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Valentine's Day in the Northwest

Saturday is Valentine's Day. It's still five days away though, so you've got a bit of time to make sure you haven't forgotten your best beloved this year. Here in the Northwest, we all have unique opportunities to enjoy the beauty and style of Northwest style and living, while we celebrate this holiday with someone we love. Even if you've never made a big deal about Valentine's Day before, and don't intend to this year, either—it's never a bad idea to make any day a special and romantic day with someone you care about.

Valentine's Day doesn't have to cost a lot to be memorable. In fact, the personal touches that don't cost anything but your time, thought, and a little extra attention and effort? Those touches are what will make your Valentine's Day with your beloved a special day. Don't be shy about being unabashedly sentimental, either . . . That's what Valentine's Day is really all about. But moreover, that's what love is all about.

You could arrange a visit to a day spa together, for a bit of special pampering and togetherness. It's perhaps best to let your loved one choose the actual date, unless you want to arrange the details together beforehand. If you're in the Puget Sound area, you might check out the Highlands Day Spa in Post Falls, Idaho. Or there's the Heron Inn and the onsite Watergrass Day Spa, in La Conner. A quick Google of "day spa" + your state will bring up places in your local area, usually with attached customer reviews.

Seattle and Portland both have a terrific local music scene. What about going out to hear a local band? If music a bit more sophisticated in style is likelier to appeal to you and your sweetheart, tickets to the symphony or opera might be just the special detail to make for an unforgettable evening.

Candy for Valentine's Day is a long-standing tradition. You can absolutely shop locally, and still stay within the traditional scope of Valentine's Day gifts. Seattle's chocolatiers are some of the finest in the world, and if a trip into the city isn't on your schedule, you can order from most of these shops, online.

Just a short walk from the Pike Place Market, you'll find The Chocolate Box, for example. There's a decent online list of Seattle chocolatiers and chocolate shops, at yelp.com. Check out your local chocolatiers, too; there's likely a local confectioner in your area with expertise in truffles and other heart-warming chocolate delicacies.

The Seattle Chocolate Company, for instance, unabashedly admits to a passionate relationship with fine chocolate. Their website says, "Blending together the world's highest-quality ingredients, our expert chocolatiers are able to craft a meltaway masterpiece that satisfies like no other chocolate."

Or there's Theo Chocolates, with a factory in Seattle where you can take a chocolate tour. Theo Chocolates makes chocolate you can feel good about, too, with organic, fair-trade, sustainably-grown ingredients.

Want something sexy and romantic and not quite so traditional? What about a gift certificate for an adult toy store? Seattle's Babes in Toyland, now just Babeland, has several locations as well as an online store.

It's always amazing to me how many people never make time to explore their own community and surrounding area. It can be an incredible amount of fun to step outside your normal routine and see some of the sites that visitors get to see, and you never have. There's a wide variety of attractions and interests right in anyone's home town to help you plan a day out of the house that brings some of the excitement and heightened interest that we otherwise only experience when we're traveling.

Here in the Seattle area, we have access to city tours, museums, the Pike's Place Market, the Space Needle, whale-watching tours, and the list just goes on and on. There's the Seattle Underground Tour, for example, for the history-minded. If you followed the tour up with a lovely dinner in one of many the downtown restaurants, you've planned a wonderful day out right in your hometown.

Why not pick up a box of locally made truffles, some strawberries, and a few bottles of Pacific Northwest sparkling wine from Washington's Domaine Ste. Michelle or Oregon's Domain Meriwether, or Ste. Chapelle of Idaho's Snake River Valley? Plan for a romantic sunset picnic, or a cozy, intimate evening at home, for just the two of you.

Maybe both of you work and some nights you're just too tired to decide where to go to eat, never mind cooking for yourself. What about a certificate for some catered, ready-to-eat meals from Seattle catering company Eat Local? You can pick them out together in person, or online, and they'll be ready for you on your way home. There's probably a similar local service that delivers gourmet ready-to-eat meals to your door.

The point is, of course, you can always plan something new to do together, whether it's a trip to the museum or a day spent doing corny tourist attractions. Valentine's Day is a great excuse to get out and enjoy life in the Northwest with someone you love.