Valentine's Day dates in Baltimore to suit every type of couple

Valentine's Day, our officially designated explosion of love/boxed-candy giving, is a little over a week away. And if you have a significant other — or a schedule where V-Day planning doesn't fit in easily — you may feel a bit panicky right now.

But there's no reason to worry. Whether you want to go the traditional fancy-dinner route or if you're looking for something a bit adventurous, date-night options abound around the city. Really — semi-naked running, a sci-fi convention and learning about animal sex are just a few of your options. Whatever your taste, you'll find one of our date ideas a good match.


Just call us your own personal Cupid. Minus the diapers.

For the couple who can't take their eyes off each other


Everyone knows the couple who hold each other's hands constantly and look longingly into each other's eyes in total bliss. They will be right at home at Sotto Sopra, which gets our vote for the city's most ravishingly romantic restaurant. We're not the only ones think so. Riccardo Bosio's Italian dining temple has very limited availability on Valentine's Day itself. But if you're really, truly in love you won't mind going a few days before or after, right? Whenever you go, get the seared polenta and the squid ink pasta. On second thought, get the fried polenta with truffle sea salt and the seafood cioppino. Actually, go often and get everything. 405 N. Charles St. sottosoprainc.com.

For the couple looking to dance their troubles away

The two of you have been fighting lately. Piled-up dishes have rendered the sink unusable, conversations about money and the future took awkward turns and neither of you can make a definitive Netflix decision. Sometimes, the only solution to life's mounting problems is to dance it all away. Presented by Showspace, the Ottobar's Valentine's Day Dance Party will feature soul/funk DJ sets from Lesser Gonzalez and Young Coconut and DJ sets of "booty jams" from Jana Hunter of Lower Dens, Dianamatic and James Nasty. A photo booth will be on hand to capture the sweat-filled night. The best part? A suggested donation of $5-$10 will benefit Moveable Feast, the Baltimore-based nonprofit that provides free meals to people struggling with life-threatening illnesses. 8 p.m.-2 a.m. 2549 N. Howard St., Remington. theottobar.com. Another solid dance option: Metro Gallery's event Space Is the Place ... For Lovers, which features Baltimore club pioneer Debonair Samir, as well as lovable acts Ellie Herring and TT The Artist. 9 p.m. Feb. 14. 1700 N. Charles St. $5. themetrogallery.net.

For the couple who watches way too much Animal Planet

You rarely see the words "Sex at the Zoo" unless they complete the newspaper headline "Couple arrested for having." But the Maryland Zoo's Sex at the Zoo event is something special. Couples (and brave, admirable individuals) will learn "the secrets, scandals and shockingly true facts" about animal lovin' and zoo-based matchmaking. And because learning about animal mating calls for refreshments, there will be an open bar, hors d'oeuvres and desserts. And don't miss the photo ops with (hopefully nonfrisky) animals. 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Feb. 14 at the zoo's Mansion House, Druid Hill Park. $80 individual ticket, $135 couples. marylandzoo.org. Call 443-552-5276 for tickets.

For the couple who would rather be semi-naked all of the time

And lo, Saint Valentine decreed that once a year, folks should free themselves from their fabric shackles and run in the streets with glee and abandon. And it shall be called Cupid's Undie Run. And it will be good. Hundreds of runners are expected to take part in this fundraiser for the Children's Tumor Foundation — and declare to the world that sometimes very little clothing makes the man and woman. The party starts at noon Feb. 14 at Luckies Tavern, Power Plant Live, 10 Market Place; Undie Run kicks off at 2 p.m. $55 to register; free to soak it all in from the sidelines. cupidsundierun.com/city/baltimore.

For the couple who would rather be geeking out

Whether you're a Marvel maniac, a sucker for cult horror or wear your Spock ears with pride, Farpoint Convention is where couples can let their geek flags fly this Valentine's weekend. The three-day gathering covers all of the convention bases, including science fiction, fantasy and superheroes, with celebrity guests such as Colin Ferguson from "Eureka" (and those Maytag commercials) and Tim Russ from "Star Trek Voyager." Theres's also an art show and a "gaming oasis." Ah, sci-fi love. Feb. 13-15 at North Baltimore Plaza Hotel, 2004 Greenspring Dr., Lutherville-Timonium. $10-$80. farpointcon.com.

