Some fun options to make your Valentines or Galentines Day memorable!
I will be honest…I was never a huge fan of Valentine’s Day. It happened around my birthday so if I didn’t have a boyfriend, it ruined my birthday as well (despite the best efforts of my parents.) J Geils Band’s, “Love Stinks,” was my anthem every year when the Hallmark holiday rolled around. Flash forward to today and now I love this time of year. It breaks up the overcast, grey days of winter with pinks and reds and glitter…and in this world so full of anger and hate, we could use a little more love and celebrations of love and friendships, if you ask me.
Unfortunately, with a day focused on the heart comes a lot of stress to make it special, make that certain someone feel special, or to remember to book your favorite restaurant in time to avoid the choice between three in the afternoon or just before the kitchen closes table for two. Since I will be flying solo (never fails, lol) this Valentine’s, and am in the midst of a 75 Hard Challenge (so, for me, no alcohol, bread, pasta, sweets), I decided to explore some alternatives to the usual dinner with chocolate and wine. Money is also tight these days, so I also wanted to find some budget friendly ideas that will make sure your special someone or group of friends know how much you love them…without breaking the bank.
For the past few weeks, my husband and I have been walking our dog, Loki, every day as part of our 75 Hard Challenge. It has been a wonderful way not only to get in some much-needed movement and exercise, but it has been a wonderful way to connect with each other beyond our responsibilities as parents and away from the distractions of technology and homeownership. We have even ventured out while it has been snowing and extremely cold…it is always good to hike or take long walks with someone to watch out for you (and in my case, make sure I don’t slip and fall!) Let’s hope everyone has great weather for Valentine’s and if so, consider inviting your favorite someone or group of friends out for a walk or hike. Here are some of my favorite options in the local area:
- If you live near me, check out my favorite hiking spot: Mount Hermon, in Monument, Colorado. It is a very easy hike, perfect for beginners or even when the weather isn’t perfect. There are plenty of easy, open trails you can check out and then head into Monument for some coffee to warm up at Serrano’s Coffee or if you want an adult beverage to warm you up, 3 Hundred Days Distilling, or to cool you down if we are enjoying a warm day, Pikes Peak Brewing. All three places are great places to drop in for a quick refreshment and to connect with your special peeps any time but aren’t going to require reservations on Valetines. You could certainly also check out Garden of the Gods where Two Camel’s Kissing will definitely set the romantic mood but also provide an easy and paved path for you and your date.
- If you are further north, closer to Parker or Castle Rock, check out Castlewood Canyon State Park off of Highway 83. Another easy place to hike and enjoy the outdoors, the canyon itself is pretty cool and would make a great place to whisper words of love to your special someone. It is a short drive from both towns, so plan accordingly. If looking for a small town but artsy vibe with your coffee, check out Owl’s Nest Cafe in nearby Franktown. It is a cute little cafe that not only serves up delicious coffees and teas, but they also offer art classes and art available for purchase. Book a watercolor art class (super reasonable at $45 which includes a $25 valued watercolor paint set) for your sweetheart and gift them their class post hike over a Dazbog coffee.
- If you are in Denver, you have so many options available to you. From the Cherry Creek Reservoir to Wash Park (my personal favorite), you could show your sweetie your love for them taking in any of the wonderful parks in the Denver area and nearby hikes, such as those around Red Rocks (my personal favorites are around Evergreen.) To find the perfect place to head out if the weather suits, this a great website for you to check out (and bookmark this one…it is a great resource if one of your intentions for 2023 is to get outside and walk more), Day Hikes Near Denver. As with all the options for hikes and walks in the Denver area, if you want to follow up a hike with a coffee, tea, or libation, my favorites include Carboy Winery, just about any place in the Dairy Block of downtown to include but not limited to Blanchard Family Wines, Huckleberry Roasters, or if your love is more into whiskey and craft cocktails, check out Seven Grand Whiskey Bar, or if you are closer to I-70, Cooper Door Coffee (the original is near the Botanic Gardens, so if that is in your plans, stop into Cooper Door) or for the green thumb in your life, check out Dandy Lion Coffee in Park Hill, where you can enjoy coffee and other adult beverages while you shop or hang out with various succulents and other flora and fauna that would not survive my home…
Weather not cooperating? Not into the Outdoors? Here are Some Other Options
Now, I get it. Not everyone enjoys hiking or venturing outdoors, especially when the weather is so cold, your face hurts. I could offer indoor healthy options, such as taking a yoga class (how about a yoga and wine pairing class on 11 Feb guided by me?) or reserving some hot spring soaking time, but what if you would rather just chill at home with your sweetie or tribe? Thanks to the experience of 2020, there are lots of options available online where all you need is a little prep ahead of time. I personally love cooking classes and my husband has always treated me to a fun night of good food without the cleanup (now, if you are doing a class via zoom, sorry…maybe have fun cleaning up the kitchen together!) If you are looking for fun places to take in person cooking classes, check out Cook Street Culinary School (they also offer virtual experiences as well) in Denver, Sur la Table (who offer in person and virtual classes), and The French Kitchen in Colorado Springs. Or perhaps you are looking for a gift that keeps on giving…and I am not talking about the Jelly of the Month Club, Clark, I highly recommend checking out Master Class, which offers classes hosted by the likes of Gordon Ramsey or James Patterson (to inspire the budding writer) or chess master, Gary Kasparov. I am gifting my seventeen-year-old chess playing son with a membership along with a subscription to Sakuraco, an online giftbox offering (his aunt has given him a gift to Universal Yums for Christmas every year and he has loved it. I lived in Japan for two years and wanted to bring a little of that culture and food to him through this subscription.)
