Hearts, broken or whole preparing for V-Day: Cheap Valentine’s Day ideas for dates, couples

V-Day heartsBy: Zach Brendza | Features Editor

It’s back. Much to the excitement of some and dismay of others, it is Valentine’s Day. If you are deciding to get romantic with the “holiday,” read below for some inspiration for the day and even the weekend on the cheap. If not, read the column to the right about celebrating Valentine’s Day single or as part of a group.

Ice Skating
Schenley Park, 500 Panther Hollow Rd.

The hand holding. The slow songs. Couples skate. Anyone who thinks the ice skating isn’t romantic clearly hasn’t experienced their teenage years near an ice rink. On Friday, Schenley Park will host its annual “Valentines on Ice” event from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The event has two for one admission ($4 per couple), assorted chocolate to the first 300 couples, ballroom dance lessons and so much more. In addition to keepsake photos and mini-massages, one couple will win Penguins tickets when they travel to Columbus Friday, March 28 and includes an overnight stay with breakfast.

After: Schenley is close to Oakland. If you’re looking to eat afterwards, Mad Mex, Fuel and Fuddle, Joe Mama’s and other Oakland restaurants feature discounted late night menus. To keep things on the affordable side, wait until after your skate session to eat together.

Laser Tag
Laser Storm Pittsburgh, 7715 McKnight Rd.

This year, why not shoot your significant other with lasers this Valentine’s Day instead of cupid’s arrows? Yes, laser tag. You heard us right. Every Friday and Saturday night from 10 p.m. to midnight, Laser Storm features a “midnight madness” deal, where $15 will get you unlimited play in the arena. If your V-Day festivities run into Sunday, have no fear bargain shopper. It’s Ladies Night, where from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., your female valentine’s game is only $3. Because at the end of the day, what could be more romantic than saving that special someone from the laser fire of a group of high school punks?

After: While you might be a little sweaty after laser tag, you will probably be hungry Aladdin’s, the Mediterranean restaurant with locations in Squirrel Hill and Fox Chapel, has a McKnight Road location and is open until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Mexican restaurant El Campesino also has a location on McKnight Road and is reasonably priced.
The Zoo
Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
7340 Butler St.

It’s cold outside. But you know what’s open? The zoo. Maybe hard to believe for some, but the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium is open year round, with the exemption of holidays. Through March 31, they are open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day of the week and admission is $11. And did I mention parking is free? The only thing better than free chocolate is free parking in my book. If you can fit the zoo in around your Friday classes, it could be a wild Valentine’s Day indeed. If not, extend your V-Day plans to Saturday and Sunday and catch up with the koalas and such.

After: When the zoo closes or you get tired, stop in Lawrenceville to get some dinner on your way home. While things are more expensive there, Piccolo Forno and Fraktuary are both excellent choices for a Valentine’s Day or post day dinner.

Arsenal Lanes, 212 44th St.

Knock down the pins of your valentine’s heart. Good pun, right? Arsenal Lanes in Lawrenceville has deals every day. Why not strike the expensive nature of the “holiday” and save some money? For those underage, there is all you can bowl for $7 on Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. For those of age, there are all you can bowl specials Friday and Saturday nights for $9.95 that start at 9 p.m. Spending less than 10 bucks on a three hours of bowling sounds pretty sweet to me.

Before or After: Check out the listing under Zoo. Butler Street in Lawrenceville has endless options.

1197 W Carson St.

While this idea is not new (none of these really are), Valentine’s Day could be spent taking in the views of the grand old city. Heading over to Station Square and taking one of the majestic mountain movers, or inclines, up to Mt. Washington and look out on the overlooks. Round trip on the incline is $5. If you’re feeling even more frugal, you can drive up. But who would want to miss a romantic ride up an old incline car? I know I wouldn’t.

Before or After: If you are trying to eat on Mt. Washington, Packs and Dogs is a good cheap spot. For a little more money, Shiloh Grill would be a good choice. Back down on Station Square, there is Houlihan’s and other options for dining.

Byham Theater, 101 Sixth St.

Seeing a show or musical can often be expensive. Luckily, this weekend it doesn’t have to be. Shrek the Musical has three performances (7:30 p.m. Feb. 14 and 15, 2 p.m. Feb. 16) at the Byham Theater in the Cultural District and tickets can actually be purchased for a reasonable price. Tickets starts at $12.25 for gallery seats. Seeing an ogre-based, Broadway musical for around the cost of seeing a movie? Now, that’s a deal.

Before or After: Before or after the show, grab food from Nicky’s Thai Kitchen or somewhere in Market Square, like Noodles & Company or Diamond Market Grill. All are nice choices that are decent in price.