Build something together

Did you put a hot pan on a glass dining table and now it’s cracked? What can be more romantic than embarking on a quest of building a new table – together. You get to entice your partner to participate, agree on the design, get all the right materials, keep all the vital body parts, and not kill each other during the execution phase. Obviously, it doesn’t have to be a table but the project has to be challenging enough that it becomes exciting. You can see it as a fun bonding time, a way to save on new furniture, or a minimodel of your entire future relationship – it’s up to you. But you’re guaranteed to learn something about each other – and yourself – and have something tangible that has your and your partner’s handprints on it. 

Try a cook-along with your partner

As of another activity you can bond over, why not skip a fancy restaurant for a cooking-together dinner night? Not only is it budget-friendly but also fun, intimate, and, hopefully, delicious! Valentine’s or not, cooking along with your partner is an excellent at-home date idea with an abundance of variations recipe-wise: chocolate-heavy desserts and heart-shaped pizzas for Valentine’s Day, your favorite childhood foods for a down-the-memory-lane-themed date, or anything else your brains will come up with. Put on some relaxing music, work as a team, have some good conversation in between cooking – and, as a bonus, enjoy a meal that you two made together. In case that doesn’t work out, you can order in and have a good laugh about it. 

Spend a day by the sea

It’s wholesome, it’s romantic, it’s an adventure, and it will give you plenty of me-time. Check the weather forecast to make sure you won’t freeze and pack a thermos of hot chocolate (okay, any other drink will do, but chocolate will be most on-theme), as well as some snacks. It won’t be a long journey by train – most of St. Pete’s neighboring towns are very close by, but the hour or so you spend on the go will be enough to leave city life and problems behind. Try not planning your route and just going where your feet will take you once you arrive at your preferred destination. Or maybe you’ll go straight to the snowed-over beach to admire the view over the frozen Gulf of Finland. Then, you just have to drop by a random local café for a cup of coffee and some journaling (pretend that you are a writer working on your next novel!). And an obligatory part of the whole day is your playlist, of course. Curate it in advance, making it as dramatic or romantic (the choice is yours) as possible – save it for your train ride home, when you will be savoring the best moments of your daily adventure.

Lose yourself in art

Don’t have any time to plan an elaborate date with your partner? Maybe you are spending this Valentine's Day all alone and blue? Then here is something I came up with during my first winter in St. Petersburg: a museum crawl! Step one: pick a suitably labyrinthine venue. The Hermitage instantly comes to mind. Step two: take a map and pick a random room you'd like to visit there. In the Hermitage, they are color-coded to let visitors know what collection is on display. When I did my first museum crawl, I wanted to see da Vinci, so that's what I went with. Now, step three: go in and try to get to where you need to go without looking at the map. If you know anything about the Hermitage, you know that this is a good way to get completely and utterly lost – that is the goal! Adopt the mindset of an explorer, and soon you will begin to notice new details in every room and artwork that you come across. An art meditation with a little quest to spice it up – if you and your partner enjoy fine arts, then there is no experience more romantic.