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Sure, making plans on Valentine’s Day can feel underwhelming and overhyped. But Cupid’s holiday doesn’t have to be a drag. In fact, there are all kinds of unique, outside-the-box (and even eccentric) things you can do to celebrate your love across the Front Range. So, forget making dinner plans at a stuffy restaurant and spice things up with one of these creative date ideas.
Get Your Heart Racing at a Haunted House
Can’t eat, can’t sleep, can’t breathe? Maybe you’re in love, or maybe you’ve just been spooked by Love Bites, a Valentine’s Day-themed haunted house, complete with Vampire brides and grotesque goblins. The house of horrors is rife with creepy actors in bone-chilling makeup and costume. Make sure you bring a date to hold close! 13th Floor Haunted House, 3400 E. 52nd Ave.; February 15–16, 7–10 p.m.; General admission is $24.99
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Spice up Your Night by Solving a Murder
Sure, you two are partners in love. But can you be partners in crime-solving? At this special Valentine’s Day mystery dinner, you and your honey will bear witness to the crime, investigation, and resolution of a mystery. The dinner menu includes choices like bacon-wrapped tenderloin or salmon, and you can wet your whistle with themed drinks like the Whiskey Kiss, a concoction complete with strawberries, mint, lemon juice, and Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey. Viewhouse Centennial, 7101 S. Clinton St.; February 14, 6 p.m.; $40 per person
Become a Voyeur Into the Bedrooms of Fish
There’s no aphrodisiac quite like learning about the sex lives of fish, is there? Marine biologist Marah Hardt, who literally wrote the book on sex in the sea, will give you a peek into the mating rituals of marine creatures, including giant whale threesomes and full moon sex parties of groupers. Beforehand, nibble on ocean-themed apps and peruse the collection of coral, shells, and marine animals. Denver Museum of Nature & Science; 2001 Colorado Blvd.; February 14, 6–9:30 p.m.; $25
Leave the Chores to Someone Else
Sometimes the best Valentine’s Date is doing nothing at all. The Crawford Hotel at Denver’s Union Station is offering special V-Day packages that include indulgences like a bottle of Prosecco, delicious chocolate truffles, a rose petal turndown, and complimentary valet parking. Their rooms range the gamut from the Pullman, inspired by Pullman Sleeper Cars, to the Crawford Suite, which features its own dining room, a clawfoot tub, and floor-to-ceiling windows. Best of all, you’ll be given a free late checkout the next morning, so you can sleep in and snuggle with your partner. Crawford Hotel, 1701 Wynkoop St.; Packages available throughout February; Prices start at $229
Wine and Dine Locally
Although Colorado is known for its craft beer, its wine scene isn’t too shabby either. Grab your partner and check out a special five-course affair at Carboy Winery. The menu will include goat cheese croquettes, seared Scottish salmon, and chocolate soufflé, all coupled with wine pairings. The two-and-a-half-year-old Littleton winery sources grapes from California, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado, with hopes to be half Colorado-sourced by 2020. Carboy Winery; 6885 S. Santa Fe Dr., Littleton; February 14, 6–10 p.m.; $95 per person
Laugh at Others’ Bad Dates
There’s nothing funnier than bad romance—as long as you’re not the victim. Listen to Valentine’s Day stories at Voodoo Comedy Playhouse and laugh along with the improv talents as they riff on the best and worst dates of their lives. Because sometimes humor is the only antidote to a love gone awry. Voodoo Comedy Playhouse, 1260 22nd St.; February 14, 8–9:30 p.m.; $8–$10
Whip up Your Own Love Potions
Take a guided tour of the Denver Botanic Gardens to learn more about the secret lives of plants. Throughout the centuries, flora like ginger, hibiscus, oranges, and even avocados have been used by humans to attract potential suitors. You’ll dive even deeper on the hour-long tour, and discover plants’ different tricks to attract insects, who are vital to their procreation. You’ll leave the tour with a small souvenir to take home. Denver Botanic Gardens; 1007 York St.; February 8–15; $10–$14
Tie the Knot for Free
Make it official at a free marriage ceremony held in Denver’s courthouse. The annual celebration, hosted by Denver Clerk and Recorder Debra Johnson, will have local judges and clergy on hand to officiate your nuptials, plus free hors d’oeuvres to enjoy while you wait. And, if you’re short on wedding gifts, enter in the drawing for prizes from local businesses. Denver Clerk and Recorder’s Office, Webb Building, 201 W. Colfax Ave., Dept. 101; February 14, 8–4:30 p.m.; free
Show Your Love for Your Art Crush
Let your favorite piece of art know how much you really love it. Every year, the Denver Art Museum takes part in Hearts for Art, a celebration of art and love. The museum encourages visitors to express their undying love for their favorite artists by “hearting” art in real life. Wander the gallery until you become acquainted with a piece of art that strikes your fancy. After that, show your affection by placing a paper heart in front of the piece of art. If the analog version of “liking” doesn’t satisfy you, you can still post your art-heart on social media, too. Denver Art Museum; 100 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy.; February 11–15; included with general admission
Run for (Not From) Your Love
Got a competitive edge? Challenge your valentine to a 5 or 10K at the Bar CCC Park in Parker. Win or lose, there will be a scrumptious pancake breakfast post-race, which, after some three or six miles will surely taste better than breakfast in bed. Bring the kiddos, too. There’s a free kids’ dash for runners 8 years and under. Bar CCC Park, 10951 S. Twenty Mile Rd., Parker; February 9, 10 a.m.; $25-$50