Love is in the air in New York City as Valentine’s Day approaches. This weekend, there are tons of exciting events to celebrate with the ones you love. Here, we bring you 10 alternative and unique ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day in NYC. From making Valentines like a 19th-century sailor to visiting the most romantic landmarks in the city, choose which adventure you love best!
1. Name a Roach
Roses are red and violets are blue, how would feel about a roach named after you? This year the Bronx Zoo has brought back its unique dedication service of Name a Roach. “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,” their website advertises. Now, whether you want to do this for someone you love, or an ex, is up to you.
The program allows you to name one of the zoo’s thousands of Madagascar hissing cockroaches for $15. The recipient will receive a digital certificate, or you can purchase a bundle that includes a roach tumbler, a tote bag, and even a virtual meet and greet with a real-life roach. Also for those 21 and over, the zoo is hosting an after-hours event called “Roach Romance” on Saturday, February 11th at 6:00 p.m. where you can meet the animals up close and taste sustainably grown chocolates paired with wine.
2. Explore the Secrets of Grand Central Terminal
Before heading off to your Valentine’s Day dinner, go on an afternoon adventure through one of New York City’s most romantic landmarks. On Untapped New York’s Secrets of Grand Central Terminal walking tour, led by an expert and licensed New York City tour guide, you and your loved one will uncover hidden gems of the historic terminal that those who pass through every day might not even know.
Tour the Secrets of Grand Central
A few of the surprising features you’ll discover include the private tennis courts on the third floor, the glass walkways accessible only to employees, the secret staircase hidden in plain sight, and a major design flaw in the main concourse! You’ll also discover a secret acoustic quirk that lets you send private whispers of love to your Valentine across the room. There are still a few tickets left for Tuesday, February 14th at 2pm or 10am. Tours are offered daily.
3. Make Maritime-Themed Valentines
This weekend at the South Street Seaport, you can make your Valentine a truly one-of-a-kind gift with handicraft techniques from the 19th century. All weekend long you can learn about Sailors’ Valentines – tokens of love and friendship – and craft your very own. Sailors’ Valentines were historically small wooden boxes given by seafarers to their wives, sweethearts, daughters, and loved ones when they returned from a long voyage. Inside there were sentimental messages surrounded with intricate mosaics of shells and found objects arranged in patterns made of hearts, anchors, and flowers.
At the Seaport this weekend, you can use beads, buttons, and shells, to craft your very own Sailor’s Valentine. All ages are welcome to this free event inside the South Street Seaport Museum’s introductory galleries. You are encouraged to register here. Don’t have time to craft? Pick up a special edition Valentine’s Day card from Bowne & Co. at 211 Water Street where their products are made using 19th-century letterpress printers.
4. Enter a Valentine’s Day Contest for a Free Hotel Stay
Try your luck at winning a free stay at New York City’s historic Martinique New York on Broadway, Curio Collection by Hilton. The winner will receive a free one-night stay with a welcome champagne and brunch at the hotel’s newest restaurant, Early Edition.
Enter by filling out the entry form here. The contest ends on February 15th! You can also join Untapped New York Insiders for an exclusive free tour of the hotel where we’ll go inside the historic archives to see items specially curated for the Valentine’s holiday.
5. Celebrate Lunar New Year
Lunar New Year, which happened on January 22nd, will be celebrated this Sunday, February 12th with the 25th annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade. The parade starts at 1pm and will follow a “U” shaped route that starts at Mott and Canal then travels to Chatham Square and runs along East Broadway towards the Manhattan Bridge.
The route turns north at Eldridge and Forsyth Streets, ending on Grand Street next to Sara D. Roosevelt Park. The parade will welcome in the Year of the Rabbit, an animal that symbolizes patience and luck in Chinese Astrology.
6. Go on a Valentine’s Day Adventure Underground
Take your Valentine on an unusual adventure into the subterranean world of New York City’s subway system on Untapped New York’s Underground Subway Tour. Over the course of this guided walking tour, you’ll explore works of art, travel through abandoned stations, and gain a whole new perspective on the subway.
Underground NYC Subway Tour
Using the subway as your own personal time machine, you’ll travel back to the very first day the subway opened in 1904 and learn all about the “crown jewel” that was the now decommissioned City Hall Station. You’ll ride through over 100 years of subway evolution all the way up to the present and beyond. A few tickets are still available for our 10am tour on Valentine’s Day. Tours are offered every day except for Saturdays.
7. Buy Your Sweetie Some Sweets at the New Economy Candy Shop
Economy Candy is New York City’s oldest candy store, but they just opened a brand new shop inside Chelsea Market. The new store is jam-packed with vintage and contemporary favorites, from chocolate Rolos to giant Whirly Pops.
To celebrate opening week, there are a variety of events. Discounts and free treats can be won through a scratch-off game available to all customers who stop by the new location from Feb 7th to 14th to get a free scratch card. On Valentines Day, Tony’s Chocolonely will be handing out free (full-sized!) chocolate bars and themed sweets to the first 200 guests. You can also enter Economy Candy’s Instagram giveaway for a chance to win a bag full of sweet swag.
8. See Where Your Favorite Films Were Shot in a Brooklyn Film History Webinar
Do you like to cuddle up with your Valentine to watch movies? Find out where some of your favorite New York City based films were shot in a virtual talk with Filmed in Brooklyn author Margo Donohue on Valentine’s Day. You’ll get great inspiration for your Valentine’s Day movie night!
From silent-era films of the 1920s to the latest superhero blockbusters, Donohue will trace the history of the film industry in Brooklyn, along the way, revealing where some of the most iconic scenes on film have been shot. You’ll travel to Coney Island, Midwood, the Brooklyn Bridge, and other sites and see locations from movies like Saturday Night Fever, Goodfellas, the Warriors, and more. This event is free for Untapped New York Insiders. Not a member yet? Become a member today!
9. Party at Cocktails & Culture at MCNY
Celebrate Valentine’s Day on Friday night at the Museum of the City of New York’s monthly Cocktail and Culture party. The event is free with museum admission. The soundtrack of the evening will be DJ LiKWUiD’s signature “traphrobeats” which blend house music, hip hop, and afro beats. Trumpeter Nash Guillermo will play live!
After you’re done exploring the museum’s galleries, you can decorate a sweet treat at the pop-up bakery, Avrilililly’s Creamery, and make a souvenir to take home in an interactive photo booth. Other snacks will be provided by UGC eats, plus Love Potion cocktails, mocktails, and other libations from the MCNY Bar. Register to attend by purchasing a ticket to the museum here.
10. Stroll Along the Mansions of Fifth Avenue
Take a romantic stroll along Fifth Avenue as you reminisce on a bygone era on Untapped New York’s Gilded Age Mansions of Fifth Avenue walking tour! On this tour you’ll see the footprint of the largest single residence ever built in Manhattan, hear outrageous stories of Gilded Age wealth, architecture, and art, and uncover one of the last single-residence mansions on Fifth Avenue. You’ll uncover secrets of some of New York City’s famous landmarks such as the Frick Collection and visit a charming bookshop tucked into a Fifth Avenue mansion. A few tickets are still available for the tour on Saturday, February 11th at 2pm!
Mansions of Fifth Avenue Tour
Next, check out 11 Public Art Installations to Discover in February and A Valentine’s Rose Bush in Times Square