For the couple who loves to gossip and eavesdrop

We go to Henninger's for the best Texas barbecue shrimp and pan-fried oysters this side of heaven, but we also go to get the lowdown on who's doing what to whom in Baltimore. The best talk is at the bar, but if you prick up your ears you can get some pretty juicy tidbits while simply sitting at your table in the cozy dining room. We have a theory that one of the most fun things in a relationship is listening in on people who are crazier than you are. Who knows what sordid affairs they'll be talking about on Valentine's Day? 1812 Bank St. henningerstavern.com.

For the couple looking for something simple yet memorable


Not everything has to be big-budget bucket-list moments and grand proclamations, even on Valentine's Day. If all you need is a break from another night of sweatpants-and-take-out, we recommend a trip to Little Italy for the dependable one-two punch of bowling and dinner. Start the night with drinks and bowling (yes, the duckpin version is available for Baltimore lifers) at Mustang Alley's. After working out (or ramping up) the sexual tension as only head-to-head competition can, head to Heavy Seas Alehouse (located in the same building) for elevated pub food and locally brewed craft beer. It's a simple date night, but sometimes that's what a couple needs most. 1300 Bank St. mustangalleys.com; heavyseasalehouse.com.

For the couple who wants to get a little naughty

Well, well, well. You saucy kids! Your first option is settling in a dark theater for the sexually dark film adaptation of "Fifty Shades of Grey," opening Feb. 13. Handcuffs and neckties galore! But if you're looking for some live action (so to speak), Twisted Knickers Burlesque's "Love Stinks, the Anti-Valentine's Day Show," promises "a frisky skunk" and "a naughty avocado," among other things. It's from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Feb. 7 at the Yellow Sign Theatre, 1726 N. Charles St. $10-$15. lovestinks.brownpapertickets.com. Our sister paper, City Paper, hosts its third annual "Dirty Love" event (6 p.m.-midnight Feb. 13; $5; Gallery 788, 3602 Hickory Ave.; g788.org), if you like a little poetry, art, comedy and music with your burlesque. And who doesn't? Another option: burlesque troupe Tassels & Champagne's "Palazzo Decadente" show at the Creative Alliance (7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. Feb. 14; $20-$25; 3134 Eastern Ave.; creativealliance.org). It boasts a Roman theme that could possibly make Caligula blush.


For the couple who is going to spend the night


No judgment here! For whatever reason — drinking, exhaustion, a need for change of bed scenery — you may end up not going home after your date night. Many area hotels have fun Valentine's Day offerings, but one of our favorites is the deal at the Lord Baltimore Hotel (20 W. Baltimore St.; lordbaltimorehotel.com). The hotel's "Romance Package" includes a room (and champagne) for two, complimentary valet, $50 credit to use in the hotel's restaurant, the French Kitchen, or the Lord Baltimore Tavern and a (thankfully) late check-out of 1 p.m. It's $199, and worth every penny.

For the couple who must bring along the kids

Look, Valentine's Day really should be kid-free. But if you want some family time early, try the Milkshake Band's Valentine's Spectacular. Your children likely love the energetic band (and they're adult-friendly, too). Bonus: Before the show, there will also be chocolate goodies, a book sale and face painting, so kids can wear their heart on their sleeves or on their cheeks. Proceeds benefit nonprofit Arts On Stage. 9:30 a.m. activities, 10:30 a.m. show at Grace Fellowship Church, 9505 Deereco Road. $12-$45 (children under 2 free). artsonstage.org.

