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Valentine's Day Beyond Roses: Try Experience Gift Ideas

Published
By Cat Perry, dealnews writer

Roses? Nah. Sappy cards that sound like they were written by Casanova car salesmen? No way. Though Valentine's Day is usually wrought with red and pink forget-me-nots and traditional gifts such as chocolates, this is your year to do something different.

With the growing popularity of activity-based coupon promotions, made popular in major cities by Groupon, Living Social and their like, people are getting more creative with how they spend their time. So why not upgrade those cupid gift ideas, too? There are plenty of pricing options to get you started, from $22 to $2,995.

National Lists

If you're stuck for ideas from the get-go, there are a couple of websites that can help get you started:

  • On XperienceDays.com, you can search for gifts by state, metro area or price, and these gifts are delivered in an attractive gift box, with your personalized message.
  • Cloud9Living.com also has options such as buy now/book later, free exchanges and refunds, and general gift certificates as well.
  • Two more sites with deals worth gifting: Excitations.com and GreatAmericanDays.com

Common activities across cities include affordable sunset cruises or schooner sailing, walking tours, cooking classes, hot air balloon rides, helicopter rides, dance classes, kayaking and rafting tours, jewelry and crafting workshops, and a throttling array of NASCAR and motorbike riding deals. And these bucket-list fulfillers aren't just for your loved ones living in major metropolitan areas. There are options available nationwide — and we've hand-picked from the thousands available just in time for Valentine's Day:

Midwest

Chicago Rodeo Trip


Chicago — Take your sweetheart on an Architectural Kayak Tour of Chicago’s historic buildings ($125, for two); or let your loved one go wild with a Rodeo Experience ($60), and he or she can spend an entire day kicking up dust as a rodeo cowboy, receiving lessons from professional riders. Or take a Chicago Schooner Sailing Tour for two ($110).

Utah — Go Soldier Hollow Horseback Riding ($95 per person) near Salt Lake City for a 2-hour meander, where the two of you can take in the scenery while summiting the Crow's Nest, an original hunting camp of the Ute Indian Tribe.

Michigan — Perfect for winter snow days, the 3-Hour Tour Snowshoeing Along Lake Huron, Upper Peninsula, for only $110 (for two). Or if your honey is a speed demon, let him or her Get Behind the Wheel of a 600HP Stockcar ($385), for 6 heart-pounding laps at up to 150 mph. (Includes an hour of intensive safety training.) Makes a great weekend trip for those in southern Michigan or northern Ohio.

IowaCheese and Wine Tasting in Des Moines for two for only $60

MinnesotaSt. Croix River Casino Brunch Cruise to Treasure Island Casino, for $96 (for two). You will enjoy a freshly-prepared breakfast buffet onboard the vessel and will be able to take in a full day on the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers, interspersed with four exciting hours of gaming time.

Northeast

Scenic Connecticut Train Ride

Philly Ghost Tour
Rhode Island Heli and Winery Tour
Connecticut — Take your loved one on a Scenic Train Ride through the Connecticut River Valley for only $140 (for two), which includes a four-course meal served in a classic 1920s Pullman car.

New York — For high-fliers in the Northeast, there are endless options to choose from. In New York City, gift an entire day of Solo Hang Gliding for $200. Your loved one will report to the ground school for safety lessons, pre-flight training, practice take-offs and landings — for an unforgettable adrenaline fix. Or go on a New York Craft Beer Tasting Sail ($200, for two) onboard a 158 foot Topsail Schooner.

Pennsylvania — For the mystery marauders, give the gift of a Philadelphia Ghost Tour for two ($60) and get spooked by the mysterious tales of the Old City that will make your hair stand on end. Or take your honey on a 2-hr Picnic and Wine Tasting for two in the Philadelphia area at an award-winning regional winery.

Rhode Island — Forty minutes outside of Providence, you'll find an incredible deal for a Helicopter Ride and Wine Tour for two, for only $132, where the two of you will hop onboard a Robinson R44 helicopter, gazing down at the Aquidneck Island, home to several storied mansions, and you'll land near Newport Vineyards for a relaxing tasting.

South








Alabama — For the adrenaline junkies, NASCAR reigns supreme in this region. Burn rubber in a NASCAR Stockcar Ride-along ($115) in Birmingham, Alabama, and set off at a blazing 165 miles per hour, three times around the track. For nothing but NASCAR deals, check out all of XperienceDays.com's gifts from Orlando to Fort Worth to Richmond: For example, the Thompson Int'l Speedway, in Connecticut, offers solo rides, and for $219 you can take 10 Laps on a NASCAR Shortrack in a 500-plus hp racecar.

