When the Weather is Frightful, These Outings Are Delightful

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By Wendy Migdal

February can be a tricky month to plan date-night activities. Some years we’re inundated with snow; other years the crocuses start blooming. (And often, both.) We’ve put together some ideas for date-night (or date-day) activities with the idea of keeping warm and cozy.

Traditional Couples’ Activities

Of course, the best date-night restaurant is one that both of you really love, regardless of what other people think. However, here are a few that receive high marks as date-night locations.

Black Sheep Restaurant, bacon

The Secret Garden Café in Occoquan is not just a summer destination. The 1840 building features a cozy interior with a fireplace. It’s the sister restaurant to Battle Street Bistro in Manassas. The two don’t serve exactly the same menu, but both are from-scratch, include a wide variety of options, and are, of course, delicious. The Black Sheep Restaurant specializes in farm-to-table cuisine and the famous “Bacon Tower,” which features not only the aforementioned bacon, but a tableside blowtorch as well. And really, what says “date night” better than a blowtorch? For an upscale, quiet, classy, restaurant, try Carmello’s, which specializes in both Italian and Portuguese.

Couples’ massages can be a great way to relax together. Some people enjoy massages and would like the experience even more if they could share it with someone. Other people might feel more comfortable in a couples massage to avoid that awkward feeling of being in a small room with a stranger and without very
many clothes on. Either way, there are often some good deals to be found in February.

Wineries offer that getaway, vacation-feel while only being a few minutes from home. Several wineries, such as Effingham Manor Winery in Nokesville, The Winery at Sunshine Ridge Farm in Gainesville, and The Winery at La Grange in Haymarket have indoor fireplaces. If the two of you really enjoy the vino, consider
buying a Virginia Wine Pass. It’s good for a year, covers two people, and comes with perks that vary by winery, such as buy-one-get-one tastings and discounts.

Creative or Adventurous Date Nights

Perhaps you’re looking for something more unusual than restaurant recommendations, or your honey refuses to try massage. Doing something new and exciting that pushes you out of your comfort zone is a proven relationship builder.

An activity such as paint-and-sip is perfect for that. You may uncover a hidden talent, or you may develop the ability to laugh at yourself.

Along the same lines, that’s why ice skating has a reputation for being a good date night activity. Letting go of inhibitions as you flail around brings people together. Or you may find that the traditional roles in the relationship change as one person takes on a new role as teacher. Prince William Ice Center and the
Haymarket IcePlex offer public skating on the east and west sides of the area respectively.

The Winter Farmer’s Market in Manassas features a wealth of bottled, jarred, boxed, canned, and otherwise prepared foods, ingredients, and even kits to make tasty dishes at home. Not only that, goods sold represent countries from all over the world. Take your partner there on a Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.,
and challenge yourselves to source ingredients to make a unique meal at home. Try making a country’s cuisine that you’ve never made before. Then take your finds home and spend the afternoon or evening together in your cozy kitchen, sipping wine and whipping up a fabulous meal.

If you traditionally give gifts for Valentine’s Day, you may experience gift-giving as a source of stress — finding an appropriate gift (I just did this at Christmas! you think), getting it on time, etc. Instead, turn the gift acquisition into an event itself. Head to Stonebridge, Potomac Mills, downtown Manassas, or Occoquan — whatever fits your style best — with your partner. Then split up and agree to meet back in an hour
with whatever gift you found in that time. Choose a favorite lunch or dinner spot to reveal your treasures and appreciate each other.


First Get Cold, Then Get Warm

Sometimes, it’s the contrasts in life that are the best. A little sea salt in the chocolate, a good night’s sleep after a hard day of work. Likewise, sometimes we appreciate being warm and cozy even more after we’ve been cold for a while.

ice skating, Harris Pavilion

To that end, and if you and your partner like a little more activity and adventure than what a massage offers, try hiking the battlefields before heading to the winery. Manassas National Battlefield has one-, five- and six-mile loops that depart from the visitor’s center, depending on what you’re up for. A cold morning hike followed by a cozy afternoon at a winery, for some people, would really hit the spot. Likewise, if the weather cooperates and it’s still cold enough, try outdoor ice skating at the Harris Pavilion or at Stonebridge, followed by hot chocolate and dessert at Duck Donuts or a bakery. Hot tubs are one of modern society’s best inventions, but they’re even more enjoyable after a dip in the pool. Get a day pass to the Chinn Center, the Manassas Park Community Center, or the Freedom Aquatic Center and do some lap swimming before you go for a soak in the whirlpool or sit in the sauna. Besides enjoying the warmth even more, the relaxation is doubly rewarding after the exercise. Two birds, one stone. And if you don’t have a lovebird, grab a friend or family member, and just enjoy life.

Wendy Migdal is a freelance writer who has lived in the Northern/Central Virginia area since 2000. She has written extensively for The Free Lance-Star and also works for online educational companies. Wendy enjoys traveling around the area to learn about parks, restaurants, attractions, and especially history.


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