47 People Reveal the Best Valentine's Dates They've Ever Had

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it’s easy to get swept up in the pressure of it all—the pressure to come up with a Valentine’s date idea (on a weekday, in this year’s case!), to find the perfect gift, to even have a Valentine to begin with. And while we may be describing the perfect Valentine’s Day for some people, it’s not mandatory to make big plans—others prefer a more low key approach. There is no wrong way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, whether you’ve been in a relationship forever, you’re going the Galentine’s route and hanging with your pals, or you're riding solo this year. What we do, however, want to encourage is that you acknowledge it somehow, because love in all its forms (whether for others or for yourself!) is worth celebrating, even if the way you celebrate is low-lift.

To get you in the romantic spirit, we asked a whole bunch of women and non-binary folks to share their very best Valentine’s Day experiences. In this list you’ll find a range of inspiration, from elaborate V-Day date ideas, to hot nights in, to solo hangs with an emphasis on self-care (we love to see it!). As long as your plans for this February 14th are true to you, you won’t regret giving the most romantic day of the year a little bit of recognition, especially if there’s no real need to go all out. But don’t just take our word for it—here’s what 47 readers had to say.

1. “Last year was my boyfriend and I’s first Valentine’s Day together and the first one where I had a real, ‘official’ Valentine. We couldn’t be together on the day-of, but we celebrated it the following weekend. He wrote me the sweetest card and we exchanged some simple small gifts. Then he made what is possibly the best meal I’ve ever had and we shared a bottle of fancy wine. It was so intimate and chill but so sweet, I’m obsessed.” —Vee, 29

2. “I honestly spent one of my best Valentine’s Days by myself. I was single and all my friends were coupled up so I didn’t really have anyone to hang out with, so I decided to treat myself by ordering my favorite sushi delivery and marathoning Game of Thrones. I did a face mask, took a bubble bath (and read a book in the bathtub while listening to spa music, a genius way to elevate your bath if I do say so myself), and went to bed early. I loved giving myself this time and attention on a random weekday and it reminded me that I should be taking care of myself like this all the time, not just once a year!”—Carolina*, 27

3. "My partner and I are not into the hype that generally surrounds Valentine's Day, so we go to our favorite market to pick up groceries and then cook a meal together. I am the dutiful sous chef to my boyfriend's culinary artistry, and I try to keep up with his vision, but I mostly end up dancing with our dog in the kitchen while he cooks. The most important thing we do to mark the day is exchange cards—a handwritten love note never goes out of style." —Victoria, 35

4. "On the best Valentine's Day I ever had, my then-boyfriend (now husband) sent flowers apologizing that he couldn't go out because he had class, as did I. So I waited until the weekend, when he took me to a restaurant I had never been to in the city. After dinner we went for a walk and then he drove me home. He asked if he could give me a kiss and he walked me to the door. It was a simple date, but looking back, it was a window in to the rest of our life." —Terra, 53

5. "I basically just use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to throw a cute Galentine’s Day party with my friends. Normally, my friends and I make drinks, get tipsy, and order a bunch of junk food and talk for the rest of the night until we get tired. Of course, we’re also on theme wearing all red and decorate the apartment we share with hearts and other Valentine-like decor. Usually we finish things off with a rom-com or a show, too." —Molly, 21

6. "About four months into dating my current boyfriend, Valentine's Daya holiday I had found to let me down year after year by never living up to the romantic hyperolled around yet again. I lived in Astoria (Queens, NY) at the time, and he trekked north from the East Village (Manhattan) in the freezing cold to take me to a ramen spot I'd been wanting to try. He kissed me and told me I looked beautiful when I walked in. We chatted about our days while we slurped noodles and ate pork buns in the near-empty restaurant. It was just like any other date night for us, confirming every day with him is a romantic's dream." —Alex, 25

