Cleveland is for Lovers
Your Guide to Valentine’s Day in the CLE
By Denise Koeth
Love is in the air, and despite Cleveland’s chilly winter temperatures, things are heating up. If you’re looking for something to do with your significant other for Valentine’s Day, we’ve got you covered.
Since the holiday falls smack in the middle of the week on a Wednesday this year, we’ve also included special events that take place on the weekends before and after. Basically, it’s a week-long love fest. You’re welcome.
Clevelanders know that the way to a man's (or a woman's!) heart is via the stomach. Luckily, we've got a lineup of great local chefs who tantalize taste buds year-round and are ready to serve up a romantic Valentine's Day meal in their restaurants.
If it's French for ton amour, make reservations at L'Albatros Brasserie & Bar, EDWINS, or Cowell & Hubbard. For Italian, make it all about the romanza at Luca, Trentina, or LAGO Cucina. Or find tons of options for pasta and more in Cleveland's Little Italy neighborhood (go ahead, we won't even roll our eyes if you want to meet in the middle of a noodle à la Lady and the Tramp).
If you want to skip the dinner and get right down to business--and by that, we mean dessert--there are endless options for sweet treats in Cleveland.
Malley's Chocolates is a city staple and offers some of the best chocolate in the country. With 22 locations across Northeast Ohio, it's easy to purchase sweets like Malley's delicious chocolate-covered strawberries or grapes for an after-dinner treat.
Consider a visit to Lilly Handmade Chocolates in Tremont for a tasty update to the traditional heart-shaped box of chocolates. Truffles, chocolate bars and other delectables are hand-crafted in the shop, and staff can recommend the perfect pairing at the in-house cocktail bar.
Speaking of chocolate and booze, Chocolate Bar combines both, plus a full dinner menu, for a chocolate lover's dream. Roughly 50 percent of the menu consists of an ingredient associated with chocolate, including famous chocolate cocktails and decadent desserts.
Take a trip to Paris without leaving the shores of Lake Erie. Enjoy sweet or savory pastries and a glass of champagne at Coquette Patisserie, a Parisian-themed café-style restaurant.
Put your romance on ice at one of the many Mitchell's Ice Cream locations in the region. With 40-plus seasonal ice cream flavors, such as Caramel Fudge Brownie and Amaretto Cookie, as well as other frozen goodies, there are tons of desserts to satisfy that sweet tooth. To score extra points with your Valentine, check the website, as tours are offered most Saturdays at the flagship location in Ohio City.
Cocktails and Wine
Grab two stools and have a couple libations at one of Cleveland's unique watering holes.
La Cave Du Vin in Coventry is a perfect spot for an intimate date, since it's cozy, candlelit, and quiet enough to actually have a conversation. Travel down the stairs to the softly lit space, and you’ll feel like you’re spelunking into a hidden grotto--one with a top-notch selection of wine and craft brews.
Places to Stay
Cleveland has plenty of romantic lodging options, whether you're going swanky or comfy to impress your honey.
Try the Ritz-Carlton Cleveland for an upscale experience; Hilton Cleveland Downtown for great views and the rooftop Bar 32; or Metropolitan Hotel at The 9, which features trendy decor and amenities galore.
If cozy and quaint is your love language, options include the beautiful 65-room historic Glidden House in University Circle; Riverside Gables Bed and Breakfast in Berea, offering an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city; Little Italy's Washington Place Bistro and Inn, which oozes luxury (each guest room features a fireplace); and Emerald Necklace Inn, located near the Cleveland Metroparks, which means couples can step right outside and get their hearts racing with activities like hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.
Things to Do
There are many opportunities in The CLE to relax with a sensual couples massage, quicken your pulse with something exciting, or get your heart pumping with some outdoor adventure.
Nothing says romance like holding hands while skating around an ice rink, and Cleveland boasts two fantastic options. Head to the Cleveland Foundation Ice Skating Rink in Public Square, open daily, and enjoy the views in the heart of the city. The $10 per skater cost includes skate rentals, and there's also free lessons offered on Saturdays from 2-3 p.m. In picturesque University Circle, The Rink at Wade Oval is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, in addition to a special Valentine's Day Skate February 14 from 4-8 p.m. If you're celebrating early, skate by for the extra-romantic Pink the Rink Feb. 9-11, when the rink is dyed pink. Rates are $2 for admission and $3 for skate rentals. Perform a double axle with the Circle to Square Skate Pass, which offers admission and skate rental at both rinks for $12.
