So, Valentine’s Day is this Thursday and you need to come up with a thoughtful plan, but you don’t want to waste your hard-earned money. Don’t worry: we’ve got you covered. Follow one of these 40 suggestions to have a fun night for $40 or less.
Take the ferry to Bainbridge and get ice cream at Mora. The ferry price is $7.70 for each adult, with discounts for kids and seniors. Mora Iced Creamery is a short walk from the ferry terminal at 139 Madrone Lane. We suggest the white chocolate, banana split, and maraschino cherries cream flavors, but there are many good ones. Even with scoops of ice cream or sorbet, you’ll be able to fall under your $40 limit.
Meryl Schenker/seattlepi.com file
When’s the last time you took a ride on the Monorail? Sure, it’s a short trip, but it’s a fun one. And with a short walk you can find things to do on either end. You could walk from Westlake to any number of fun bars or restaurants, or get off at the Seattle Center and wander around the Space Needle or Seattle Center grounds. Round-trip fare is $4.50 per person, so plan for about $40 if you stop for food or drinks afterward.
The Museum of History and Industry just opened their new South Lake Union exhibit space on Dec. 29, and you can spend Valentine’s Day on a docent-led tour of MOHAI. The cost of the tour form 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. is included with museum admission, which is $14 per person, with discounts for students, seniors and military members. And if you want to bring your kids 14 and under, they’re free. MOHAI members also are free.
Women love a creative guy, especially one who can cook, so take some initiative. Make her or his favorite meal, pack it in a container and head over to Fremont Peak Park, which is one of Seattle’s best hidden gems at 4357 Palatine Ave. N. Technically you could be fined $27 for bringing wine into a park, and that would tip you over the $40 maximum, but what Grinch would ticket a responsible couple on Valentine’s Day? If you plan the meal in advance, you could do this all for well under $40.
VHSEX: The folks from Scarecrow Video in the University District have teamed with the Grand Illusion Cinema, 10403 N.E. 50th St., to compile 80 minutes of adult-themed VHS footage. “Featuring an arousing mix of raunch, sleaze, filth, sexual hysteria, pervs, peeping toms, nymphos, go-go dancers, full frontal nudity and full posterior nudity,” the cinema’s website reads. Adults only, with music by Marc Palm. Showtime is 9 p.m. $5-8 per person. There are only a few tickets available at the door Thursday – advance seats are sold out – but there is another show at 11 p.m. Saturday.
Seattle Municipal Archives
The Smith Tower’s Chinese Room: For decades when the Smith Tower was the tallest building on the West Coast, this was the best view in Seattle. The Chinese Room has extended hours on Valentine’s Day, 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and tickets to the observation deck range from $5-$7.50 per person.
Ride bikes on the Burke-Gilman Trail, and end with snacks and wine at Gas Works. Excellent scenery and lots of time for great conversation. Sure, the wine could result in a $27 ticket, but if Seattle police will only give you a verbal warning for marijuana, it’s doubtful you’ll get busted for a romantic bottle of wine. Some would say if you’re worried about your romantic bottle of wine, bring a romantic bong load instead: police spokesmen have said you won’t be ticketed for it. (But if your dog poops in public, that’s a $54 fine, of course.) This date will only cost you want you want to bring in food and drinks.
The Taproot Theatre has a production of “Jeeves in Bloom” on Valentine’s Day. This will be tough to fit into your budget – hey, live theater is expensive to produce – but you can do it. The partially obstructed view seats are $20 each so you can see the 7:30 p.m. show for $40. The Taproot is located at 204 N. 85th St.
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Head up to the Space Needle observation deck. A big reason locals don’t go up here often is because it’s $19 per person. But that could be worth it if you have a great Valentine’s Day experience. Seniors get a $2 discount.
Neighbours Valentines Party: Neighbors is Seattle’s largest LGBT nightclub and is throwing a Valentine’s Day bash from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. The night is hosted by Roxy Doll with tunes from DJ Trent Von. The club is 21 and over at 1509 Broadway. Cover is $3.
Grant M. Haller/seattlepi.com file
Grab lattes and walk around Green Lake. Keep it simple. You can comfortably walk the lake in just more than an hour, and Green Lake is one of Seattle’s best places. Bring about $10 for the lattes.
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The Seattle Art Museum is an option. Regular adult admission is $17 per person, and the museum is open until 9 p.m. Thursday.
Mike Kane/seattlepi.com file
Remember the Lynnwood Roll-a-Way and how much fun it was to go there as a kid? Who says going roller skating can’t be fun now? The Roll-a-Way is now called the Lynnwood Bowl and Skate, and adult admission is $6 per person. That includes regular skate rental, and you can upgrade to in-line skates for an additional $3. Bowling can be simple fun, too. Valentine’s Day is on a Thursday, meaning that’s the regular Ladies Night at the Lynnwood Bowl and Skate. Go there with your date and you both get to bowl from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 for $7 per person. Shoe rental is included. Other bowling alleys include Kenmore Lanes, West Seattle Bowl, the Garage on Capitol Hill, and the AMF Imperial Lanes on Beacon Hill.
