Ah, yes, Valentine’s Day—a time for extravagant dates, intimate dinners, and nights on the town—is here once more. But romancing during a pandemic is forcing many couples to get creative on how to make the day special and safe. And we at Houstonia, ever the devotees of Cupid, have taken up his bow to curate this list of socially distanced romantic gestures and lovey-dovey dates just for you, dear readers.   

Bring the fam, dog, or bae to CityPlace at Springwoods Village.

There’re a couple of ways to celebrate at this new multi-use destination in Spring (1200 Lake Plaza Dr): You and a pet can hit up Love Stinks! from PawzUp DogFest on Saturday, February 6, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with pet adoptions, vendors shenanigans, Cupid (at a selfie station), and photo-ops from Jill Garrett Photography for all leashed good boys and girls. Or bring the fam to the Sweetheart Stroll on February 14 from 3 to 6 p.m., with live music from Jazz Elements, a balloon artist, and dog treats, and goodies for sale from Natural Pawz. You and bae could also spend the night at the CityPlace Marriott at Springwoods Village, with a Valentine’s package (room, champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries, and breakfast for two) starting at $199 per night. 

Get a romantic (professional) photo snapped at Discovery Green. 

Bring your partner, kids, or pets to Jim Dine’s The House (Heart) during the inaugural LOVE IS @ Discovery Green fundraiser, February 12 to 14, to have a four-by-six-inch commemorative pic snapped in front of the bronze cast heart sculpture. It’ll set you back $15, but the donation goes entirely to the park.  By reservation at discoverygreen.com/love.

Go on a trail ride of love.

Ever dreamed of your knight-in-shining riding in on a white horse? At Cypress Trails Ranch, y’all both get to ride the horse. Escape the big city for a trail-riding adventure through the wilds of Cypress. The ranch, open seven days a week, offers options for beginners, hour-long rides, all-day trips, picnics, and even an evening trail ride that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day. Prices start at $35; click here to learn more. 

Love thy fellow cinephiles at Rooftop Cinema.

Moviegoers will be treated to two romantic classics (from the early aughts) at the East End drive-in on February 14: Love & Basketball, the cult classic romance produced by Spike Lee, and The Notebook—RIP Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams’s relationship. Or grab the gals on February 13 for a Galentine’s Day celebration of friendship and laughter with Bridesmaids and Girls Trip.

Have an old-fashioned picnic. 

There’s something quaint and sweet about a red-and-white checkered blanket, a wicker basket, a bottle of wine, and a home-cooked meal. This Valentine’s Day pack up, and head out to one of Houston’s parks, or just to your backyard, for a romantic afternoon of fresh air and food. Not sure what to make? Check out our picnic recipe guide. Is preparing all that too much work? Well, then … 

… Have a luxury picnic.

Last summer we wrote about Picnics in the City, a local luxury picnic delivery service. Book three days in advance, and the Picnics in the City team will set up a luxe picnic for you, complete with pillows, china, centerpieces, and candles. In an instant you’ll feel like you’re lounging beside the Eiffel Tower instead of Hermann Park. Can’t actually spend time with your love this V-Day? This company also offers customized gift boxes. Book your picnic here.  

Spend a nostalgic night in. 

Why go out when you can snuggle up safe and sound in the comfort of your own home? Romance your boo with nostalgia by building a blanket fort and pulling up an old movie. Make them a homemade card—heck, you might as well pull out all the stops and make them a Valentine’s card mailbox (Remember those from elementary school?), too. 

Explore Memorial Park’s Eastern Glades.

Weather permitting, take your suitor on a romantic stroll through Memorial Park’s Clay Family Eastern Glades. Meander around the elevated boardwalk. Perhaps see who can spot the most birds at Hines Lake. And when dusk falls, cuddle up and roast s’mores at one of the outdoor fireplaces.

Get lit at CityCentre.

We’re not talking booze (though by all means marg-it-up at Cyclone Anaya’s if need be), but actual lights. In this case, CityCentre’s latest artsy installation, The Singing Trees—lighted trees that react to sound—that will be all aflutter on February 14. 

Tapas on the Trails at the Houston Arboretum. 

Enjoy Tapas on the Trails at the Houston Arboretum.

Your favorite walking spot (4500 Woodway Dr) rolls out its annual romantic evening stroll filled with tapas, wine, and softly lit trails (teeming with crepuscular bird life) on February 13— with social distancing, 15 minute entry-intervals, and masks required inside buildings, of course. The menu, from Cotton Culinary’s chef Kevin Bryant, Double Decanted’s Kelly Prohl, and Saint Arnold’s Lennie Ambrose, features four courses with drink pairings, from charcuterie and pilsner to Malva Pudding with red wine, with some palate cleansers in between—vegetarian options are available. Tickets starting at $95, including a raffle to win a magnum of wine. You can also upgrade to VIP (and get a commemorative wine glass) for an extra $20. Deets here: houstonarboretum.org/event/tapas-on-the-trails

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