date published: February 12, 2007

10 Great ideas for the perfect Valentine’s Day
by Josh B. Wardrop

There’s nothing romantic about pressure—and yet that’s what many of us feel when the calendar turns to February, the stores are full of heart-shaped boxes and florists get the idea that $75 is an acceptable amount to charge for a dozen roses. If you’re stuck for ideas on how to treat your special someone to a grand romantic Valentine’s Day, fear not—we’ve got you covered. Here are a few Panorama suggestions to make Valentine’s Day in Boston a night you’ll both treasure for a long time to come.

Shoes and Brews
A date at a bowling alley might sound like something you could only pull off back when your weekly allowance was $20 bucks and your mom came to pick you and your retainer-wearing sweetie up at the end of the night. However, a night out at Kings (10 Scotia St., 617-266-2695) offers far more adult and cosmopolitan thrills than your pre-teen bowl-a-drome days. This dark and flashy spot has more of a nightclub vibe, boasting a billiards room, three bars serving a variety of beers and cocktails, and 16 lanes for getting your strike on. After you’ve racked up enough frames, you can skip just two doors up the street and slide into cozy Back Bay bar Bukowski’s (50 Dalton St., 617-437-9999) where you can make use of the close quarters to snuggle up over one of more than 100 beer choices and whisper seductively to each other about mastering the 7–10 split.

For Animal Lovers
We all know that “the birds and the bees” have a lot to do with what attracts one person to another, but what role do “the birds and the bees” have in the social lives of... er... birds and bees (and mammals, for that matter)? Franklin Park Zoo (refer to wildlife listing) offers an illuminating and voyeuristic peek into the private lives of our brethren in the animal kingdom with What’s Love Got to Do With It?, a lecture by FPZ Director of Education Jen Greshem about the mating rituals, nesting behaviors and sexual peccadillos of animals, which takes place February 13, from 5:30–8 p.m., at the Back Bay Events Center, 200 Berkeley St. (Tickets are $10, and include complimentary cocktails and appetizers; call 617-989-3760 to reserve a space.) And because nothing would be more tactless than heading out to a restaurant to eat the animals you’ve just heard about, why not chow down at one of the neighborhood’s best vegetarian restaurants, instead? Just a short walk from the BBEC, lovebirds can dine on exotic vegetarian options at Ethiopian eatery Addis Red Sea (544 Tremont St., 617-426-8727) or Vietnamese/Chinese restaurant Pasteur (5 Beach St., Chinatown, 617-451-1121), or grab a veggie burrito or hummus wrap at the funky and welcoming Other Side Café (407 Newbury St., 617-536-8437).

Fire and Ice
Ice skating outdoors in New England is more than just a fantasy sketched on a Currier & Ives Christmas card. You and your sweetheart can glide gracefully (or not so gracefully) across the Boston Common Frog Pond (refer to sightseeing listing), the Hub’s version of Rockefeller Center and a popular winter destination for young lovers. Best of all, once you doff those skates and your feet feel like blocks of ice, you’re not far from exactly what you need to thaw them—a blazing fireplace. Hungry I (refer to restaurant listing)—a converted Beacon Hill brownstone that’s been regarded as one of Boston’s most romantic restaurants for 25 years—has three working fireplaces, intimate tables for two and exquisite French cuisine that will satisfy you both.

A Kiss is Just a Kiss...
...but the timeless romance between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca is forever. The Brattle Theatre (refer to current events listing) continues an annual Valentine’s Day tradition, screening the legendary film at 4:45, 7:15 and 9:45 p.m. on February 14, as part of its repertory series of “Great Romances” (which also includes screenings of Annie Hall and Breakfast at Tiffany’s on February 12 & 13). And after you and your sweetie have watched Ilsa fly away, your trip to Casablanca needn’t end—simply step downstairs to the restaurant of the same name (40 Brattle St., 617-876-0999) where you can enjoy delicious Mediterranean-influenced tapas and entrees, or sip an exotic cocktail like the Moroccan Mule (vodka, ginger beer and Baharat spice) and celebrate your “beautiful friendship.”

