bring a group of friends to play with or just join in with some new ones. The meetings are for ages 18 and up, so you don't have to worry about kids running around trying to steal your game pieces.

Drink up! (Kind of)
Tea with sugarpatpitchaya via Getty Images

Just because you're steering clear of the bad-decision juice doesn't mean you need to spend the whole night parched. Find your Zen with a handcrafted cup of tea at Tea Bar before 8 p.m., or pop into Southeast Grind, open 24 hours, for your caffeine fix before strolling around the city. Better yet, find a nearby bench to sit and watch the bar hoppers get progressively belligerent as you snidely sip your beverage. We promise it's fun not to be the one drunk-texting your ex after midnight for once.

Laugh it off

If you can't drown your sorrows in liquor, drowning them in laughter is the next best thing (it's also probably the healthier method). Head to ComedySportz for some clean improvisation if you're seeking G-rated giggles (maybe you're not drinking because you're babysitting, in which case, how very adult of you). Check out Funhouse Lounge for some darker humor, which could be in the form of unscripted musicals or standup comedians who are periodically asked to remove articles of clothing, depending on the night.

Melanie Pagan is a Portland-based writer, editor, and social media strategist. Learn more about her at MelaniePagan.com.