Grant M. Haller / seattlepi.com file
It’s tough to go wrong at a theater where you can drink beer and eat pizza during the film. The Central Cinema is hosting a Dream Date Sing-Along beginning at 8 p.m. “The hottest hunks from the 80's, 90's, 00's and NOW are going to light up the screen in the best and worst videos from your favorite Dream Dates!” the promotion reads. They promise George Michael, Prince, Bruno Mars, One Direction and the New Kids on the Block (or are they NKOTB now?) Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 the day of the show. You can get beers and still be under your $40 limit.
Poke around the Pike Place Market. Great views, great food and drink options, and just fun. You can easily have a fun time here for less than $40. How exactly? Follow this guide to visiting the Pike Place Market on a budget.
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How about ice skating? Admission at Highland Ice Arena in Shoreline is $7 per person. You’ve got to get there early – the only public sessions on Valentine’s Day are from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Here’s a great one for people 50 and older: a city-organized Valentine’s Day field trip. Expect flowers, chocolates and other sweet surprises, organizers say. For a good time, call Jayla at (206) 233-7138 or go to a van pickup location: Bitter Lake Community Center at 9:40 a.m.; Ballard Community Center at 10 a.m.; or Magnolia Community Center (call for pickup time). Ends at 3 p.m. Admission is $1.
Chances are you haven’t seen a Tennessee Williams play since high school. (Or should I say haven’t read the Cliff’s Notes since high school?) Come see one act plays by Tennessee Williams organized by the UW school of drama. The 7:30 p.m. show is at the Glenn Hughes Penthouse Theatre, 4500 17th Ave. N.E. Tickets are $10-$20 per person.
Dan DeLong/seattlepi.com file
Walk around Alki or Lincoln Park in West Seattle, or St. Edward State Park in Kenmore No need to be big and fancy. Enjoy the scenery and your time together. Even if you back food and drinks this one should be pretty inexpensive. This picture from Alki was taken in May 2007, and it’s a little cold to play in the sand, but you get the idea.
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Al Gore is spending his Valentine’s Day doing a Seattle book reading, but that that event is sold out. However, the fine folks at Elliott Bay Books, who organized the Gore event, also are hosting a book reading about Eisenhower and Nixon at their Capitol Hill store. The book by author Jeffrey Frank is $30, so even if you buy it the night will be less than $40. Elliott Bay Books is at 1521 Tenth Ave.
Joshua Trujillo / seattlepi.com file
Wander down to the Ballard Locks. But before you go, stop by the nearby Red Mill burgers at 3058 N.W. 54th St. (the Totem House). Grab a couple of the $3.39 milkshakes and food if you’re hungry (burgers are about $7 each after tax; onion rings are $3.19 before tax.) We recommend the creamsicle shake. Other Red Mill locations have mandarin chocolate, which is exceptional. This outing to the Locks could range from free to roughly $30 if you eat like you want to. Remember, Red Mill only takes cash.
Thanks to the restoration funded by Paul Allen, Seattle’s Cinerama is one of the coolest theaters around. And even the snacks are reasonable, with a medium popcorn costing $4. Regular adult evening admission is $11 per person, so you can get tickets and snacks under your $40 limit. “A Good Day to Die Hard” with Bruce Willis opens on the 14th.
Chuckanut merchants brochure
This is a long one, and you might break your $40 limit if you have a gas guzzler, but traveling along Chuckanut Drive has one of the best roadside views in Washington. It’ll be about a three-hour round-trip drive from Seattle, and longer if you stop for food or drinks. If you leave early enough, you can pack some food and stop at Larrabee State Park, or go through a quick hike there if you really have time. With gas and food, plan for about $40, though this one is flexible. Download a PDF version of the the Chuckanut merchants brochure here.
Who doesn’t like a good concert? Folks in Ballard promise some good blue collar country music at the Tractor Tavern. Bands are Aces Up, Guns of Nevada, and Jessica Lynne. Tickets for the 9 p.m. show are $10 per person in advance or $15 per person the day of the show.
Think your sweetheart would be up for a sporting event? Go watch the Seattle University Redhawks against the Louisiana Tech at Key Arena. The cheapest admission with taxes and Ticketmaster fees is $15.73 per person.
Try the wine and chocolate tasting at the Volunteer Park Conservatory. Entry times are 5, 6, and 7 p.m. on Valentine’s Day and tickets are available at the conservatory gift shop. Here’s the catch: You’ll only stay under the $40 limit if you’re a Friends of the Conservatory member. (For members tickets are $20.) Tickets are $25 per person for non members. Event proceeds benefit the Friends of the Conservatory event. Want to do the same idea and not pay the price? Grab chocolate and wine at one of the Capitol Hill grocery stores and walk around Volunteer Park yourself. A couple keeping to themselves with a bottle of wine on Valentine’s Day is one of the last things Seattle police will bother with.
