For most of us, Valentine’s Day in Charlotte will look a little different this year. Even before the pandemic, the holiday seemed to be a point of contention for many people — be they single, in a relationship, or in some weird in-between dating limbo.
We put together a list of last-minute Valentine’s Day gifts and date ideas around Charlotte to share with partners and friends or for your socially-distanced solo date.
Valentine’s Day Date Ideas in Charlotte
To kick off the romantic weekend, link up with our Best in the Nest Critics’ Pick for Best Plant Shop Shades of Moss. Owner and plant aficionado Barry Greene, and his fiancé Tori will host two virtual plant workshops called Plants: A Love Language on Feb. 13 and 14 for couples and single people. Each ticket includes a kit filled with a plant, a planter with a tray, and potting soil that can be picked up at the Shades of Moss studio by appointment. They’ll walk you through the process of potting and taking care of your newest plant.
The opportunity to learn something new doubles as a great gift and great date idea. Help your Valentine hone their skills or explore a new hobby. Skillpop’s got classes that cover everything from knitting to the basics of marketing to building your own Valentine’s Day-themed charcuterie board. You don’t truly know someone until you see them try and possibly fail to follow instructions. All of Skillpop’s courses are entirely virtual and they send the list of required materials at registration.
Here’s an out-of-the-box date idea that doesn’t require any money — volunteer with the local organization of your choice. Our publisher Justin LaFrancois has been known to take dates to volunteer for Block Love Charlotte. They are out there every day at 6 p.m. handing out food and could always use a helping hand from volunteers. You don’t have to spend a single dime, it’s a great opportunity to talk and get to know your date without the pressure of going to a packed restaurant, all while showing a little love to your community. A win, win situation.
The only redeemable qualities about winter are the abundance of outdoor ice skating options and the use of twinkling lights. Don’t worry, the U.S. National Whitewater Center has both. Skate hand-in-hand with your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, the last day the rink is open. If you prefer walking on solid ground as opposed to skating across the ice on two tiny metal blades, take a different path. The Whitewater Center’s half-mile walking trail is immersed in a shimmering light installation designed by Charlotte artist Meredith Connelly. Ice skating is $20 per person but if you’d rather stick to the lights, all you have to worry about is the $6 parking.
Walk along the streets of South End, Third Ward, NoDa and Plaza Midwood to witness a 10-piece mural trail spread out through Charlotte. Each piece on the trail has a different story behind it but all of them incorporate love in one way or another. When you check out the mural at Revolution Clothiers, make sure to scan the QR code on the plaque to the right with your phone to hear the story behind the mural. There’s no shortage of restaurants and bars in each neighborhood that would make for the perfect pit stop between murals.
Valentine’s Day Gifts to Buy in Charlotte
Front Porch Sunday is South End’s monthly market that showcases Queen City artists, small businesses and brands on the last Sunday of every month. Their Valentine’s Day box is a way to support local makers while wooing your crush, all packaged neatly into a gift box. A mug, a candle, and a punny sticker for your favorite introvert. High-grade olive oil, local herbs and a hand-stamped kitchen towel from The High Fiber for the aspirational home chef. Altogether there are nine different themed gift boxes ($30-82) and a handful of hand-drawn Valentine’s Day cards to pick from.
For Valentine’s Day, we always hear about exchanging thoughtful cards, chocolates or the ever-popular bouquet of flowers. For all of my culinarily challenged Charlotteans, raise a hand if you’d take a dozen pastries over a dozen roses any day of the week. We suggest surprising your valentine with Sunflour Baking Company’s assortment of chocolate-covered strawberries, macarons and cake pops. The bakery allows order pick-up at any of its four locations in Ballantyne, Dilworth, Elizabeth and Harrisburg.
The Thursday and Friday before Valentine’s Day, Homer the Dragon, will be traipsing around the Queen City dropping off gift baskets. The recipient of each basket will get a Charlotte Knights face mask, a Knights hat, a bouquet of flowers, three candy bars and a Homer the Dragon plush. How often do you get a basket of goodies delivered by a person in a dragon costume? I’m not sure what statement you’d be making with this gesture but it’s sure to be memorable. All orders should be placed before Feb. 9 and deliveries must be within a 25-mile radius of Truist Field.
Atypical times call for atypical measures. (Great for singles, too!) The Carolina Raptor Center is switching things up for Valentine’s Day with its “Rats for Rats” program, in which you get to name one of the rats they have on hand as to serve as birdfeed, as a symbolic, karmic, Voodoo Doll-esque gift. For $14, you can name one of the doomed rats after an ex, anyone that wears their mask below their nose, or that guy at the bar who’s constantly playing devil’s advocate. They’ll send you a certificate with the name and picture of the rat in question and update you when the rat has met its maker. For an additional $200, you can schedule a time to feed the rat to a bird yourself. Not into all that death? Adopt an owl for $60 and get a certificate, a frameable photo and a plush animal.
Maybe your valentine is itching for patches and denim vests as opposed to diamonds and roses. In the name of steering clear of clichés, when all else fails, thrift it. Leather jackets, vintage ringer tees and an assortment of cowboy boots can all be found in Rat’s Nest, NoDa’s quaint vintage shop. People are niche and gifts should be too.
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