By Amy Rea

Valentine’s Day is only a little over two weeks away. Are you ready? There’s certainly nothing wrong with flowers and a lovely dinner out, but there are other options, including some events on the weekend prior. Note: reservations are recommended for most of these, so call ahead.

Head over to St. Paul on Valentine’s evening for the annual Victorian Poetry Slam, taking place at the James J. Hill House. Costumed actors will be on hand to recite poems by Poe, Dickinson, and Browning. There will be refreshments and a house tour as well (worth the visit all by itself).

Over in Stillwater, the Ice Castles installation could arguably be a very romantic spot, especially at night, when the castle’s walls are lit up with multicolored lights. (Be sure to check closer to Valentine’s Day—if we have an extended melting period, plans here may change.)

Stillwater also offers free horse-drawn carriage rides this Saturday, Feb. 10. Enjoy the scenic river front, lovely in the winter, and visit Stillwater’s shops and eateries. Maybe combining Ice Castles with a carriage ride would be a good idea…

Three Rivers Park District has several Valentine’s-themed events next week. Enjoy a date night snowshoeing along the Mississippi, or sign up for a Valentine’s Dinner and Hiking or Snowshoeing at several parks (but note: Pre-registration must be completed by Feb. 7). There’s also a family Valentine’s event this Saturday at The Landing in Shakopee that includes activities, arts, and general fun.

Saturday has several special events throughout the Minnesota State Park system, including candlelight hikes and snowshoeing events.

Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan offers Trails by Candlelight on Saturday night, a romantic outdoor event with more than 1,500 luminaries lit along two miles of hiking and snowshoeing trails and four miles of cross-country ski trails. Bring your own skis and snowshoes, or some will be available to rent onsite. There will also be sledding and ice skating.

On Friday, Feb. 9, St. Paul’s Alexander Ramsey House has a Valentine’s version of its ongoing series, Ramsey After Dark. Enjoy Victorian treats while learning about Victorian letter writing and secret messages. For ages 18+.

In Minneapolis, the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts has Institute of Hearts. Visitors to the museum on Feb. 14 will be given a paper heart Valentine to place before your favorite work of art.

What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Tuesday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.