Valentines Day is the day we celebrate love in many ways; it can be loud with giant teddy bears and heart-shaped boxes or quietly with whispered “i love you”s. Often we are mistaken by trying to show how much we love them with a dollar sign on a gift or a fancy dinner. In the words of Michael Scott, “Presents are the best way to show someone how much you care. It is like this tangible thing that you can point to and say, ‘Hey man, I love you this many dollars-worth.’”
In my opinion, and in the opinion of many women I know, romantic partners are never impressed by slapping your credit card down on a long bill at a fancy restaurant. Gives me anxiety, actually. I’m much more comfortable giving or receiving a small but meaningful gift and spending the day exploring together. Here are my personal favorite cheap spots to wander or eat to celebrate valentines, some I’ve been myself with my boyfriend and some are places I’m planning to explore in the new year. I’ve included a selection of flowers that compliment the activity if you want to really create a memorable evening.
Lamberton Conservatory at Highland Park
Lamberton is my newly discovered favorite place. Even in the bowels of Rochester winter you can go to a place where you can take off your parka and walk around amongst plants and small animals. Plants drape from ceiling to floor, and you could spend all day reading the information on the species’ or watching the turtles swim in the pond. To create a truly memorable date, gift your partner with a succulent or cactus plant in a cool pot afterwords so they can treasure the time you spent together. Lumberton is open from 10am to 4am and it is 3 dollars to enter for adults. They’re open every day except for christmas.
Rochester has no shortage of venues to experience art, but Artisan Works is a place like I’ve never seen before, even as a person who has lived in New York and Brooklyn for many years. Artisan Works is an experience in viewing art in a setting unlike any other, and if you have the chance to go while in Rochester, I highly recommend it. There’s even a wall full of works from Ramon Santiago, Rochester’s most acclaimed artist. I suggest pairing this date with an artistic vase of flowers in a small, low to the table vase. This way the florist can create an elegant and creative design for your date to enjoy for days to come. Artisan Works is open Fridays and Saturdays from 11am to 6pm, and Sundays from 12pm to 5pm. Admission for adults is $12, and for Students it is $8.
Joe Bean Coffee Roaster
There are many cool coffee shops in Rochester, but the one that has the best ambiance and product is Joe Bean. I went to this coffee shop for my first date with my boyfriend, and it was really the loveliest time. You can get beer or coffee, or my boyfriend’s personal favorite drink is an SPRO Bomb, a half a pint of a stout with a hot shot of espresso dropped in. “It’s recommended you chug it, but not required. Downing it right after the drop gives you a unique mix of the cold and flavors from the beer with the warm tasty swirls of espresso.” Quote from my boyfriend, Sam Brown-Steiner, Joe Bean aficionado. My recommendation is for ladies who don’t know about beer or coffee to take their boyfriend’s here and let them geek out over the high quality product. This date pairs well with a burlap wrapped bouquet, and if you get them from Rockcastle Florist, the burlap that encases your flowers is supplied by Joe Bean themselves.
Voula’s Greek Sweets
Voula’s is a true Rochester hidden gem. Located on Monroe Ave, Voula’s offers greek and Mediterranean food and sweets with vegan and vegetarian options. I personally love their Sunday brunch where they offer many show stopping dishes, but a really mean french toast. I also recommend the Karioke, which is described as a “chocolate fudge bar with almonds walnuts, citrus zest, cognac and clove, dipped in dark chocolate and topped with pistachios.” I mean, if that’s not the perfect valentines day delicacy, I don’t know what is. If you really need to empress your date, bring an arrangement in a mason jar to get that girl to really swoon.
Rochester Waffle Factory
My newest and most beloved date spot is the Rochester Waffle factory in webster. My boyfriend and I went here on a Sunday morning last week (come early! there’s limited seating) and boy were we impressed! We got a waffle topped with oreo crumbs and gummy worms and I’ve never been more excited to eat my breakfast before. We’ve been craving waffles ever since. They also serve these AMAZING looking milkshakes that we have to go back for. If you’re looking for a sweet breakfast date with your beloved, this is the sweetest place around. Pair this date with a simple and sweet wide wrapped bouquet that she can put in her own vase at home.