Different sorts of ways of celebrating Valentine's Day together this week

other Valentines Day ideas composite

By Cristin Steding

Valentine's Day is nearly upon us. Do you have any plans?

A little more than half of adults in the US celebrate Valentine's Day, according to the National Retail Federation. And if the influx of prix fixe menus advertised by every restaurant that could conceivably serve three courses means anything, the traditional romantic dinner remains a popular way to celebrate.

But if you're not the type to shell out $100 for a meal where the menu is limited -- or if you've been there, done that, and are looking for something a little more adventurous -- you've got options.

Here are six alternatives to gazing into each other's eyes in a candlelit restaurant this week...


paint and sip by Cristin Steding
Saratoga Paint & Sip Studio in Latham

If you're looking for an activity that still involves sitting and drinking, yet changes up the restaurant routine, look no further than a paint-and-sip. Over the course of about two hours, an instructor at the front of the room will guide you through a simple painting Bob Ross style. You sip your beverage of choice and try to follow along. Good for a few laughs if you're not artistically talented, and best of all you get a souvenir to remember the night by. Whether it ends up on your wall or hidden at the back of a closet depends on how much sipping was done relative to painting.

There are several options in the area:
+ Saratoga Paint & Sip Studio has locations in Latham and Saratoga.
+ Canvas, Corks & Forks is in Troy and Schenectady (plus you get free mac 'n cheese).
+ Paint Nite in Albany moves between Albany bars and restaurants.

Escape room

Escape Room 5 Wits
One of the escape rooms at 5 Wits.

For something a little more out of the box, lock yourselves in a room and work together to solve puzzles to escape. Escape rooms are a unique and fun date night idea. No phones allowed, just the two of you putting your heads together to solve puzzles and race against the clock. Most escape rooms are built with larger groups in mind, but there are some that can be solved by a pair.

There are a bunch of local escape rooms, such as 5 Wits at Crossgates. McWhirleys Mystery at Pursue the Clue in Colonie is a charming, story-driven room that can be solved by two people.

Roller skating

Sometimes simple is better. For an old-school date, rent some roller skates and glide around the rink holding hands. This is one of those things you've probably considered doing a bunch of times but have never actually done. Do it this time! Then count it as cardio and get ice cream after.

+ Rollarama in Schenectady has a Wednesday special with $6 for admission and rentals.
+ Guptill's in Latham is open on weekends.

Moonlit snowshoeing

snowshoeing in woods by Cristin Steding

Here's an idea that's free, though it requires some equipment. Bundle up, load up the car, and hit an easy trail for some moonlit snowshoeing. What's more romantic than a quiet, night time walk in the woods with your sweetheart, passing a thermos of hot chocolate back and forth. Shops such as EMS and Goldstock's rent snowshoes if you'd like try before you buy. Or if the snow has all melted by Wednesday, lace up your waterproof boots and take a walk instead.

And, of course, be sure you're wearing the proper gear and the place you're snowshoeing doesn't close at dusk. Try the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.

Dessert and art

Albany Institute Hudson River School exhibit
The Hudson River School gallery at the Albany Institute.

Instead of dinner and a movie, class things up by getting dessert and then visiting some art. Stop by Cheesecake Machismo in Albany for some delicious cheesecake, then walk it off on the 10 minute walk over to the Albany Institute of History and Art, which is open Thursday evenings with free admission from 5-8 pm. (OK, so you won't be able to do this on Valentine's Day itself.)

Rock climbing

tall rock climbing wall
The Edge in Clifton Park

If you're feeling adventurous, give rock climbing a try. Nothing beats the heart-pumping adrenaline of climbing a rock wall with only a harness and the trust that your beloved paid attention in the belaying lesson.

Climbing is a great workout, and routes for beginners to advanced climbers are available at area gyms. There are studies that indicate doing something new and exciting brings couples closer together, and something as thrilling and novel as rock climbing is sure to rekindle those new relationship butterflies.

Cristin Steding is a freelance writer and founder of Upstate Club, a guide to outdoor living in upstate New York. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.


If you don't work during the day Wednesday, you can also go to the AIHA and enjoy dessert from Crisan.

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