It’s that time of year again, and this time you managed to find the perfect one. You can’t wait to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your significant other, and you want to go on the perfect date. The only problem — you don’t migrate beyond the walls of QQs and Open Book Café at College Library. So, where else can you go? If you’ve got $5 in your pocket and a bunch of love in your heart, leave the event matchmaking to us.
University of Wisconsin Arboretum
First stop — the UW Arboretum. You might consider the Arboretum a summer activity because of its influx of flowers and various, but it’s still open in winter. The hiking trails are still open, along with the boardwalks. You can walk through the woods looking at the snow-dusted trees and along the boardwalks to the frozen lake. The park is open as early as 7 a.m., and closes as late as 10 p.m.
If you go in the evening, check out the sunset to make it extra romantic and no matter what time you go, make sure to bring hot chocolate and oversized scarves to keep each other warm.
Movie and wine
You might not be able to pay for that first-class ticket to Paris, but you can still put yourself in the scene. There’s no need to put on your high heels and overpriced shirt to trek out to that fancy restaurant in the snow. Keep your sweatpants on and let the two of you pick the mood. Buy a baguette and some cheap Trader Joe’s wine, and then put on films like “Midnight in Paris” and “Sleepless in Seattle.” Trader Joe’s has a great (define on your own terms) “Two Buck Chuck” house wine.
UW Geology Museum
You don’t have to buy anyone a diamond ring. The UW Geology Museum showcases more than 120,000 specimens. From fossils to dinosaur bones to rocks dating millions of years, you can explore the museum for free. The rocks, sometimes dating 436 million years, are often looked at by real paleontologists in the museum, so you might see someone at work. For the most part, the museum is self-guided. The museum opens at 8:30 a.m. and closes at 4:30 p.m., so make sure you don’t stop by too late.
So maybe your S.O. is into the flowers and chocolate on Valentine’s Day. There’s nothing wrong with going classic — but why not spice it up a bit? Instead of buying a bar of Hershey’s and a dozen roses, go chocolate hunting together. Madison is filled with chocolatiers that are waiting for your arrival this Thursday. Check out places like Candinas Chocolatier, CocoVaa, Madison Chocolate Co. and Red Elephant Chocolates. You don’t have to spend all your money in one place either. Make your own assortment by buying just one or two truffles in each place. You’ll have a much more personalized — and tasty — gift to enjoy together.
If chocolatiers are a bit out of your price range, you can always count on Woodman’s Markets for heaps of discount chocolate. Sometimes quantity is better than quality.
After the afternoon festivities have died down, spend the night on Valentine’s Day ice skating at the Shell with the Camp Randall Sports Center. Thursdays are late night skating, so hours are from 11:15 p.m. to 12:45 a.m. At only $4 for students, you can hold your S.O. tight as you skate — and probably fall — around the rink. If you’re both prone to falling, try sledding instead. Elver Park is local and has some great hills to slide down.