Let’s be completely honest: Valentine’s Day isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But we’ve figured out that the trick is to celebrate the holiday in your own way. Come February 14, learn to practice self-love or show your partner how much you care with these 32 Valentine’s Day date ideas. They seriously run the gamut, including all-out pampering, charitable endeavors, cultural events, and chill things you can do with someone special, a friend, or yourself. Now, go on and celebrate the day of love—whichever way happens to work for you.
These are our picks for unique things to do on Valentine's Day.
Try a Wine-and-Dine Movie Theater
Upscale movie theaters like iPic and Cinépolis offer cozy seating and full wine-and-dinner service. While the price may be higher than a regular movie, elevated big screen amenities like truffle fries and a glass of cabernet delivered directly to your seat kicks up the movie-going experience, exponentially. Some theaters even have blankets—perfect for cuddling.
Go to a Jazz Club
Listening to live music in a dimly lit jazz bar is sultry and intimate. Plus, you can usually snag a reservation if you’re up for cocktails and appetizers. Try the bluewhale in Los Angeles, Preservation Hall in New Orleans, Jazz Showcase in Chicago, Blues Alley in Washington D.C. or Village Vanguard in NYC, for example.
The romance of stargazing isn't lost on planetariums. Many of them host couple's events around Valentine's Day, so do a little digging to see if one is happening near you. Bonus: Clear skies are always in the forecast, no matter what Mother Nature conjures up outside.
Take a Relaxing Bath
Turn on the faucet, toss in a fizzy bath bomb, and get your zen on—with or without a partner. Take it up a notch with candles and a calming playlist. Go even further by taking a cue from the spa world with some greenery, a touch of dried eucalyptus, and a pair of fluffy robes.
For extra spa-like coziness, add a textured statement rug to temper cold tile floors.
Check out a Burlesque Show
Even if you don’t know how to dance, you can get in the mood with some burlesque. Acts tend to be innovative—and sultry. To find a show near you, check out your city's performing arts centers, university art departments (which often invite visiting acts to perform, and you don't need to be a student to attend), as well as local live events venues near you.
Recreate Your First Date
Go to that restaurant where you first met or the cocktail bar where you said cheers over martinis, and reminisce over your first impressions of each other. If your first date was totally awkward, have a first-date "do-over" and replace it with fresh new memories. Feel like celebrating with friends instead? Round up your pals and make it a group date.
Work out the Kinks
Order a massage therapist duo to come to you with an on-demand app like Zeel or Soothe. For a twist, seek out a lymphatic drainage massage, a treatment that's grown in popularity in recent years. According to a Zeel blog post, lymphatic drainage massage involves "a series of gliding, compressing, stretching, and cupping motions over the client’s body," to encourage the lymphatic system to function optimally. And according to one MyDomaine writer, it's "more involved" than a typical massage, yet relaxing nonetheless.
Bottle Your Own Wine
Wine tasting is great, but creating your own vintage? Even better. Places like The Wine Foundry in Napa let you stomp on your own grapes and take home your very own bottles. At Northstar winery in Washington state taste, blend, and bottle your own wine—complete with custom label.
Chase the Sun
Grab a blanket and watch the night or morning sky. We know you want to snap a photo but turn your phone on silent and keep it out of sight instead. This is all about taking in the moment.
Stage a Fun Photoshoot
It doesn’t have to be your engagement to take professional pictures together. And you don’t have to necessarily hire a photographer either with the latest smartphone technology and tons of self-portrait tips out there.
Serve up a Valentine’s Day–Inspired Meal
Sur La Table, in particular, has a ton of cooking classes leading up to the big day, many of which follow a Valentine's Day theme. Be sure to replicate the feast on February 14. Or try Cozymeal, Hipcooks, or to find a group of food-lovers to dine with, try Eatwith.
Schedule a Paint Night
Unleashing your inner artist is always more fun with a beverage in hand, whether it be a glass of wine or a steaming mug of tea. To get started, check out Paint Nite events which partner with local bars on the West Coast, Muse Paintbar in locations along the East Coast, or your local wine bar.
