It’s Valentine’s season, one of the most quintessential Hallmark holidays, and with that may come some pretty complicated feelings. Regardless of your opinion on the holiday, the season can serve as a good excuse to celebrate the people we love. Let’s face it, February is often a dreary month—full of cold weather, short days, and little sunlight. So why not find an excuse to spread a little love to the people around us?
Whether you’re a romantic at heart or Valentine averse, there are so many creative ways to celebrate. And with the recent invention of Galentine’s Day (thanks to the hit show, Parks and Recreation), the season has spanned into more nuanced, platonic celebrations of love. There’s even an anti-Valentine movement, where folks come together and commiserate over their shared hatred for the holiday (which, in my book, still builds camaraderie).
The holiday has come a long way from the Russell Stover heart-shaped box of chocolates and candlelit dinners of the past (not that I’m knocking either). There are now more ways than ever to appreciate the beauty and complexity of love—with partners, friends, and even strangers.
Looking to celebrate Valentine’s, Galentine’s, or anti-Valentine’s day? Don’t let your procrastination stop you! We know all your favorite restaurants are likely booked up, but here are some unique and budget-friendly things to do in DTFW that are available (even if you’re “taken”)!
Reservations-free and budget-friendly dining ideas:
Check out a pizza joint!
Big Apple Pizza, Pint & Slice, and Papi’s Pizza all offer delicious pies and don’t take reservations—making them a great, last-minute spot for casual dining with your lover or friend. Don’t feel like going out, but still want to celebrate? Pizza is a timeless takeout classic. So get your ‘za to go and gather around a beloved rom-com or sulk in a story of heartbreak—your choice!
Catch some cocktails!
Henry’s is always a staple for anyone looking to grab a drink in the downtown area—and while they don’t take reservations, they’re popular. So, if you venture to this neighborhood favorite, expect a little wait.
JK O’Donnell’s is another reservations-free favorite for grabbing a pint, whiskey or cocktail. And if you’re on the anti-Valentine train, they’re hosting an Anti-Valentine’s Day event—equipped with black hearts, broken heart cookies, and special cocktails to fill the void. They’re even asking for stories of your worst date. Check out their Facebook event for full details!
Indulge in some comfort food!
Comfort food is always a good way to treat the winter woes—whether you’re warming an icy heart or comforting the one you love. You can’t go wrong with a classic coney from Coney Island or a smash burger from Burger Bar. Fill your heart while filling your belly.
Grab a daytime coffee!
Some of the best, most intimate conversations are shared over coffee or tea. So consider ditching date night for a daytime drink with someone dear. Downtown Fort Wayne is home to a plethora of top-notch coffee shops, including Conjure, Fortezza, Kanela, Penny Drip, two Starbucks locations, and Utopian.
Desserts for the win!
Find your faves at the food hall!
Just a skip away from Downtown, you’ll find the Union Street Market with over 15 different, diverse food merchants to choose from, making it a great choice if you and your dining partner just can’t agree on a food mood. Bonus: there’s plenty of seating and it’s reservations-free.
Celebrate with some unique events and experiences:
Creative Women of the World’s Galentine’s Day
Invite your gals to a free event hosted by Creative Women of the World—with shopping, wine, chocolate, light snacks, and a free paper-flower making station with Emily Guerrero of Mexica-Arts. Check out their Facebook event to learn more!
Board Games and Brews hosted by the Allen County Public Library
Looking for a Valentine-agnostic event for friends and singles? Join the Allen County Public Library for a free session of board games at the Union Street Market (inside Electric Works). Drink a brew, play some games, and meet other board game enthusiasts. Space is limited, so be sure to register on their website.
Fort Wayne Ballet’s Love Notes
Enjoy a special evening as Fort Wayne Ballet brings the passion of romance through dance over the Valentine’s season. VIP tables-for-two will be available by the stage—featuring wine, chocolates, and cash bar offerings. You can learn more or purchase tickets on Artlink’s website.
Fort Wayne Philharmonic: The Sound of Innovation Series
Discover a mesmerizing evening of symphonic brilliance as the Fort Wayne Philharmonic presents “The Sound of Innovation” at the iconic Electric Works campus, right outside Downtown Fort Wayne. Prepare to be inspired by a harmonious fusion that resonates with the building’s rich history. Learn more or purchase tickets on the Fort Wayne Phil’s website.
Union Street Market’s Galentine’s Party with DJ TREND
Also on the Electric Works campus, you’ll find one of the best Galentine’s parties around in the Union Street Market’s West Hall—with photo stations, food and drink specials, and music from the ever-popular DJ TREND. No tickets or registration required. Check out Union Street Market’s website for more information.
Valentine’s Day Doggie Sweater Party
Celebrate the undying love you have for your pup at Riverfront Fort Wayne’s Valentine’s Day Doggie Sweater Party. Bring your furry valentine in their best winter attire for a free photo and treat—complete with a contest for best dressed. The winning doggo will receive a treat basket and training session from green DogGoods. Learn more on Riverfront Fort Wayne’s Facebook event page.
Molly Conner is a Fort Wayne native and freelance writer. Having lived in Downtown Fort Wayne throughout her twenties, she loves watching her stomping grounds grow. With her love of storytelling and community in tow, she’s eager to tell Downtown Fort Wayne’s story piece-by-piece—exploring the people, spaces, and organizations that make it thrive.