Things to Do

Beyond Chocolates and Roses: Ten Quirky Things to Do on Valentine’s Day

Skip the flowers and box of chocolates, and make this Valentine’s Day a memorable one. We’ve listed ten ways to do just that by trying something new and exciting with that special someone.

Want a different Valentine’s Day? Try a hot-air-balloon ride. Photo courtesy of Blue Ridge Hot Air Balloons.

>> See our full Valentine's Day Guide 

1. Take a cooking class together.
Restaurants are going to be packed on Valentine’s Day, so rather than going out to eat at a crowded restaurant, have someone teach you how to make a meal together. Equinox is offering a Valentine’s Day class for $125 a person where you’ll make steamed mussels, roasted rack of lamb for two, and chocolate desserts. Other places offering classes include Bebo Trattoria, Judy Harrison Cooking School (2402 Nordok Pl., Alexandria; 703-768-3767), and L’Academie de Cuisine (5021 Wilson La., Bethesda; 301-986-9490). Be sure to call ahead to reserve your spot.

2. Set up a scavenger hunt.
Think about all of the places you’ve visited as a couple. Maybe you have a spot near one of the monuments or a memory together at a certain restaurant. Create a scavenger hunt with clues for your significant other that’ll be entertaining and exciting for both of you. It’s also a great way to reminisce about your relationship without being too cheesy.

3. Go skydiving.
Show him or her there’s literally no limit to how high your love can go by skydiving for the first time together. With Skydive Orange (11339 Bloomsbury Rd., Orange, Va.; 540-943-6587), first timers can take a 45-minute class before skydiving while harnessed to a certified instructor. Prices start at $255 each; call ahead to make a reservation.

4. Take a carriage ride through DC.
Nothing says old-fashioned romance like a horse-drawn carriage ride. We found local carriage companies that’ll take you out for a romantic ride through DC. Carriages of the Capital (301-371-9127) offers private rides for $150 an hour but can accommodate up to six people. Charley Horse Carriage Company (202-488-1155) takes you around the capital and monuments for a half hour. For $135, you get the carriage ride along with a rose and a bottle of Champagne or sparkling cider. Call ahead to reserve a time slot.

5. Send a singing telegram.
Nothing says “I love you” like someone dressed in a hot-pink gorilla suit knocking at your door with balloons in hand, right? The American Balloon Company has been providing locals with singing telegrams since 1989, and Valentine’s Day is one of its busiest days. A staff member comes dressed in costume (the pink gorilla suit is the most popular) for $145, plus a $20-to-$35 delivery fee. The package includes a bouquet of “Happy Valentine’s Day” or “I Love You” balloons, a bag of Hershey kisses or jelly beans, and at least 15 minutes of entertainment, including a Valentine’s Day song. Other costumes choices are a black gorilla, a puppy, a chicken, and a teddy bear. The Alexandria-based company travels throughout Washington. Call ahead to reserve a time slot.

6. Take a pottery class.
At Manassas Clay (9122 Center St., Manassas; 703-330-1040) couples can reserve a time slot to meet with an instructor to learn throwing techniques and hand-building or to paint their own pottery. Pricing varies depending on the project, but it starts at $20 per person for a 90-minute session. Creative Clay Studios (5704-E General Washington Dr., Alexandria; 703-750-9480) will have a Valentine’s Day workshop from 7 to 10 PM for $25 a person where the staff will show you how to throw something on the wheel and get a little messy. For a more simple activity, design and paint a ceramic piece of your choice at Color Me Mine in Fairfax (4209 Fairfax Corner Ave. East, Fairfax; 703-803-7246). The studio is hosting a date night on Valentine’s Day where couples can get free studio time from 6 to 9.

7. Bundle up and go ice skating.
Head over to an ice-skating rink near you to spend a few hours of skating and holding hands with your Valentine. Okay, so maybe you’re holding hands because you don’t ice skate much, but either way, beginners and regulars can find a place to lace up their skates in our guide to indoor and outdoor ice-skating rinks. Call ahead to confirm the rink’s hours before you go; some change at the last minute due to sporting or private events.

8. Take a hot-air-balloon ride.
You’ve got to drive some distance if you want to take a hot-air-balloon ride around here, but once you get to your destination it’ll be worth it. Nature lovers will enjoy sweeping views of the Shenandoah Valley during their time in the sky. Valley Ballooning (603 Cobb Ct., Woodstock, Va.; 540-975-0192) offers rides for $180 per person, and rides are taken in groups of four to six people. Blue Ridge Hot Air Balloons (Front Royal; 540-622-6325) charges $200 per person, but the maximum number of riders in a group is four and private flights are available. Couples will toast with sparkling cider after landing.

9. Sing your heart out at a karaoke bar.
Spend the evening at one of Washington’s karaoke bars singing a romantic duet—maybe something along the lines of Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe”? Or show off your goofy side by rapping to Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “Nuthin’ but a G Thang.” Whatever the song or genre, singing karaoke together requires teamwork and it’ll bring you and your Valentine closer. We’ve got a list of karaoke bars worth checking out here.

10. Order takeout or have dinner delivered to you.
Restaurants will be busy on Valentine’s Day, so we don’t blame you if you’d rather spend the evening on the couch with your Valentine eating your favorite takeout. For some great restaurants that offer tasty to-go food, see our Great Takeout package, which covers everything from bakeries to barbecue. What’s even better than takeout? Getting a great meal delivered to your door. Try, which lists numerous local eateries that participate in its delivery service.

What are your ideas for enjoying Valentine’s Day in Washington? Have you had a particularly funny or memorable Valentine’s Day? Tell us in the comments!


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