Just Desserts
Sometimes, when you’re with the one you love, you want to skip dinner and cut right to the chase. Get your mind out of the gutter… we’re talking about dessert. Finale (One Park Plaza., 617-423-3184 and 30 Dunster Square, Cambridge, 617-441-9797) specializes in sinfully rich sweets, and as one would imagine, V-Day is their busiest night. This February 14, Executive Pastry Chef Nicole Coady has whipped up some special menu items, including a Chocolate Plate for Two (featuring tropical fruits and flavors paired with chocolate) and the showstopping Five-Course Dessert Tasting, which treats dessert lovers to delicacies including a sorbet trio, chocolate-dipped strawberries, a flight of hot chocolates and many other decadent pleasures.

The Lighter Side of Love
Who says Valentine’s Day has to be all about somber declarations of love and overwrought flowery poems? If you and your significant other have a love that’s more goofy than gooey, stay true to yourselves this holiday by scarfing a decidedly unpretentious dinner at Dick’s Last Resort (refer to restaurants listing) where the snarky waitstaff and stick-to-your-ribs cuisine will lighten your mood before heading across town to Symphony Hall to take in hilarious tales of “D-list” Hollywood from that radiant redhead, Kathy Griffin (refer to comedy listing).

Hearts and the Arts
Chances are, you see your significant other as a work of art—priceless, beautiful and unique. So, there are few better ways to spend this most romantic of days than in the presence of some other outstanding works of art. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (refer to museum listing) hosts “A Venetian Valentine,” from 6–9 p.m., on February 14—this special event allows art lovers to stroll the gorgeous, flowering courtyard of the Gardner at night, enjoying live jazz music, poetry readings, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres as you take in the Gardner’s lovely works during a self-guided tour. And, earlier that day, over at the Museum of Fine Arts, local art historian and proprietor of Boston Art Tours (refer to museum listing) Marina Veronica leads art lovers of all designations on a “Sweethearts for the Arts” guided tour of the MFA and its collections. A general tour takes place at noon, followed by special tours for gay and lesbian sweethearts at 1:30 p.m., and “seasoned” sweethearts at 3 p.m.

Bringing Sexy back
Some lovebirds embrace modesty 364 days a year, but on Valentine’s Day they throw caution to the wind and let out their inner naughtiness. Those in search of a truly hot Valentine’s celebration can start with dinner at Fugakyu (1280 Beacon St., Brookline, 617-734-1268), where Chef Hiro San is whipping up an “Aphrodisiac” menu including traditionally potent foods like oysters, ginger, pineapple and pomegranate. If you still have an appetite after that, you can drop by Sweet N’ Nasty (90A Mass. Ave., 617-266-7171), Boston’s notorious home for scandalous erotic cakes and other sweets, to pick up some dessert to be enjoyed in private. And, if you find V-Day has passed, but those saucy sensations haven’t, you might want to check out The Great Boston Burlesque Expo, from February 16–19, at the John Hancock Convention Center. With three days and nights of racy performances and classes teaching the seductive, teasing art of burlesque, you may find that romance doesn’t have to be confined to one day a year (Call 617-734-2500 for more information).

Fun for One
Being unattached on Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be torture—in fact, some singletons make use of the holiday to let their hair down and engage in wild, uninhibited fun. This February 14, some of Boston’s hottest nightspots are hosting singles-oriented activities, including the “I Hate My Ex” party at Felt (533 Washington St., 617-350-5555); the annual Flirt Fest, which features upscale hors d’oeuvres and a sultry fashion show, at Boston’s newest nightclub, Mansion, located in The Alley at Boylston Place (refer to clubs & bars listing); and the Lock & Key Party at Lir (903 Boylston St., 617-778-0089) where ladies are issued locks and gentlemen keys, and everyone is allowed to try and find their match.

Dancing and Romancing
Few words strike more terror into a man’s heart than when his wife or girlfriend suggests, “Let’s go dancing!” This is because: 1.) We’re no damn good at it; and 2.) We know that every woman under the age of 35 pictures themselves in the arms of Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing when they get on the dancefloor. So why embarrass ourselves? Relax, fellas... all you need is a willingness to try and the proper instruction. Irish pub/nightclub An Tua Nua (835 Beacon St., 617-262-2121) and local dance enthusiasts SalsaBoston (yes, it does sound like strange bedfellows—just go with it) host weekly Wednesday Salsa Nights, where novice hoofers can get lessons with trained dancers for just $2 (cover is $10). That way, your señorita gets to dance, you learn a few seductive new moves, and who knows? You might just end up becoming Johnny Castle to her Baby—or at least good enough not to stomp on her toes.

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