Give her a rock that won’t fit on her finger with a trip to jaw-dropping Luray Caverns. Photograph by Flickr user david_jones.
You can spend any day of the year having dinner and a movie, but it’s the creative ideas that can make this Valentine’s Day one to remember. We rounded up some of our favorite spots to visit to commemorate this February 14.
Walk With the Animals
Take a walk on the wild side on February 11, when the National Zoo hosts its fourth annual “Woo at the Zoo,” which gives visitors the opportunity to educate themselves on the way animals court and cavort, in addition to enjoying refreshments, a cash bar, and the chance to decorate a dessert for that special someone. The discussions will be held in the Visitor Center at 4:30, 6:30, and 8:30 PM. Tickets ($11 for members, $22 for nonmembers) must be obtained for one discussion. Buy in person or online.
3001 Connecticut Ave., NW. Call 202-633-3040 for more information.
Get Creative With Cupcakes
Have dessert first on February 11 at Hello Cupcake, and participate in a Valentine’s Day–themed cupcake decorating class. In two hours, learn how to use buttercream, fondant, cream cheese, and ganache toppings to enhance your cakes with your own creative theme. Afterward, take your dozen cakes home to share—or not! The classes ($70 per person) are open to decorators 16 and up, and will be held at 11 AM and 2 PM, and again at 5:30 PM on the 14th at the Barracks Row location (705 8th St., SE). All materials and refreshments are provided; gluten-free bakers can also be accommodated.
Register online, or call 202-544-2210 for more information.
Build Something Lasting Together
Tea (or wine) for two: Tap into your creative side at All Fired Up in Bethesda, and design a couple’s mug set, heart-shaped plates, and more at the store. (The Cleveland Park location will be closed on Valentine’s Day.) Make an early date night of it and bring your own food and wine to enjoy as you sketch out your ideal design. Once your work is complete, it will be dipped, fired, and ready for pickup in about a week’s time. Weeknights are best to drop in, but staffer Matthew Heller says, “If you really want to assure a spot, you can call ahead.” This place can also work for a family-friendly V-Day activity, as well. E-mail email@example.com for more information.
3413 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-363-9590; 4923 Elm St., Bethesda; 301-654-3206; allfiredupdc.com.
Harness Some Flower Power
Take a walk through the US Botanic Garden and learn the language of flowers, when author Amy Brecount White reveals ways to enhance your communications skills by speaking through blossoms, an idea that dates back to the Victorian era. Brecount will discuss and demonstrate by assembling a “tussie-mussie” bouquet. The talk is open to the public and will begin at 1 PM. The Gardens (100 Maryland Ave., SW) are open 10 to 5 daily. Visitors can browse on their own or take a cell phone tour by calling 202-730-9303.
Call 202-225-8333 for more info.
Visit the Public Observatory on February 11, when the Air and Space Museum hosts a special after-hours stargazing affair. Beginning at 6:45 PM, you’ll have the chance to peek through a professional telescope at the night sky. The event is free and open to the public, weather permitting. Call 202-633-1000 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
600 Independence Ave., SW; nasm.si.edu.
Say It With Salsa
Awkward slow dancing? Sooo middle school. It takes two to tango at Salsa With Silvia. Get close to your sweetheart—and learn a new set of steps—with a salsa lesson by Silvia Stoyanova on Valentine’s Day from 6 to 7 PM. A salsa performance will follow the instruction. Tickets ($20 per couple) can be purchased online.
4908 Wisconsin Ave., NW. Call 202-415-0859 or e-mail email@example.com for more information.
Run Away Together (Temporarily)
Get out of the city and trek down to the Shenandoah Valley for a visit to Luray Caverns. The area offers views of several stalactites and stalagmites and is even home to the Great Stalacpipe Organ, the largest musical instrument in the world. Tickets to the natural wonders ($24) include a tour of the caverns, admittance to the Luray Valley Museum, and a self-guided tour of the Car and Carriage Caravan.
101 Cave Hill Rd., Luray, VA; luraycaverns.com.