Florida — Head to Tampa for a mesmerizing Alligator Paddle Tour for two, for $95. Or let others do the dirty work, at a Tampa Murder Mystery Dinner ($145 for two).

Georgia — In Georgia or near Charleston, South Carolina, for the weekend? Take a Trolley Tour in Savannah, Georgia, for two, for only $50, as your eyes feast on the picturesque historic town.

Or the both of you can enjoy a Sunset Biplane Ride across the city of Atlanta ($252 for two) in an open air, vintage plane.

Louisiana — Give those who love big air a liberating Discovery Flight Lesson in New Orleans ($285).

North Carolina — If a light afternoon is more your loved one's style, why not take up Horseback Riding, for $55 per person, near Charlotte. Or take Mom and her friends for a Famous Gardens Private Tour for four, for $135, in the Charlotte area as well.

South Carolina — For more laid-back fun, try the Full Day SC Adventure ($210) for two, as you take in everything Charleston has to offer — open-air markets, the historic Old City, Lowcountry basket weaving and more.

Tenneesee — Pack your bags, y'all, we're going on an adventure! Fly 1,000 feet above the beauties in this Helicopter Tour of the Smoky Mountains for two, launching from Knoxville, Tennessee ($66). Or while Rafting on the Ocoee River ($104 for two), you'll ride the Class III and IV rapids near Chattanooga.

Washington, D.C./Virginia — Rounding out these Southern selections, you can take a Photo Safari in Washington, D.C., for two ($168). And for only $50 for two people, the Sunset Sail on the Elizabeth River from Norfolk, Va., will take your breath away. This is one of the cheapest sailing-deals-for-two that we found.

Southwest



Arizona — Give the gift of mind-body connection: Try Five Hip-hop Dance Lessonsfor $48 (total) in Tucson. Each class is 1¼ hours. Or set the mood in this Antelope Canyon Boat Tour for two, $80, and gaze upon Lake Powell’s famous canyon and the Glen Canyon Dam. Feel like splurging? Then take your babe on the Grand Canyon Aerial Tour. For 3 magical hours you two will soar above sweeping landscapes, taking in panorama views that will bring you closer to nature...and together.

Colorado — In Denver raise a glass with your sweetie at this 3-Hour Denver Wine Tasting Class for two, $130.

Nevada — Want an unusual option in Las Vegas? Take a Private Gondola Appetizer Cruise for two on Lake Las Vegas for $205. Or let Lake Tahoe take your breath away on a 2-Hour Helicopter Tour for two ($140).

New Mexico — Let the good times roll for two hours of fun with Upper San Juan River Rafting at Pagosa Springs for two — only $66 in Albuquerque.

Texas — Give the gift of flight, with Discovery Flight Lessons Over San Marcos for $100, near both Austin and San Antonio.

West




California — If you'd both rather be out on the waves than land-bound, try Schooner Sailing in San Francisco for two ($60). If you're SoCal pals, go explore the neighborhoods of Los Angeles in an Urban Adventure Hunt for two, $75. Take a Valentine's Sunset Cruise for two ($105), or send them on a 3½ hour adventure to Explore the San Andreas Fault at Sunset ($129) in this eco-tour.

For the novice gym-goers, give the gift of Mission Possible: 5 Exercise and Nutrition Workshops ($115), while they take in some of the most scenic locations in beautiful Santa Monica. It’s her time to meet new people with similar goals and get her body moving with resistance workouts, hikes, stretching and more.

This monstrous deal for your man in San Jose includes 3-day Hiking of Yosemite’s Ten Lakes, a wonderland of forests, granite, wildflowers, wildlife and more for only $315.

Oregon — And who doesn't like a little chocolate? A Chocolate Workshop in Portland, Oregon, $40 — learn the chemistry of chocolate and how to melt, curl and even shave chocolate as you create mouse, truffles and fondue.

Washington — Or plan a getaway for the Seattle Locks Sightseeing Tour ($90) for two, and for 2½ hours, you and your loved one get to see the Locks, Lake Union, Lake Washington and more by boat. All for the price of a nice dinner date in the city.

So what are you waiting for? This year, show your love with a creative experiential gift they won't forget.


Cat Perry is a freelance copy editor, writer and adventure seeker based in Brooklyn. When not busy working, she is busy hunting for new adventures to try out, both around the world and around the corner.

Photo Credit: Gian Cayetano via Flickr

Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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