Valentine's Day ideas that aren't chocolates and flowers

From remote couples retreats to romantic restaurants, we've got every romantic date idea covered this Valentine's Day.

By Charlotte Wishart
Valentine's Day may be just another date in the calendar for some, perhaps corny to others, but it's the perfect occasion to treat your loved one to a little something special.
If you're wondering, "What should I do for Valentine's Day?" you're not alone. Of course, you could look at Valentine's Day gift ideas (which we have some great ideas for here). But if your partner's love language is quality time or you want to go beyond the romantic clichés of chocolates and roses this year, let us present our edit of romantic gestures and experiences for Valentine's Day.
In 2024, February 14 falls on a Wednesday, which means a fun date-night activity, dinner at one of the country's best restaurants or an intimate home-cooked meal should definitely be considered. But you could also treat your loved one (and yourself) to some time off and hit the road or book a romantic getaway. Whatever you decide, your Valentine will be pleased as punch.
Here are five romantic things to do this Valentine's Day.
A view of the private entrance to Palm Beach from the deck at Jefferson Beach Cottage at Palm Beach

Book a romantic Valentine's Day getaway

Nothing oozes romance more than a couples' retreat, but finding a destination and dreamy place to stay can be challenging. Mountainous or coastal, there's a romantic destination for every kind of couple. For remote romantic stays and wilderness wanderlust, the Blue Mountains is an untamed bush paradise just outside Sydney that feels more remote than it is, while romantic getaways in Victoria's High Country offer rugged landscapes, scenic trails and steamy onsen sessions. Cottages and cabins are the play in these mountainous regions; think outdoor firepits (fire bans permitting), fine linens on billowy beds, hot tubs, and chilled Champagne upon arrival. For a special Valentine's Day, our picks are Wildacres at Blackheath in the Blue Mountains, complete with an outdoor hot tub and Cortes Kiln — an architectural delight in a restored tobacco kiln — in the High Country.
For walk-along-the-beach romantics, head to the Gold Coast with its tropical rainforests, sprawling coastlines and dreamy nonchalance. Jefferson Beach Cottage in Palm Beach has its own private access to pristine Palm Beach, with wall-to-wall bifold doors that open from the kitchen and lounge to the deck to offer a spectacular view.
Or, have a staycation and live it up at one of Melbourne's best luxury hotels or Sydney's top hotels with harbour views.

Romantic Valentine's Day date ideas

Make like Carrie Bradshaw and, with your partner in tow, fall in love with your city this Valentine's Day.
Plus, there are plenty of events happening in Australia's major cities over the summer of love, with February offering plenty of unique, fun and cultural Valentine's Day ideas. Soak up the warm summer air with a romantic night out at one of Moonlight Cinemas' outdoor city cinemas where you can ring your own blanket and decide on a range of flicks, from romantic classics to box office hits. Or take your date on an art-filled adventure: catch the Kandinsky exhibit at the Art Gallery of NSW, with 47 works from the abstract master visiting from New York's Guggenheim; check out the landmark NGV Triennial; or enchant them at QAGOMA's Fairy Tales exhibition.
Get a little more hands on with a wine blending workshop at the iconic d'Arenburg in the beautiful McLaren Vale. The Blending Bench is an interactive experience where you play winemaker, focusing on this winery's flagship Shiraz 'The Dead Arm'. Get creative with your Valentine and make your own signature blend, which you can take home at the end of the workshop. Or, go behind the scenes of Old Kempton Distillery in Tasmania and enjoy a guided tasting of four unique drams. Finish your experience with a bottle of Tasmania wine and a locally sourced antipasto platter.

Treat your Valentine to a romantic restaurant

After a romantic day, continue to dote on your partner with dinner at one of the best restaurants in Australia, which is the perfect way to wrap up your evening. No matter what state you're in, our team of reviewers spend months crisscrossing the country, knife and fork in hand, kicking the tyres of old favourites, putting new players through their paces and generally taking stock of the nation's dining scene to compile this comprehensive run-down for your eating pleasure, so that your Valentine's Day dinner plans can be absolutely foolproof.
Whether you're discovering the smoky joys of fire cooking at Agnes in Brisbane, or soaking up remote wonder at Glenarty Road in Western Australia, these romantic restaurants know how to dial up the charm for a perfect Valentine's Day dinner.
Agnes restaurant in Brisbane

Have a night in with a romantic Valentine's Day feast

Sure, giving (or receiving) flowers on Valentine's Day is nice. But there's nothing quite as intimate as whipping up a romantic dinner for two. After all, the best way to a person's heart is through their stomach. Start your evening with the perfect Valentine's Day cocktail — think a fruit-forward pink Margarita with a bittersweet slice of ruby grapefruit, or maybe something a little sweeter such as this sparkling shiraz topped with vanilla ice-cream to make a boozy version of a spider.
Then we suggest you start your Valentine's Day menu with oysters, naturally. Then perhaps follow with roast chicken pilaf adorned with pomegranate or spaghetti with clams, making the pasta from scratch to really demonstrate your adoration. Valentine's Day dessert is a must, for which we recommend rose recipes, including our pistachio roulade dressed with rose and raspberries and spiced cardamom nut cake.

Romantic road trip ideas for Valentine's Day

When it comes to a romantic getaway, sometimes simple is best. If you want to stay a bit closer to home this Valentine's Day, sometimes a road trip is all you need to disconnect from the world and reconnect with each other. Whether you're traversing Tasmania's rugged coastline and indulging in the Apple Isle's best restaurants, or dropping by some of the best wineries in Australia, sipping your way through a cellar door selection across the Hunter Valley, or the best drops Margaret River wineries have to offer, hitting the road and getting some space is the perfect way to spend a Valentine's Day.
The cellar door at Lowe Wines