Commission a Couple's Illustration
Hire an illustrator or graphic designer to create a custom sketch or illustration of you and your loved one. We like How Heart Thou, which also donates 50 percent of proceeds to a good cause.
Watch Your Wedding Video
Calling all married couples: This is your time to reminisce about your nuptials. (That’s right—your video is not just reserved for anniversaries.)
Block off an hour or so to work up a sweat together, from a heart-pumping HIIT class to a nourishing yin yoga session, or a long hike on your favorite trail. Plus, according to one Psychology Today article, studies suggest working out with your partner may contribute to increased relationship satisfaction, strengthen emotional bonds through nonverbal mimicry (such as when you're matching each other's pace, or tossing a medicine ball back and forth), and bolster your attraction to one another.
Bake Something Heart-Shaped
Think pizza, waffles, pancakes, cookies... if it can be shaped or arranged in a heart, it's fair game. If heart-shaped baked goods are too cheesy for your tastes, and/or you can't be bothered to be in the kitchen for more than an hour, try these 30-minute dinner recipes instead.
Get a Mixology Lesson
Sip on something tasty as you learn how to make your favorite cocktails. Head to the exclusive Apothéke Academy in New York, for example, which features ingredients from the rooftop garden and farmers market; or a craft cocktail bar near you.
Make It a Game Night
Set up a round or two of poker or Cards Against Humanity, if that’s more your thing. If you're feeling fancy, get dressed up and head to the casino for slots and blackjack.
We don’t usually condone calling in sick, but sometimes a day of rest is the best (especially if you can spend it with the one you love). You could even plan to spend the entire day together sans technology; flip through magazines, visit an art museum, go for a swim, or browse a farmer's market.
Watch a Love Story Unfold on Film
Whether it’s The Holiday, Love Actually, or even something classic like Casablanca, get in a romantic state of mind. Or go with a more recent pick on Netflix, which seems to be on a romantic comedy movie making spree. Case in point: To All the Boys I've Loved Before (which in 2020 released a sequel), Always Be My Maybe, and Set It Up.
Book a Ghost Tour
Enjoy a thrilling story and pull each other close when you feel a phantom chill. Historic neighborhoods, hotels, and local historical societies are a great place to narrow down your search for a tour that suits your interests.
Build a Bonfire
Stoke a roaring fire on the beach, at the park, or in your backyard. Enjoy the evening just you two, make it a double date, or invite all of the people you love to partake.
Head to an Amusement Park
Tap your favorite thrill seeker to ride all of the rollercoasters, or get nostalgic for a few rounds on the carousel or ferris wheel. If you can swing a week-day visit, you might score a discount on tickets.
Try a Tarot Reading
Seek out a holistic wellness center, or see if your local yoga studio hosts tarot workshops and pop in for a reading. Or, tune into your intuition and host your own reading for each other.
Browse a Plant Nursery
Surround yourself with plants and head to your nearest nursery to select a Valentine's Day succulent or fruit tree you can nurture together. According to Feng Shui principles, avoid spiky plants like cacti, which carry sharp (meaning potentially negative) energy.
Try an Escape Room Challenge
Get moving and work out your mind at the same time when you collaborate as a team to solve an escape room challenge. Escape Rooms have grown in popularity in recent years, so you're bound to find one near you.
Splash Around a Water Park
Weather permitting, pack your swimsuits for a day at the water park. There's also nothing wrong with laying out all day at the pool. Whatever you do, don't forget the sunscreen!
Create a Greatest Hits Tour
Pack the day with all of your favorite places to see, eat, and do together where you live. And consider it the ultimate self-care day if you choose to do so solo.
Moody French R. The Complete Guide to Lymph Drainage Massage. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning; 2011.
DiDonato TE. 5 Reasons Why Couples Who Sweat Together, Stay Together. Psychology Today. January 10, 2014.