Unique Valentine's Day Date Ideas in St. Louis

Let's face it. Scoring brownie points on Valentine's Day is tough sledding. Shower your better half with flowers, chocolates, and dinner reservations at a fancy restaurant with a special (translation: overpriced) menu, and you're just doing what you're supposed to do. Skimp on the occasion, and you look like an amore-deficient blockhead.

What, then, can you do to "win" this syrupy Hallmark holiday and look like a love-struck Cupid in your Valentine's eyes? It's simple, if you live in St. Louis. Just put those dinner reservations on the back burner and woo your date with one of these unique Valentine's Day ideas instead:

Take a horse-drawn carriage ride down Lover's Lane (or around downtown St. Louis)

The weather guessers are forecasting a high of 60 in St. Louis on Valentine's Day. So don't be a horse's you-know-what. Take advantage of the unseasonable weather and book a personal, horse-drawn carriage tour of Laclede's Landing and downtown. Contact the St. Louis Carriage Company for more info and to book your spot.

Give her the bird

Gentlemen - has your loved one ever expressed interest in adopting a great horned owl? Don't be silly – of course she has! And now's your chance to make her dream come true, with the St. Louis Zoo's Great Horned Owl Valentine Adoption Package. For under 50 bucks, she gets a plush owl, her name on the Zoo Parents Adoption Wall, passes to the Zoo Parents Picnic, and several other perks.

If she can't wait to meet her adopted feathery friend, you can swing by the Zoo's Bird House & Garden to say "Hoo," then stick around for entrees -- the Zoo is serving a special four-course gourmet dinner at the Living World on Valentine's evening.

Get swept off your feet in the world of music

Except for cuddling, gazing at the setting sun, and re-watching Game 6 of the 2011 World Series together, there's nothing more romantic in St. Louis than experiencing music at its finest. On Valentine's Day, your musical options are plentiful.

Waltz over to Powell Hall to see the St. Louis Symphony perform its Rat Pack-inspired "Las Vegas Valentine" songbook, or catch jazz/folk vocalist Erin Bode in action at Jazz at the Bistro. For a more indie-flavored evening, check out Tor Miller at Blueberry Hill's legendary Duck Room. Or hit up the Chaifetz Arena to see Frankie Beverly, Fantasia and Doug E. Fresh headline the annual St. Louis Valentine's Music Festival.

The Saint Louis Ballet, meanwhile, will be performing a fist-pumping, head-banging (not really) rendition of the contemporary "In It For Love" program at Touhill Performing Arts Centre on Valentine's weekend.

Get your hearts pumping

Some sweethearts would take a good cardio session over a dozen roses any day. If that sounds like you and your date, then go have a good, romantic sweat together at Bissinger's annual Run for the Chocolate. This fun 5k run/walk includes chocolate medals from Bissinger's, hot chocolate, chocolate fondue, and lots of other, um, chocolates. The race kicks off at Bissinger's Chocolate Factory at 9 a.m.

Dance, dance, dance

What's more exciting than dinner and drinks? Lots of things, actually. Including channeling your inner Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and two-stepping and jitterbugging Valentine's weekend away at the Casa Loma Ballroom. Friday night, MISS JUBILEE & the Humdingers take the stage for a swing dance party, followed by rock-swing-oldies-everything band Facts O' Life on Saturday.

Or, see the pros in action at the Fabulous Fox, where world-renowned Irish dance troupe Riverdance is performing five shows over Valentine's weekend. Shen Yun (uber-romantic translation: "the beauty of divine beings dancing") is also performing its celebrated orchestral, story-based dance show at the Peabody Opera House on February 12-14.

Marcus Whelchel lives, works, and writes in St. Louis, Missouri, with his wife and daughter. He has spent the last five minutes trying to come up with something funny to say here, but came up empty. He takes solace in the fact that you have stopped reading anyway.