Skip the candlelit dinners: Alternative options for Valentine's Day

Love Letter (one of 50 in a series) by Steve Powers. Market Street, West Philadelphia (photo by Adam Wallacavage for the Mural Arts Program courtesy of the Mural Arts Program)

Valentine’s Day isn’t all about spending tons of money on a fancy gift, taking your other half out to a dinner that’ll ruin your wallet, or possibly even popping the question. This day is about celebrating companionship with someone you acre deeply for, and you have the right to spend it any way you please.

Here are some alternative ays to spend cupid’s day:.

For the artistic folks

Homemade presents always mean more, so why not create something special and original together? The Expressive Hand (622 S. 9th St.) is a great place tto spend time with the one you. Here you can pick a pre-made pottery item, grab some paint & burshes, and then go to town. After your masterpiece is finished, the employees will glaze and set your item so it's ready for you to display or use in your home. Oh, and the place is BYOB, too. The studio is open Wednesday's from 12 p.m. - 8 p.m., Thursday through Saturday's 10:30 a.m. - 9 p.m., and Sunday's from 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. 

For adventure seekers

Want a fun, city exploration date that costs less than $10? Hop on SEPTA’s Market-Frankford El line and head west with your lady and let Love Letters, the mural collection of romantic sayings by Stephen "ESPO" Powers, soak into your minds. You'll begin at Market Street from 45th to 63rd and you'll get to view at least 50 separate notes of these stunning, colorful works of art. You’re bound to find one that explains the love you both share.

If you want a slower-paced ride of the Love Letters murals, on Sunday, Feb. 8 beginning at Jefferson Station (12th and Filbert), the Mural Arts Program and SEPTA celebrate the five-year anniversary of the art addition as well as marriage equality. Climb on board for a private, guided tour subway ride and witness Philadelphia’s first openly gay judge, Daniel J. Anders, wed a lucky same sex couple. After the ride, celebrate the love in the air with an after party at the Loews Hotel (1200 Market St.). Check-in at the train station begins at 11:30 a.m.

Love isn’t always pretty. Starting on Friday, Feb. 13 through Saturday, Feb.14, take a trip with Ghost Tours Philadelphia as they take you to the most "haunted" places located in Philadelphia. As you view spooky burial grounds, colonial homes, and the Powel Mansion, you’ll learn about the events and scandals that took place at these locations. The tours begin at the Powel House (224 S. 3rd St.) and run Friday at 7 p.m., and Saturday 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

If your heart is roaring with love, take a walk on the wild side with the Philadelphia Zoo (3400 W. Girard Ave.) and embark on a romantic journey through the zoo like never before. Guests can choose either Saturday, Feb. 14 or Sunday, Feb. 15 and observe the love between the wildlife and what makes them attracted to each other. The lovey-dovey tour runs 10 a.m. through 4 p.m.

For the sporty/active couple

If wine is your tailgating drink of choice, this gift is perfect for you and your steady. The Philadelphia Flyers have teamed up with Chaddsford Winery to create the perfect Valentine treat for those who really love the Broad St. Bullies. The Vday package gets you: a pair of tickets to a Flyers home game of choice, a bottle of wine (white or red), a special chiller bag with a wine opener, hockey puck chocolates, and a complimentary tasting tour at any Chaddsford Winery location.

Sink a hole in one into your love’s heart at Keystone Mini Golf (161 Cecil B. Moore Ave.) during couple’s golf night at the course on Saturday, Feb. 14. With admission, you’ll get to play the course, receive a rose, candy, and enjoy a glass of wine during your visit. (Note to the fellas: Let her win this game.) The offer runs from 6 p.m. through 1 a.m.

Does your girlfriend always beg you to do yoga with her? Well, here’s the perfect time to do it. On Saturday, Feb. 14 Sculpere Studio (209 Poplar St.) in Northern Liberties invites you and your sweetheart out for a couples yoga class. Starting at 1:30 p.m., this hour-long workshop will have you feeling refreshed and closer to your partner than ever before.

If your love is everything but the gutter, North Bowl Lanes (909 North 2nd St.) could be a striking choice for you and your main squeeze. On Saturday, Feb. 14 the NoLibs alley will offer an array of food and drink specials on choices such burgers, tots, chili dogs, wings, cocktails, champagne, and beer. If you’re not a big fan of bowling, upstairs is full of different gaming options and a lounge to keep you comfy. The specials start at 5 p.m.

