Romantic restaurants, B&B getaways, roses, cards and candy are universally viewed as the go-to “musts” for a successful Valentine’s Day. However, Valentine’s Day can be celebrated in any number of ways.
In one of the classic Valentine’s Day clichés, I was engaged on Valentine’s Day.
My soon-to-be husband and I met in the theater department at Washington State University, despite both being communications majors. He was a senior studying in the radio/television department and I was a journalism major. Our paths never crossed until we met on stage during rehearsals of “Moliere’s The Imaginary Invalid,” a production of the WSU Comédiennes traveling theater troupe.
The troupe, open by audition only, saw fit to cast me as an actress playing the role of a young ingenue and my husband earned college credits for his work on sets, sound and lightening.
On our first date he took me to see the film “Freebie and the Bean.”
In less than two weeks, we were engaged. He popped the question over drinks at the Moscow, Idaho Mark IV motel bar and restaurant while we listened to our favorite local band.
In the years since, we’ve celebrated numerous Valentine’s days. My favorite memories are not of the expensive restaurants or getaways, but of celebrations unique to our lives and preferences.
We don’t always have similar tastes in food, movies, fun or music, so we’ve made it a habit to alternate Valentine’s Day celebrations. One year he picks what we’ll do, and the next year I’ll choose.
It’s fun and keeps the romance fresh and alive. I never know what to expect, and neither does he!
This year Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday, a perfect dinner and movie night. However, if you don’t already have dinner reservations you might find it challenging to book a table at one the SCV’s “go-to” romantic destination restaurants.
Here are some alternative suggestions for a memorable Valentine’s Day date night:
Return to the ‘Scene of the Crime’
Until they tore it down, my husband and I would return to the Moscow, Idaho Mark IV motel bar and re-enact that fateful night when we became engaged. Over the years we’ve had to teach more than one bartender how to make a Smith & Kearns with Kahlua, the drink we both ordered that fateful night.
Returning to a place associated with where you first fell in love is a great way to rekindle the flame of romance. Perhaps it’s a coffee shop, a bar, a fast food joint, a beach or a ski slope. The possibilities are endless, as long it is a place significant to both parties.
Romantic Gondola Getaway
Forget Venice, Italy. Established in 1982 in Naples Islands, Long Beach, the Gondola Getaway is the oldest and largest fleet of gondolas in America. The meandering canals, five bridges, calm bays and million-dollar homes make for a memorable romantic adventure.
Each ride includes a blanket, cups and an ice bucket … bring your own food and drinks. Throw in a card, a heart-shaped box of See’s Candy and a bouquet of red roses and you’re all set. It will be hard to top this Valentine’s experience.
Send love in four-part harmony
Santa Clarita Men of Harmony Singing Valentine Serenades can be sent to your doorstep on Valentine’s Day. Tell your loved one how much you care by having a barbershop quartet sing them a love song. Flower included. Your loved one will melt when they discover they are the center of attention of a love song sung by members of the Santa Clarita Men of Harmony.
Sea breezes and beach walking
One of my favorite places to “chill” is Ventura Harbor Village. Across the street is the ocean and a wonderful “walkable” beach. Take a romantic stroll along the sand, then wander back to the “village” to stroll along the boardwalk. Valentine’s Day will feature the Village Visitor Booth where you can send a message to a friend, family or loved one (postage paid for) from 1-4 p.m. Plus, you can hear seaside live music by Kenny Devoe, performing 1-4 p.m.
Climb aboard an Island Packers catamaran and cruise the Ventura Harbor and Keys with the Valentine’s Day Harbor Cruise at 6 p.m. or visit Top This Chocolate for a romantic Valentine’s experience.
There are also several restaurants at the village offering Valentine’s Day dining options.
Home movies and dinner
If all else fails, make staying home a special evening “in.” Order dinner to be delivered from Uber Eats or Grubhub and then cozy up on the sofa and watch movies together. Flip a coin to see who chooses the first film and agree to “suffer” through whatever movie your partner chooses.
I still remember the Valentine’s night I was entertained with the 2 1/2-hour film “Tora, Tora, Tora.” It’s a WWII movie, for those who don’t know. My revenge was “Love Story.” The perfectly awful film with the famous line, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
We still laugh about that Valentine’s experiment. A perfect example of why our love story continues…