Tired of the usual Valentine’s day drill of overcrowded restaurants, expensive flowers and candy? The good news is that there are alternatives for those who want to celebrate with their loved one in an original way. From special-edition love CDs to walks in the woods in the midst of local wildlife, we’ve got it covered, so you and your sweetheart will have a Valentine’s Day to remember, whether it’s your first one together or your 20th.
Stop at your local post office and mail your special someone a gift that’s much more than just a card. First issued in 2007, “Love Letters From Ella” is a collectible Ella Fitzgerald CD that features her most romantic and cherished love songs. It’s available only through the U.S. Postal Service
From Ella and Count Basie singing “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone” to a duet on “The One I Love” with Joe Pass, these classics will warm any music aficionado’s heart. The cost for the CD is $10.99. You can take it with your, but for an additional $3.75 the Postal Service will mail the CD to your sweetheart in a heart-decorated, padded envelope with an accompanying “Packaged with love” gift tag.
To locate the nearest post office visit
On a budget
We all know how expensive weddings can be, especially if you want to tie the knot in a scenic location like, say, the beach. To help die-hard romantics who cannot afford a wedding at La Playa or the Ritz, Deborah Temirlioglu is organizing free beach weddings on Valentine’s Day with “An Unforgettable Wedding.” Intimate weddings will start at 9 a.m. and continue throughout the day at half-hour intervals, with the last one at 4 p.m.. Included in the free wedding is a professional digital portrait, courtesy of Lila’s Photo and Designs.
For those who love sunsets and don’t mind a crowd, Temirlioglu also offers a group ceremony starting at 4:30 p.m. which will feature a massive white dove release to conclude the ceremony. The weddings will take place at Bowditch Point Park, 50 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach. All couples must have a marriage license and a photo ID.
For more information and to book a free wedding call (239) 283-6000 or visit www.anunforgettablewedding.com
For nature enthusiasts
If you and your sweetheart are passionate about all things flora and fauna, the Rookery Bay Valentine’s Day celebration is perfect. On Saturday, Rookery Bay offers a two-for-one $6 admission at the Rookery Bay Environmental learning Center, 300 Tower Road, Naples. The Learning Center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and gorgeous photography of Southwest Florida wildlife and flowers on display. After admiring the art, take a romantic stroll on the recently inaugurated Henderson Creek pedestrian bridge, which connects with a series of planned nature trails and a boardwalk that offers opportunities for visitors to get close with a large variety of native habitats and wildlife. Information: 417-6310.
The race to his heart
If you really want to surprise a NASCAR-obsessed boyfriend or husband, take him to a Valentine’s day party he’ll never forget. BreakTime Lounge at 4600 Gulfstream Drive, Naples, is hosting a NASCAR kickoff party and stew cookoff on Sunday. If you want to participate in the cooking contest, bring your stew in a crockpot by 12:30 p.m. (don’t forget to tape your name and phone number on the pot somewhere), and see if your recipes has what it takes to win at 1 p.m.
It’s not your typical Valentine’s Day, but to some of us nothing says “I love you” more than a piping hot stew and equally hot cars. There are prizes for the best stews and drink specials. Information: 775-7788
For the love of pets
Pets need love, too. If you’re looking for a new furry friend, check out the Smooch-a-Pooch Kiss-a-Kitty adoption fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at Domestic Animal Services, 7610 Davis Blvd., Naples. Adoptions fees are low — $60 for a cat and $85 for a dog — and they will make your loved one, and a homeless pet, happy.
Too many pets already? Then show your love and support for less fortunate ones by attending Paws for Love, a three-course dinner that includes a chocolate kiss martini for $24.95 per person at Fred’s Diner, 2700 Immokalee Road, Naples.
Reservations are required and can be made at 431-7928. Money from a silent auction and raffle tickets will help Paws for Love train more dogs to visit hospitals and help children diagnosed with autism.
Instead of spending money on chocolate and candy, buy the health fanatic in your life something he or she will truly enjoy — a fruit tree or a pot of herbs. The
Caloosa Rare Fruit Club is hosting a tropical fruit tree sale 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Terry Park, 3410 Palm Beach Blvd. Fort Myers. Hundreds of trees will be for sale in addition to herbs and vegetables and some sound gardening advice will be offered for those who need it.
Other than the cost of the tree you want to bring home you don’t have to pay for any extras: there’s free loading, free admission and free parking. For more info call 543-9910.