This one will take some planning, but it’ll be worth it. Swing by Salumi Artisan Cured Meats before 4 p.m. and grab sandwiches. Two of those will be roughly $20 if you add cheese. Then after your sweetheart gets off work, head over to Hitt’s Hill Park at 5234 37th Ave. S. to enjoy the scenery and sandwiches. That was once the site of Seattle’s biggest fireworks factory, and T.G. Hitt even designed the incendiary set piece that portrayed Atlanta burning in "Gone With the Wind." Read more about Hitt’s story here. If you do this right, you can do the whole thing for about $20.
The Seattle Theatre Group and the Seattle Repertory Theatre have partnered to bring War Horse at the Paramount Theatre. The drama, set during World War I, tells about a young man’s mission to bring home his beloved horse. Here’s how to keep this one to the $40 limit: Go to Moore or Paramount Theatre box office for tickets to the 2 p.m. show on Feb. 14. Seats in the third mezzanine are $20 per person. Other seats for that and other shows are more expensive. Check out the event page for more details.
Gilbert W. Arias / seattlepi.com file
Canlis: Wait, what? Canlis is arguably Seattle’s finest restaurant and one that typically costs way more than $40. How did this make the list? Here’s how: You can go their bar on a walk-in basis. The drink bill can still add up quickly, but you could get truffle fries, bar bites, and two beers and still barely make the $40 cut off with tip. Just make sure to dress to the nines – you have to go big on style. Best part is Canlis is known for phenomenal customer service no matter if you’re in the dining room or bar. Plan for $40.
Though it’s predictable, The Great Wheel on Seattle’s waterfront is a great destination. Adults are $13 plus tax for each, with discounts for seniors and children. With the extra money in your $40 budget you can grab a beer at Ivar’s or shakes at Red Robin nearby.
Here’s another good one if you have kids to entertain: Go to the Bitter Lake Community Center’s toddler’s Valentine’s Day party. Admission is $3 per person and includes juice and light snacks. Organizers promise bouncy houses and cookie and card making for toddlers. Kids can also make personalized picture frames. The event goes from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. There is also a kids Valentine’s Day party at Loyal Heights Community Center.
Seattle Festival of Improv Theatre. Shows are at Jet City Improv at 5510 University Way N.E. and the SFIT Second Stage at 3940 Brooklyn Ave. N.E. Tickets are $18 for each adult, with discounts for kids and seniors. Online sales end two hours before the show, so plan ahead.
Swim with your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day. Bring a date to Medgar Evars Pool in the Central District and they swim free with your paid admission. “Lonely hearts enjoy our special rate of $2.50, because WE love you!” city staff wrote in an event guide. This event goes from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Mike Urban/seattlepi.com file
Just because you have your kids on Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you can’t have a great time together. Check out the Valentine’s Day at the Seattle Children’s Museum. The plan is to decorate cards to send to friend in Seattle retirement communities, and staff promises to have some rhythm along the way. Admission is $8.25 for each adult, $8.25 for each child, and $7.25 for each grandparent.
Have the day off? Check out the late brunch and a romantic movie at the Belltown Community Center. The Program begins at 10:30 a.m. and ends at 1:30 p.m. Call (206) 684-7245 for more information. The Belltown Community Center also is hosting a seasonal baking event from 5 to 7 p.m. on Feb. 13. That baking class, which includes supplies, is $19 per person (the brunch and movie are less).
OK, this one isn’t really a Valentine’s Day deal, but as city organizers have advertised you can, “celebrate Valentine's day (by) making nature your valentine.” The Discovery Park Advisory Council is hosting a nature walk through Carkeek Park. It starts in the Piper’s Creek watershed beneath tall oak trees and lasts for more than an hour. This is a great one for families with young kids trying to find something fun on the 14th. Cost is $4 per person.
Grab drinks at a cool Seattle bar. There are lots of great places, but be warned: saying “Hey, let’s grab drinks” at the last minute on Valentine’s Day is the equivalent of punting on fourth and inches. If you take this route, try Smith on Capitol Hill, Bathtub Gin & Company in Belltown, F.X. McRory’s in Pioneer Square, or Elliott Bay Brewing Company in Lake City. With two drinks each the price will vary, but plan for at least $30 with tip.
University of Washington Symphonic Concert and Campus Bands in Sweet Suites: The program features works from John Philip Sousa, Gustav Holst, Percy Grainger, and others. It begins at 7:30 p.m. at Meany Hall theater. Tickets are $15 per person, or $10 for students and seniors.
Walk through the Washington Park Arboretum. Did you know the Arboretum is 230 acres? You could spend hours in here, and could make a really memorable evening if you plan ahead and pack some food. Best part, it’s free baby! This picture shows an edge of the Arboretum and a message on the ramps to nowhere. We never figured out who Gina was, but would love to know.
This may be the most fun idea of all: Remember the first movie you saw together? Rent that movie and reminisce with a big bowl of popcorn. We guarantee you won’t be as nervous as you were on that first date, and you’ll have all the comforts of home. Even with the food costs and rental costs, you should be able to knock this one out for less than $15.