Many people fully embrace Valentine’s Day, from the loved-up poems to the chocolates and roses. But for every card-carrying cupid there’s another person who can’t stand the holiday. Among singletons and couples alike, there are those who just don’t believe in Valentine’s Day.
Whether it’s the commercial aspect, the pressure to do something romantic or you just don’t like all those pink hearts, there are many reasons why people dislike Valentine’s Day.
So if you’ve booked your flights to Vancouver and if you’re in the city over Valentine’s Day, then read our guide to make your holiday memorable without being too mushy.
Enjoy a special anti-Valentine’s Day cocktail
Located in Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood of Gastown, which lies along the north of the downtown Vancouver peninsula, restaurant L’Abattoir is another great place to visit for those of you wanting to enjoy fine dining that goes against the grain of Valentine’s.
L’Abattoir will be offering its regular menu, but bartender Katie Ingram has created a special Anti-Valentine’s Day cocktail for the bitter lovers out there. Solo visitors and anti-Valentine’s couples alike can sidle up to the bar and order the Adieu Mon Coeur (Farewell My Heart), a mix of Forty Creek Copper Pot Whisky, Campari, Amaro Averna, amber vermouth, and Bittered Sling Kensington Bitters.
The booze-forward beverage is guaranteed to cure lonely hearts thanks to its spicy sweet flavour balanced with the bitterness of Campari and dry aromatic Kensington bitters. The cocktail will be offered throughout February.
Test your problem-solving skills in an escape room
If you’re a couple that likes a challenge, then another great alternative to a typical Valentine’s Day activity is to test yourselves in an escape room.
SmartyPantz Vancouver is the city’s premier escape room provider and its theatrical-themed rooms range in difficulty from moderate to hard. You’ll have 45 minutes to solve a range of puzzles and riddles that relate to the room you’re in.
SmartyPantz have created a number of unique storylines and have recently added a virtual reality escape room. Here, players are transported to low space orbit and asked to save the planet by reactivating a station. As SmartyPantz Vancouver is located in the heart of Gastown you can play a game and then enjoy some food and a drink at L’Abattoir after.
Speaking about why SmartyPantz Vancouver’s escape rooms are a great activity to try, a spokesperson says: “Doing the same thing you did last year is fine. Making that dinner reservation at a fancy restaurant is still on the table, but we’ve all been on a date and sat in awkward silence because we don’t know what to talk about. An escape room experience is not only a fun way to break the ice on a first date but gives partners a new topic of discussion, even if you’ve been together for years. Why not pump the neurons and synapses?
“Why not jump headlong into the thrill of the hunt, feel the confidence boost from solving a problem, the adrenaline rush of beating the clock, laughing at yourself and each other, these are all aspects of a date at an escape room.
“Many of our players are excited before they even get through the door! This excitement is heightened further if they’ve never experienced an escape room before. They can often be heard discussing and strategising how they should work together to solve the riddles in under 45 mins. You’ll find that going outside one’s comfort zone can be both fun and exhilarating.
“While our escape rooms are designed for groups of 4 or more, couples can absolutely play and escape if they have the smarts and a sense of adventure. Unlike other escape rooms, all of our rooms are private! We don’t mix strangers into a room together.”
Play Archery Tag
If you’re both looking to do a fun activity together without the endless reminders that it’s Valentine’s Day, playing archery tag together is a great option.
Imagine playing paintball, but instead of the painful stings you’re playing with foam tipped arrows and bows.
Spend an hour playing archery tag at 6 Pack Beach on Mitchell Road in Richmond, which is the first and only licensee of archery tag in the whole of Vancouver, and then check out the Olympic Experience at the Richmond Oval for a fun-filled afternoon testing out sport simulators.
A spokesperson for 6 Pack Beach believes archery tag is a great activity to try on Valentine’s Day:
“It’s a great way to try something new with your friends while being active. Harness your inner Green Arrow or Katniss Everdeen and compete on the battlefield with your friends and family.
“Do something fun and try something new for Valentine’s Day. Couples that play together stay together! Play cupid for the day, and hit the guy or girl of your dreams.”
It costs $28 CAD per person and all equipment such as the bows, arrows, masks and arm guards are included in the price.
