22 Original Ideas To Celebrate Valentine's Day This Year

Because dinner and a movie is so overrated.

valentines day ideas
Lis Photography

From public art in Times Square to a balloon ride over Paris, there are plenty of unconventional ways to spend this day of love.

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valentines day ideas
Darren Erickson/Selby Gardens
Wander through a pop art garden inspired by Andy Warhol

You can't celebrate Valentine's Day without flowers, and the certainly delivers. Skip the bouquet of cut roses this year in favor of a visit to their new exhibit, and explore Andy Warhol artworks inspired by nature, alongside living displays designed with pop art influences, like the bromeliads pictured here. The show is on from February 11 through June 30.

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valentines day ideas
Lost River Cave
Explore a fantastical underground world

Spend Valentine's Day exploring the austere splendor , hidden away beneath Bowling Green, KY. You might not equate underground caves with romance, but one glance at the stupendous cathedral-esque caverns and sculptural rock formations will change your mind.

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valentines day ideas
Lis Photography
Brave the snow and cold together

February 14th usually dawns bright and chilly. Celebrate the day with cozy wintertime activities, like the romantic couples' sleigh ride at Vermont's . Other cold weather ideas to consider: cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and, of course, cuddling by the fire with a cup of cocoa.

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valentines day ideas
Indi Chocolate
Make your own box of chocolates

Delay gratification this Valentine's Day and learn to make your very own chocolates. No heart-shaped box will ever taste as good as candy you craft yourself. At in Seattle, make your own delectable truffles, or master the basics of chocolate roasting by starting with the cacao bean in the "" class. Now that's Valentine's Day from scratch.

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valentines day ideas
Topdeck Travel
Visit the "Red City" of Marrakech and more

This Valentine's Day, hop a plane to Marrakech to explore some of the city's fabled art and culture. That's romantic enough all on its own, but for even more adventure, will take you to Casablanca and the Sahara, and will even book a camel ride for two.

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valentines day ideas
Getty Images
Explore a luxurious estate and a star-crossed love story

At any time of year, visitors to the in North Carolina can expect to be dazzled by the estate's aura of old-fashioned romance. And this winter, the ante is upped, thanks to the exhibit which explores the divine attire (and tragic love story) at the heart of the 1997 film.

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valentines day ideas
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Learn all about 'la vie romantique'

Trust Paris, one of the world's most romantic cities, to have an entire museum nominally dedicated to love. (Museum of the Romantic Life) is a small museum in the New Athens district. Technically devoted to the Romantic school of art, but it still makes for a lovely, scenic way to while away Valentine's Day. And when you leave, you can traipse uphill into the Montmartre neighborhood to visit the Moulin Rouge.

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valentines day ideas
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Celebrate love eternal in the city of Romeo and Juliet

"Two households, both alike in dignity. In fair Verona, where we lay our scene." These are the opening lines of arguably the defining work on romance, Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, set in the Italian city of Verona. Today, Verona embraces its role in the famous love story, and celebrates Valentine's Day in style, lining the streets with decorative hearts, and installing a large red heart atop the market stalls in the symbolic "heart" of the city, .

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valentines day ideas
Getty Images
Get a lock on love, in cities all over the world

For generations, starry-eyed lovers put initialed padlocks on Paris' Pont des Artes to symbolize their commitment. Sadly, the structural integrity of the bridge became compromised from the weight of the locks, and Pont des Artes is now a padlock-free zone. That said, there are plenty of other bridges and monuments worldwide that fulfill the same function. Check out the in Cologne or the 'love trees' along the Vodootvodny Canal in Moscow.

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valentines day ideas
Secret Escapes
Visit an unexpected tourist destination, before it gets too trendy

Croatia is still an under-the-radar tourist destination, but it's generating more and more buzz these days. Visit before the crowds get there this Valentine's, and visit romantic destinations like the Roman ruins of Salona via .

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times square valentines day art installation
Courtesy of The Office for Creative Research
See a cool public art installation in Times Square

If you want to see art with some heart behind it, head to Times Square. The Times Square Alliance has invited architecture and design firms to submit ideas for a romantic piece of public art over the past decade. Each year, they select a project that speaks to the nature of love, in and around New York City. It's highly mable, natch. This year's installation is , by ArandaLasch + Marcelo Coelho, and will be on display from February 1 to February 28.

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orchid show chicago botanic garden
Courtesy Chicago Botanic Garden
Admire orchids up close at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Forget buying flowers (let's be honest, they're going to wilt eventually). Instead, take your valentine to see gorgeous blooms at the Chicago Botanic Garden's , this year titled, "Asia in Bloom". You'll see the striking Phalaenopsis 'V3' orchid (almost exclusively found in Asian gardens) , and have the opportunity to enjoy the romantic "Brunch and Blooms" special at the cafe. The show will be open from February 10 to March 25, with adult tickets at $12.

