This Valentine’s Day, Get Out of the Heart-Shaped Box
Forget the bouquet of roses, which probably came from some South American hothouse where women get paid in thorns. And unless you’re Forrest Gump, don’t even bother with the box of chocolates. Life is so not like that. And that fine restaurant you’ve been planning to splurge on? Forget it. Save your loot. You’re only gonna get hungry again the next day anyway.
Nah, that flowers and candy and dinner stuff is old hat. What you wanna be this V-Day is creative; have a holiday that you can remember the rest of your life. If you really play your cards right, your date might remember it too.
Here are a few offbeat ways to celebrate this V-Day. And not one will put you in the poor house.
Renew Your Vows
Two of our town’s most fabled locales offer couples a chance to renew their vows on V-Day, and both let you do so gratis. At Tobacco Road the proceedings are conducted by an Elvis impersonator who apparently breaks into song between each ceremony. Since this is Miami’s oldest saloon, it makes for a sort of time-trip. And one gets the feeling of living through history.
And while there’s no Elvis presiding at Coral Castle, the love that Edward Leedskalnin put into building the remarkable edifice will leave you and yours feeling more than tender. To stretch the metaphor, this is where fools rush in, and they fall mightily. If you can summon even a sliver of ol’ Edward’s romance, you, my friend, will never be lonely again.
Have a Garden Party
Okay, we just found out that Jon Secada will be performing at Fairchild Tropical Gardens for V-Day, so unless you wanna cough up a small bundle you’re gonna wanna hit this jungle oasis during the day. All the better to see the art anyway. Currently on the grounds are pieces from Yayoi Kusama, Cameron Gainer, Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova, Mark di Suvero, Kris Martin, Dale Chihuly and Daisy Youngblood, which is enough to make it feel as if you’re touring an outdoor museum. If you take into consideration William Lyman Phillips’ landscape design, well, this does the museum one better. Hell, who doesn’t dig strolling hand-in-hand among some of the most exotic flora on earth? No one, that’s who. And they’ve been strolling these immaculate grounds just like that since 1938.
A little closer to home are the 4.5-acre Miami Beach Botanical Gardens and the single-acre Ichimura Japanese Garden on Watson Island. MBBG doesn’t have anything set in stone for V-Day, but it’s open, and it’s free. The Ichimura never has anything set in stone (unless it’s been rented out), and it too is free for the entering. And though our Japanese friend has been through the ringer since its initial inception over in Bayfront Park (including being moved to make way for Jungle Island), its uneasy access is actually a benefit. Otherwise there’s no way this place could remain one of the most tranquil spots in town.
But don’t short-shrift Miami Beach’s hotbed of color. There are some serious green thumbs behind that charming nook across from the Convention Center. And they expect you to enjoy yourself. That’s why they’re seldom around unless there’s something special going down, which leaves you plenty of opportunity to sneak in a picnic basket and bask in the Gardens’ splendor. And if you close your eyes, you just might forget that you’re only three blocks away from all the models and bottles.
Do the Deering
There may be no more romantic an estate in Miami than the Deering. Yeah, we know. Viscaya gets all the applause. But unless you’re marrying a Medici, it’s really way too much. The Deering, on the other hand, has just the right amount of opulence. Consider it candlelight to Viscaya’s chandelier.
For the past decade the Deering has opened its doors on V-Day to a little “Moonlight and Music.” The moonlight, well, we all know who provides that. The music, however — that comes from Johnny Rodgers and his Band. Rodgers is a veteran of some of the world’s greatest stages, and he has perfected the art of the swoon. And it’s just that type of cat you’ll want soundtracking you through this kinda evening. Oh, and if by chance you’re ever at a loss for words, take a spin around the dance floor and show your date what you’re really made of.
Some couples simply can’t sit still. Ever. Not only that, but they don’t even dig the indoors. For those restless souls, we say get adventurous, together. A death-defying experience will bind you for life.
Bayfront Park is home to both AquaWorld/Xtream parasailing and the Florida Trapeze School. With parasailing, you can fly together. Plus you’ve got the option of staying dry or getting wet. And it all takes place above beautiful Biscayne Bay.
And though two can’t swing through the air on a single trapeze (not if you’re a beginner anyway), the good folks at FTS will work it so you both spend some quality time in the sky. Add the fact that Miami’s glittering skyline seems to spark stars in a lover’s eyes and, well, you’ve got more than enough to make it romantic.
Of course if you really wanna get adventurous, you can call one of Miami’s skydiving outfits. But unless you’re certified, the only person you’ll be freefalling alongside is an instructor. And no one wants to have to meet your lover in the drop zone.
Cook Up a Storm
Nothing says I love you like a home-cooked meal. We’re not talking burgers and fries here (though if your date’s the type, have at it). No, we’re talking about something that truly touches the palate – something fresh, something buoyant, and, most of all, something that takes a little time. Because here it’s all about the effort.
That means even though the Web is full of exquisite recipes you can easily download, you’re gonna wanna go out and pick up an actual cookbook. Books and Books has a slew of them, and if you choose one that springs from one of the finer restaurants (say Ad Hoc at Home), all the better. You’re also gonna wanna go slow in the supermarket too, and if you can hit a few smaller shops for locally sourced ingredients (i.e. Midtown’s The Cheese Source), you’ll get extra points.
But the food and its preparation are only half the battle; the other half is setting a table that speaks in whispers and romance. Flower petals are good, of course (make sure they’re certifiably sweatshop-free), and candles are pretty much a prerequisite (rumor has it Sparkle Plenty has a nice selection). Oh, and don’t forget the music either (Johnny Hartman never fails), or dessert (chocolate, as rich as you can get, and/or strawberries and whipped cream).
If you spend some serious quality time on this, put your actual heart into the effort, you shall be duly rewarded. Then again, you shouldn’t need V-Day to cook for your baby.