Expectations can be high for Valentine’s Day… Combine that with an Anniversary, and the stakes for a relationship can be astronomical. I’m 1 of the fortunate, married to a man who is a natural Romeo. Before you say ah = He is blessed too, since I’m as frugal as all get out!
Every Valentine for the last 30 years has been memorable, heartfelt, and most very inexpensive. We have traveled around the world, shared many years with children, and have had the chance to experience most luxuries… yet here is a listing of our Cincinnati Top 10 for less than $10:
1)Take the elevator up to the top of Carew Tower (or be more adventurous and run the stairs). Look out on the city… Discussion can be the highlight: Where have you visited? Eaten? What are favorite haunts? How does your neighborhood look? Changes? Not too many words, let the view speak!
2)Scavenger Hunt @ the Cincinnati Art Museum (free for members, $4 parking otherwise)– Make note of all those works that have LOVE as a theme. What motivated their artists? Might not be the Mona Lisa, but attempt to draw her .. don't take things so seriously, laugh at what can't be interpreted.
3)Take time to smell the roses at Krohn Conservatory – well maybe not roses, yet a wonderful array of vegetation in the warmth of a dome from fruit trees, Bonsai, a waterfall to a Cactus Garden. Stroll through holding hands… contemplate spring, and well, you know.. better than that bouquet!
4)Picnic at 1 of our 39 Parks: Prepare to be a little chilly, what a great excuse to cuddle? Little planning: Warm blankets, hand warmers, spicy food and adult beverages can all warm up the situation. Some parks will allow you to have a fire… roasting marshmallows and melted chocolate can be fun!
5)Star Gazing right outside the city limits or at a Planetarium (Drake, NKU, …). Either with the naked eye, or borrow a telescope, binoculars, …. Bring hot chocolate/coffee and some snacks. Do a little research ahead of time, print out constellation maps to identify, or just make up your own.
6)Catch the movie you meant to see when it first released, but only now have time to see… Dollar or Bargain theatres can offer that wide screen experience at a fraction of the cost. Want the scene to be more personal? Redbox rents for $1 a night, reflect the movie’s theme in a recreated setting @ home. How about a favorite with a little acting, you might just become Indiana Jones or Sherlock Holmes?
7) Soul Mate with a Fountain Square Carriage Ride: Don’t feel the pressure to spend a ton dining (although great options abound all over downtown), take in a church service @ many of the over the top downtown options (Peter in Chains, Christ Cathedral, …). Then walk to the square, and enjoy the ride (cozy under blankets). $5 parking still exists, and usually not too hard to find. Top it off with a single Rose-That’s right, who needs a dozen with this setting?
8)Test Drive a Car that fits your Spouse: See yourself in that red convertible? May seem like a strange pick… Yet if your guy is a auto buff like mine, it may just spur that right frame of mind before you do something entirely girly. Gals gear up with auto info/specs and impress the socks off him!
9)Visit the Cincinnati Main Library: This 1 takes some preplanning! Search out what book sections remind you of her, or pick a book of poetry you can read from, or music that signifies your feelings. Make homemade valentines that are bookmarks… or write/create a small book (it can be funny, touching.. anything goes). Member? Put your choices "On Hold"ahead of time... great service.
10)COOK HER A meal – Don’t want to stereotype, but most guys (unless they are a chef) are far removed from the kitchen. The extra effort will get you tons of star points… even if its only dessert! Find out what’s a favorite? Or try something new: Indian, Mediterranean, Vegetarian, …. Test taste together. Not up for cooking yourself? Findley Market will allow you to sample the world on the cheap… from the best Gyros, to Belgian Waffles! A number of entrepreneurs have recently sprung up offering Cooking Classes (cheese making to Sushi to Indian for less than $10).
There is always the traditional to fall back on: flowers and candy, $100 restaurant, ….. Yet a unique “On the Cheap” Valentine adventure can make lasting memories while not upsetting the budget! Try it, you may just find it’s the BEST!