6 Valentine's Dates That Aren't Going out to an Overpriced Restaurant

There's nothing wrong with rote romantic rituals, but you can do better.

The Valentine's Day dinner reservation belongs to a slew of romantic cliches, including red roses and Parisian proposals. There's nothing wrong with these rote rituals — cliches are cliches for a good reason, after all — but they do show a lack of imagination and creative thinking. And true romance, the kind that sweeps you off your feet, is thanks to nothing if not being attentive and thoughtful to the unique gestures that will make your partner swoon: not anyone, but your special someone.

So while we've got several ideas here to break out of the romantic mold, we encourage you to think about what makes you two tick as a couple. Is it your love of adventure? Hi-fi obsession? That you're crazy for crosswords? A planned itinerary (complete with snack breaks!) of local places you've yet to explore, a trip to a vinyl bar, or a custom-made crossword puzzle are all ways to tell your partner, "Hey, I see you, and I love what I see."

A Winter Hike

YYour sweetie love the outdoors? Head out into the snowy hills in the morning with a thermos of hot coffee. Or opt for an afternoon hike with a round of hot toddies in that thermos. There's something magical that happens chatting on the trail, kind of like talking in the car. Because you're not staring at each other, people often open up in surprising ways. Plan to stay until dark and stargaze. Bring a blanket to snuggle up or cozy up by a fire.

Bowling

It's got the retro charm, divey appeal, and the low-key vibe is perfect for people who hate Valentine's Day. Drink beer, eat popcorn and check out each other's butts. That's romance for the Reality Bites set.

Hit the Club

Not da club but a quiet, hidden jazz or blues club. Picture it: you two leaning close around a small round table, just like they do in the supper clubs of old movies. Nothing says romance like those old standards and two glasses of champagne.

Cooking Class

This is a great date for a homebody. The knives and flames add an element of danger, but this gift is all about making your date nights at home that much better. Learn how to make a martini and bouillabaisse, and you'll know how to seduce one another even without Thai delivery.

Book a Night in a Hotel

For less than dinner and drinks, you can enjoy all the sexy vibes of a high-rise hotel. Crisp sheets, an epic bubble bath in a Jacuzzi tub, and sex somewhere that's not your usual bedroom. And you don't have to travel. Who says it can't be that place downtown? Did someone say hot tub?

Slide into a Speakeasy

Secrets can be sexy, especially when an unmarked door opens to reveal a dark room with perfect lighting, a jazz duo in the corner, and cozy tables standing by for a night of Nick and Nora's glasses filled with French 75s. That sounds sexy to us.

The Takeaway

The most thoughtful gestures hold your beloved's desires at their heart. So whether you break the Valentine's Day mold or stay within it — hey, some people love Valentine's dinner out and a dozen roses — try to make it a night that will delight the one you love.