7. "For my girlfriend and I, Valentine’s Day isn’t about gifts or a special outing. It’s about hanging out together, whether that means being able to take a day off of work or working from home together to be close. My favorite Valentine’s Day was last year, when we were both able to take the day off and we went to the store. We bought all the ingredients for a dinner of steak and mac n’ cheese. I cooked for my girlfriend while she set the table, making it look special and romantic." —Ale, 24

8.“My boyfriend and I had sex for the first time on Valentine’s Day back in high school. (Yes, we planned it and yes, I realize that’s a little cringe. But hey, we were high school sweethearts!) Now every year we celebrate our “sexiversary” on Valentine’s Day. Sometimes that means trying something new in bed, other times it means going on a romantic sexcation or getting in the spirit with some fun new toys and lingerie. Either way, it always means lots and lots of sex.” —Juliette, 27

9. “A couple of years ago I was going through a really rough patch around Valentine’s Day. Work wasn’t going well, my mental health was in a pretty not-great place, and I was also dealing with some family drama. Long story short, I was in no mood to celebrate anything. My amazing partner knew I was going through it and planned a perfectly low-key night at home featuring takeout, PJs, and my favorite old movies. It was exactly what I needed and is still honestly one of the best Valentine’s Days I’ve ever had.” —Rebecca, 32

10. “Last year I went through a really bad breakup right before Valentine’s Day. My friends all totally rallied around me and planned the ultimate breakup party for V-Day. We all got fully glammed up, drank our weight in champagne, pre-gamed to a stellar breakup playlist my friend made, and took about a thousand hot new pics for my revived Tinder profile. Honestly, I had a way better time with my girls that night than I ever would have with my ex.” —Jaleah, 22

11. “A few years ago, my fiancé and I decided Valentine’s Day is Naked Day—which is pretty much what it sounds like. We both take off work and spend the day, uh, naked. You can do whatever you want on Naked Day as long as you do it naked—but, for obvious reasons, it tends to involve a lot of sex.” —Christina, 31

12. “I had my first threesome on Valentine’s Day! I was single and had always fantasized about joining a couple in bed. It was sort of my New Years Sexolution, lol. I’d recently joined Feeld, and, as it turns out, a lot of couples are looking for V-Day threesomes! I connected with an attractive looking pair who took me out for drinks and dinner at a nice restaurant, then back to their place after. It was literally my ultimate fantasy. Sorry to my now-boyfriend, but unfortunately I don’t think any Valentine’s Day date could ever top that one!” —Lexy, 28

13. “People normally want to go all out for Valentine’s Day, but my favorite dates ever have been the simpler ones. We made dinner, watched some movies, and talked about how much we cared about each other. I even got him to take the Love Languages test!” —Ariti, 32

14. “A few years ago, my (now-) fiancé and I were planning a trip to Montreal, leaving the day after Valentine’s Day for a long weekend to celebrate. Since we were young and broke, we didn’t have money to go out to a nice dinner, so instead we went to Burger King. Now it’s still our tradition to get fast food every year on February 14th.” —Caitlin, 25

15. “My first real date with my high school boyfriend was on Valentine’s Day! Obviously we didn’t really plan for it to be a V-Day date—it just happened that way. But he still showed up that night with a single red rose for me. Some might call that a little over-the-top, but I thought it was incredibly sweet.” —Alexandra, 26

16. “My boyfriend and I don’t usually celebrate Valentine’s Day because our anniversary is only a week later. But one year I wanted to do something special, but still keep it low-key, so I ordered in a bunch of sushi and surprised him with a little at-home V-Day date.” —Elizabeth, 25

17. “My ex and I both loved going out to eat. But since we went out to nice dinners on the reg, it would sometimes feel even more special to spend a night in. Our first Valentine’s Day together, he cooked an amazing meal for us at his place and we just enjoyed a romantic evening in.” —Elissa, 28