When it comes to music, Cleveland is pitch perfect. Make a reservation at one of the city's jazz clubs. We recommend Nighttown, where jazz greats have been winning over audiences and helping couples get in the mood for more than 50 years. Included on Down Beat's List of the Best Jazz Clubs in the World, swanky Nighttown offers six different dining rooms and three bars, and has hosted more than 1,000 musicians throughout its history.
If dinner and a movie is what you seek, go way beyond the typical rom-com with a visit to the Cleveland Institute of Art's Cinematheque. With its lineup of foreign, rare and avant-garde films, you can count on the theater to show movies you won’t see anywhere else. Plus, you can stroll through the school’s art gallery for even more of a feast for the eyes. On the marquee for the weekend after Valentine's Day are "Wet Woman in the Wind" and "Porto," both showing February 16 and 17.
Special Valentine's Day Events
Thursday, February 8: Love in Cleveland
Get in the mood as singer Helen Welch and musician Ernie Krivda join the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra for an evening of love songs, from Rodgers and Hart to the Beatles. The event takes place at Playhouse Square's Ohio Theater, so there will be plenty of architectural eye candy.
Friday, February 9: Adult Swim Wine & Chocolate tasting
The Greater Cleveland Aquarium's Adult Swim series lets you sip while you take a dip into learning more about aquatic life without getting wet. Mix and mingle among the sharks, stingrays and more while enjoying a wine and chocolate tasting.
Friday, February 9: Drag Bingo
With free admission, free bingo, fun bar swag, and risqué prizes from Ambiance, The Store for Lovers, this unique event at Music Box Supper Club will get you and your lover in the mood--perhaps with some new props. Did we mention it's hosted by Veranda L'Ni, finalist for Best Drag Queen in CLE 2017?
Friday, February 9: Valentines Swing Dance
Head to the Lakewood Masonic Temple to dance the night away with Get Hep Swing. Come from 8-9 p.m. for an instructor-led lesson, then put your news skills to work to live music from Red Light Roxy. All skill levels are welcome at Get Hep Swing's monthly dances, so there's no need to worry if you have two left feet.
Friday, February 9: Wine and Cheese Night Hike
Experience the sights, sounds and feel of the Holden Arboretum’s wintry landscape in nearby Kirtland. Discover the special qualities of forests and fields at night, then snuggle up around a fire with food and drink.
Saturday, February 10: Decades Train
Celebrate in whichever era you choose when you make a date for the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad's Decades Train. Depart at 7:30 p.m. from Rockside Station in Independence and experience it all, from the glamor of the 1920s to those neon windbreakers from the 1990s. Each car will pay tribute to a great decade with music, décor, and activities while traversing the scenic Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Wednesday, February 14: Alcohol Inks and Alcoholic Drinks
Head to the enchanting Cleveland Botanical Garden to enjoy red wine as you learn how to use luminous and colorful fast-drying transparent alcohol inks on paper to create orchid-inspired small paintings. Get to the garden earlier during daytime hours to see the butterfly-flanked waterfall inside the Costa Rican Rain Forest glasshouse--which happens to be a popular spot to get engaged. Just sayin'.
Thursday, February 15: Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto
Show your significant other you've got class by attending this Cleveland Orchestra concert at the renowned Severance Hall. The masterpiece remains one of the most popular and most frequently performed violin concertos in history, and contains tempestuous outbursts, urgent passions, sly humor, and inventive genius.
Friday, February 16: Kimi's Las Vegas Bachelorette Burlesque
Head to Pickwick & Frolic for a titillating, Vegas-style show that promises iconic songs, dazzling illusions, feathered showgirls, erotic dances, female impersonators, and VIP table service.
Friday, February 16: "One Night With You" Elvis Tribute
Keep your pelvis shaking long past Valentine's Day at this tribute to The King by Elvis impersonator Walt Sanders. The Hard Rock Rocksino's Club Velvet is the backdrop for the sultry evening.