Heat things up with your boo at the Delaware River Waterfront (101 S. Columbus Blvd.) during a special Sweetheart Skate on Saturday, Feb. 14. With four sessions to choose from, admission gets you on the ice for an intimate skate, flowers for your gal, and you’ll receive a memorable photo. Following the skate, cozy up at The Lodge, sip on some hot coco, and enjoy live music at the end of the night. The session times are 5 p.m.-6:30 p.m., 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m., 9 p.m.-10:30 p.m., and 11 p.m.-12:30 a.m.

For foodies/drinkers who don’t like candlelit dinners

On Wednesday, Feb. 11 spice things up with your sweetie at Verdad Restaurant (818 Lancaster Ave.) during a special tequila and dinner tasting hosted by chef Nick Farina and spirits expert, Michael Walsh of Majestic Wine & Spirits. Beginning at 7 p.m., the event – For the Love of Tequila – will highlight select spirits with an explanation of each. Picks include Chinaco Blanco, Chinaco Añejo, and Chinaco Reposado paired with meal options such as oysters, Spanish sushi rolls, and dessert that will demo how to create a frozen truffle.

If you have always wanted to reenact the scene in Titanic where Jack holds Rose on the front deck you can with the Spirit of Philadelphia (401 S. Columbus Blvd.). On Friday, Feb. 13 and Saturday, Feb. 14, the ship will set sail numerous times throughout the weekend for their special Valentine’s Cruise which includes a buffet style dinner, a rose for the lady, and a champagne toast for those 21 and older. The times are as follows: Friday 7:30 p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m., 3 p.m., 8 p.m.

Chocolate and beer go together just like you and your partner in crime. On Friday, Feb. 13 City Tap House Logan Square (2 Logan Square) presents Love is Brewing, a friendly beverage and candy tasting event created by executive chef Ian Branning. Beginning at 9 p.m., enjoy craft selections from Wells & Young as well as Belgian lambics matched with romantic plates, including fruits and cocoas.

If you and your significant other prefer craft brews rather than a savory filet mignon, Brü Craft and Wurst (1316 Chestnut St.) focuses on beer during My Smutty Valentine on Saturday, Feb. 14. Starting at 2 p.m., the bierhall welcomes New Hampshire brewery, Smuttynose for a day full of rare and limited selections from the company. Pricing starts at $5 per glass, guests will be able to select a wide variety of styles to suit all taste buds. Some beers on the lineup ware Zinneke (Belgian Strong Dark Ale), Bouncy House (IPA), Durty (American Brown Ale), and Gravitation (Quadrupel).

There's something about sharing a milkshake that ignites the idea of romance. Regardless if you want to share, or not, on Friday, Feb. 13 through Saturday, Feb. 14, East Passyunk’s new burger joint, P’unk (1823 E. Passyunk Ave.) will celebrate Valentine’s Day by offering buy-one-get-one-half-off milkshakes. Flavors to choose include vanilla, chocolate, black and white, and Speculoos (almond and butter). If you’re a couple with little ones, the location is offering free sliders and fries for kids under 10. While you’re in the shop, make sure you enter the arcade classic Burger Time contest. Oh and another great thing about this weekend, one lucky person can win free burgers for a whole year. The shop is open from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. both days.

Now in its eighth year, City Food Tours hosts its Valentine’s Aphrodisiac Dinner on Saturday, Feb. 14 that will not only fulfill food cravings, but also keep you and your partner entertained. With dinner choices of either 5 p.m. or 8 p.m., couples will enjoy a three-course dinner, a cooking demonstration, and a quirky trivia that will test you and your guest. The dinner will take place at Green Eggs Center City (212 South 13 St.).

For those who like to party

If you’re a girl spending Valentine’s Day with your gal (or best pal), the third annual GALentine’s Day will take place at Voyeur Night Club (1221 St. James St.) on Friday, Feb. 13 at 10 p.m. and will feature DJ sets from GUN$ GARCIA, K Rex, Suga Shay, Yolo Ono, Magglezzz, and Diamond Girl. You can also enjoy performances by Ann Artist and Luna Lavey. Dancing not your thing? There will be karaoke on the mezzanine level. Tickets are $5-10.

If your Valentine’s Day started off with some fresh ink at the Philadelphia Tattoo Convention, keep the party going on Saturday, Feb. 14 at Franky Bradley’s (1320 Chancellor St.) official post party with Sailor Jerry. Beginning at 10 p.m., the medieval-themed bar will offer $5 Sailor Jerry Rum drinks and live music by DJ Ed Christof to get funky to. Entry is free with a wristband from the Convention Center.