Feb. 13, 2013 at 2:06 PM ET
For adventurous couples, Valentine’s Day is not necessarily about chocolate, roses and long, fancy dinners. It’s an excuse to head out to hit the fresh powder, see a new part of the world or try your new Christmas swag at rock walls, surf spots or trails around the country. And with the long weekend tacked onto this year’s celebration, you've got another great excuse to go explore.
Don’t worry if you haven’t devised the perfect plan yet. It may be too late to book that surprise scuba vacation to Belize, but we have a few suggestions from around the country that will appeal to thrill-seeking couples.
Swim with whale sharks
You don’t have to fly to the Caribbean to swim with these gentle giants. At the Georgia Aquarium, you can scuba dive or snorkel with whale sharks in the Ocean Voyager exhibit. The experience runs $224.95 plus tax for non-museum members. Your swim will last 30 minutes and the price includes admission to the aquarium, your equipment, a t-shirt, a souvenir photo and more.
Celebrate with Steamboat Springs
The resort at Steamboat Springs, Colo., celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and you can be a part of the action. Hit the slopes on Valentine’s Day, but come back early to get in on the torch-lit snow parades and fireworks display. Go early (Feb. 6-10) to catch the 100th anniversary of the winter carnival—named one of the top 10 winter carnivals in the world by National Geographic. The celebration is the oldest, continuous event of its kind west of the Mississippi and includes ski jumping competitions, the Diamond Hitch Parade and the famous Night Extravaganza at Howelsen Hill.
Book a wildlife safari
Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris offers 4-8 hour winter photography tours of Grand Teton National Park and the National Elk Refuge. Expect to see animals including elk, moose, big horn sheep, coyote, wolves and foxes. With many species wintering in the area, the snowy season is one of the best times for wildlife viewing. Check out the Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris website for more information. Hotel pick-up, hot and cold drinks and souvenir safari mugs are included in the price of your trip.
Book a backcountry cabin
If you want a real getaway, strap on your cross-country skis and make the 11-mile trip to Flag Point Lookout in Oregon's Mount Hood National Forest. The 225-square-foot tower sits at 5,650 feet on its namesake butte and can sleep up to four people. At $50 per night, it's a steal, but make sure to bring all the food and water you'll need for your stay. Call the Forest Service to make a reservation.
Fly over California's wine country
Take to the skies on Valentine's Day with a hot air balloon ride over California's Napa Valley. Some companies, such as Balloons Above the Valley, will treat you to a champagne brunch after your flight. For an additional treat, combine the experience with a wine tasting tour and lunch. The all-inclusive, two-person package will run you $603.60.
Don’t let a time crunch keep you and your lover from remote powder. Great Canadian Heli-Skiing in Golden, British Columbia can set you up with a two-day package for less than $4,000. Enjoy pillows, glades and powder fields in the Purcell and Selkirk mountain ranges before heading back to a cozy lodge.
Explore an ice cave
While other couples sport stilettos and wing tips for a night out, your excursion will have you in helmets, boots and knee pads. At Lava Bed National Monument in Northern California, you can take a three-hour tour of the Crystal Ice Cave to see spectacular ice formations. This spelunking adventure will have you descending ladders, ascending sloped ice floors with a rope and crawling through tiny spaces. Although it's $10 to get into the national monument, the tour is free. Make sure to make a reservation. Space is very limited.
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