Spas aren't for everybody. For those who prefer to pet a cat, throw an axe at a wall, or float in a sea of nothingness, here's where to go to de-stress.

OutRaged

Like most rage rooms, OutRaged in Vancouver equips people with safety gear, tools (like sledgehammers or baseball bats), and plenty of destructible items, places them in a room, and lets them go to town. For an added bonus, OutRaged gives customers markers so they can literally write out their problems (on a plate, for instance) and then destroy them. With COVID still a part of our lives, owner Tera Gale says it’s common to see people write out “COVID-19” or “coronavirus” on an object before smashing it to bits.

Gale says OutRaged sees “people from all walks of life,” from bachelorette parties to divorce parties to groups looking for a fun night out, but surprisingly the rage room sees more women than men. What’s more, according to Gale, local psychologists and therapists are actually recommending their patients to try out their space as a way to help deal with loss, distress, and grief. So, in addition to raging out, she sees OutRaged as a place to cry, to let out any and all emotions, and “we give them a big hug afterwards and they’re good.”  

Umami Café

View of Umami Cafe and the entry garden

Image: James Florio

Treat yourself to stunning views of the Portland Japanese Garden, now on full fall display, at the Umami Café. After a long day at the garden, relax and reflect in the café, designed as an homage to Kyoto’s Kiyomizu-dera temple, with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the hillside.

While there, sip tea from the Tokyo-based Jugetsudo and indulge in other light snacks from local Japanese confectionaries, such as Behind the Museum Café and Yume Confections. Admission to the garden and a table reservation are required for entry to Umami Café.  

Purrington’s Cat Lounge

Purrington's Cat Lounge

There’s nothing quite as relaxing as scratching the chin of a purring cat resting on your lap or feeling their soft fur as they do a figure eight around your legs. Even watching a cat delicately amble around a room and stare out of a window at nearby birds can be calming. Enter: Purrington’s Cat Lounge, the Northeast Portland hybrid café/adoption center. "When we were planning our renovation in 2018-2019, we tried to be very intentional about making the space a place that would encourage calm, peaceful interactions with cats and would feel like a bit of a retreat from the day-to-day stresses of life," says co-owner Helen Harris. 

Large windows let in tons of natural light and the cozy seating gives the lounge a pleasant living-room feel. Since reopening their shop this year with COVID precautions, the crew has seen a flurry of business, with customers adopting all of its available cats. Wonder what’s stressing people out? Reservations are recommended.     

Portland Axe Throwing

Portland Axe Throwing

Established in 2015, Portland Axe Throwing in Northeast hosts parties, corporate events, and more at their facility located at StormBreaker St. Johns. Grab a friend, or a few, and reserve a one- to two-hour session, where a trainer will teach participants the basics of axe throwing, plus a few games to keep things exciting. Not only is axe throwing full of medieval fun, but you'll feel pretty good after it, too. 

"There is absolutely a therapeutic aspect to axe throwing—it is a mind-body sport and a great stress relief," says Jen Tobener of Portland Axe Throwing. "We get a lot of repeat customers for this very reason."

Go on and make Gimli proud—just be sure to toss the axe and not a dwarf. After the axe (or before), toss back an ale an appetizer at StormBreaker.

Batting a Thousand

The cages at Batting a Thousand

Just in time for the MLB post-season, Batting a Thousand on SE Stark is a great place to chat about your playoff brackets, plus work on perfecting that swing. Remember: swing your hips all the way around; don’t stop once you hit the ball! Things look a little different here with COVID protocols in place—arcades and soda machines are non-operational, and only four people are allowed per reservation—but Batting a Thousand offers four batting cages with speeds for baseball and softball.

"We have a lot of people come in just to let off some steam," says Jason Walchli of Batting a Thousand. "Its especially fun to hit the slow pitch softballs - great way to get out some aggression."

There’s also a training tunnel behind the batting cages, with new turf and upgraded LED lighting, to work on fielding and pitching. Give ‘em the cheese. Reservation only. No walk ins.

Eastmoreland Golf Course

So maybe 50-mile-an-hour fast balls flying at you isn’t as relaxing as you thought it might be. What about a ball that stays absolutely still on a tee? Check out the historic Eastmoreland Golf Course, Oregon’s second oldest golf course.

A full round isn’t for everyone, though. Sometimes you just want to drive some balls out into an open field. (All right, Happy Gilmore.) In that case unwind at Eastmoreland’s two-tiered, covered driving range. Grab a bucket ‘o balls (ranging from $5—12.50) and spend an afternoon working on that stroke. Don’t have your own clubs? Irons and woods are available for use if you don’t have your own.

Float On

A float tank at Float On

Float On in Southeast Portland has the perfect solution for what ails you: nothing. That’s one way of looking at it, but there’s actually plenty involved these float tanks (also known as isolation tanks or sensory deprivation tanks). First the crew fills a sound-proof, completely dark tank with water and about 800 pounds of Epsom salt, then they warm the water to the average skin temperature, and when you’re ready, they encourage you to dive in, lie back, and float. 

The experience effectively removes sensory input and settles you in complete darkness, and many testimonials have mentioned the pain and stress relief they feel post-float. "We have a lot of people that don't really know what to expect," says Float On general manager Marshall Hammond. "Some people are looking for a strange new experience. And a lot of people are just kind of like looking for some relaxation, a break from the outside world, stress, [and] constant sensory input.... The experiences can be profound, restful—sometimes people fall asleep and that's totally fine."

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