If you’d rather try something new than go to a restaurant crowded with couples for Valentine’s Day this year, then we’re here to help! And no, you don’t have to be in a relationship for these to work – show your love for your friends and head for a day out together!
1. The New Forest
Here in Southampton, we’re very lucky to be situated in the midst of (or a short train ride from) the beautiful Hampshire countryside. If a walk on the Common doesn’t quite cut it for you this Valentine’s Day, head to the station and catch a train to Brockenhurst instead. You’ll be greeted by New Forest ponies and the beautiful forest itself. You can find lots ofwalking trails already mapped out, which are available online for free, or simply have a wander at your own accord. If you’re tired out after a woodland walk, head to one of the many tea rooms in the area for a break. Cute ponies along with tea and cake is always a good combination.
2.The Beach at Bournemouth
If the thought of a stroll through the forest doesn’t appeal to you, then why not head to Bournemouth Beach? Stretching over seven miles, it’s one of the most popular beaches in the UK and is only a 30 minute train ride from Southampton. Keep things simple with fish and chips on the pier (weather permitting of course). In addition to the beach, Bournemouth is also home to many popular High Street shops and attractions including award winning parks and gardens.
3. Dry slope skiing
Located only a short distance from the university in Bassett is the Alpine Snowsports Centre. It’s guaranteed to be much more fun (and healthy) than a trip to the cinema. The centre offers dry slope skiing, donutting and snowboarding. It’s probably advisable to inform (or warn) your date about the nature of what you’ll be doing in advance of the big day as sensible clothes are required! The Alpine Snowsports centre can be found at Thornhill Road and will be open from 9am-6pm on Saturday the 14th of February.
4. Explore a new city
Get together with your date or friends and decide to visit somewhere none of you have ever been before. This is potentially risky if you know absolutely nothing about where you’re heading to, so pick a place that you’ve always wanted to visit but just haven’t got round to yet. CrossCountry Trains offer a useful guide to popular locations such as Bristol and Bournemouth, which can be accessed on its routes from Southampton Central. As cheesy as it may sound, you’ll get to know a place together and will create shared memories of your time there. Aww.
5. Explore your own city.
This activity takes place in our very own Southampton with no need for a train! The city is steeped in history which, in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, can sometimes be overlooked. Southampton is home to a vast number of listed buildings and ancient monuments which can be seen if you follow the Discover Southampton walk trail. You’ll pass the Tudor House, the Medieval Merchant’s House and the medieval Bargate building. Even if you’re not particularly interested in history, walking the walls is a great way to learn more about the heritage of the city and get to know the local area.
6. Dining in the Dark
Although I’ve previously mentioned choosing an alternative to a restaurant date, this certainly isn’t your average dining experience! If you’ve seen 2013’s popular rom-com About Time (and if you haven’t, I would recommend that you do) then you’ll know that it features a restaurant in which diners are guaranteed a very unique experience. Dans Le Noir restaurant, located in Clerkenwell, London, is a restaurant in which guests eat in total darkness. Mobile phones must be stored in lockers and diners are aided by staff. The meal itself will be a surprise – instead of choosing a specific dish, guests are offered colour coded menus which correspond to a choice of meat, fish, vegetarian or ‘surprise’ dishes. The restaurant’s many positive reviews suggest that the removal of other distractions allows you to focus on your food (and your conversation with your guest). It’s a little pricey, although a student discount is offered, and the experience itself may not be for everyone, but it’s certain to be a meal you won’t forget!
Whichever option you decide to pick, have a happy Valentine’s Day!