Romantics looking for new ways to impress can choose from tossing pizza with a James Beard Award-winning chef to learning how to dance. Ditch the standard candle-lit dinner and step it up with these fun suggestions instead.
Duet Dancing in Chicago
Credit: Courtesy Duet Dance Studio

There's a time and place for a nice, romantic dinner, but most people like to do something a little different on Valentine's Day. Chicago makes it easy for couples to step outside the norm, whether it's getting dancing, learning how to make truffles, or seeing the city from new heights in a helicopter tour. Here are some ideas for putting a new spin on your celebration this year.

The Way to Each Other's Heart ...

Hand-roll your own truffles during the Valentine's Day Truffle-Making Party at Katherine Anne Confections in Logan Square on February 12. Couples can be grouped together to make their own truffles, from creation and design to rolling, while enjoying wine and light appetizers over the three-hour experience. Or, enjoy the Sweetheart Flight on February 14 between 11:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., which includes six truffles, two fleur de sel caramels, two classic caramels, one marshmallow and three different flavors of drinking chocolate topped with toasted marshmallows—plus a handwritten love note. A flight serves two for $38.

Couples can also learn how to toss a pizza like a pro by James Beard Award-winning chef Tony Mantuano at Bar Toma on Chicago's Gold Coast. Finish up by indulging in the Neapolitan-style wood-fired creations that the restaurant is known for when you're done. Want a bigger challenge? Learn how to butcher a whole hog on Valentine's Day at Chop Shop in Wicker Park, which will do a full breakdown and show participants how to do it themselves.

Culture Vultures

Learn the basic steps of salsa and a simplified "Dirty Dancing" routine in a 50-minute dance class at Duet Dance Studio in Wicker Park (dates vary). Add to the party ambiance and bring your favorite bottle of wine to enjoy with the hors d'oeuvres that will be served, too. If you're not feeling so participatory, you can take in any of the 100-plus world-class theatrical productions happening during Chicago Theatre Week, which runs from February 11 through 21. Most are priced at $15 or $30 each. Meanwhile, at the Art Institute of Chicago, you can view all three of Vincent Van Gogh's famous bedroom in Arles pieces for the first time in North America. The exhibit is free with general admission and opens on Valentine's Day (and runs through May 10).

But if you want to show your date Chicago in an entirely new way, sign up for a helicopter tour with Chicago Helicopter Experience, which departs from a heliport downtown and explores the city's history, architecture, and culture from high in the sky (from $148 per person). At iFly in Rosemont or Naperville, particularly adventurous couples can skydive indoors.

Ready to Mingle

If celebrating with friends is more your speed, gather the gang and rent a room below Lowcountry to take turns belting it out on the Karaoke mic. Valentine's Day weekend will feature themed bottle service, singles-friendly hits, and more.

To cap off the festivities, Beef & Barley is offering a Walk of Shame brunch on Valentine's Day, complete with an old school photo booth with some Valentine's Day-themed props. A singles-themed soundtrack will liven up the atmosphere.