Whether you’re someone who treats the day like any other or the type to plan weeks in advance how you’ll choose to shower your partner with affection, Valentine’s Day can act as a helpful reminder to brighten our loved ones’ day and be intentional about showing how thankful we are to have them in our lives.
Regardless of whether you’re in a long-term relationship, have recently made a brand-new connection or are content with being single, this list can help you brainstorm fun activities you can do this Valentine’s Day and will give you romance novel recommendations based on your favorite outings!
Who knows—maybe a book on this list will compel you to spend the day reading alone or snuggled up next to your partner while gushing over these endearing couples’ stories.
Spend a Day at the Beach
If your dream Valentine’s Day excursion is to spend a day walking on warm, soft sand hand-in-hand with your date as you both listen to the crashing of the waves, then you’ll appreciate this modern-day retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
In Perfect Day, readers are introduced to Joshua Newton, a young man from a wealthy family, and Finn Callaghan, a budding actor determined to make a name for himself in Hollywood. During one summer in their seaside town, after Finn takes a job working for Joshua’s father as a mechanic, the two spend romantic dates getting to know each other on the beach. Both believed they had found their life partner, but flash forward eight years, and this couldn’t be further from reality.
Finn has returned from Hollywood as a highly successful actor, but his achievements are marred by his bitter resentment after his first love abandoned him. Set on forgetting Joshua completely and leaving the past behind him, Finn has no intention of reconciling, let alone developing a strong attachment to Joshua once more. But just as the waves tend to draw swimmers out to sea, love has a way of drawing people back together.
One Summer Weekend
Daydreaming about sharing a kiss at sunset on a secluded beach? One Summer Weekend will transport you there! If your date allows you to read without feeling guilty while the two of you bask in the sun on shore (a major “green flag,” by the way), this novella is perfect since you’ll be able to finish this short, addictive love story in one sitting.
After growing tired of his boss prying into his love life, Noah Stafford creates a fake girlfriend with a stellar sense of humor and a stunning appearance. To sell it further, Noah decides to model his fake girlfriend after his very real longtime best friend, Carly.
Unfortunately, Noah wasn’t prepared to be invited to his boss’s destination wedding and certainly didn’t think he’d have to bring his “girlfriend” along. Not too keen on the idea, Carly Randall decides to go along to Cape Cod anyway. That’s what friends are for, right? But amid idealistic beaches, friendly banter develops into flirty exchanges, leaving both unsure of what is merely for “show” and what is the result of their genuine chemistry.
Attend a Circus
The Weight of Feathers
If an exciting date to the circus filled with whimsy where each of your senses is engaged from beginning to end with the smell of popcorn, the taste of cotton candy and the sight of extraordinarily talented performers sounds like an amazing plan, then you should pick up the magical realist romance book, The Weight of Feathers. The feuding families in this story are traveling performers, and their mystifying skills and dedication to captivating the masses will satisfy those looking to read about unique performers’ daily lives and challenges.
The novel centers around the Palomas and the Corbeaus, rivals who have had an ongoing 20-year feud. While the Palomas enthrall crowds by swimming in mermaid exhibitions, the Corbeaus excite audiences by performing high among the trees. Lace Paloma knows she must steer clear of the Corbeaus, an evil and dark-intentioned family whose touch could have dire consequences. But then why does a Corbeau boy named Cluck save her? With one single touch, the course of both of their lives drastically changes and has them second-guessing everything they have been taught since birth.
The Night Circus
You’ll easily become immersed in the fantastical world Erin Morgenstern creates within Night Circus. The enchanting Le Cirque des Rêves always arrives unannounced and only opens at night. Unbeknownst to them, two young magicians have been pitted against each other by their instructors, and despite their fierce competition, they end up falling deeply in love.
The only thing as powerful as magic is the romantic bond rapidly forming between them. But will their connection be strong enough to defy the strict rules of the competition stating that only one magician can make it out alive? Or will the fate of the circus and everyone a part of it come to an untimely end?
Whip Up Tasty Treats in a Baking Class
Although it may not be the first activity to cross your mind when trying to brainstorm romantic date ideas, taking a baking class where you can work together and give your undivided attention to your partner while making a delicious treat the two of you can share at the end is incredibly sweet—in more ways than one! Those who don’t mind getting a bit messy with flour will satisfy their craving for a heartwarming young adult love story with the graphic novel Bloom.
Ari feels burdened by the expectations of his family, who want him to carry on working for the family bakery, even though he can’t stand the thought of having to work in a cramped space over a hot oven for the rest of his life and would much rather pursue music. While trying to interview candidates to replace him, Ari meets Hector, a calm, thoughtful young man who has a passion for baking. Not only will readers enjoy the beautifully rendered illustrations of the two making delicious pastries together, but they will also adore watching as Ari slowly grows less cynical and becomes open to allowing love to bloom.
Fake It Till You Bake It
Fake It Till You Bake It is a romance you’ll want to devour in one sitting! It has a satisfying fake dating plot and enemies-to-lovers couple that we romance lovers always crave a heaping helping of. The story follows Jada Townsend-Matthews, a woman facing backlash after rejecting a man viewers were rooting for on a reality dating show, and Donovan Dell, a professional football player and owner of a new cupcake bakery in San Diego.
After returning home, Jada decides to work for Sugar Blitz. Almost immediately, a reporter sees Jada with Donovan and jumps to assume the two are in a relationship. Rather than correcting this mistake, they decide to use the publicity to their advantage: Jada’s image will be restored, and Donovan’s slow business will get the attention it needs to succeed. But soon this strictly professional, mutually beneficial agreement heats up hotter than any oven in the bakery.
See a Drive-in Movie
Funny You Should Ask
If a night at the drive-in cuddled close to your date while you enjoy one of your favorite films sounds fun, then I bet you’ll enjoy Funny You Should Ask, which, interspersed with flashbacks, follows Chani Horowitz, a young writer who gets her big break writing a profile of a popular film star named Gabe Parker. This opportunity could be life-changing for Chani, who is bored of writing puff pieces, but focusing might prove difficult since Gabe is her ultimate celebrity crush.
Ten years later, the Gabe Parker profile is still the piece that has garnered the most attention during her writing career, so when she is requested to conduct a follow-up interview with him, she knows she should jump at the chance. But their brief time together years ago is something Chani hasn’t been able to push away, no matter how hard she’s tried. She’s uncertain if it would be a good idea for them to spend time alone with each other again, but she supposes there’s only one way to find out.
Hannah Brooks may not look like your typical bodyguard, but don’t let her small frame fool you; she can handle herself as well as any six-foot male bodyguard can. That’s why she is entrusted to protect famous actor Jack Stapleton from his dangerous stalker. Even though Jack may come across as having an easy life, as effortless as his charming good looks, the reality is that he’s under a lot of stress, with his mother sick and a threatening stalker watching his every move.
When he decides to go home to his family’s ranch, Jack could use Hannah’s protection, but he’ll only accept her help under the condition that she act as his fake girlfriend so that he doesn’t have to burden his ill mother with the knowledge that he might be in danger. Although Hannah is capable of guarding actors, she’s not a very good actress herself. So when she begins developing feelings for Jack, she knows that it’s far from a performance. But is it just another act for Jack?
Featured photo: Casey Horner / Unsplash