5 Cultural Alternatives to the Valentine’s Day Dinner

Written by Wynter Holden Category: Culture Issue: February 2016
Pin It

Photo courtesy Theater WorksNext to Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day is the second busiest night for the American restaurant industry. A 2014 Zagat survey found that New Yorkers planned to spend an average of $158.43 per couple on this holiest of couple’s holidays. Considering that local dining options include an $85 dinner at The Market by Jennifer’s and Chef Beau MacMillan’s $125 four-course prix fixe menu at elements (both priced per person!), we’re guessing that Phoenix pairs won’t be far behind in those numbers.

More than half of women polled by restaurant consultants Aaron Allen & Associates said they’d dump their mates if they didn’t receive a Valentine’s Day gift. Luckily for those with Dom Pérignon taste on the proverbial Budweiser budget, 82 percent of ladies are open-minded about what a gift entails, preferring an “experience” out on the town over jewelry or pricy lingerie.

If you want to impress your sweetie with after-dinner plans, or he’s still going strong on that 2016 dieting resolution, here are five local experiences that offer a more cultured (and wallet-friendly) alternative to fancy V-Day feasts.

Swing For Free: The Valley Topgolf locations in Gilbert and Scottsdale are giving away a free couple’s package on Valentine’s Day. Beginning February 1st, win a “Bay for Your Bae” by texting 2015’s most annoying term of endearment to 68633. Winners score a golfing bay decked out with complimentary food and drinks. No luck? No problem. The first 50 couples in the door at 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. on V-Day still get a special swag bag filled with heart-shaped goodies.

Play The Mating Game: Described as “a hilarious tribute to all who have loved and lost and still dare to ask, ‘Say, what are you doing Saturday night?’”, Theater Works’ I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change is a song-filled trip through the relationship gauntlet – from the first nail-biting date to raising kids and arguing in old age. V-Day tickets are sold out as of this writing, but lovers can still nab regular Friday and Saturday night tickets for $35 or splurge for a $100 Cabaret Table for Two (with champagne) by calling the Peoria Center for the Arts box office at 623-815-7930.

Find Fairy Tale Love: Ballet Arizona and the Phoenix Symphony pair up for the Tchaikovsky classic Sleeping Beauty, February 11-14 at Symphony Hall in Phoenix. It’s pretty much the Disney-fied version that Americans are most familiar with, complete with gorgeous costumes and romantic awakening kiss. Tickets start at $15. Visit

View Exotic Art: Alwun House’s 32nd annual Exotic Art Show returns February 12 with a Phantasmagorical Spectacular Opening featuring aerialist Melissa Melon, “boylesque” male burlesque, body painter Mark Greenawalt and naughty tales from local storyteller and “Hip Historian” Marshall Shore. More than 50 artists will participate in this year’s show, with exhibits from fetish photography to titillating sculptures. Viewing Tuesday-Friday is $5. Opening show tickets are $20-$25.

Light Up Her Life: Normally lit Wednesday through Saturday only, artist Bruce Munro’s “Sonoran Light” exhibit at Desert Botanical Garden will provide beautiful mood lighting for couples on Sunday, February 14. Six-fiber optic sculptures include a massive glass cactus and Field of Light featuring 30,000 individual bulbs flowing down the Sonoran Desert Nature Loop Trail. $25 adults; $30 for all-day pass.