Downtown Crowd

V-Day Three Ways

Before the alternative, aloof couple convinces you that shunning the pervasive romantic holiday that is Valentine’s Day is cool, or the lone wolf tells you to spend time self-improving on this day as if they don’t already treat themselves every other day of the year, allow me to convince you of this day’s merits and share with you some ways Downtown can be a bastion of romance just waiting to be discovered. The history of the holiday notwithstanding, Valentine’s Day has become a cultural juggernaut of commercialized love and romance. As distasteful as that may be, it cannot be ignored, even by those who actively try. Everyone knows what Feb. 14 is, and pretending it is not something unique, even if you don’t agree with it, does not make it any less so. Guys the world over will say that they show their significant other love everyday of the year, so why concentrate on one day? Girls will claim that they don’t really care if the one they’re with does anything, but why should apathy be an excuse to not shower niceties on our soulmates? Well, those are both cop-outs and proclaiming them doesn’t make you cool, any more than celebrating your love on a day to which it is assigned makes your expressions meaningless. In this spirit of unimpeded romanticism, I suggest the traditional V-Day fare on this holiday. As a generation whose lives and styles are always accompanied by an asterisk and feels out of place in any type of genuine action, I encourage us to simply lean into an institution that encourages thought, attention and love. It might do our moronically ironic selves some good. A dinner at Global Grill, V. Paul’s or Jackson’s is a delightful way to start things off. For the more fiscally responsible, Jaco’s, the Tin Cow, Five Sisters and even outdoor dining at Al Fresco offer something more affordable yet equally intimate. Afterward, why not check out the symphony at the Seanger, take a walk along Bayfront, or grab some gelato at Dolce? Alternatively, you could window shop along Palafox or check out live music at places like Hopjacks or Seville. I promise you that whatever effort you expend relishing this V-Day will be far less exhausting than whatever effort you spend actively avoiding the day and scoffing at those who enjoy it, and much more fun. Love is too rare and beautiful a gift to not shamelessly celebrate it every chance we get.

So, you’re coupled up (or maybe you have a platonic life partner/valentine—no judgment), but let’s just say it: you are COOLER that the “traditional” couple that’s having the same, old “romantic” Valentine’s dinner date. You don’t want to be packed into a crowded restaurant, forced to possibly eat a dreaded “special” prix fixe meal, or worst of all, be witness to some cheesy tinyrestaurant-table Valentine’s proposal. Gross!  It’s not a stance of hip irony, but a healthy sense of defiance against the facade of pink and red vomit that should compel you to treat this midmonth occasion with ambivalence. While I will not join the zombie horde marching blindly to a fancy restaurant on that Saturday, I, for one, welcome the red streaked candy aisle at Walgreens, though not because I’m showering my love with Russell Stover coconut crème chocolate hearts on Feb. 14. It’s because I’m stockpiling them in the freezer for myself until they return to Walgreens in the form of coconut crème eggs in April. See? I’m not demanding total humbuggery! If you want a date that day, fine. It’s Saturday after all. But I encourage you to eschew the traditional and ignore Valentine’s Day, except to laugh at the nerds crammed into restaurants as you saunter by the windows…with a picnic basket filled with surreptitiously contained wine and several bags of Cheet-os! Head to one of Downtown’s many parks like Seville Square, Plaza Ferdinand or Plaza de Luna with your spoils and toast to your good sense.  You’ll be in good company ignoring the forced romance of Valentine’s Day (depending on your definition of good), because guess what else falls on that hallowed Saturday? Pensacola’s Mardi Gras Grand Parade! It starts at 2 pm and it’s the perfect opportunity to have a few guilt-free day drinks while traversing Downtown with your love and getting in some priceless people-watching. Engage your companion in a flirty competition of who can catch the best beads and throws. Once the parade is over and the streets are cleared, get the hell out of dodge and head home for pajamas and Netflix. Both parade attendees and edgy couples will be prowling the streets in search of parking spots and food, and the world will transform into a wasteland of desperate fools trying to claw their way to some unrealized ideal of the perfect date night. Don’t be one of them. Save the dinner date for literally any other day of the year. If you’re reading this now, it’s probably too late to get a reservation anyway.

Singles, prepare yourselves: Valentine’s Day is upon us. While everyone else will be busy buying last-minute candies and carnations, you won’t. In fact, you’ll be wondering what to do with all of the extra money you won’t be spending on a significant other this year. Here are some ways to indulge and show yourself some love in the spirit of the holiday. Bring yourself to Still Waters Day & Medical Spa for a bit of professional pampering this V-Day. You’ll enjoy the food, aromatherapy and massage services wrapped up in one tranquil package. Don’t worry about a formal dress code at Still Waters, you’re welcome to come as you are! For a low-key evening out, visit one of the Downtown watering holes on Palafox to sample your choice of whiskeys or wines. Plan a trip to Old Hickory Whiskey Bar to sip from a savory selection of hard liquors in a relaxing and socially engaging atmosphere. Go to The Wine Bar to taste from their diverse menu of European and South American vino, complemented by an assortment of gourmet cheese, meat and bread appetizers. Did I mention The Wine Bar offers home delivery? If you’re preparing for a night of vegging out at home, or hosting a mixer, then you can place your order in advance at thewinebaronpalafox. com. Pick out your favorite bottle(s) of vintage from the online menu to have shipped to your door on Valentine’s Day. Sounds better than carnations, right? So go on, and treat yourself to something special this Valentine’s Day.