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Date night: Places to go and things to do for Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day HeartAhhh, Valentine's Day... Every year many of us scramble for dinner reservations at 'that one restaurant', or stress over finding a special activity that will make the day more memorable and romantic -- it can be a downright rat race! Reservations a month in advance, long waits, getting together those special treats and finding a babysitter to boot. We feel your romance-yearning pain!

This year to help all of you busy, busy moms (and romantic dads!), we've compiled some of our favorite Valentine's Day picks, along with ideas for special activities and much more. Whether you're spending the night out taking in a show, or sharing a nice bottle of wine by the fire, we hope that this year's Valentine's Day is filled with all of the romance, love and relaxation that you've been needing!

Need a babysitter?

Check out our extensive online directory for child care and babysitting resources! Here are some of our favorites:

Annie's Nannies Household Staffing; Seeking Sitters; The Seattle Nanny Network, Inc.; A Nanny for U; Keepsake Nannies, Inc.

Valentine's Day shows

Cinderella at Pacific Northwest BalletThe Pacific Northwest Ballet will be featuring the timeless production of Cinderella from February 4-13, with an added special Valentine's Day Eve performance at 6:30 p.m. Kent Stowell's rendering of this classic fairy tale is truly a highlight of the PNB's 2011 season, as it is finally returning after a nine-year hiatus. Tickets for the special evening performance range from $27-165.

Seattle's Market Theatre will be featuring a Valentine's Day night of hilarious improv with their Comedy of Love performance at 7 p.m.. This show will take a humorous look at the good, the bad and the sometimes ugly that love has to offer -- blind dates, sex, marriage, babies and overall, the many ups and downs encountered in relationships. If you're in need of a few laughs, this is definitely going to be one heck of a show! Tickets are $15 each.

Daniel Breaker at Intiman Theatre


'Cause life's a cabaret! Daniel Breaker will be hosting an intimate Valentine's Cabaret for all of you love birds at the Intiman Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Valentine's Day. Featuring special guest artists such as Seattle's Jose Gonzales, Broadway's Colmon Domingo and past cabaret vocalist Condola Rashad, you can expect to hear plenty of hits from the likes of Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Nat Cole, Nina Simone and Frank Sinatra. Fun! Tickets are $50 and can be purchased online.


Shorecrest Performing Arts Center will be featuring the Seattle Chinese Orchestra and the Zhang-Xiang Fei Violin Studio in a pre-Valentine's Day performance of Heart Strings on February 12 at 7:30 p.m. Cuddling couples will be treated to an evening of romantic compositions including favorites such as Butterfly Lovers, As Time Goes By, Summertime, O Mio Babbino Caro and The Merry Widow Waltz. Tickets range from $15-18.

The Can Can CabaretThe Can Can's in-house performance troupe, The Castaways, will be performing a Valentine's Day evening of duets on February 14 at 6:30 p.m. This show has sold out for the past four years so it is highly recommended to purchase your tickets ($10-45) early on! And if you are yet to have seen a Castaways show at the Can Can you're certainly in for a sweet treat -- expect plenty of acrobatics, contemporary cabaret and much more.

The Triple Door, SeattleGet into a swingin' mood at The Triple Door with Joey Jewell and Jim Kerel's Swing Session big band for their Sinatra at the Sands show! Playing on Valentine's Day at 7 and 9:30 p.m. and featuring special guests Matt Vail and Trish Hatley, the band will take you back in time to Las Vegas during Sinatra's reigning days on the strip. Expect to hear plenty of your favorite Sinatra hits and experience all of that lovely Ol' Blue Eyes charm. Dinner is available at the early show and dessert will be served during the late performance; tickets range from $60-80.


Out + about

Sing your heart out: Make your own show at Seattle's new Rock Box -- featuring 12 private, Japanese-style karaoke rooms, a full bar and food. Couples can reserve a room for a mere $7 an hour and flat rates are available for groups larger than eight. What could be better than a Valentine's Day duet!

Sweets for the sweet: Venture to the Bellevue Bravern's Trophy Cupcakes with your sweetie for what seems to be a perfect his and her cupcake combo -- Hale's Chocolate Stout and Pink Champagne. And in case the idea of having beer-flavored chocolate for dessert doesn't make your mouth water, go for the Valrhona cupcake with raspberry buttercream and chocolate garnache. Pssst: We also hear that Top Pot will be featuring some special-flavored Valentine's Day doughnuts, if you're more of an 'old fashioned' lover!

