Don’t Blow It: 5 Valentine’s Day Dates That Skip the Cliches

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by Andrew Connor, Men’s Editor

From: When Harry Met Sally
From: When Harry Met Sally, duh.

So you’ve got “plans”  this Valentine’s Day, but you’re not exactly sure what constitutes said plans. Sure, dinner and a movie is great, but only if you’re as innovative and daring as a toast sandwich. Admittedly it can be difficult to find something novel to do around these parts (double that if you’re under 21), but if you do your due diligence and put in some thought you can come up with some fun, classy date ideas that will leave your romantic interest impressed. Still too lazy to use Google? Fine then, we’ve gone and done your homework for you.

Dinner, but Better

A guy’s gotta eat, right? If you do choose to take your date out to dinner we certainly don’t blame you, we just kindly ask that for their sake you skip the obvious restaurant choices. Rather than frequent Madison’s dime-a-dozen gastropubs, try out Forequarter, an Underground Food Collective establishment that skips the trend chase in favor of classic, rustic cuisine and cocktails. A bit out of budget? The Weary Traveler’s vegetable heavy menu offers rustic choices and primo cocktails at a lower price point.

A Three Hour Tour

Maybe it’s our generation’s appreciation of all things “craft” and “artisan,” but we feel it would be an oversight to omit a brewery tour in our list of things to do on Valentines Day. It’s against the grain but entirely casual, if that’s your kind of thing. Our favorites would be Madison area classic Capital Brewery and innovative newcomer Karben4. Don’t like beer? Get out of the state. That or check out the Old Sugar Distillery instead if your drink of choice is “shots.”

F**k It, We’ll Do It Live

Skip the movie. A live show can be much more engaging than sitting in silence watching 50 Shades of Grey for two hours. Lucky for you, Madison has a few venues. The Majestic’s Valentine’s Day show features Marc Broussard and Chastity Brown, who both deliver southern inspired folk and R&B tunes that are perfect for serenading you and your special someone. Tickets are $18 ($16 if you order in advance) a pop. If you’re cheap resourceful you can check out Union South’s free show, A Ferris Ferris Ferris Valentine’s Day, which features jazz and latin bands from across the Midwest. If you and your date want to rage instead, the High Noon Saloon and the Frequency both have you covered.

Cocktails With Class

“Want to get a drink sometime?” is such a tired line that it hurts. Still, getting to know someone with the aid of libations is a time honored classic. If you go this route, go big. No, not detox big. Dress to the nines and tour some of Madison’s finest establishments. We like bars like the Opus Lounge and Merchant for their tasteful atmosphere and extensive cocktail menus that are conducive to grown-up talk. If your date really enjoys the finer things (read: scotch and cigars), Maduro is another establishment to try. Don’t overdo it if you want that second date.

Screw the Whole Damn Thing

If you’re going to be apathetic about Valentines Day, be consistent and continue to do so even if you’ve found yourself a new partner. But rather than the two of you simply sulking in your apartment swapping sentiments regarding the commercialization of romance, have a little fun with staying in. If you’re not a chump, cook something together. If you are, order in. We’re particularly fond of New Orleans Take Out. Top it all off with a bottle of wine (or something stronger) and be in bed by midnight.

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