It may be cold outside, but these Milwaukee-based Valentine's Day date ideas will make you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. Whether you're looking for a cozy night in—perhaps catching a French film at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee—or you'd rather brave the cold to take your sweetheart for a romantic evening of stargazing, Milwaukee has plenty of fun activities and events to entertain lovebirds on Valentine's Day.
Shop for a Valentine's Day Gift
First things first: You'll want to plan for this date night in advance by swinging by one of Milwaukee's many artisanal shops to pick up chocolates or a bouquet. If your honey has a sweet tooth, Red Elephant Chocolate in the Third Ward will fix you up with decadent chocolate treats. Indulgence Chocolatiers is another local favorite that has locations in Walker's Point, Wauwatosa, and Shorewood. If it's flowers you're looking for, Welke's, Locker's Florist, Alfa Flower Shop, and Flowers by Jan are all popular picks that offer special bouquets for the big holiday.
Eat at a Romantic Restaurant
Milwaukee may not be well-known for its culinary scene, but the city has no shortage of restaurants that can lend their ambiance for a romantic Valentine's Day dinner. For great views of the city and Lake Michigan, head out to Harbor House for lobster and a glass of wine. You can choose to dine a la carte or go for the three-course dinner.
Alternatively, if you can score a table at the popular La Merenda—an Italian restaurant in Walker's Point—you'll be treated to beautifully presented small plates served in a comfortable, warm atmosphere. Another great option is Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro, which looks like a farmhouse that's set in the historic Lake Park Pavilion.
Go Ice Skating Downtown
Milwaukee stays cold well into February—so cold that there's still plenty of time to enjoy ice skating outdoors. Take your date to the outdoor ice rink at Red Arrow Park in downtown Milwaukee for a bit of fresh-air skating. Known as Slice of Ice, this outdoor rink is free to use when you bring your own skates and is open starting at 11 a.m. daily throughout the winter season. If it's too cold outside, you can also find refuge in an indoor rink at Pettit National Ice Center, which is located near the Milwaukee County Zoo.
Watch a French Film
Celebrate Valentine's Day with a romantic French film at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's annual Festival of Films in French, taking place every weekend from February 12 to 21, 2021. Presented by the university's French Program, this special showcase includes feature films, documentaries, and short films. In 2021, the festival will be streamed online for free but you will still need to register in advance.
Take a Candlelit Hike
The 2021 Candlelight Hike was canceled.
Adventurous valentines might opt for a more conventional date night, like, say, a candlelit hike. Friends of Interstate Park in nearby St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, hosts its annual Valentine's Candlelight Night on February 14 from 5 to 9 p.m. The snowshoeing and hiking tour features hundreds of candles illuminating a snow-covered trail through the park and campfires at the trailhead for post-hike camaraderie.
The museum temporarily closed in 2021.
You can typically tour the cosmos with a special Valentine's Day star show at the Daniel M. Soref Planetarium at the Milwaukee Public Museum, part of its annual Romancing the Stars event. Each couple receives a complimentary rose and box of chocolates as well as their choice of a guided tour of the museum, a show in the planetarium, or both. The 45-minute Love and Heartbreak Tour features stories about the animal kingdom while the planetarium show takes an up-close look at the universe's most "romantic" constellations and astrological tales.
Make Your Date Laugh
This event was not rescheduled for 2021.
If you're looking for something out of the ordinary to delight your date this year, consider buying tickets to the annual Valentine's Weekend Laugh-A-Thon at the Miller High Life Theatre. In 2020, headliners included Deray Davis, Rickey Smiley, Melanie Comarcho, and other local acts.