We’ve picked the top spots that are guaranteed to make your Valentine's Day special. From dinner to drinks to an activity afterward—we’ve got you covered!
On a BudgetActivity: Enjoy a romantic sunset stroll at Historic Latta Planation in Huntersville, a circa-1800 cotton plantation and living history farm. The plantation offers a beautiful setting and is located within the 1,351-acre Latta Plantation Nature Center and Preserve, known for its diverse abundance of wildlife and vegetation. For Valentine’s, Historic Latta Planation is offering its annual sweetheart tour Feb. 9 and 10. During the tour you’ll learn about 19th century Valentine and courting customs and see the 1800 Latta home. And with tickets just $7 for adults, it’s the perfect way to enjoy the spirit of the holiday without breaking the bank. www.lattaplantation.orgDinner: Don’t sacrifice charm and ambiance just because you’re on a budget. Treat your significant other to a memorable dining experience at Meatballs on Main in Cornelius. Specializing in comfort food, this restaurant features a delectable menu with most entrees under $10. Try the bruschetta appetizer to get things started, and for the main course options include the Hog Wild Meatballs, with ground pork, cherry peppers and fresh herb served with spicy meat sauce over hand-cut fries. Another popular choice is Here’s The Beef, made of fresh ground beef, braised short ribs, ricotta cheese and fresh herbs with mushroom gravy over white beans. wwwmeatballsonmain.comDrinks: Belly up to the bar at the Galway Hooker, which is known for its laid-back and inviting atmosphere, great beer selection and daily drink specials, such as half-priced bottles of wine on Monday. And this truly is an Irish pub, as it was originally built in Ireland and the owners dismantled it and moved it piece-by-piece to its Cornelius location. There’s live music on the weekends, and every Tuesday the Lake Norman Comedy Zone, located upstairs, hosts comedy shows. www.galwayhookerpub.com
Big SpendersActivity: Start the evening off right with a decadent massage at Ahlara International in Mooresville, a premier spa and boutique that offers a range of packages, including the spa’s signature Chi Massage, which features long gliding strokes and gentle pressure to relax and soothe the body and mind. For a more romantic experience, there’s the Yin-Yang, a sensual, synchronized massage that takes place in the intimate couple’s room. Another decadent option is Mani Stone Massage, which uses a combination of traditional Swedish massage and heated lava stones to soothe muscles and joints. www.ahlarainternational.com Dinner: You don’t have to travel to the coast for a fancy dinner cruise. At Queen’s Landing in Mooresville, you and your darling can enjoy a romantic evening of fine dining while aboard the majestic Lady of the Lake yacht. These three-hour cruises are offered seven days a week at two different times. Reservations are required. On board, while enjoying the scenic shoreline, you have your choice of a 16-ounce prime rib with aus jus, pork loin, salmon filet or vegetarian lasagna. The surf and turf menu offers an 8-ounce filet and 6-ounce lobster tail for a slight upcharge. All entrees come with a number of side dishes, drinks and dessert. A full-service cash bar is on deck. www.queenslanding.comDrinks: Once you return to shore, it’s just a short drive to North Harbor Club in Davidson for some after-dinner drinks. This restaurant boasts an upscale yet friendly atmosphere, with a spacious lakefront patio and a full lineup of martinis and specialty drinks. We especially recommend the delectable Nutty Angel, which comes with Absolut vodka, Frangelico, Baileys and Godiva. Their Swanson Napa Valley Pinot Grigio 2009 is another great choice. www.northharborclub.com
Adventurous CouplesDinner: Enjoy dinner with a view at The Prickly Pear, which recently opened a new lakefront location in Mooresville. The restaurant, which offers live music on Thursday and Saturday nights, features an extensive menu of Mexican dishes, including calamari al chipotle dulce as an appetizer. For the main course, try Filete de Hierro, which is a pecan-crusted flatiron steak with a black bean coulis and chilaquiles. If surf and turf is more your style, try the Mar y Tierra, a petit filet and jumbo white shrimp with a spicy tomato sauce. www.pricklypear.netActivity: Take a night off from adulthood and head over to The Pit Indoor Kart Racing in Mooresville for a date night that far exceeds the typical dinner and movie plans. The Pit offers more than 140,000 square feet of entertainment—from high-speed adult and youth go-karts to black light mini-golf. The center also features more than 40 arcade games, a 3,600-square-foot laser tag arena and a rock-climbing wall. www.meetatthepit.com.Drinks: To complement your authentic Mexican dinner at Prickly Pear, we recommend heading over to Baja Soul Taqueria at Birkdale Village in Huntersville. This restaurant has a drink menu that’s sure to be enticing to every taste, such as the Mango Mojito or the Caipirinha, which is a Brazilian drink with lime, sugar and Leblon Cachaca. While enjoying drinks, you can listen to music, watch movie trailers or play video games using the restaurant’s touchscreen tables. If you get hungry for a little late-night snack, we recommend the fish tacos and tableside guacamole. www.bajasoultaqueria.com