Now, I mentioned the Master Class with James Patterson. I also wanted to offer an option for the poet in your life. My friend and writing mentor, Victoria Erickson, offers some amazing writing immersions all done via Zoom. Now, they are investments, for sure, especially the longer immersions, but if you have a poet or would be writer in your life, this would be an amazing gift to express your love for them. I have done a yoga and writing retreat with Victoria, completed a mini-immersion last fall, and will complete a full winter immersion this Sunday. I plan to take her next in depth fall immersion when the leaves begin to change and pumpkin spice fills the air.
There are also so many other ways to show those you love how you feel that don’t cost much or even a dime if you get creative. Simple things around the house to make your partner’s day a little easier, like volunteering to clean up the kitchen after they make a meal, or taking care of laundry, dusting, or even cleaning the bathroom…all of these things can go towards showing your favorite human that you care about them. But perhaps you can take it a step further and if you aren’t the one who does all the cooking, maybe you take a Gordon Ramsey class (there are also plenty of free How-To videos out there) and surprise them with a dinner for two in the privacy of your own home (that perhaps you took the time to straighten up while they were out). Or, if your partner enjoys their spa time, snagging some time with them for a couples massage or mani/pedis at their favorite spa.
If they are creative types, or like me, wish they were creative, especially when it comes to art, there are plenty of paint and wine businesses out there that would be a hoot to check out and treat them with (or the PERFECT Galentines night out.) In Colorado Springs and Boulder, we have a local wood painting shop called AR that offers DIY kits so that you can enjoy a quiet dinner in, enjoy some wine, and get creative with art or book with them for a fun date night outside of the stress of Valentines that you can give as your gift to the sweetheart or besties in your life.
I also always enjoy a good bottle of wine or excellent chocolate…however, since I am not indulging in those things until the Rockies’ opening day in April (my gift to my husband is a suite at The Rally hotel right across from Coor’s Field in the hopes that a) we can snag some inexpensive tickets once the game starts and b) still enjoy the fun that is Opening Day but c) enjoy a great time at the Dairy Block if a) fails to happen.) We normally take in the Treehouse at Highland Haven Creekside Inn in Evergreen to celebrate Valentines and my birthday, but again, since we love stopping into Creekside Cellars, we are holding off on that until the fall when we hope to time it perfect for some leaf peeping…both of these gifts are definitely on the pricier side of things but if you are looking to splurge, these are also some great options. Even if you can’t spend the night in Evergreen, Creekside has a wonderful kitchen and terrific wines that you can enjoy on their patio right over Bear Creek (but dress accordingly! Reservations are highly recommended for Creekside.)
Another fun and unique idea is to take your sweetie to a high tea. I would certainly go all out and wear white gloves, fancy lace and something frilly, and of course, a hat, but that’s just me. If you are near downtown Denver, make a reservation at the Brown Palace and treat your special someone to tiny sandwiches and a cup of Oolong on dainty bone china or consider scheduling a high tea at Capital Tea, the place I plan to snag some tea for Mandy and I to try on air when I join her on 8 Feb. Bring out your best British accents and celebrate like the Queen!
And if you find yourself without anyone to celebrate the Hallmark holiday (that’s me this year), take some time for self-care and appreciation…take a yoga class, either in person or online (I recommend David O Yoga, or Cole Chance Yoga, both of whom I follow, subscribe to their programs, and call friends, and Yoga Studio Satya, where I teach), book your own spa treatment or treat yo’self to one at home, go for a walk in your neighborhood, or order in a great dinner from your favorite restaurant (to avoid the kitchen clean up!) I will be taking an Orange Theory class, classes with both David and Cole and a yoga wall class at Satya (over the course of Valentines and my bday) taking Loki for hikes, taking my mama out for Valentine’s, and then spending a half day at Mateo’s Day Spa and Salon getting a deep tissue massage and a much needed mani/pedi.
If none of these ideas strike a chord, perhaps consider offering up your time and talents to show love to others in our community…volunteer at your local Habitat for Humanity, food kitchen, or church to assist those who are having a hard time at the moment. Tune in to About Face Radio and choose to show our veteran community some love by supporting their endeavor to give veterans a space for their voices or perhaps take a look at Tactical 16 Publishing for a new book to read (and again show veterans and first responders some love.)
However you choose to celebrate (or not) Valentine’s Day, I do hope you know that I love you and am sending my love and positive vibes for a wonderful February 14th, 2023!
Until next time,
Cheers and namaste,