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.
To help you celebrate February 14 (whether you want to practice self-love or show your partner how much you care), we turned to relationship experts Sean Davis and Brenda Wade for ideas. The activities 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.
Meet the Expert
Now, go on and celebrate the day of love—whichever way happens to work for you. These are 39 unique things to do on Valentine's Day.
Try a Wine-and-Dine Movie Theater
Upscale movie theaters like IPIC 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 kick up the movie-going experience, exponentially. Some theaters even have blankets—perfect for cuddling.
Learn Something New
If your partner is all about trying new things, bringing in an expert to teach you both a new skill could be an exciting Valentine’s Day date. Hiring a virtual mixologist, chef, or dance teacher means that you can have this experience from the comfort of your own home. Before the big event, grab cocktails, have some appetizers, and light candles to make the evening feel even more like date night. Afterward, share a meal and laugh about the experience, or maybe even book more lessons together.
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 Preservation Hall in New Orleans, Jazz Showcase in Chicago, Blues Alley in Washington D.C., or Village Vanguard in NYC, just to name a few.
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. Clear skies are always in the forecast, no matter what Mother Nature conjures up outside.
Turn Your Bathroom Into a Spa
Wade suggests creating a romantic, relaxing environment in the privacy of your own home. “Turn your bathroom into a spa with candles, music, and your favorite, refreshing adult beverage on ice,” Wade says, noting that it’s pretty easy to make this date extra romantic if you just use your imagination.
To make the date even more special, gift your loved one a luxury robe, a new pair of slippers, or some gourmet chocolates to eat after a soak in the tub.
Plan a Special Hike
For those who love to hike, it might be tempting to visit the same trails over and over again. For a date that feels both special and familiar, why not take a hobby you both share and put a unique spin on it? For the holiday, you can pack Champagne to pop at the end of the hike, or go in the morning to watch the sunrise from the peak. Alternatively, you can visit a trail that’s off the beaten path, or one that ends near a brewery with great outdoor seating.
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 (they often invite visiting acts to perform and don't require student enrollment to attend) as well as local live event venues.
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.
Take Breakfast in Bed
This luxury shouldn’t just be reserved for hotel stays. Wake up an hour early, whip up something special like a childhood favorite or a twist on your most indulgent brunch order, and settle in for some undivided together time before you head off to work.
Highlight What You Love About Your Partner
For people who crave words of affirmation, hearing a list of “specific, nuanced” things that you love about them is incredibly important, Davis explains. This means things that go beyond mundane, everyday compliments. For a Valentine’s Day date to remember, brainstorm how you can incorporate a list of these things into a date or event. Maybe you simply write a letter to your significant other and present it with another special gift, or perhaps you can tell them after you both do something you love together, like hike, cook, or exercise.
“Small gestures like that are the glue that holds relationships together, but they rarely get any mention,” Davis says. “You’ll be surprised at how seen your partner feels once you do this.”
Have a Themed Dinner
This one is pretty flexible, and the good news is you can alter it based on your partner’s favorite things. You could cook dinner based on your partner’s favorite movie or country. You could have a nostalgia-filled evening with all your partner’s favorite meals from childhood, paired with their favorite movies, shows, and music from growing up. You could make a three-course meal that’s based on you and your loved one’s most beloved restaurants to visit. The point here is to give a home-cooked meal some meaning and some thought and to make it personalized. It’s more romantic than you might think.
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. Northstar winery in Washington even lets you taste, blend, and bottle your own wine—complete with a 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.
Plan a “One Day” Day
You know all those things you and your significant other have always said you’ll do “one day”? You’ll order from the fancy sushi place one day. You’ll rent a convertible and drive through the cost one day. You’ll play tennis together one day. You’ll finally splurge on that new backyard projector one day, or make s’mores in the backyard, or ride bikes together at the beach. Why not take a handful of those things and work them into one day-long date? Present your partner with a schedule in the morning (pair it with a cappuccino for bonus points), and explain that there’s no time like the present, and you know they’ve always dreamt about doing these things. Then, let the fun begin!
Take a Surprise Vacation Day
If your partner is all about quality time, do everything you can to plan a date that emphasizes this, says Davis. “Clear your work schedule and contact your partner's employer ahead of time to see if you can clear theirs as well, then spend the day doing something you both enjoy,” he says.
