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9 creative Valentine’s Day date ideas in Alabama

woman with denim shirt and man with t-shirt drinking red wine during sunset. Photo by NDStock/stock.adobe.com

Whoever came up with the slogan “Virginia is for Lovers” probably hasn’t visited the Yellowhammer State. From epic escapes to grand gestures, cozy strolls to indulgent delights—romance abounds here. These 9 Valentine’s Day date ideas in Alabama offer some of the sweetest spots to take your sweetie. And many make great Pal-entine’s Day plans, too. 

1. Let your love soar

Hot Air Balloons

Photo by Terry McCombs

Sweep someone special off their feet and straight into the sky for a once-in-a-lifetime flight. Southern Balloon Journeys floats groups of up to 3 high over the Birmingham area’s homes and farmlands in a rainbow-colored hot air balloon. Snuggle up in the cozy basket during an hour-long flight piloted by 12-year veteran William Davis. The best part? Watching dawn break over the landscape below. “We like to be up and flying right at sunrise,” Davis says. Heights range from treetop to 2,000 feet high, depending on wind conditions. Plan 3–4 hours total for the excursion.

2. Hear music that plucks the heartstrings

Alabama Symphony Orchestra

Photo by Jeffrey Williams

Stir those heartstrings with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. The state’s only professional orchestra heralds its 100th season this year and celebrates Valentine’s Day with a new take on beloved piece that happened to set the stage for classical music’s baroque era. Appropriate, no?

Vivaldi’s magical “Four Seasons” gets a new twist under composer Max Richter’s lens on February 18–19. The performance marks one of the first concerts back since the onset of the pandemic, and guests should check the website for current safety precautions. “We’re really excited to have people back in the hall getting goose bumps and all those lovely things that come with live music,” says spokesperson Cassandra Flores-Everett.

3. Say it with flowers

WinterGarden Taiwan Cherry trees

Taiwan Cherry trees bloom along with camellias at Mobile Botanical Gardens' K. Sawada WinterGarden. | Photo by Robin Krchak

Tiptoeing through the tulips may still be a few weeks away, but February is prime time to catch camellias in full splendor. The K. Sawada WinterGarden inside Mobile Botanical Gardens offers nearly 5 acres of strollable paths lined with hundreds of camellia shrubs encompassing more than 700 cultivars and species of Alabama’s signature bloom. Winter-loving magnolias, Taiwan cherries, and Japanese magnolias fill out the romantic landscape; the remainder of the 100-acre botanical gardens provides more woodland trails to wander.

Read more: 3 romantic Alabama gardens to visit with your sweetie.

4. Say ‘ah’ to the spa

Spa at Grand National

Auburn Marriott Opelika Grand National Golf Resort and Spa. | Photo by Art Meripol.

Put yourselves in good hands at Opelika’s Spa at Grand National. Enjoy the gendered whirlpools, infrared saunas, and quiet rooms—along with a complimentary mimosa—before a relaxing couples’ massage. Opt for the standard Swedish massage and hot-stone sampler, or tailor your treatments with add-ons like CBD-infused massage oil. Other seasonal offerings at the 20,000-square-foot facility have included chocolate body masks and sweet cream scrubs.

5. Toast to sweet pairings

Ozan Winery

Photo by Lordn/stock.adobe.com

Toast your relationship at the picturesque Ozan Winery and Vineyard. Perch on the Tuscan-style terrace while you sip whites, reds, and fruit wines. Or climb aboard a historic train car at the depot in downtown Calera and ride the rails to the winery for the wine-and-sweets pairing during Ozan’s special Valentine’s event. (If you miss out on those much-coveted tickets, don’t worry. The Heart of Dixie train typically begins more regular service in March.)

6. Paint the town red

106 Jefferson Huntsville

Photo courtesy 106 Jefferson

Choose your own big-city adventure at the brand-new 106 Jefferson in Huntsville. The city’s first boutique hotel boasts impeccably styled mid-century interiors, a rooftop bar, and luxe touches such as 400 thread­–count sheets and cozy down duvets on a historic site.

Nestled in the heart of downtown, the Hilton Curio Collection property is steps from Big Spring International Park and the hottest new restaurants and boutiques in Huntsville’s bustling city center. Look for special packages that offer breakfast for 2, bike rentals, and turndown service.

Read more: Take a caffeinated tour on the Huntsville’s Craft Coffee Trail.

7. Get down on the farm

The Inn at Pursell Farms

The Inn at Pursell Farms | Photo by Michael Clemmer

Escape to the country at Pursell Farms, a posh 3,200-acre family farm resort in the lush foothills outside Sylacauga. Spend a weekend golfing, shooting skeet, fly fishing, and off-roading. Those with more leisurely pursuits in mind can opt for a spa day, a round of boccie, or e-bike rentals. Rooms in the new Inn feature luxurious soaking tubs and stunning bucolic views. Don’t miss the Sunset at the Secret Place add-on, which shuttles couples to the best spot on the property to watch dusk descend and enjoy wine and snacks. 

8. Get hitched in the hills

A summer wedding at the Mentone Wedding Chapel

A summer wedding at the Mentone Wedding Chapel. | Photo by JinnyKPhoto

Those looking for an even grander gesture can visit the charmingly rustic Mentone Wedding Chapel, tucked away in the Appalachian foothills. The replica of early mountain churches features beautiful stained glass and a peaceful, wooded setting about 5 miles from free-spirited Mentone’s quaint town center. Not ready for that plunge? Take a hike and a flask of hot cocoa to the viewpoint overlooking gorgeous DeSoto Falls nearby.

Read more: 3 epic waterfalls in Alabama worth a road trip.

9. Renew your love

Gulf Shores Vow Renewal 2019

Gulf Shores Vow Renewal 2019. | Photo courtesy LuLu's

Head south to renew vows at a festive group ceremony hosted by LuLu’s in Gulf Shores. This Lucy Buffett–backed party spot invites up to 300 couples to enjoy a champagne toast, wedding cake, bridal flowers, and a customized commemorative renewal certificate. Win prizes for being married the longest, the shortest, or for the wildest outfit. With Mardi Gras just around the corner, Gulf Shores is sure to be lively at this time of year. And who doesn’t love a long, romantic walk on the beach? Register online to attend.

If there’s one thing that travel writer and guide author Jessica Fender knows, it’s what she wants for Valentine’s Day. Someone please send this list to her boyfriend. 

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AAA Travel Alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.

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