Valentine’s Day offers couples a reason to celebrate romance

Shelves are stocked with flowers and chocolate, shop windows display festive explosions of hearts and balloons and even TV Guide is advertising specials lined up for Feb. 14. The red carpet has been rolled out for Valentine’s Day.

For its ardent observers, Valentine’s Day provokes both childish giddiness and a certain degree of preparation anxiety. Should you buy a gift? What kind of gift? Where should you go? What should you do? The list of questions goes on and on. Fortunately, the metro area has many gift and activity options.

In the quest for flowers, D.C. has a several options. The Greenworks and The Mainstem are reputable florists – good stops in the search for the perfect bouquet of long-stemmed roses. If roses seem too conventional, Kensington Orchids in Maryland has a variety of exotic orchids.

If flowers are too posh for the occasion or you have an urge to carry on the grade-school tradition of exchanging valentines with many classmates or colleagues, many local drug stores carry an assortment of Valentine paraphernalia. CVS has all the familiar goodies – Sesame Street cards, Russell Stover candies, Valentine’s boxers and even Valentine Barbie. CVS is ideal for those who have a large list because most gifts are priced between $3 and $10.

For those who want to focus attention on one special person, the area has some interesting, but expensive, gift possibilities that are sure to make his or her heart go pitter-pat. L’Academie de Cuisine offers an annual Valentine cooking class from 7-10 p.m. At $80 per couple, L’Academie’s chefs instruct in the preparation of a gourmet meal, which may seem quite romantic to some.

Another generous gift idea is a trip to the spa. Aveda’s Himalayan rejuvenation treatment goes for $130 and is sure to raise Valentine spirits.

Other interactive celebration possibilities abound in the D.C. area. If the weather is nice, an afternoon walk around the monuments is a classic way to start out Valentine’s Day. A stroll around Georgetown or Dupont Circle with a stop at a caf? for a quick bite to eat also has romantic potential.

More serious walkers can spend the day hiking at Love Rock Creek Park Day, held at Rock Creek Nature Center and Planetarium. The event begins at 2 p.m. on Valentine’s Day. Ice skating at the Georgetown waterfront or at Pershing park is another inventive way to celebrate Valentine’s Day together.

A day at the National Zoo or one of the Smithsonian museums offers a good option for couples, especially those just getting to know each other. Frolicking hedgehogs at the zoo or the giant stuffed elephant at the Museum of Natural History can provide great icebreakers.

As evening approaches, the dinner question surfaces. It is important to weigh options in the days preceding Valentine’s Day because reservations are generally a requirement. A few suggestions – Aditi in Georgetown serves up Indian cuisine at reasonable prices; Al Tiramisu is an Italian restaurant known for its seafood; Bardias New Orleans satisfies that craving for Cajun food.

To avoid crowds, eating at home by candlelight may be the coziest decision. Go food shopping together. Pasta always is purported as a romantic food – maybe it’s the red sauce or the scene from Lady and the Tramp. Whatever the menu, a home-cooked meal with glowing candles and soft music screams romance.

After dinner, Valentines can dance the night away at local clubs. The Black Cat will host Latin dancing Feb. 14, so Valentine couples can tango till their feet are sore. Lewie’s in Bethesda is hosting a swing night with a $3 cover charge. Of course, for those romantics at heart, slow dancing in the living room to favorite love songs might suffice.

But all hype aside, what is truly important is taking a day to celebrate love. Enjoy the day, acknowledge the importance of friendship and romance and don’t forget to call Mom and Dad.

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