Madame MorbidPhoto courtesy of Madame Morbid’s

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, many of us are finalizing romantic dinner plans, placing our flower orders, and searching for cool yet unconventional ways to spend the day. Whether you are looking for an amorous spot to share the day, an undercover historical tour of love and heartbreak in New York, or an escape from the popular Valentine’s Day activities in New York, check out our list of alternative Valentine’s Day activities!

1. Attend a Mass Vow Renewal

On Valentine’s Day, Times Square will be hosting three surprise proposals, two weddings, and a mass vow renewal for couples around the world. Starting at 11 a.m., the proposals and marriages will occur throughout the day, concluding at 6 p.m. with a mass vow ceremony on Times Square’s iconic Red Steps. Run by the Times Square Alliance, the event is free for everyone and is open to anyone regardless of religion, gender, race, age, or background.

Last year, over 300 couples were registered for the mass vow renewal The mass vow renewal ceremony will be followed by a performance of Tony Award-winning Best Musical Dear Evan Hansen. The festivities begin at 6:00 PM on Friday, February 14th. You can register for the vow renewal ceremony here! 

2. Take Your Photo at Heart Squared

People posing in front of Heart Squared Valentines Day Heart in Times Square by MODU and Eric Forman Studio

All Valentine’s Day activities in Times Square this year will overlook this year’s winner of the 12th annual Times Square Valentine’s Heart Design Competition, “Heart Squared” at Father Duffy Square. Designed by MODU and Eric Forman’s Studio, the installation features 125 mirrors arranged in the shape of a heart. In order to see the full heart, however, stand on the subway grates to see a kaleidoscopic effect.

Rachely Rotem of MODU said at the press opening, “Manhattan’s verticality has shaped the image of the city. This project emphasizes the importance of the horizontal Manhattan- Chaotic, crowded and noisy, the public floor of the city is the part of New York that we have learned to cherish the most. Its greatest asset is the freedom to be ourselves amongst others who are different than us. We imagine Heart Squared as an amplifier of this togetherness.”

3. Submerge Yourself in Artechouse’s Latest Immersive Experience

Artechouse in Chelsea MarketPhoto courtesy Artechouse

ARTECHOUSE’s newest multi-sensory installation, Submerge has just opened and is an explosion of color and patterns, all inspired by Pantone’s Color of the Year – PANTONE 19-4052, Classic Blue. On February 13th and 15th, Untapped New York Insiders will get free access to several showings of Submerge this month just in time for Valentine’s Day. Sign up here!

The work is curated and produced by ARTECHOUSE’s creative team, led by art director Sandro Kereselidze, and is an extension of the experience the team developed together with Intus Interactive Design for Pantone’s Color of the Year 2020 reveal event in December 2019, which unveiled the Pantone Color of the Year 2020.

4. Learn about Jazz Age Architecture

Impress your Valentine with a look into the Upper East Side’s Jazz Age architecture on February 13th at 6:30 p.m hosted by FRIENDS of the Upper East Side. The lecture will be led by Architectural Historian, and author of The Guidebook to New York Art Deco, Anthony W. Robins at The Church of the Heavenly Rest. The Upper East Side retains many Art Deco buildings from the early 1900s like the Carlyle Hotel, Bloomingdale’s, and other townhouse and apartment buildings by architects Raymond Hood and Harry Allen Jacobs.

This event is free to the first 15 Untapped New York Insiders who sign up. Non-members can purchase full price ($25) tickets here or members can find the promo code to register if logged in here!

5. Madame Morbid’s Dark History & True-Crime Tours

Madame MorbidPhoto courtesy of Madame Morbid’s

Perhaps a tour of murder and mayhem across Brooklyn may be a good way to make moves on your boo. On Valentine’s Day, Madame Morbid’s, that gives tours of unmarked graves and murder sites throughout Brooklyn on a Victorian trolley, is offering tours at 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.

Dark chocolates and black roses will also be distributed on the tour. Sites on the tour include the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Prospect Park, and other sites in areas like Williamsburg and DUMBO. Tickets are available on their website for $49, and their discount code for Untapped New York readeres is “rideordie20” for 20% off tickets.

6. Name a Roach at the Bronx Zoo

Bronx Zoo Adopt a RoachPhoto by Julie Larsen Maher courtesy Bronx Zoo

The Bronx Zoo has recently brought back their annual “Name a Roach” program, which allows people to name one of the zoo’s thousands of Madagascar hissing cockroaches for $15. These cockroaches are among the largest species of cockroaches that grow up to 2 or 3 inches. Started in 2011, the Name a Roach program also features roach-scented candles for $30. According to the website, “You don’t always have the right words, but you can still give them goosebumps. Name a Roach for your Valentine, because roaches are forever.”

