Love is in the air in Philadelphia this February and there are plenty of Valentine's-themed activities taking place all-month long. (Photo by B. Krist for GPTMC)
Valentine’s Day doesn’t just mean dinner, candy and flowers, it also means a number of cool, alternative date ideas at many of Philadelphia’s most popular museums and attractions. There are events for everyone, whether you’re looking to party like a bootlegger, learn about the romantic significance behind well-known pieces of art, or experience chocolate making firsthand, this list is for you.
The days leading up to Valentine’s Day, the day itself, and the days after are full of love-themed activities. So, grab your significant other, friends or family and visit one of the many Valentine’s Day events.
Check out our roundup of Valentine’s Day events in Philadelphia, below:
• Eastern State Penitentiary: Eastern State Penitentiary is presenting a special edition of their winter tours for Valentine’s Day. Head out for the Valentine’s Day love stories tour, running from February 14-17. Tour guides will bring guests around the prison and share the love stories that occurred behind prison doors; love letters and prison marriages will be explored to show that love really can exist anywhere. Bonus: Buy one ticket, get one free – purchase your ticket online in advance and get one free! You and your sweetheart can have full access to the tour for the price of one.
• National Constitution Center: The National Constitution Center presents Moonshine and Valentines, a bootleg-themed party centering around the museum’s hit exhibition, American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. Listen to live music of the Prohibition era by the Boilermaker Jazz Band and check out cabaret performances from the award-winning musical Chicago. Those who attend this celebration will get to enjoy bites, whiskey cocktails and beer provided by Yards Brewing Company. Guests will also get an exclusive after-hours look at the American Spirits exhibit. The event is February 14 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 for members and $35 for non-members.
• The Barnes Foundation: From 6:30-9 p.m. on Valentine’s Day, The Barnes Foundation is revealing the tales of love and passion behind the art that makes up the Barnes Collection. The stories will be accompanied by live classical music. In addition to this, the night will topped off with a complimentary champagne toast. Tickets are $20 for members and $25 for non-members. Advanced reservations are required.
• Philadelphia Museum of Art: The Philadelphia Museum of Art has a slew of events celebrating the day of love. Starting at noon, check out a special collection tour, Cupid Strikes: Love and Marriage in the Art of the Renaissance, showcasing romantic-themed pieces of art in the museum’s collection. The following evening, Friday, February 15, the museum is putting on a special DJ performance as part of their Art After 5 event: Valentine’s Day — The Day After brings DJ Cosmo Baker to the museum from 5-8:45 p.m. for an evening of varied musical entertainment.
• African American Museum in Philadelphia: Celebrate Valentine’s Day a little early at the African American Museum in Philadelphia. On Thursday, February 7, the museum will present Reel Black Love, a film that discusses African American love on the silver screen. More than 70 actors, directors and producers weigh in. The film focuses on portrayals of African Americans in movies and how the images have affected African American culture. Tickets are $8 for non-members and $5 for members, students and seniors.
• Blue Cross RiverRink: Bring your sweetheart to Blue Cross RiverRink’s Sweetheart Skate on February 14. From 6-8 p.m. and 8:30-10:30 p.m., skate circles around the RiverRink while a DJ spins classic love songs. Complimentary flowers and a Valentine’s Day photo will be provided for each couple. Tickets are $20 each, advance tickets are suggested.
More picks below.
• The Franklin Institute: From 6-9 p.m. stargaze with your sweetie at The Franklin Institute’s Night Skies in the Observatory event. The night is led by Chief Astronomer, Derrick Pitts. He’ll have you gazing at more than just stars, guests will get a look at planets, nebulae, and if the sky is clear, a galaxy. Tickets are $5 for nonmembers, and free for members. Also be sure to check out the Franklin Institute’s famous giant heart on the love-filled day.
• Philadelphia Zoo: On February 9 and 10, the Philadelphia Zoo is putting on Wild at Heart, a family-friendly Valentine’s Day celebration. The events run all day long on both days; from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Families can take part in a self-guided love tour that explores the world of couples at the zoo, make their best orangutan noise in the kiss squeak contest and watch animals chow down on special treats from their trainers. On Saturday, February 9, check out the cake decorating contest from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Rare Animal Conservation Center. Local bakeries will compete to create the best Valentine’s Day cake.
• Historic Philadelphia Center: From Valentine’s Day to February 18, the Historic Philadelphia Center is hosting a Hearts and History Weekend. From noon-3 p.m., guests will have the chance to listen to a storyteller, participate in arts and crafts and receive a discount on tickets to Liberty 360, a 3D, 360-degree show of the most powerful symbols that make up America.
• Mural Arts Program: Nothing saves love quite like 50 giant rooftop murals. Mural Arts’ Love Letter Tour brings guests around the city on Market Frankford line’s elevated El train. The tours are offered every Saturday from 10-11:30 a.m. and Sunday from 1-2:30 p.m. The tour explores the romantic murals around the city. Guests will get to check out a love letter turned into a mural and murals that represent sentiments from people to their town. The train leaves from Mural Arts at the Gallery and drops off there as well. Tickets are $20 per person and are available online.
• Philadelphia Magic Gardens: South Street’s magic gardens are presenting lovers with the Love Is In The Air event on February 14 at 6 p.m. For $12 per person, sip on wine and get a private candlelit tour of the gardens with a focus on the romantic aspects of the establishment. Guests also get to hear the love story of creator Isaiah Zagar and his wife and how their love has influenced his artwork. Reservations are required.
• Betsy Ross House: Everyone loves chocolate, and this is even more true on Valentine’s Day when chocolate hearts and assorted chocolate boxes are plentiful. From 11 a.m.-4 p.m. on February 9 and 10, the Betsy Ross House is hosting chocolate-making demonstrations. Learn the secrets of making the tasty treat and even get to taste the finished product, yum.
• The Clay Studio: On Saturday, February 16 from 7-9 p.m. and Sunday, February 17 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., The Clay Studio is hosting a Valentine’s Day date night in honor of all the couples out there. Instructors will teach couples how to make their own clay masterpiece. Guests can enjoy champagne, wine, chocolate and other small bites during the event. During the Sunday brunch date night event, mimosas will be offered instead of wine. Tickets are $62.50 for members and $67.50 for nonmembers.
• Reading Terminal Market: Take a stroll through the expansive Reading Terminal Market to ensure Valentine’s spirits on high. Enjoy Philly’s favorite delicacies, gourmet eats — or a little of both. Be sure to show Reading Terminal some love during your visit and use the hashtag #LoveRTM on Twitter and Instagram. Also, check out the Valentine to the Market party on Saturday, February 23. Guests will enjoy dancing, delicious food, an open bar and more. Tickets are available here.