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bouchardon cupid statue
Courtesy of The Musée du Louvre/Hervé Lewandowski
Spot Cupid at the Louvre in Paris

What better way to spend Valentine's Day than with a sighting of Cupid himself? Well, in marble form at least. "" is the work of , a celebrated eighteenth-century draftsman and sculptor. Bouchardon would actually become sculptor for the king of France in 1735.

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smith memorial arch philadelphia
Courtesy of Fairmount Park Conservancy
Say 'I love you' at the Whispering Benches in Philadelphia

Sure, declaring your love out loud is usually the best way to capture your sweetheart's affection, or you could make things a little more intimate this Valentine's Day with a visit to Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. There you'll find a pair of arches known as the Smith Memorial, which serves as a gateway to the park. One spot some visitors might not know of is the stone seating areas of the memorial, called the . A whisper into the curved wall at one end can be heard at the other end, making the perfect spot to share sweet nothings or, if you're a lucky, a kiss later.

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ballon generali paris france
©AEROPHILE SAS
Fly over Paris on the Balloon GENERALI

Even more romantic than walking the streets of Paris for Valentine's Day is flying over the City of Lights in a giant balloon. Filled with 6,000 cubic meters of helium gas, the has taken more than half a million people through the skies of Paris since 1999. GENERALI allows 30 passengers at a time, taking them up to 500 feet, but the activity is dependent on the weather (the balloon won't fly if it's too windy). Here's to hoping for clear skies come Valentine's Day.

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glass hearts ignite studios chicago
Courtesy Ignite Glass Studios
Make art together at Ignite Glass Studios in Chicago

If you're not the museum type, try your hand at making your own art this Valentine's Day. offers a special where couples can create a single glass heart of their own design. Sweet, right? For $105 per couple, you'll get to work alongside one of Ignite's artists and other lovebirds. Bonus: Complimentary sparkling wine and chocolate will be served during the 30-minute session.

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can can seattle french kiss
Jules Doyle
Catch a cabaret show while you eat at Seattle's Can Can

Think beyond the traditional candlelit dinner this Valentine's Day. At Seattle's , you can catch a live show while digging in to a specially crafted 4-course Champagne dinner, including Godiva infused chocolate-covered strawberries for dessert. Yum! Their , an adaptation of the Shakespeare classic, touches on themes of romance, love and flirtation – the perfect way to spice up a romantic meal. Preferred seating is $99 each, and includes admission along with a 4-course meal. VIP seating goes for $155 each and gets you a complimentary glass of bubbly in addition.

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valentines day ideas
Getty Images
Learn about the passionate art of opera at London's V&A museum

You can bet the 's latest exhibition "" will ignite a spark. The show explores the balance of power and sensuality at work in this venerable art form, and takes a look at some of the raciest moments in its history. Open through the 25th of February.

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powel house philadelphia
M. Kennedy for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®
Get spooked on a ghost tour in Philadelphia

As puts it, any good ghost story likely has an element of romance. The company's 75-minute Valentine's Day candlelit walking tour explores the city's lovelorn past, taking guests through the Society Hill neighborhood of Philly and ending with an indoor tour of , a 1700s mansion that once belonged to the . Samuel Powel and his wife Elizabeth were known to throw lavish parties back in the day. The impressive mansion is believed to be haunted by at least three female spirits, and some visitors report hearing ghostly echoes through the halls. Plus, getting spooked gives you even more reason to get close to your special someone. Tickets run $22 per person.

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san diego museum of art
Courtesy The San Diego Museum of Art
Wine and dine at The San Diego Museum of Art

Another fun take on the traditional romantic dinner: 's special after-hours , followed by a picnic for two. You'll be able to explore topics from Greek mythology to tales from India. And when the tour is complete, couples will head to the to enjoy a picnic complete with gourmet sandwiches, a cheese or vegan plate, chocolate truffles and a full bottle of champagne, wine or craft beer. Cheers!

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pink roses
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Learn the language of flowers at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

What's the point of getting your special someone flowers if you haven't arranged them yourself? Presented by The Smithsonian Associates, "" takes you through basic floral design and all the steps needed to create a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind bouquet. In the workshop, participants will put together their arrangement while enjoying champagne, strawberries and other sweet treats. Tickets are $85 per person.

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museum of natural history new york
©AMNH/C.Chesek
Get lost in the stars at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City

This Valentine's Day, the will open up its Hayden Planetarium for lovebirds to spend a special evening together at "". But first, things will kick off with a cocktail hour in the , where you'll be treated to an open bar with hor d'oeuvres and chocolates. Later in the planetarium, prepare for unforgettable views of the night sky while museum experts share romantic stories from the ancient past. Just try not to swoon. Tickets are $125 per person.

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