Hearts, flowers, chocolates plus red and pink everything; Valentine’s Day is upon us once again. Those who are cynical about the holiday or don’t have a significant other to celebrate with often have a hard time finding places for gifts and activities to fill the day. However, even the biggest Valentine’s Day critics should be able to find plenty of gems throughout Bellingham’s local businesses this February.
Before the festivities begin, many prepare for the big day by buying their sweetheart a gift. Bellingham’s numerous locally owned boutiques and shops provide a wide range for people to choose from.
The fashion boutique Sojourn, located on Railroad Avenue, has a variety of feminine apparel and accessories. Monika Baumgart works at Sojourn and said the store has the perfect combination of amorous or platonic Valentine’s Day gifts.
“[We have] saucy lingerie or you could get cute tees and jewelry for friends or lovers,” Baumgart said.
The best things in the store right now are loungewear and bralettes, Baumgart said.
If locals are looking for a way to combine a gift with a Valentine’s Day activity, they could pay a visit to Otion: The Soap Bar on West Holly Street. Otion offers a “Crafter’s Corner,” where people can make soap, lip balm, bath bombs and nail polish. Otion employee Austyn Lawrenson said they mostly see walk-ins, but it’s always good to make an appointment.
“The crafting part of it is really awesome for anyone who is looking for something to do in the afternoon, but it would totally work [as a date] as well,” Lawrenson said.
Diana Meeks from Sustainable Connections said a great way to get to know local businesses and pick up hand-made Valentine’s Day goodies is through the Local Lover’s Tour happening Monday, Feb. 13. The tour starts at the Sustainable Connections office on Ellis Street and will make its way around downtown. Participants will make stops at local shops and interact with business owners to take part in Valentine’s Day-themed activities.
The tour will include “conversation cookie decorating” provided by Gathered Confections, a love-plant terrarium creation session with Pozie by Natalie, upcycled Valentine card making at Ragfinery and a hand-massage crash course from Veritas Massage.
Despite the “local lovers” theme, this tour would be a great event to enjoy without bringing a romantic partner, Meeks said.
“I think this would be something really fun to do with one of my best girlfriends,” Meeks said. “Just because I can’t see a lot of boyfriends wanting to decorate cookies.”
“Everyday is Valentine’s Day at the Daisy Cafe.”
Those wanting to start the celebrations early Valentine’s Day can head out to breakfast or brunch. A popular downtown breakfast spot is the Daisy Cafe on West Magnolia Street. The cafe shares a building with the Union Coffee Shop, so patrons can enjoy a hot beverage while they wait for their food.
Waitress Erin Stendal said her favorite dish is the salmon benedict. Stendal said that the French toast and scrambles are good for splitting, but cheerfully clarified that most people would want their own. The Daisy Cafe isn’t hosting any Valentine’s Day events or specials, so both couples and friends can enjoy a morning out there.
“Everyday is Valentine’s Day at the Daisy Cafe,” Stendal said. “We are full of love.”
If celebrators are more of an evening crowd, they can head down to Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen on West Holly Street. For Valentine’s Day, they are having a “Sweetheart’s Dinner” special of one appetizer, two entrees and one dessert. Hostess Amelia Chirichigno said since the deal is for two people, the evening is geared more towards couples.
“It’s a very affordable option for couples to go out for Valentine’s Day,” Chirichigno said.
If diners have a little extra cash to spend, Chuckanut Brewery is also offering recommended beer pairings to go along with their meals.
“All of our beers are German style, so they’re different than a lot of other breweries,” Chirichigno said. “Allowing people to try different combinations of the beer is always fun.”
Patrons can expect to find a romantic ambiance as the restaurant will be decorated with festive hearts. Due to the size of the restaurant and bustle of the day, the brewery will only be taking reservations for Valentine’s Day.
As Valentine’s Day comes to an end, locals may find themselves in need of a drink to top the night off. The Temple Bar manager Amber Clifton said their spot on West Champion Street is a good place for people to bring their celebration of love to a close.
“It is a romantic spot, but we’re also capable of seating large parties,” Clifton said.
The Temple Bar doesn’t take reservations for parties less than six. At the bar, they have a selection of six red and six white wines as well as two rosés and a selection of sparkling wines.
“My favorite [red wine] is the Grenache and my favorite [white wine] is our Grüner Veltliner,” Clifton said. “For the bubblies, either the Prosecco or the Cava are good.”
For some, this season is all about the celebration of romantic love. Others are often cynical about the holiday for its promotion of consumerism, or from just plain lack of a partner. But, in Bellingham there are plenty of options for friends and companions to celebrate their love together.