18. “I have a major sweet tooth, which means my favorite V-Day tradition is the post-Valentine’s Day candy sales! Regardless of what I do and/or who I happen to be dating on the actual day, I always plan a full day of me-time for the 15th, featuring as much discount chocolate as my heart desires.” —Julia, 32

19. “We went to my favorite band’s small little venue concert, picked up fish tacos on the way home, and baked cookies together that night.” —Jaylon, 21

20. “This was, like, ultimate bougie, but my girlfriend and I went to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico. We told the hotel that we were recently engaged (we weren’t), but they decorated our bed every night with rose petals and a bottle of champagne. Go big or go home, right?” —Alyssa, 28

21. “I found myself in a bit of a situationship with this girl around Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago. I wasn’t sure if we were official or not, so I wasn’t really expecting to celebrate V-Day with her. (I didn’t want to get my hopes up.) Well, she ended up surprising me by not only making plans with me but also cooking a v fancy dinner with pasta, bread, salad, and some of my favorite desserts. Like, she did not cook regularly—so this was a Big Deal. It was so sweet because it was her way of showing me she cared, and we became official that night.” —Michelle, 25

22. “My favorite Valentine’s Day was cooking a new recipe together (Louisiana chicken pasta, which was just as good as it sounds), drinking a little too much wine, and falling asleep in their arms on the couch. Sometimes it’s the little things.” —Haley, 26

23. “My best Valentine’s Day ever happened last year when I was single. I had the ultimate ‘treat yourself’ day and got my favorite lunch, a mani-pedi, and then bought my favorite coffee. Instead of being sad that I was alone, I created an opportunity to celebrate the love I had for myself. I even made it a promise to myself to do it every year. Even though I have a boyfriend this year, I will still be doing it!” —Catherine, 25

24. “My boyfriend jokingly used to complain how men don’t get the same treatment as women on Valentine’s Day by receiving cards and chocolates, so I decided to surprise him by making an edible arrangement of bacon roses and I gave it to him in the morning before waking up so he could have breakfast in bed. I also gave him a card where I wrote down the biggest surprise of all: tickets to a helicopter tour of our city. Ten years later, we are still together, got married, and that is still one of the best Valentine’s Days we’ve ever had.” —Rachel, 29

25. “Several years ago, my boyfriend at the time (now husband) earned major points on Valentine’s Day. First, he dropped me off at a salon to get my hair and nails done. Then he picked me up and brought me to his place and made me dinner. From there, we went to a comedy club and laughed the night away. It was such a thoughtful date that I will remember forever.” —Jacqui, 28

26. “The cutest Valentine’s Day idea that I had was making a time capsule for our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple. In three years, we get to open it up and we’ll get to relive so many great memories.” —Alyssa, 31

27. “My partner’s birthday is the day after Valentine’s, and our anniversary is just two weeks later, so for our first Valentine’s together, I wanted to do something special. I’m a firm believer in more is more, so I surprised her with a trip to New York. I booked an incredible dinner at this cute Japanese place in Brooklyn, we hit MoMA, had Sunday brunch, it was really fun. The only bad part was it was below 10 degrees the whole time, but the rest was a blast!” —Elizabeth, 29

28. “Last year for Valentine’s Day, my boyfriend and I celebrated a little differently than most. We are both individually very serious about getting out of student loan debt in one to two years, so we added an extra couple hundred dollars onto our February debt payments so we could get that much closer to becoming debt-free. To me, it was so sweet because it’s so us!” —Joanna, 23

28. “In college, my boyfriend went out and bought a bottle of champagne, two glass champagne flutes, and chocolates and flowers for me. I got him cigars and chocolate cigars. We still lived in the dorms but his roommate had moved out, so we took both mattresses and put them side by side on the floor to make one giant super-bed. We drank champagne, ate lasagna, and watched A Walk to Remember from the floor on the super-bed. All these years later, I still have the boyfriend, the champagne flutes, and the cork from the bottle that night. We use the flutes every Valentine’s Day.” —Rebecca, 26

