If you’re not properly prepared, Valentine’s Day can go from celebration of love to nuclear relationship explosion quicker than you can say, “Another chocolate truffle, darling?” Roses are dangerous. Candlelit dinners pose a serious fire hazard. Chocolates will only inflate your waistline, and canned Hallmark sentiments are as likely to garner rolled eyes as a rosy swoon.
This year, skip the trite February 14 staples and go for a date that doesn’t suck. Here, in no particular order, are Weekly’s suggestion for holiday romance that won’t leave you feeling like a slave to the Pepto pink consumer machine.
1. Scoot down the Strip. While it’s not quite the same as zipping through European alleys or down a beachside boardwalk, exploring Vegas on a moped is an exhilarating adventure. You can share one and enjoy having your squeeze’s arms wrapped tight around your waist, or get two for a tandem journey. Available for rent by the hour or the day, take a scenic ride down the Strip, stop for dinner and return, or spend the day on a self-guided exploration of Valley of Fire or obscure city streets. Sun Scooter Rental, 3049 Las Vegas Blvd S Suite 11N. 275-2379. sunscooterrental.com $20/hour or $99/24 hours. – Jennifer Grafiada
2. Regress just a little. Something about seeing a pair of preteens strolling together with hands clasped and matching pimples brings back all sorts of bittersweet soft-focus nostalgia. Relive the childhood thrills of zooming around a double-corkscrew rollercoaster, running from arcade game to arcade game, winning a carnival prize and touring a candy wonderland at Gameworks, M&M World, Circus Circus Adventuredome or the Excalibur Midway. Frolicking like preteens will flood you with endorphins and bond you and your date like childhood sweethearts, only this time you’ll have the cojones to give your crush a kiss on the cheek. GameWorks and M&M World, 3785 Las Vegas Blvd. S. 432-4263. Circus Circus Adventuredome, 2880 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 794-3939. $24.95. Excalibur Midway, 3850 Las Vegas Blvd S., 877-750-5464. – Jennifer Grafiada
3. Find out why happiness is a warm gun. One of the myths about firearms is that they are not romantic. Similar to many dating circumstances, it’s all about the operator. A properly trained gun-owner firing a few rounds in a legal, controlled, safe environment can be quite … what’s the word? Erotic. Or, maybe just asexually thrilling. But hitting a gun barn like American Shooters is quite the conversation-starter. And bask in the afterglow of blasting off 100 or so American Eagle pistol cartridges over a nice plate of pasta at, say, Salvatore’s Italian Steakhouse at the Suncoast. American Shooters, 3440 Arville Street, Las Vegas or 1212 N. Boulder Highway, Henderson. 362-1223. Salvatore’s Italian Steakhouse, 9090 Alta Drive, Las Vegas. 636-7111. – John Katsilometes
4. Go Hollywood under the stars. A high school boyfriend did this for me and I never forgot it. Score major creative and romantic points by kidnapping your date off to a secluded Red Rock or Mt. Charleston locale. Bring a blanket, fully-charged laptop, DVD, wine and treats and have an intimate night cuddling, watching (or not watching) the movie while you enjoy the beauty and privacy in a vast open space and the usually invisible tapestry of stars. – Jennifer Grafiada
5. Jam with a Marley. Last time Stephen Marley was in town he took over the Joint for a set that ranged from mellowed out cool (“You’re Gonna Leave”) to ferociously energetic (“Chase Dem”). This time around, Bob’s second son is hitting the House of Blues for a midnight show on Valentine’s Day. Ending your V-Day listening to the smoky rasp of this modern Rasta may be the chillest way to finish off a decidedly stressful holiday. Stephen Marley at House of Blues, 11:59 p.m., $21-$23. 21+.- Sarah Feldberg
6. Rub it out. Obviously, lying naked next to your special friend while you are both rubbed with aromatic oil can be a sensual, rather pleasurable experience. Skip the flowers and give a massage to your sig oth, who will worship you for at least as long as the afterglow lasts (assuming he or she doesn’t end up with Helga, the excitable masseuse who thinks deodorant is for wusses). Tap into your primal--and artistic—instincts during the 125-minute Pittura Festa session (offered only in February) at the WELL Spa in the Platinum Hotel & Spa, where in between massages you are encouraged to scrub and paint each other with silky mud inside a Hammam-style Turkish Bath. WELL Spa in the Platinum Hotel & Spa, 211 E. Flamingo Road. 365-5000. www.lvplatinum.com. $356.25. – Jennifer Grafiada
7. Get high, then play nurse. If Valentine’s Day is about demonstrating love (and not accumulating chocolates, roses or more self-loathing), then there’s no better place than the Stratosphere to showcase your true feelings. First, dine at the Top of the World, taking in the breathtaking 360-degree view, a full meal and a chocolate model of the Stratosphere’s tower. Then, get a little closer to that view on the Big Shot, a ride that shoots passengers straight up at 45 mph until they are 1,081 feet off the ground. All that high-speed movement may upset your stomach, but that’s really the point. When your date turns his hands into a ponytail holder so you can empty the contents of your belly into the nearest toilet or trashcan, you’ll know it’s true love. Stratosphere, 2000 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 380-7777. Big Shot $13. - Sarah Feldberg
8. That’s going to leave a mark… We all know love hurts – a burning inside that starts in your stomach and climbs up your ribcage to rumble around in your chest. (Or is that just heartburn from last night’s Kung Pao noodles?) Wear the pain on the outside this V-Day and head to Studio 21 Tattoo, where the shop’s talented lineup creates incredible art on and off the skin of their clients. Surviving a tattoo with your date is bonding at its very best, but getting his or her name etched onto your ass is probably ill advised unless you’ve been going steady at least two months. After you’ve gotten your fresh ink, dull the pain with a trip to neighboring restaurant Nora’s Italian Cuisine. Baked ziti is just as effective a pain killer as Advil. Studio 21 Tattoo, 6020 W. Flamingo Road Unit B-2, 248.8762. Nora’s, 6020 W. Flamingo Road #10, 873-8990. Norascuisine.com -Sarah Feldberg
9. Strap on some knee pads. Who needs a gondola ride down a faux canal when you can literally fall into each other’s arms while roller skating downtown at Beauty Bar? The hipster hangout is hosting the first retro-inspired skate night, Down and Derby , where guests can rent skates or bring their own and skate the night away while enjoying the ‘70s roller disco themed décor. Wear your favorite crushed velvet bellbottoms! 517 Fremont Street, 598-1965. - Allison Duck
10. Fall in love with Napoleon, burp: It’s always easier to get out your true feelings after a few drinks. Bring your lover to Napoleon’s at Paris Las Vegas for Wine 101 and the chance to “Uncork Your Passion” with a wine tasting seminar hosted by a brand representative from Georges Duboeuf, one of the most famous wine merchants in France. Just don’t over indulge; nothing kills an evening like wine wiltage. 3655 Las Vegas Blvd S., 877-603-4386 - Allison Duck
11. Take your date to a sex club. Everyone wants to get laid on V-Day, but that’s not exactly what we’re advocating here. Usually not an ideal place for a date, unless you are of the swinging persuasion, the Green Door opens its doors as an interesting venue for V Day. The Bust a Nut Comedy Show (fitting name) is returning to the “adult health spa” with comedians TanyaLee Davis, Sam Tripoli, Jeffrey Peterson and emcee Howard Dover. 953 East Sahara Avenue, Suite B-27. $20 with proceeds benefiting Green Therapy, a group raising awareness about the benefits of medical marijuana. – Allison Duck