Valentine’s Day activities for singles and couples during the pandemic

Valentine’s Day activities for singles and couples during the pandemic

Photo Credits: Mario Rodriguez / Aggie

From speed dating to exotic vineyards, below is a comprehensive list of local Valentine’s Day activities that comply with public health regulations

While everyone is confined to their homes, it might be difficult to experience a traditional Valentine’s Day. Even without a sense of normalcy, however, here are a few socially-distanced activities to participate in with a friend or significant other this holiday.

Virtual Speed Dating

Dating has become more difficult this past year as in-person interactions have decreased due to COVID-19 concerns. Consequently, people have resorted to online apps to start conversations and meet new people. This Valentine’s Day, SpeedSacramento is offering a speed dating event that enables people to meet one another in a unique way. Amanda Ortiz, the director of global events at SpeedSacramento Dating, discussed the company’s first ever virtual “Valentine’s Day Bash.” Unlike traditional speed dating platforms, SpeedSacramento seeks to have a different approach toward matchmaking. 

“We try to stay clear of anything over the top such as name tags, bells, whistles or cheesy-themed events,” Ortiz said. “For us, it’s all about the connections made in a ‘chic’ environment.”

Valentine’s Day is the busiest time for the company, and Ortiz affirmed that it aims to mimic the quality and structure of their in-person activities during their online events. 

 “This includes a main room with a host introduction, rotating until you meet 10 [or more] daters at six to seven minutes each, and mutual match information [is] sent to those who garner matches following the event,” Ortiz said. 

Ortiz explained that at SpeedSacramento, “Date Nights” are structured to place couples with similar interests and preferences together on blind dates.”

“Our experienced matchmaking team pays more attention to personality compatibility rather than a checklist of wants,” Ortiz said.

SpeedSacramento cannot guarantee relationships from their services, but Ortiz shared that their studied approach has been successful for many clients. One of her favorite couple stories actually resulted from a successful matching during a past Valentine’s Day Bash. 

“My favorite story from one of our past couples this year was this couple who got engaged, married and received news [that] they are pregnant with twins,” Ortiz said. “They met two years ago at our Valentine’s Day Bash.”

Overall, Ortiz acknowledged the difficulties and fears associated with dating and “putting yourself out there.” She assured that many clients who utilize their services are serious about finding relationships. 

“Many of our daters are looking for someone to settle down with and have similar goals to our other singles,” Ortiz said. “So, what I would say to them is, try not to be nervous and remember that people who come to us are doing so for the very same reason as yourself.”

Great Bears Vineyard

Marcus Meadows-Smith, the co-owner of the Great Bears Vineyard, discussed the unique charm and mission of the winery. Located near UC Davis, Meadows-Smith mentioned how its courtyard setting, sustainable practices and wildlife make the land feel detached from the world. 

“You really feel somewhere sort of different and in harmony with nature and it’s just right off the edge of Davis which is 2-3 miles from campus,” Meadows-Smith said. 

This Valentine’s Day, the vineyard is hosting a special event for a romantic date night. Unlike previous years, Smith said that the vineyard had to downsize and shift their normal Valentine’s Day events. Instead of indoor dining and dancing, they will now offer activities in a smaller, outdoor setting. To be COVID-19 compliant, the vineyard plans to accommodate 100 people outside with socially distanced tables, sanitation and symptom checks. 

Each Valentine’s Day package provides two people with champagne, a single rose and  the chance to bring picnic or delivered foods to the location. Meadows-Smith described how the event is structured to be a romantic scene with live piano music and a beautiful setting. Accommodations can also be made for a larger party of four or six.   

He recommended the vineyard for people who are looking for an escape from the difficulties of the past year. 

“I’m assuming that people have been through a lot,” Meadows-Smith said. “This gives them the opportunity to come to a beautiful courtyard garden. A lot of people come out and say that they don’t feel like they’re in Davis, that they’ve gone somewhere exotic, to Spain or somewhere in Europe.”

Valentine’s Day Grams

Throughout the year, Kristin Milliken, one of the City of Vacaville’s recreation coordinators for cultural arts and special events, noted recent difficulties associated with connecting with individuals. She hopes to bring gratitude and love during a time impacted by job loss and COVID-19. 

“[I’m] trying to provide ways to bring the community together and really show the people that are special in our lives how grateful we are for them,” Milliken said. 

“Feel the Love: Virtual Valentine Gram Event” arose from her desire to rekindle relationships and forge community bonds in a safe manner. She explained that Vacaville’s virtual grams enable people to send online video messages to their friends, partners, family members and coworkers as a sign of thankfulness. 

 Milliken said that during this overwhelming period of long distance separation, these videos are a powerful alternative to traditional cards that tend to get discarded. She explained that participants will record a one-minute video and answer questions about the receiver of the gram. All videos will be compiled into one video montage and will be released during a Facebook watch party at 6 p.m. on Feb. 12. 

Milliken stated that the cost to participate is $5, and a concession package can be added for another $5. The concession package includes a bag of popcorn, candy, and soda pops; one bag will have a chance to win a $50 gift card to Napoli’s Pizzeria in Vacaville.  

Despite months of obstacles, Milliken emphasized the importance of remaining connected and involved in the community. 

“[I’m] looking for a way to still reach people and still bring people together in the community and together in their relationships,” Milliken said. 

Written by: Farrah Ballou — features@theaggie.org