30. “We’re broke and in our early 20s, and we do not spend a lot of money. But on Valentine’s Day, we like to go out to eat for dinner, wherever we want, and buy whatever TF we want. Our normal $30 to $40 bill is about $120 with multiple drinks, apps, main courses, and desserts. We just treat ourselves and I love every minute of it.” —Santina, 22

31. “My girlfriend at the time surprised me with a staycation in our own city. She booked a hotel downtown, reserved seats for us at the rooftop bar, and had our bed decorated with rose petals and champagne when we returned.” —Alicia, 36

32. “The guy I was casually hooking up with—not even really dating—surprised me by making a reservation at a trendy restaurant in our city. The weather that day was extremely cold, but we layered on coats and went out anyway. When we got to the restaurant, they had lost our reservation and didn’t have anything available for a few hours. We ended up going to a dive bar around the corner, sharing some beers, and having a super-laid-back dinner at a restaurant with a prix fixe menu and open seating. It was all super unexpected, and just being together—even if we were hungry and freezing—made me realize this was waaay more than a hookup thing.” —Caitlin, 25

33. “One of my favorite Valentine’s Day memories is when my boyfriend decided to make a home-cooked meal. He surprised me with a dozen roses, a giant fuzzy heart with chocolate inside, and a handmade card. We didn’t have much money back then and he still lived with his parents, so he brought up a bunch of chairs to his room and used his nightstand as our table. He also lit candles, put on Frank Sinatra, and opened a bottle of Moët. We spent the rest of the night watching the first movie we ever saw together and playing video games. It was the best.” —Riley, 20

34. “One year, my girlfriend surprised me with a super-romantic wine-tasting tour. It was such a shock because I never even thought about wineries being open during the colder months, but many are! We had such a fun time getting tipsy and drinking delicious wine together, then we took the train home, watched a movie on our laptop, and had a nice dinner together. And I got to be in bed early, which is honestly my favorite thing.” — Sarah, 27

35. “You really can’t go wrong with breakfast in bed, which also happens to be the best Valentine’s Day I ever had. My husband makes me chocolate chip pancakes with extra chocolate chips just the way I like them, and I don’t get up until noon. I look forward to this day literally all year!” —Tina, 30

36. “The best Valentine’s Day I’ve had was the first one with my boyfriend. We knew it was supposed to snow later that day, so we had to alter the plans we’d previously made to go to an extravagant dinner at a fancy restaurant and instead chose to go out to brunch and spend the rest of the day at home. We exchanged gifts after brunch and spent the afternoon simply being together and enjoying our uninterrupted time. That night, we made a delicious dinner at home and watched many corny Valentine’s Day movies. It was perfect because it was simply us spending time together and enjoying the love between two people.” —Rachel, 21

37. “We started the evening by cooking a meal together and it was amazing. Getting to create something romantic together was beautiful. After we finished dinner, he brought us to the same place where we had our first date, Hyde Park, and we held hands while we walked around. At the end of the night, he surprised me by booking a hotel room. When we got there, he had my favorite kind of chocolates lying out on the bed. It was so simple yet so perfect. Best Valentine’s Day ever.” —Isabel, 20

38. “My long-distance boyfriend was too busy with his new job to visit me regularly, but on Valentine’s Day, he mailed me a plane ticket and told me to come and visit him. He even rented a hotel so we could be alone without his roommates. When we got there, he’d laid roses all over the bed and there was champagne and fluffy robes. We ended up ditching dinner reservations and staying in all night with room service. It was like a movie.” —Amanda, 21

39. “My girlfriend surprised me with a downtown tour of our city. It’s hilarious because we’ve both lived here our whole lives, but we got to see the city from a tourist perspective and learned things we never knew. It was cheesy, but that’s what made it so freaking fun.” —Russia, 28

