Guide to Valentine's Day in Milwaukee: Festivals, Events, Things to Do

heart shaped box of chocolates

Adam Gault / Photographer's Choice RF / Getty Images

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, there are plenty of fun activities and events to entertain lovebirds on Valentine's Day.

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Shop for a Valentine's Day Gift

Four chocolates on a white table, three are out of focus

Courtesy of Indulgence Chocolatiers  

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 nice bouquet. If your honey has a sweet tooth, Red Elephant Chocolate in the Third Ward will fix you up with exotic chocolate. Indulgence Chocolatiers is another local favorite that has locations in Walker's Point, Wauwatosa, and Shorewood. In the flower department, Welke's, Locker's Florist, Alfa Flower Shop, and Flowers by Jan are all popular picks.

02 of 08

Eat at a Romantic Restaurant

Milwaukee may not be well-known for its culinary scene, but the city has no shortage of romantic restaurants for Valentine's Day dinner. For great views of the city and Lake Michigan, head out to Harbor House for lobster and a glass of high-end Cab. Stroll through the Milwaukee Art Museum, a 5-minute walk away, while you wait for your table.

Alternatively, if you can score a table at La Merenda—an Italian haunt in Walker's Point that's also one of the most popular places in town—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 French farmhouse that's set in historic Lake Park Pavilion.

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Take a Candlelit Hike

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 8, 2020, from 6 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.

04 of 08

Go Ice Skating Downtown

Milwaukee stays cold well into February—so cold, in fact, that ice skating is still very much a popular activity. 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.

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05 of 08

See a Concert

Milwaukee is home to a variety of music venues, many of which will be hosting shows on Valentine's Day 2020. UFO will be playing at Genesee Theatre in Waukegan, the American Authors will be playing at Turner Hall Ballroom, and Betsy Ade & the Well-Known Strangers, Would You Kindly will be playing at Route 20 in Sturtevant.

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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 from February 14 to 23, 2020. Presented by the UWM French Program, this special showcase includes the latest films tackling current topics and you can see them for free.

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Make Your Date Laugh

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. Headliners Deray Davis, Rickey Smiley, Melanie Comarcho, and other local acts highlight the 15th annual event on Saturday, February 15, 2020.

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Go Stargazing

You can 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 will receive 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, all on February 13 and 14, 2020.

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