For the 'I hate Valentine's Day' couple

Let's be honest: If you disliked Valentine's Day so much you'd make it a point to not go out. You'd do something super unromantic instead, like clean your bathroom or listen to weepy break-up songs. But hey, it's V-Day is during the weekend this year. So how about the Anti Valentine's Day Party Feb. 13 at Angels Rock Bar? Here, you can mope with other folks, share your worst break-up story for a chance to score a VIP table and dress like your favorite celebrity couple who broke up for a chance at more prizes. Hmm, should we do George Clooney/Stacy Keibler or go old-school with Nick Lachey/Jessica Simpson? RSVP, please. angelsrockbarbaltimore.com.

For the couple who is especially limber

We're not exactly sure what to make of the "Acro Sutra"event at Urban Evolution gym, but it surely will be unforgettable. The gist is that it's a couple's workout involving one person on their back lifting their partner into poses. According to the press release, "you and your partner will build trust." Hard to argue with that. And if your stomachs can handle it, there will be appetizers and desserts afterward. 7 p.m.-9 p.m. Feb. 13. 6801 Eastern Ave. $20-$50. urbanevo.com.

For the couple who needs to commiserate with others

Love isn't always pretty. Love can be ugly, embarrassing, scary and sad. Love can be regrettable — especially when you're young. Share the (embarrassing) love at Mortified Baltimore's Doomed Valentines show. Mortified, a traveling performance series based off the brimming-with-awkwardness documentary "Mortified Nation," brings its Valentine's Day show to town for the first time, showcasing sad but hilarious adolescent love stories. Don't pretend like you haven't had a few of those. 8 p.m. Feb. 14 at Gallery 788, 3602 Hickory Ave. $14-$20. getmortified.com.

And for the couple who has even more love to give...

A little four-legged friend for Valentine's Day? Yes, please. Pet Rescue of Maryland will host a "My Furry Valentine" (how cute it that?) adoption event where a pet-rescue matchmaking team (aka: adoption counselors) will make sure you pick the perfect dog or cat for you. What better Valentine's Day gift is there? 2:30 p.m.-5 p.m. on Feb. 14 at the Timonium Petco, 1719 York Road. petrescueofmd.org.

More Valentine's Day events

Super Thursday Party: Music, cocktails at the Walters Art Museum's love-themed party. 600 N. Charles St. Free. thewalters.org.

Days of Wine & Roses: Wine tastings for two paired with chocolates and truffles (and, yes, a long-stemmed rose). Linganore Winecellars, 13601 Glissans Mill Road, Mount Airy. Noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m. Feb. 13-16. $25/couple. linganorewines.com.

Special Valentine's Day concert with Tony Lucca: "The Voice" vet performs. With Frank Viele. Also features a free Basignani wine tasting. Eutaw Place, 2501 Eutaw Place. 8 p.m. Feb. 14. $28-$30. eutawplace.org.

Valentine's Date Night at the National Aquarium: Drinks, live music, a photo booth and animals! 501 E. Pratt St. 8 p.m.-11 p.m. Feb. 14. $80-$100. aqua.org.

Valentine's Day Baltimore Improv Group show: One of the performing troupes features two engaged people who met through BIG. Aww. Mercury Theater, 1823 N. Charles St. 8 p.m.-10 p.m. $8-$10. bigimprov.org.

Valentine's Day Adventure: Zip-lining, ropes challenge and climbing tower? Sure, why not? Registration required. Terrapin Adventures, 8600 Foundry St., Savage. 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Feb. 14 and 15. $55-$110. terrapinadventures.com.


Enchantment Under the Sea Valentine's Dance: For singles and couples, with a live band, dating games and a buffet. It's like prom — but cooler and with a cash bar. Baltimore Soundstage, 124 Market Place. 9:30 p.m. $20-$30. baltimoresoundstage.com.

•Horseshoe Casino's Valentine's Day Wedding Vow Renewal Ceremony: Feel the love! Horseshoe is hosting this free ceremony for any couple who would like to renew their vows. The ceremony will be held at the casino's 14forty entertainment venue at 4 p.m. Feb. 14. Interested couples may register at the casino, 1525 Russell St. caesars.com/horseshoe-baltimore.

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