This may seem pretty vague, but the key for people who crave quality time with their partners is to simply prioritize being together with zero distractions. The details of the day itself aren’t all that important so long as phones are off, notifications are muted, and you only have each other to focus on. If you find yourself stressing about the specifics of a Valentine’s Day date but know your partner loves quality time, concentrate your energy on eliminating as many distractions as possible first and foremost.
Stage a Fun Photoshoot
It doesn’t have to be your engagement to take professional pictures together. And you don’t have to hire a photographer either. Armed with the latest smartphone technology, tripod, and tons of self-portrait tips, you're all the pro you need.
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. You can also try Cozymeal or Hipcooks for lessons or Eatwith to find like-minded food lovers to dine with.
“Stay at home with the right music and candles for mood, and cook a sumptuous meal together. Or, you can order in, but at least make dessert,” Wade suggests. “This is a time to enjoy creating together. Sit on cushions on the floor or on a couch where you can recline.”
For an added touch, make it personal. For example, if your partner loves television and movies set in France or Italy, consider planning a French or Italian meal to cook together before watching their favorite show or film. You can buy all the ingredients, set the table, and pick out the music to set the scene.
Read a Love Story
Classic romance novels include Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice (although Twilight is also a guilty pleasure). You can also cultivate inner empowerment for yourself and within all of your relationships with personal development books—because what's more romantic than showing up better for your partner?
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.
Take a Road Trip
We all know that person who loves nothing more than a road trip—the playlists, the snacks, the wacky, off-the-beaten-path tourist traps. Sound like your sweetheart? Plan a road trip for V-Day! Stock the car with their favorite candy, snacks, and other treats, and pick a few locations on the map that you can drive to within the day. You can even build a playlist with songs that remind you of your relationship or set a timer, so that every 50 miles, you have your loved one grab a love note from the glove compartment.
Set Up a Luxury Scavenger Hunt
If the perfect Valentine’s Day, for you, involves showering your loved one with expensive gifts (lucky them!), you might find yourself wanting to give them gifts in a way that’s a little more interactive and unique than just sliding boxes across the dinner table. In this case, consider building a scavenger hunt for Valentine’s Day. Each clue can either be a special gift or lead to a series of special gifts. You can also pepper in smaller gifts, like chocolate or cards, throughout the experience. It’ll feel like a game and an activity you both can experience together, so it’s a win-win.
Watch Your Wedding Video
Calling all married couples: This is the time to reminisce about your nuptials. (That’s right—your video is not just reserved for anniversaries.) We suggest you grab the tissues.
Make It a Game Night
Set up a round or two of poker or Cards Against Humanity, if that’s more your thing. Or, consider a classic board game for a dose of nostalgia. If you're feeling fancy, get dressed up and head to the casino for slots and blackjack.
Watch a Love Story Unfold on Film
Whether it’s The Holiday, Love Actually, or something classic like Casablanca, a mushy narrative can put you right into 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, 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 spooky 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 with just your partner, 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 for a day of riding all of the rollercoasters or getting nostalgic over a few revolutions on the carousel or Ferris wheel. If you can swing a weekday visit, you might even score a discount on tickets and find shorter lines.
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 readings for each other. You'll feel seen like never before.
Browse a Plant Nursery
Head to your nearest nursery to select a Valentine's Day succulent or fruit tree you can nurture together or get your hands dirty and grow one from seed (or plugs, we won't tell). Just keep in mind that feng shui principles recommend you 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 things to do together around your city. With so many of your most-loved activities stacked into one day, it's impossible not to create a memorable experience.
Pull a "Sweet Home Alabama"
There’s a reason why so many people remember the ring shopping scene from Sweet Home Alabama—you know the one where Patrick Dempsey’s character takes Reese Witherspoon’s character to Tiffany's, turns the lights on, and says she can pick one as he proposes? It’s pretty romantic. It’s also a little over-the-top, but it can be recreated on basically any budget. After sharing a coffee or some breakfast together, take your partner to their favorite store (a fancy jewelry store works too) and ask them to pick whatever they want.