Eight date ideas to keep that spark alive this Valentine’s Day

By Soleil Easton

Ah, the season of love. Most Valentine’s Days, we pack in as many romantic activities as possible, whether that be candlelit dinners, couples’ massages, or cocktails at a rooftop bar. But this year, things are a little different. 

Whether you’re celebrating with your special someone, your Galentines, or your family, I am here to help you plan the perfect COVID-safe Valentine’s Day in and around Boston. That means at home, outside, or—for our long-distance sweethearts—through a screen. And for those who don’t want to celebrate another “Hallmark Holiday” where consumerism is shoved down your throat, fear not. All of these ideas also work for friends, roommates, or just for you! 

  1. At-home, picture-perfect picnic 

Staying in is the new going out, especially when staying in involves snuggling up with your boo while eating off of an enormous cheese board and drinking champagne. What a better way to stay warm and cozy than by creating a perfect indoor picnic date night! First, let’s set the scene: grab a big blanket to sprawl out on, an abundance of flowers and potted plants, a few throw pillows to cushion your tush, and a couple mild scented candles. Other fun ideas to set the ambience include fairy lights, a polaroid to snap your picture-perfect spread, or your favorite board game.

  1. A laid-back bike ride through the Charles River

If you live nearby, start at the Esplanade. (There’s a Blue Bike Share dock at the Esplanade station at Beacon & Arlington Streets.) Bike leisurely around the three miles Charles River Reservation loop trail, soaking in an intimate view of the beautiful frozen river. Once you’ve biked up a sweat, quench it at Ogawa Coffee across the street with a mint chocolate latte paired with their bestselling matcha cake roll.

  1. Anti-Valentine’s squad, because cupid is stupid

We all know that friendships are just as important as romantic relationships—for some, even more. Maybe you’re in a group chat to spill tea with your besties or send tweets that remind you of each other. Maybe you spend hours perfecting TikTok dances in matching pj-sets. Whatever it is, you love your friends, so make sure to let them know. 

Boycott this dreadful holiday by getting together (socially-distanced or over zoom). Try hanging up D.I.Y. conversation heart garlands with anti-Valentine’s Day sayings, all you need is colored construction paper, ribbon, and a marker. If arts and crafts isn’t your thing, have a virtual cookie decorating party, with “What’s Love Got To Do With It” by Tina Turner blasting in the background and writing “go away” and “swipe left” with pastel-colored icing. End the evening by watching movies about bitterness, breakups, and everything in between. I recommend Lady Bird, Blue Valentine, and Thelma and Louise.

  1. A spiritual self-date

Say what you will about Valentine’s Day, but who doesn’t like to be spoiled? If you’re not in a relationship, or even if you are, treat yourself to a self-date. One option is with Boston acupuncturist Jessica Sorkin, based in Back Bay. (Sorkin uses a face mask and shield, but virtual consultations are available as well.) She will partner with you to create an individualized treatment plan using hair thin disposable sterile needles to stimulate points within the body to balance the flow of Qi [energy]. Her practice focuses on meeting your personal wellness goals, including pain and stress relief, deep relaxation, or recovery from a broken heart. Seed Acupuncture takes some insurance plans and offers student discounts. 

  1. Can I be your Dim Sum date? 

Lunar New Year, and the Year of the Ox, began on Friday, Feb. 12,  and there are plenty of ways to celebrate through food this Valentine’s Day weekend. Ditch the traditional Lady and the Tramp date night and instead head to your favorite Chinatown restaurant and indulge in dim sum. My personal favorites are Gourmet China House and Hei La Moon both located on Beach St. After you’ve satisfied your cravings for soup dumplings and shrimp toast, head over to the Frog Pond located on Boston Common and take a spin around the ice. It’s a great place to spend Valentine’s while also supporting local businesses!

  1. Switch out Valentine’s candy for waffle-pops and boba 

Valentine’s Day often evokes images of confection: chocolate-covered truffles, fruit bouquets, strawberry-vanilla Chex Mix, you name it. This year, try a new treat: waffle-pops. Stop by Sweet Waffles + Boba in Chinatown for handcrafted Belgian liege waffles. The dough is prepared every morning and throughout the day to ensure freshness. For an extra-pink Valentine’s weekend, try the Strawberry Shortcake waffle-pop, paired with Pinky Promise milk tea. 

  1. For the plant person in your life

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is the spot for plant-enthusiasts. Visitors are greeted by a magnificent display of flowers and plants in the Dorothy McGee Greenhouse, seen from the Museum’s entrance. As you stroll through the Courtyard, stop by the greenhouse to get a closer look at the plants (fun fact: the night-blooming cereus cactus is one of the plants Gardner grew in her greenhouse), smell the fragrant specimens, and watch the horticulturists at work. The museum is open to the public with strict safety precautions and limited capacity. Tickets must be purchased online ahead of time.

  1. A flower filled Galentine’s, but make gender irrelevant

“The best part about having true friends is that you can go months without seeing them and they’ll still be there for you and act as if you’d never left!”—Ariana Grande. Whether you celebrate Galentine’s day or tag each other in memes to keep in touch, a virtual flower arrangement class just might be the perfect way to host a get together safely. Although floral arrangements technically aren’t focused on food, it doesn’t hurt to sip on a wine or Prosecco that has floral hints while learning something totally new. 

However you choose to spend this Sunday, have a Happy (and COVID safe) Valentine’s Day!