Also for those 21 and over, the zoo is offering an after-hours event called “Roach Romance” on Valentine’s Day starting at 6:00 p.m. where you can meet the animals up close and learn about laws of attraction in the wild. For those who are “looking for a unique way to spend Valentine’s day that sends shivers down your spine,” the Roach Romance is just for you (wine and chocolate also included).

7. Attend a Tour of Seneca Village

A tour group at the Seneca Village site in Central ParkPhoto courtesy Central Park Conservancy

In the lead up to Valentine’s Day, honor Black History Month with a tour of Seneca Village, a middle-class, mostly African American village in what is now Central Park from 81st to 89th Streets that prospered in the first half of the 1800s. Seneca Village, founded in around 1825, had about 250 residents, several churches, and a school. The village was one of the first African-American enclaves of the time and allowed African-American residents to escape from the racism that lingered after the 1827 abolition of slavery in New York. However, in 1853, the New York State Legislature enacted a law setting aside 775 acres of land for the creation of Central Park, and by 1857 all Seneca Village residents had to leave.

For Untapped New York Insiders only, there are still spots open on our February 16th tour that explores the history of the village and recent archaeological discoveries. Led by Central Park Conversancy’s Historian Marie Warsh, the tour will include remnants of historical features such as the Village’s churches, individual houses, and natural features.

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8. Go on Green-Wood Cemetery’s “Happily Never After” Tour

Canda Grave at Green-Wood CemeteryPhoto courtesy The Green-Wood Historic Fund

Forget the fancy dinner, Broadway show, and the expensive box of chocolates. Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn is offering a “Happily Never After” tour on Valentine’s Day from noon until 2:00 p.m. The tour covers the heartbreaks and complex relationships of many writers, artists, and historical figures. According to the event’s website, “you’ll learn about star-crossed Victorian lovers, Charlotte Canda and Charles Jarrett; Henry Ward Beecher’s scandalous affair with Elizabeth Tilton; the tragic death of Theodore Roosevelt’s wife on Valentine’s Day; and more.”

Green-Wood was founded in 1838 and is a Revolutionary War historic site where the Battle of Long Island was fought. While there, check out the graves of Leonard Bernstein, Boss Tweed, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Horace Greeley, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and many other influential and figures. Tickets are available on Green-Wood’s website for $25.

9. Explore the History of Dutch New Amsterdam

Dutch New Amsterdam Tour

Teach your Valentine a thing or two about New York’s history on The Remnants of Dutch New Amsterdam tour on Sunday, February 16th. Led by an expert guide from the Untapped New York team, the walking tour covers sites like the remains of Manhattan’s first city hall, the original Dutch fort, wind mill, and battery, Bowling Green, and more.

Trace the streets of Manhattan in 1667 with a map we’ll be providing, that shows where specific Dutch families lived, loved, worked, and raised their families.

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10. Anti-Valentine’s Day Party at Littlefield

anti-valentine's day party at The SkintPhoto by Tucker Mitchell, courtesy of The Skint

The Skint will host its fifth annual “It’s Friday, I’m (Not) In Love” Anti-Valentine’s Day Party” at Littlefield. Single, in a relationship, married, it’s complicated. Whatever your status, Valentine’s Day is for suckers. Avoid falling for the trappings of a manufactured holiday and head to Littlefield for Te Skint’s Fifth Annual “It’s Friday, I’m (Not) in Love” Anti-Valentine’s Day Party, which is being held on the 14th for the first time!

Dance to songs of heartbreak and liberation from the 80s to today spun by DJ Ceremony, strike a pose at our dark photo booth, and partake of themed-drink specials at the bar. Leave your pinks and reds at home: this party’s dress code is strictly black. All black. Only black.

11. Love in the Time of Revolution Tour at Fraunces Tavern

Learn about love in the time of revolution on a romance themed tour of the museum at Fraunces Tavern. On this special holiday tour visitors will discover 18th century courting and marriage customs and hear love stories of the Founding Fathers.

The tour will run from 2:00PM to 3:00pm on Valentine’s Day and is included with the price of museum admission (Untapped New York Insiders+ members get free admission to Fraunces Tavern!). No prior registration is required. Spaces will be filled on a first come, first served basis.

12. Filthy Gorgeous Burlesque Valentines Spectacular!

Filthy Gorgeous BurlesquePuss N Boots. Photo by David Zayas Jr.

Le Poisson Rouge, a music venue in Greenwich Village is hosting their Filthy Gorgeous Burlesque Valentines Spectacular! starting at 6:30 p.m. The show will be put on by Thirsty Girl Productions, created by producer Jen Gapay. The performance will feature many “burlesque beauties” like Calamity Chang, Tiger Bay, and others. Prior to the burlesque show, there will be live jazz music by musician Queen Esther.

Check out our full list of tours and Insider member experiences coming up this week!

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