Heat up the kitchen: Woodinville's Efeste Winery is hosting a couple cooking class on February 12 at 6:30 p.m. -- perfect for all of you love bird foodies out there! The evening will include a wine tasting, appetizers and professional instruction on cooking techniques as couples work in teams to create a Valentine's Day tapas menu that they can then share for dinner. Vegetarian options are included, as are two complimentary glasses of wine. Couples will also be emailed with the tapa recipes and digital photos from the evening for keepsake after the event. Tickets are $115 each; both the menu and tickets are available on the website.

Personalized sonnets: Not much of a poet? Let Shakespeare take care of all of that romantic rhyming! Seattle's Sound Theatre Company and GreenStage are joining forces to have their Shakespeare actors deliver one of your valentine's favorite love sonnets -- in full costume! The Valentine Sonnet services will be available from February 11-14 and prices are discounted for reservations made before February 7th. All of the proceeds will go to benefit live theater in Seattle and a portion of the price is tax deductible. Roses and chocolates are also optional; packages range from $75-150.

A heart for the arts: If you and your valentine love hitting up the local art museums, you'll sure love this sweet deal at the Bellevue Art Museum. From 11-5 p.m. on Valentine's Day, the museum will be offering two-for-one admission and Valentine and exhibit-themed craft activities including homemade flowers (aww!) and decorated hearts. Regular admission is $7-10.

Farther afield: Ever thought of food as being sexy? Well, after participating in a Sexy Feast meal, you just might! These dinners, held at various restaurants on different dates, are led by Seattle food writer and sex educator, Jay Friedman. As you make your way through a five-course dinner and wine pairing, Friedman will be discussing the 'sexual content' of each course, and the Valentine's Day Sexy Feast will certainly be no exception. The February 12th Sexy Feast will be held on Lummi Island at the beautiful Willows Inn. The dinner is $150 per person and reservations are necessary; check out this website for further information. Still a little confused about what exactly this Sexy Feast entails? Check out Jay Friedman's blog for the scoop on the recent Sexy Feast from January 13.

Champers and chocolates: Tacoma's WW. Seymour Botanical Conservatory will be hosting a cappella performance with Suzie Vendetti on February 11th at 5:30 p.m. Along with taking in some beautiful live music, there will be wine and champagne, chocolate covered strawberries, truffles and a drawing at 6:30 p.m. for a one-of-a-kind Hilltop Artists' glass piece. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the conservatory, the Metro Parks main office and at the Center at Norpoint.

Note: Many restaurants throughout the Puget Sound are offering Valentine's Day prix fixe dinners and romantic specials. Typically, reservations are a must; check with your favorite 'date night' spots to see what will be offered for the holiday. The Open Table also has a fantastic database of all local restaurants that offering special Valentine's Day meals.


No reservations needed:

There are many things you can do with and for that special someone that don't require reservations or a whole lot of stress. Here are five of our top favorite activities and gift ideas for keeping the love alive -- and simple! -- on Valentine's Day.

Homemade romance: Skip the expensive meal and reservations and plan a romantic dinner in! Each year, I make my partner's favorite dinner (roasted lamb) and in exchange he makes me the dessert of our choice. One year we had red velvet cake (made from scratch!), last year we had raspberry cheesecake. Certainly one of my favorite annual traditions, nothing beats seeing my partner covered in flour and baking up a storm each Valentine's Day. And on that same token, I absolutely love seeking out the best local ingredients and good wine to share over his dinner as well.

Breakfast in bed: For many, breakfast in bed is left for rare occasions such as Mother's Day or the annual flu. But isn't it just about one of the sweetest things ever?! This year, consider beating your valentine to the kitchen in the morning and whipping up an incredible 'I love you' breakfast that will be remembered for years to come. Or, let your valentine know that nothing would make you happier than to receive the same!

Take a night stroll: Though our weather has been less than charming this year, consider bundling up and taking a nice night stroll with your sweetie around the neighborhood or through a nearby park. We do this as a couple from time to time and find that some of our all-time best conversations come out of these half-hour, hand-holding night strolls.

Write it down: Skip the Hallmark card and bring out your creative side with a personalized homemade Valentine's Day card or a good old fashioned love letter. Making these love notes can be just as rewarding as receiving them -- it gives you that much-needed moment to sit back and reflect on all of the things you love about your partner, from the moment you met and up until now!

Cuddly movie time: Your partner may not jump up and down for an evening of romantic comedies, but what about a movie night with a pick from each of you? Keeping each other's interests in mind, head out to your local video store and choose one film each that you believe you both will enjoy. Cook up some homemade popcorn, open a nice bottle of wine and voila! You've got all of the makings for a romantic evening in.

Lovely lunch: Skip the Valentine's Day dinner rush and head out for a long lunch instead. We've done this in past years and it has been absolutely wonderful. No lines, no reservations and no crowds -- sharing your favorite restaurant's food a little earlier in the day can make a whole lot of difference!

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