40. “My boyfriend at the time had left the cheesiest teddy bear in front of my dorm room on Valentine’s Day along with a note that said, ‘I’ll pick you up for dinner at 6. Dress warm!’ We ended up having a super-romantic peanut butter and jelly sandwich dinner with a bottle of wine on this giant hill that overlooks our campus. It was probably the sweetest date ever!” —Kelly, 20

41. “My high school boyfriend asked me to come over to his house on Valentine’s Day weekend to help him with chemistry homework, which I thought was really weird because he was taking chemistry classes and I was obviously not, but I didn’t hesitate to come by. I went to knock on his front door and there was a note saying ‘walk in’ on it. I walked into his house and heard my favorite sappy love song playing, and [there was] a huge trail of rose petals leading into his living room, where he was sitting with all my favorite things. There were candles and Disney stuffed animals and it was so romantic. Even though we’re not still together, it will definitely be in my top Valentine’s Day memories!” —Jessica, 21

42. “I was out of town on business for Valentine’s Day and my boyfriend was really bummed about it because apparently he had this whole big thing planned. When I came home a week later, he ended up making a whole Valentine’s Day meal and celebration anyway. He cooked steak and even bought a super-sweet cake that said ‘Happy (kind of) Valentine’s Day.’ He also got me flowers and chocolate. It was so sweet, especially because he sucks at keeping secrets and I had no idea he was planning this.” —Sally, 23

43. “Last year was the first Valentine’s Day my long-distance boyfriend and I got to celebrate together in person. He came to visit me on Valentine’s Day and we went on an amazing hike. When we got to the top of the mountain, it had a beautiful view and we got to sit down and eat a late lunch together while watching the incredible sunset. Before we hiked back down, he grabbed my hand and told me he wanted to be together forever and gave me a promise ring. I was so surprised!” —Lauren, 21

44. “My boyfriend and I had made plans to go out for dinner, but we waited too late to make reservations. He told me to leave it up to him and that he would find us a place. The morning of Valentine’s Day, he showed up to my house with roses, bags full of groceries, and told me that he was making me dinner instead of going out. I was a little hesitant at first about him cooking because he had never done it before, but it turned out pretty well. He made some really yummy enchiladas, and best of all, I didn’t even need to get dressed up. Afterward, we cuddled and watched a movie. It wasn’t the most extravagant date but it was the sweetest.” —Michelle, 22

45. “The most memorable Valentine’s Day was when I showed up at my boyfriend’s house and he led me downstairs to his basement, where he’d prepared an indoor picnic. He knew I was tired from my week and didn’t feel like going out, so we stayed in. He doesn’t really cook, so he went around buying all my favorite foods from different restaurants like chicken and beef skewers, Indian bread, and chicken Caesar salad. I was so surprised because I’d never actually told him my favorite foods, but he’d figured it out from the times we went out to eat. Then for dessert, he made chocolate-covered strawberries. We ended the date by watching the movie we watched on our first date. It brought back memories of when we first started dating and we were both so nervous that we didn’t hold hands until the very end. There were no dimly lit mood candles or expensive presents, but it made a lasting impression on my heart.” —Kim, 21

46. “My boyfriend’s birthday is only a couple of days before Valentine’s Day, so usually we skip celebrating V-Day. But a couple of years ago, we decided to go up to the Hudson Valley (New York) for the weekend and celebrate. There was a big snowstorm and we were trapped inside for a lot of it, but the house was beautiful and we got to snuggle and escape from the world. It was magical. I tried to surprise him by wearing some new lingerie too, but when I came out of the bathroom wearing it, he’d fallen asleep! It’s been an inside joke of ours since.” —Emily, 25

47. “I know it sounds so simple, borderline tacky, but the most wonderful Valentine’s date I ever had was spent in a dorm room. We picked a movie we both loved, and to surprise each other, we each ordered delivery with food we thought the other would love most. It was lazy and comforting but still cute and romantic!” —Tara, 23

*Name has been changed.

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