We all love a nice dinner but why not try something different this year in honor of Valentine’s Day? Here are some next level ways to celebrate your love:

Appreciate Art in the Great Outdoors

Bundle up and explore the nearly 300 contemporary works dotting the exquisitely landscaped 40+ acres comprising Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton. Warm up by visiting the rotating indoor exhibits showcasing both known and emerging artists, then head to this museum/sculpture garden/arboretum’s on-site restaurant Rat’s for a delightful French repast prepared for the holiday de amore. You can also plan a date night and check out Night Forms, where the gardens are illuminated.

Have a Good Scare

According to psychological studies, feelings of fear also spark adrenaline and excitement. Take advantage of this phenomenon by visiting horror houses Brighton Asylum, a massive walkthrough dark attraction filled with terrifying live actors and special effects in Passaic and 13th Hour, a spooky escape room in Wharton—both offering special Valentine’s Day-themed events sure to scare up a night to remember.

STAFF PHOTO / Stumpy’s Hatchet House

Throw Caution to the Wind

Savor the rush of hatchet hurling at one of New Jersey’s many axe-throwing venues. If you’ve never tried it, axe throwing is easy to learn and lots of fun. Stumpy’s Hatchet House opened its first location in Eatontown in 2016 and has since expanded in NJ and across the country. Bury the Hatchet also has locations throughout NJ and beyond. Both invite visitors to picnic and BYOB for a fun night out.

Go Gaming

Recapture the sheer fun of gobbling ghosts in Pac-Man and trying not to tilt at YESTERcades, one of Jersey’s favorite retro arcades (locations in Red Bank, Somerville and Westfield). Silverball Museum in Asbury Park is perfect for kicking off the night before taking in a show at The Stone Pony. You can also hit Barcade in Newark or Jersey City for top-shelf drinks, exclusive beers, savory bar bites, more than 70 video and pinball games and best of all, it’s adults only.


Gaze at the Stars

Feast your eyes on something truly spectacular: The Planetarium at Raritan Valley Community College will host several loved-themed shows including Laser Love (love songs + lasers=awesome) on February 3, 10 and 14. Don’t forget that the Garden State is also has home to the largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere located at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. If you are brave enough, tackle your fear of heights after on the Infinity Climber together, or check out the Pixar exhibit where you can see what goes on behind the scenes of your favorite animated movies. And on Thursday nights during February, Liberty Science Center will celebrate the Month of Love with its 21+ LSC After Dark for Queen of Hearts on February 1, Let’s Get Physical on February 8, Chemical Romance on February 15 and R&B Night on February 22. There will be dance parties, special laser shows, activities and access to all the exhibits.


Plan a Spa Day With a View

Where can you go to experience water-filled wonderlands where guests can soak, swim, steam, and enjoy hot, cool, and salty saunas, as well as traditional full-body scrubs? If you haven’t been, Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to suss out the fuss. Get a sitter—you’ll want to spend the whole day. Along with its vast array of classic amenities, the super swanky SoJo Spa Club in Edgewater offers a decadent couples massage to get the kinks out plus magnificent rooftop views of Manhattan. The Wave Resort & Spa in Pier Village in Long Branch overlooks the Atlantic, so relax during a deep tissue, sports recovery or classic massage; or try a marine replenishing body scrub or black sand & pumice scrub.


Make Dinner An Experience

If you love sushi and hibachi, plan a trip to Mt. Fuji Steakhouse in Hillburn, NY, and you’ll be treated to an architectural splendor on a 45-acre mountain that’ll make you feel like you’re in Japan. Skilled master chefs will show off their artistry and comedy as they prep your meal. For another unique dinner out, head to The Madison Hotel in Morristown, where you can eat inside one of two luxurious 1890s parlor cars. Make it an overnight at The Madison Hotel and you’ll be treated to equal parts glamour and history. There are hundreds of restaurants throughout New Jersey where you can make a reservation for a beautiful night out.

Carry a Torch

A two-hour glassblowing or bead-making workshop at GlassRoots, a non-profit studio located in Newark, offers participants a hands-on opportunity to learn the basics of shaping molten materials using traditional flamework or blowing techniques. Each guest takes home a hunka burning love (their own glass creation). However, a trip to the gift shop may result in a far more beautiful souvenir, one that helps support the organization’s mission to ignite creativity and economic vitality among underserved local youth and young adults.


Heat Things Up

If the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach, a cooking class for two is surely the ultimate love lesson. Under the expert guidance of Shelley Wiseman (formerly of The Farm Cooking School), Shelley’s Table will host a Couple’s Night making ribeye steaks with bourbon bacon butter on February 10, or a Couples Valentine’s Day cooking class on February 14. Stay overnight at the B&B, and roll yourself into bed stuffed and sated. Rat’s Restaurant in Hamilton, which is located at the beautiful Grounds for Sculpture, will teach you how to prepare a delicious Surf N Turf dinner on February 7 during a pre-Valentine’s Day class, or treat your loved one to a meal on February 14, where you will cook duck l’orange together. Hard Rock Atlantic City’s renowned Executive Pastry Chef Thaddeus DuBois will teach a seminar on how to create beautiful confectionary creations on February 10. Mold roses out of various mediums like chocolate and marzipan and decorate a take-home sweetheart chocolate box and truffles. Other places you can take a class include Montclair Culinary Academy, Hudson Table in Hoboken, and the Cooking School at Natirar, a luxurious country estate in Peapack.

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