Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be about chocolate and flowers or even about the love between two partners. Consider the following experiential gift ideas the whole family can enjoy… in Flagstaff!
- Make a Meal Together– I’ve always loved the playfulness of Valentine’s Day, so what better way to celebrate than by involving your family in the process of imagining and making the perfect meal? Include your partner and kids in the process of picking the menu, finding the items in the grocery store, assembling the meal, and learning to set your version of the perfect table. Whether your menu includes pink or red foods or not, allow your family to plan along a theme. Are you fancy folks? Will you make once-a-year foods like lava cakes, or will you assemble a custom pizza bar in your house? The best part of including your valentines in the process of making and planning the perfect dinner is that you don’t have to worry about parking downtown, waiting for a table to open before bedtime, or hiring a babysitter. Since Valentine’s Day falls on a Friday this year, you could even push your special meal to Saturday morning and make it a brunch date with your valentines.
- Go on a Hike– Northern Arizona usually starts feeling a little sunnier in February and March, so our family has established the habit of buying a family gift that continues to give back: the “America the Beautiful” National Parks (and federal lands) Annual Pass (If you have a 4th grader, your student is even eligible to get one for free). This pass keeps on giving through spring and summer break and beyond. We’re just a day trip from the Grand Canyon or a long weekend away from Bryce, Zion, Yellowstone, Joshua Tree, Mesa Verde, Arches, Canyonlands, and Grand Teton National Parks, not to mention the three Flagstaff area National Monuments, which are just outside city limits. Have family down south? Check out Saguaro National Park. Most National Parks and National Monuments have trails or scenic drives that are designed to be easily accessible, so you can enjoy the park with a stroller or even by car!
- Visit Bearizona– If you haven’t taken your family to Bearizona yet, you are missing out. Your kids will enjoy both the driving part of the trip where you can see larger and more dangerous animals outside your car and the stroller-accessible walk to see rehabilitated animals of all shapes and sizes. You will feel like a kid again trying to spot badgers, porcupines, big cats, baby bears, and more! Don’t miss the raptor show, café, and petting zoo portions of the experience.
- Experience Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival– Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival is always magically around Valentine’s Day and it’s so much more than just extreme sports films. The festival is carefully curated to be thrilling, informative, celebrative, and inclusive. Find films featuring communities from all around the world, films for kids, films by kids, and award-winning documentaries and shorts. Our family’s favorite session, although it usually goes way past bedtime, is the local’s night where films are shown by local artists and about local issues. This event is one that our family looks forward to all year long.
- Paint Something– Flagstaff has many locations where you can paint items and enjoy time with those you love. Babies to Kids & Book Nest & Mercantile has a vast collection of pottery items you can paint together that they will fire for you and get back to you at a later date. For families with newborns, they will even let you make a ceramic tile of baby’s teeny feet for FREE. Want an experience for slightly older kids or sans kids? Check out Creative Spirits or Board and Brush.
- Go for a Swim– Our family loves to cure cabin fever and keep our tot active by visiting the Flagstaff Aquaplex for winter swim time. The pool at the Aquaplex features a splash pad-like area with fountains and waterworks for all-aged kiddos as well as two slides, a lazy river, indoor/outdoor water slides for big kids and adults, and a hot tub for guests 6 and older. A family membership to the Aquaplex also keeps on giving with entrance to fitness classes and no (additional) cost childcare while you work out.
- Go out for Pizza– Our family’s favorite location for Valentine’s dinner is Pizzicletta downtown. We love to watch them make each pizza and appetizer on the wood-fired oven, enjoy an adult beverage, and devour the best gelato in Flagstaff. As our family has grown, however, we have expanded to places like Fat Olives, which also has a pizza oven, and Fratelli Pizza, who doesn’t have an oven you can watch, but they do have special heart-shaped pizzas for Valentine’s Day.
This Valentine’s Day, I wish you time with your family to reflect upon (or start) family traditions and to make sweet memories with those who matter most!