14 Valentine’s Day gift experiences that are sure to melt hearts

Valentine’s Day shouldn’t just be a time for your child to exchange paper pleasantries at school. Surprise your significant other with an adult-only outing that will ensure heart eye emojis for months to come. It’ll be so much more memorable than melted chocolates.

Indulge in a staycation and scrub at Loews Chicago.

Whisk your love away to Loews Chicago Hotel for a romantic getaway. Located just one block from the Chicago River and two blocks from Navy Pier and Michigan Avenue, it’s a short stroll to enjoy what our great city has to offer. Plus, get a Room for Romance package and you’ll enjoy champagne and truffles delivered to your room, daily breakfast for two in the on-site restaurant and 15 percent off two in-spa treatments. Currently featuring a scrub and mani-pedi in partnership with Chicago Honey Co-op, you and your love will leave feelingly sweetly rejuvenated. 

Uncover an engrossing experience at Chicago Magic Lounge.  

Enter from what looks like a laundromat to a hidden door to enjoy handcrafted cocktails and bar magic in an up-close cabaret setting. Only those in the know are aware of this hidden gem of a hangout that’s even hipper than you might think. Sleight of hand tricks will have you mystified, snuggling together wondering just how they did it.

Dine and dance on the water with Odyssey Cruises

Take your sweetheart for a sail around the Chicago River or on Lake Michigan for a premium lunch or dinner cruise. You’ll glide past beautiful sights, soaking up Chicago’s amazing architecture while dining on delicious, freshly prepared dishes. Three-course meals are served with several selections and upgrades to enhance your experience. Ships sail year-round and are quite enjoyable in the cold. Snow was softly cascading from the sky on the evening I sailed Odyssey Cruises and it was pure magic. Dress up for a romantic evening and dance the night away with the Chicago skyline as your backdrop.

Escape to Sundara Spa

This adult-only wellness retreat is only three hours to the north, yet voted one of the top destination spas in the Midwest by readers of Travel + Leisure magazine. Recharge and reconnect in the quiet calmness of Sundara Inn & Spa (public areas are electronics-free). Relax together by partaking in the purifying bath ritual or lounging in one of the tranquil spaces, where deer and wild turkeys can often be viewed outside. Indulge in a facial, massage, yoga class or a round of golf.

Couples savor the indoor/outdoor pool with swim-up bar and flickering fire outside. Enjoy delicious spa food in your robes at the Nava restaurant. The Cambrian Oasis is a wonderful indoor pool and conversation area that serves a tuna appetizer I will dream about. It’s a peaceful getaway from the everyday.

Jazz it up at Tortoise Supper Club. 

Dine on Beef Wellington for two or other delicious scratch-made dishes at this family-owned supper club in River North. The setting is warm and romantic, especially in the Red Room. With its red lacquered walls and candlelit tables, it feels like old-school Chicago. “History is dripping from the walls,” said Shelby Forsyth, our server for the evening. You’ll notice Chicago artifacts all around.

On the evening of Feb. 14, a Polaroid photographer will be available to capture your memories. Live jazz plays that evening, as well as Friday and Saturday nights.

Take in a show during Chicago Theatre Week.

Chicago Theatre Week is February 7-17 and tickets are on sale now for $15, $30 or less. Chicago Theatre Week is a celebration of the rich Chicago theatre culture and the stories we share. What a perfect time to take your honey to see a play or performance somewhere new! Approximately 250 Chicagoland theaters participate.

Sip rose all day at The Hampton Social.

If you have a case of the winter drearies, then The Hampton Social, with several Chicagoland locations, is the place for you two to reconnect. It feels like summer in their nautical settings with live acoustic performances every day. Sip pink rose, nosh on bar bites, brick oven pizza, seafood or salad and chill out with your other half.

Have a ball at Wheelhouse Hotel and Union Full Board Pizza.

If you’re fans of baseball, you’ll love the new Wheelhouse Hotel in Wrigleyville.  This 21-room intimate hotel opened in September. A giant scoreboard and dangling baseball bats set the scene in the sleek lobby. Rooms have more of a masculine feel (it can’t always be about the ladies!) and Yogi Berra-isms line the hallways. Sink your teeth into crusty, crispy Detroit-style pan pizza at Union Full Board pizza restaurant, connected to the hotel. Located one block south of Wrigley Field, you can take a stadium tour, peruse the bar scene or shop Southport Avenue with your valentine.

Dine at Coda di Volpe

Coda di Volpe is a Southern Italian eatery located in the Southport Corridor. The warm, inviting dining room is the perfect spot for an intimate dinner or cozy brunch. The menu features seasonally rotating handmade pastas, house-cured meats, wood-fired oven pizzas, award-winning wine and an array of pastries and gelatos.

I had the pleasure of dining at Coda di Volpe for brunch and I have to say the biscuits and gravy are heavenly and the fruit plate was one of the most gorgeous I’ve ever been served. You can also indulge in Nutella Cinnamon Rolls and Focaccia French Toast.

Get swept up in the ambiance of Hotel Julian and ALK. 

Open in the fall of 2018, this modern hotel on Michigan Avenue, across from Millennium Park, is brimming with activity and interesting artwork. Brick walls are painted with cute platitudes or interesting images. The elevator is decorated inside and out. Rooms feature cappuccino machines and the fitness center has fantastic equipment, like Peloton bikes. Relax in one of the swing chairs in the lobby and feel your cares melt away.

About Last Knife (ALK), in the lobby, serves steaks and gastropub fare as well as brunch on the weekends. Their breakfast sandwich features a pimento cheese that is slightly spicy and totally satisfying.

Indulge at Walton Street Kitchen + Bar

This recently new American bistro has a library-like lounge and oversized booths for a comfortable, yet refined atmosphere. Sit on the second floor and enjoy views of the Gold Coast below, perhaps after a shopping spree. Savor dinner, lunch, weekend brunch or happy hour specials. Walton Street also offers a great pre-fixe menu with a starter, entree and dessert. Their ice cream is to die for. Definitely homemade, you can taste the cool fresh mint in the mint chocolate chip. I also enjoyed the espresso martini.

Stay at the Ace Hotel after Swift & Sons steakhouse.

If you’re looking to dine at Swift & Sons top-rated steakhouse, I suggest booking an overnight stay at the Ace Hotel in the West Loop, which was designed in with collaboration with countless artists. Their rooftop bar with nightly entertainment, coffee shop, fire pits and City Mouse cafe are sure to make your stay a delightful experience. I recommend the avocado toast and a smoothie for breakfast.

See 10,000 Maniacs at City Winery

From Feb. 14-16, the critically acclaimed 10,000 Maniacs returns to City Winery, Chicago’s only fully-operational urban winery, for Valentine’s weekend concerts. Gently sway to “These Are Days” and feel blessed for the full life you are leading. Behind-the-Scenes tours and tastings are available in this West Loop winery that feels like a romantic trip to the wine country.

Cut it up at The Chopping Block.

They say, “Cooking is love made visible.” What better experience than to make a meal for Valentine’s Day together. The Chopping Block will be offering three different hands-on Valentine’s Feast classes at their Lincoln Square and Merchandise Mart locations February 14-16. Choose from Parisian Pleasures, California Wine Country or an Evening in Italy. All include a glass of sparkling rose and amazing food. The experience of making your meal together is sure to make your hearts swoon!


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