Yes, it’s true that we should celebrate the love in our personal relationships every day of the year, and Valentine’s Day has become a totally commercialized holiday — but that doesn’t mean we should stop celebrating it. By keeping things low-key, you almost connect with your partner more, mostly because you’re dodging all of the horrible pressure that Valentine’s Day can put on us.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend and getting wined and dined is all fine and dandy, but we think these simple — yet super-fun — date ideas are just as good.
1. Take a hike
Take a couple of hours to totally disconnect from smartphones and social media and reconnect in the quiet solitude of nature. It’s still winter, so you’ll probably have to bundle up — but the cold weather just gives you an excuse to exchange body heat while you enjoy gorgeous views.
2. Go ride a bike
If you’re lucky enough to live in an area that isn’t snowed in (sorry, New Englanders — the crazy thunder snowstorms are probably gonna cross this one off your list), taking a nice long bike ride is a totally Valentine’s Day-worthy activity. Whether you are on a beach bike path or an old county road, there’s just something so delightfully romantic and old-fashioned about a long bike ride.
3. Do brunch
Valentine’s Day dinner is so overrated. It’s crowded, it’s expensive, and it’s nearly impossible to get a good reservation. Going out to brunch is way more fun, or opt to make it at home so it can be served up in bed.
4. Have an indoor picnic
An indoor picnic is the ultimate low-maintenance date. Pack a bunch of finger foods in a cute basket with a bottle of wine and camp out in the living room.
Plus, you and your S.O. can totally bond by rolling around on the floor and making a fort out of blankets and chairs — which, incidentally, turns out to be really romantic.
5. Mess around in the kitchen
A night in can be a total adventure when you’re getting creative in the kitchen. Get crazy and challenge yourselves to cook up visually stimulating touches like individual beef Wellingtons (like the one pictured above), crystallized pansies and strawberry roses.
Even if it turns out to be a #PinterestFAIL, you’ll still have fun doing it together. Just make sure to have a backup frozen pizza on hand, just in case.
6. Take a cooking class
If you’re feeling really adventurous in the food arena, take a class from a professional. Sur La Table has a Valentine’s Day Date Night cooking class every year. Tons of local places usually offer classes for the occasion as well.
7. Go to the airport
Watching the twinkling lights of planes coming in and out of the airport at night is exhilarating and romantic. You can usually find a good spot right outside your local airport, and a lot of airports even have designated areas just for observing (Gerald R. Ford International in Grand Rapids, Charlotte Douglas in Charlotte and Santa Monica Airport, just to name a few).
What’s your favorite low-key Valentine’s Day activity?
Before you go, check out our slideshow below.
Originally published February 2011. Updated February 2017.