By Jacqueline Runice

Since Valentine’s Day falls in the middle of the week, you have wiggle room to celebrate during the weekend before or after and may be able to dodge upcharges at restaurants. But, for something completely different, show your beloved a little ingenuity and s/he will be dazzled by your forethought and creativity.

Ambassador Chicago
1301 N. State Parkway
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 787-3700
www.ambassadorchicago.com

Built in 1926, Ambassador Chicago was the place for American celebs (Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor to name a few) to party and hunker down. Easily Chicago’s original boutique hotel, the Gold Coast property makes a grand choice for a Val Day staycation. The Valentine’s Day package at Ambassador Chicago includes a bottle of wine and a box of chocolate in-room, a surprise-turn down amenity and dinner for two at Booth One. Imagine ordering crispy duck, Dover sole or black truffle scrambled eggs with butter poached crab and your partner may be amenable to anything! Explore the lobby and stop in The Library to relax in front of a cozy fireplace. There’s easy access Michigan Avenue; 24-hour fitness center; two restaurants including Booth One serving modern American cuisine complemented by champagne and classic cocktails; in-room dining; and other luxury comforts.

Cider Summit
Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier
840 E. Grand Ave.
Chicago, IL 60611
www.cidersummitnw.com

It might be fun to stand side by side (instead of googily gazing across the table) discovering new adult bevvies at Cider Summit CHI. Choose to sample among 200 ciders, meads and cider cocktails emanating from 13 states and seven countries. Chat with cidermakers and vote for the champion of this year’s Oaked Cider Challenge. GeneralAdmission tickets are $35 per session (11 a.m. to 3 p.m. or 4 to 8 p.m.) and include a souvenir tasting glass, 15 tasting tickets and a $1 donation to Heartland Alliance. VIP tickets are ten bucks more and get you express entry and18 tasting tickets.

Chicago French Market
131 N. Clinton
Chicago, IL 60661
(312) 575-0306
www.frenchmarketchicago.com

S/he will consider you a scathingly brilliant partner as you stroll the Chicago French Market unveiling romantic surprise after surprise. Pastoral Artisan Cheese, Bread & Wine will have budget friendly and tasty coeur a la creme – fresh chevre molded into hearts in a variety of flavors. Roses? Yawn. Astonish with a Cymbidium orchid at Les Fleurs . The alluring orchids from Holland come in white, pink or green and each sturdy stem holds 8 to 11 big blooms that last one month (and cost half the price of roses). Nibble Duck a l’Orange gnocchi at at The French Lunchbox – French cuisine that won’t break the bank that you can eat there or take home. Stud Muffins feature an irresistible combination of Vanille Patisserie’s favorite cakes (like rich red velvet, chocolate and light and fluffy white buttermilk) and each muffin is topped with one of their signature French macarons. Sip wine while listening to live music and you’re all set.

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I|O Godfrey
127 W. Huron St.
Chicago, IL 60654
(312) 374-1830
www.iogodfrey.com

Chicago boasts a plethora of hotel rooftop venues that shutter with the snow but the space at The Godfrey is year-round and beckons this Valentine’s Day. There’s a Winter Wonderland at the indoor/outdoor space with heated, transparent igloos that offer cinematic intimate moments under the stars but out of the cold. Roast s’mores over the fire pits, share a hot cocktail made for two and dine upon upscale supper club fare in an unusual setting.

Windy City Playhouse
3014 W. Irving Park Road
Chicago, IL 60618
(773) 891-8985
www.windycityplayhouse.com

How about an immersive theater production riddled with untold passion and intrigue?  “Southern Gothic,” premieres Feb. 7, 2018 with an intimate audience of 25 patrons per performance. You’re invited to step into 1960’s Georgia, and walk among various spaces of the set, eavesdropping on the clandestine conversations taking place in each room. Take part in a theater experience unlike any other by being a fly on the wall  during the “Mad Men” meets “Desperate Housewives” voyeuristic night of secrets unfolding. Limited tickets are available on Valentine’s Day, Wednesday, Feb. 14, but tickets are readily available for the weekend of Feb. 9-11 and 16-18.

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