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Gatineau Park, winter, Snowshoeing

Virtual or in-person Valentine’s Day ideas

Whether you’re together, at a distance, in love, best friends, or celebrating solo, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to show you care. It’s even more rewarding when you can support local at the same time! Here are some of the delicious, fun, unique and entertaining ways you can have an unforgettable Valentine’s Day this year in Ottawa.

Knockout takeout

You don’t need a special occasion to get takeout or prepared meals from the city’s many diners, pubs, restaurants and food retailers. And for Valentine’s Day, some are offering specials for two people (or more), with the option to add wine, beer and cocktails to your order. Perhaps your favourite place is planning a special menu, such as these: The Red Apron (prepared dinner with optional add-on for kids); Hintonburg Public House (gastropub food with choice of appetizer and main); Ottawa Marriott’s Spin Kitchen & Bar (four courses with choice of main); Brookstreet Hotel (surf and turf dinner); North and Navy (Italian tasting menu); Le St Laurent (refined four-course meal); Beckta Dining + Wine (upscale multi-course meals); and Aiana (fine dining multi-course meal and optional add-ons).

Easy cookin’

Spend more time with your sweetie by letting someone else do the ingredient shopping and some of the recipe prepping. Consider a local DIY meal kit option such as: pizza or pasta kits from The Grand; gnocchi and Bolognese sauce from Flora Hall Brewing; pasta, perogies and more from Grounded Kitchen Coffee & Bar; paella, tacos or grilled meat boxes from The Soca Kitchen; build your own meals from Courtyard Restaurant; pasta kits or bake-at-home soufflés from Stofa; and upscale meal kits from Curated by Beckta and Next (the latter even includes video instructions). Or just reheat a fully-prepared meal from restaurants and food purveyors such as Urban Element, The Red Apron, Thyme & Again, Art-Is-In, Parma Ravioli, The Piggy Market, Brassica, and The Table Vegetarian Restaurant.

Learn the fun way

Create a deeper connecting by learning new skills together. Several live online cooking classes with professional chefs make it fun and easy, and even include the delivery of ingredients. Join private, group, or even couples classes with C’est Bon Cooking, as well as themed options (such as Valentine’s dinner or brunch—mimosas optional) with Urban Element. Work off some calories by taking online dance classes for couples (social dancing like swing, salsa, etc.) or for individuals (tap, hip hop, jazz) with studios like Arthur Murray, Dance with Alana, Broadway Workout and Moov Ottawa. And plant-lovers can join one of Flowers Talk Tivoli’s upcoming floral workshops: Chase Away the Winter Blahs, Love is in the Air, and Galentine’s Day.

Night out at home

Why not get dressed up like you’re going out, and tune in to a livestreamed or recorded show? The National Arts Centre’s #CanadaPerforms series regularly features music, dance and theatre (English, French and Indigenous)—some of which is free! Visit Live Music Lovers Ottawa for regular updates on virtual shows by local musicians, and find out if your favourite venues and festivals are offering virtual entertainment. For instance, all of this year’s Winterlude programming—including concerts—is online and free!

Perfect gifts

Show your love for that special someone and for your local businesses this year by shopping local. Thyme & Again’s Hibernation Station features comforting food, treats and home goods. Maker House has lots of all-Canadian options, including gift boxes ranging from funny to romantic. Shops like Boogie + Birdie and Kindred Shop and Studio carry Canadian-made jewelry, housewares and other lovely gift items for everyone—even pets! And browse the Ottawa Artisans website for locally-made creations, some of which can be personalized and customized. Support Little Ray’s Nature Centre’s efforts as an exotic animal rescue by offering one of their unique gifts which include a virtual animal adoption, or the purchase of a private zoo tour or VIP sloth encounter. Lastly, gift certificates for spas, attractions, hotels and other fun things are always a great choice.

Tasty treats

Chocoholics love the truffles, bombs, and specialty items from Stubbe Chocolates, as well as the personalized ChocoSelfie fondue in a can from Canadian chain Chocolats Favoris. Enjoy sweet and savoury nibbles that come in afternoon tea boxes from Quelque Chose Patisserie (known for their macarons) and Vanitea Room (known for vegan options). Get bite-sized baked goods from the  Cupcake Lounge, cute cookies from Aux Délices Bakery as well as Moulin de Provence, and decadent desserts from Mantovani 1946. Consider the Valentine’s Day bundle from Dominion City Brewing Co., which includes their beer and seltzer, as well as wine, cheese and chocolate from partner businesses (plus a donation to a local cause).

Outdoor fun

Get the endorphins flowing by getting some fresh air within the city or in the nearby countryside. Fun winter activities like tobogganing, hiking and ziplining can help you reconnect with your inner child, while snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are great workouts. Ice skating is quite romantic in the evening, especially as you glide hand in hand on the Rideau Canal Skateway or on forest trails.

Cool stuff

Plan an unforgettable date by renting everything you need locally through the online sharing platform Ruckify. Create a movie night with a projector, screen and popcorn maker; a themed room with special decorations including lights, bubbles and a disco ball machine; or rent fun items like a mini billiards table, giant jenga, checkers and even real arcade games!

Stay up to date

Stay up to date on upcoming events and ideas to plan your next trip to Ottawa with friends, family or on your own by signing up for the Ottawa Tourism Newsletter.