New Ideas for Valentine’s Day That’ll Make You Rethink Your Plans

How to toss out the traditional and plan a day you’ll remember

Valentine’s Day can bring to mind expensive prix fixe menus, red roses and boxed chocolates. If that’s not getting you excited, feel free to rewrite the rules.

This holiday can come with high expectations. But, at its core, it’s all about sharing special moments with people you love. So throw out any old ideas of what Valentine’s Day is supposed to be, and plan something special with your partner, your family or even your friends.

Rewriting the rules for Valentine’s Day might just make this your new favorite holiday—especially if you’re single, in a new relationship or ready to try something different.

Here are 7 ideas to help you plan a fun and memorable date:

1. Have an Adventure

Dining out may be one of the more common date ideas out there, but it doesn’t have to be the main event.

To shake things up, ditch the formal dinner. Instead, go bowling, explore local vineyards or breweries, see a concert, visit a museum, try an escape room, or take a painting class.

There’s really no limit here. You could even schedule something sporty: Hiking, biking, boating, rock climbing, and even running a 5k or an adventure race are all perfectly legitimate Valentine’s Day activities.

2. Explore New Restaurants and Cuisines

Landing a dinner reservation on Valentine’s Day can be tricky, and even some chefs dislike the prix fixe menus that dominate the day. But rewriting the rules doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy great food. So go ahead, dine out—just do it on your terms.

To avoid Valentine’s Day crowds, avoid go-to spots for romantic meals. Instead, look for interesting foods and restaurants off the beaten path. Skip fine dining spots, and head for a casual Italian restaurant turning out craft pizzas, a Chinese restaurant with killer dim sum or any number of hidden gems serving up delicious, foreign foods.

Another easy way to avoid Valentine’s Day crowds? Celebrate early. You’ll expand your options by celebrating the day or weekend before.

And who says it has to be dinner? You could even do a Valentine’s Day brunch or lunch, which could be cheaper than dinner—and an easier time of day to find a babysitter.

3. Plan a Date Night In

Dining at home doesn’t have to mean cutting culinary corners. You can pick up dinner from your favorite restaurant or have it delivered. Just call ahead to ensure this option is available on the 14th, as takeout and delivery options might be different on Valentine’s Day.

Another option? Show off your cooking skills and make dinner at home. Preparing a dish with your partner, family or friends can even be part of the fun. For a throwback meal that plays well on dates and with larger groups, consider fondue.

4. Pack a Picnic

Want to keep things casual? Plan a Parisian-style picnic. A good cheese, great bread and the right bottle of wine can go a long way.

And remember, winter picnics aren’t just for those living in warm-weather states. You can move a picnic indoors in February and curl up by a fireplace or beneath festive twinkle lights.

5. Do Dinner and a Show

Whether you’re dining out or dining at home, consider adding a movie, live theater or concert into the mix. This is a date you’ll enjoy even if you have kids in tow.

Short on time? Enjoy dinner and drinks during the show. This is easy enough to pull off at home, but it’s also an option out on the town. Just look for dinner theater, movie theaters and music venues that serve food.

6. Book a Romantic Getaway

Feeling ambitious? Take your date on the road. You could find a bed and breakfast just out of town, or hop a flight to somewhere warm.

And remember, last-minute travel doesn’t need to be expensive. You might score off-season deals in February, and there are plenty of ways to travel for less.

7. Keep Things Light

Whatever you do this Valentine’s Day, make sure you take time to enjoy the moments you create with the people you love.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Let technology and the latest apps make your life easier. And don’t overthink gifts. If you know exactly what to get your partner, do that. Otherwise, consider giving them an experience—especially if that’s an unforgettable Valentine’s Day date.

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