Go on a brewery tour
Vancouver has become the craft beer capital of Canada, enjoying an explosion of microbreweries in the city in recent years.
Ryan Mackey, owner of Vancouver Brewery Tours, says the tours are a great alternative activity for Valentine’s: “I would say that most people are familiar with wine tours, however brewery tours are still a new thing. Our brewery tours are a great way for locals and visitors to share a new experience with other like-minded folks. Guests appreciate the opportunity to peek behind the scenes and learn more about how these small local businesses are creating a new and vibrant industry in town, and we love connecting our guests to this community. Oh, and of course, drink a whole bunch of craft beers along the way.
“This year marks our 5th annual Valentine’s Day brewery tour and while the tour attracts mostly couples, the feedback I’ve heard is that our guests wanted to do something different, something fun and social that they could share with other people. Our brewery tours are a great way to celebrate (or rebel against!) Valentine’s Day with folks who value trying new things and new experiences. All of this and we still provide lots of beer, a full meal and a custom dessert on tour, best of both worlds!”
Watch a funny show
At Vancouver Theatre Sports, forget the boring box of chocolates that you normally receive at Valentine’s and instead celebrate the funny side of romance with three special shows called Romance Week, which runs until 14 February.
Vancouver Theatre Sports, adds: “Love Unscripted/Romance Week gives you more than one opportunity to laugh. The pressure is off as we spread the fun out over a week. It’s not boring (like chocolates), the memories will last (unlike flowers that die), it is calorie-free (unlike a heavy meal), it’s easy on the budget and most importantly, it’s fun.”
Vancouver Theatre Sports is based on Granville Island so you can combine watching a show with a visit to the Granville Island Public Market as the market is open from 9am-7pm.
Enjoy a mystery game
If you and your partner like a good mystery game you should consider attending a Vancouver Mysteries event. Just two players are required to play their games and you can join in on a mysterious adventure.
Alina from Vancouver Mysteries, says: “Who hasn’t wanted to be a spy, detective, or superhero? In a Vancouver Mysteries game you and your friends are the heroes of your own adventure. This is your chance to solve a murder, complete a secret mission, or save the planet while having a riot of a time! You’ll collect clues as your story unfolds on the streets of downtown Vancouver. We supply the kit, you solve the mystery.
“Instead of feeling the pressure to go on a romantic date this Valentine’s Day, go and solve a mystery at our annual Valentine’s Day Couples Competition. Choose a partner in crime and sign up to compete against other teams for the chance to win prizes! Do you want to be detectives, spies, or superheroes? Three different games are played simultaneously during this Mega Mystery that sells out every year.”
Vancouver Mysteries is located near Gastown so we’d recommend taking a stroll around the area and looking at the neighbourhood’s stunning architecture such as Byrnes Block, Vancouver’s oldest brick building, and its cobblestone streets before or after your mystery game.
Enjoy a bit of retail therapy
No matter whether you’re after a souvenir to remind you of your time in Vancouver or you’re looking for a new wardrobe, shopping is high on the list of activities to do for many people.
Shopping in Vancouver runs from designer shops to huge shopping centres and you’ll find everything you’re looking for. You can escape Valentine’s Day with some retail therapy, or choose a truly special present for your loved one that will beat a box of chocs hands down.
Elisabeth Beyer Villalobos, travel blogger and writer at Sidetracked Travel Blog, says: “Instead of the classic dinner-and-a-movie itinerary, couples who don’t want to take part in Valentine’s Day festivities can head to one of Vancouver’s prime shopping areas to indulge in a little retail therapy.
“Some of the best neighbourhoods for shopping can be found outside of the downtown core. Head on over to Main Street for quirky shops, Commercial Drive for a laid-back vibe, and Kitsilano for independent boutiques, record stores, and much more! Afterwards, grab a low-key yet delicious bite to eat at one of the many popular food trucks parked around the city. Tacofino (known for their signature Baja-style fish tacos) and Mom’s Grilled Cheese (the absolute best comfort food on a rainy Vancouver day) are two of my top picks!”
Image Credit: L’Abattoir, SmartyPantz Vancouver, Vancouver Brewery Tours.