(Editor’s note: No one does a roundup – especially a romantic one – like our own Jena A. Butterfield. Here Jena jump-starts your Valentine’s Day plans with a few, 80 or so, suggestions of her own: )
Whether you’re naughty or nice and like sugar or spice, you’re sure to enjoy some of our more than 80 picks for planning the ultimate Valentine’s Day north of New York City.
For some, romance is put on pause for tiny hearts.
Start by taking the kids to Candy Rox, the nostalgia-inducing candy mecca that has two Westchester locations in Bronxville and Rye. Or head to Deborah Ann’s Sweet Shoppe in downtown Ridgefield for a taste of Main Street Americana.
Let them play with their food at The Melting Pot in White Plains or Darien, where cheese and chocolate fondue make up the menu. Or watch the chefs put on a show at Noda Hibachi & Sushi in White Plains.
Go meet Atka, the wild Arctic gray wolf at the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem. He can survive temperatures as low as minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Then grab flowers and a stuffed animal at Blossom Flower Shops in White Plains.
Warm kiddie hearts with hot chocolate from Cocoa in Larchmont. They’ll love the giant homemade marshmallow in the version at City Limits in White Plains. Or head to Lil’ Chocolate Shoppe in Pleasantville for the genius hot chocolate spoons, covered in marshmallows and ready to stir into a mug of hot water.
Paris is known as the city of love and romance, n’est-ce pas? Let the ambience at these local bistros bring that certain je ne sais quoi to your date night — Appetit Bistro, Port Chester; D’Gabby French, Eastchester; Encore Bistro Français, Larchmont; Le Fat Poodle, Old Greenwich; Le Jardin du Roi, Chappaqua; Le Penguin, Greenwich and Westport.; Le Provençal Bistro, Mamaroneck; Red Hat on the River, Irvington; Ruby’s Oyster Bar & Bistro, Rye; and Saint George Bistro, Hastings-on-Hudson.
While the French capital inspires love, Cupid is a Roman god (after the Greek Eros). Go casual cool at these modern Italian eateries where the food is on point and the atmosphere lively — The Cookery, Dobbs Ferry; Fortina, Armonk, Rye Brook, Yonkers and Stamford; L’Inizio, Ardsley; Mima Vinoteca, Irvington; and Tarry Lodge, Port Chester and Westport.
Head to Pleasantville to watch a screening of “Roman Holiday,” starring Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn at the Jacob Burns Film Center. Or celebrate on February 13 with The Bolshoi Ballet’s “Romeo and Juliet.”
Stop by East Meets West Flowers in Pleasantville for flowers and don’t forget the collection of international chocolates from Imagine Candy in Scarsdale, whose “candy curators” source the best torrone and tartufi from around the globe. Patisserie Salzburg in Rye, Scarsdale and Stamford has irresistible macaroons (and melting cheese danishes).
Too tame so far? Shop for lingerie (and more) at Romantic Depot in Elmsford and West Nyack and Simply Sinful in White Plains or up your game with intimates from Suzette Lingerie, Yonkers; Petticoat Lane, Chappaqua and Greenwich; StockinGirl, New Canaan; Lillies & Lace, Armonk; and the Italian label Intimissimi at The Westchester, White Plains.
Take advantage of your new undergarments with a boudoir photography session at Juliati photography in White Plains or Donna Cheung Photography, based in Fairfield County.
Feeling sexy yet? Keep it going during this high season for bivalves with oysters at Saltaire, Port Chester; Eastchester Fish Gourmet; Kee Oyster House, White Plains; or the Little Drunken Chef tapas and oyster bar in Mount Kisco. Then head to Alamo Drafthouse in Yonkers for its V-Day showing of the super-sexy film “Fifty Shades Freed.”
Prove your passion with Perfect Wrapped Long-Stem Red Roses from Scarsdale Flower Boutique, then feed each other from a box of handmade chocolate strawberries from Chocolate Works in Scarsdale or Chocolations in Mamaroneck. Or go for the long-stem version at The Chocolate Chalet in Briarcliff Manor where you can continue the “Fifty Shades” theme with a pair of solid chocolate handcuffs.
HEART OF GOLD
Looking for luxury? Get a couple’s message at Sankara Spa at the Castle Hotel & Spa in Tarrytown, then head to dinner at the Castle’s Equus or one of these other upscale venues – Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills; Crabtree’s Kittle House, Chappaqua; La Crémaillère, Bedford; Homestead Inn-Thomas Henkelmann or l’escale, Greenwich; The Inn at Pound Ridge by Jean-Georges; La Panetière, Rye; or Xaviars X20 on the Hudson, Yonkers.
Nothing says high roller like a helicopter tour over the skyscrapers of Manhattan. Wisk your partner away with Wings Air Helicopters, based at Westchester County Airport, and don’t forget the flowers. Pair something from The Flower Shop of Tryforos & Pernice in Bronxville or Fleurish in Greenwich with a hand-painted chocolate heart containing a custom message from Blue Tulip Chocolates in Rye.
Spice up your night with a blend of Caribbean and Southern comfort food at Alvin & Friends in New Rochelle. Its regular live music and lively crowd make for an exciting meal.
Defy gravity with Westchester Circus Arts in Ardsley or iFly Westchester Indoor Skydiving in Yonkers. But If death-defying heights get your heart pumping in the wrong direction, let a session of couple’s yoga at Yoga Haven in Scarsdale and Tuckahoe bring you down to earth.
For a surprising twist on the holiday flower classic, choose the Radiantly Red Tulips from Johnston’s Flowers in Dobbs Ferry. End the day with a triple threat bonbon at The Chocolate Box Café in Crestwood. The ganache is flavored with jalapeno, ancho and chipotle chili.
HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS
Or you could just stay home with some of the best takeout around:
June & Ho, Rye (juneandho.wordpress.com)
Ladle of Love, Bronxville and Mount Kisco (ladleoflove.com)
Mint Premium Foods, Tarrytown (mintpremiumfoods.biz)
Tarry Market, Port Chester (tarrymarket.com)
Aux Délices, Greenwich, Darien, Westport (auxdelicesfoods.com)
Dobbs & Bishop Fine Cheese, Bronxville (dobbsandbishop.myshopify.com)
Fairfield & Greenwich Cheese Co. (fairfieldcheese.com)
Bedford Cheese Shop (bedfordcheeseshop.com)
Kneaded Bread, Port Chester (kneadedbread.com)
sherry b desert studio, Chappaqua (sherryb.com)
La Tulipe Desserts, Mount Kisco (latulipedesserts.com)
Martine’s Fine Bake Shoppe, Crestwood (martinesfinebakeshoppe.com)
Lulu Cake Boutique, Scarsdale (everythinglulu.com)
We’ll leave the rest to you.