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Valentine's Day: Drop the roses ...

We've got you covered with some unique ideas for Valentine's Day celebrating.

There’s more to do this Valentine’s Day than exchange greeting cards and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate. Here are some ideas to make your holiday sweet:

CELEBRATE WITH WINE AND DESSERTS

Ingleside Vineyards’ Valentine-themed event, “A Taste of Wine and Chocolate,” pairs their wine with chocolate in what they call “an elegant and educational chocolate experience.”

Ingleside is teaming up with a small chocolate boutique that hand-makes all their confections.

Marketing director Chris Flemer said the event is perfect for couples, but also fun for groups of friends and anyone who is interested in pairing food and wine.

The event has been offered for three years, and Flemer said this year will be a smaller, more intimate gathering with only 50 spaces available.

The Feb. 9 event costs $45 per person and reservations are required. A snow date for the event is set for February 16.

Join Old House Vineyards on Feb. 9 and 10 from noon to 5 p.m. for their “Valentine’s Fondue.”

Their annual event allows patrons to eat fondue by the fire, along with Old House Vineyard’s wines.

Admission is $30 and includes fruit and cake for dipping.

A LOCAL VALENTINE’S DAY GALA

Fredericksburg Counseling Service’s “Sweet Side of Life” returns for the sixth year on Feb. 8, from 8 to 11 p.m.

The evening will include big band music, dancing, hors d’oeuvres, gourmet desserts and a silent auction at the Fredericksburg Hospitality House.

Executive director of Fredericksburg Counseling Service Marci Bartley described the event as “a gala with outstanding food. It’s a chance to get really dressed up and go out, which doesn’t happen in our area very often.”

Tickets are $50 and all proceeds go toward the organization.

“The support from the gala will help us keep our doors open,” Bartley said. “Especially with shrinking state budgets.”

VISIT AN HISTORIC HOME

The Fredericksburg area has no shortage of historic sites. Visiting them is a great way to discover something new about the area and to uncover the great love stories of early America.

Montpelier, in Orange County, is a perfect spot to take your valentine. The grounds have ample walking trails through an old-growth forest and large gardens.

In the house, see where James Madison wrote the Constitution and learn about what his life with Dolley was like after retirement.

According to the Montpelier website, the Madisons were unlike other couples of the founding era—they rarely spent time apart from each other. Neither James nor Dolley traveled abroad and, with the exception of Dolley's brief stay in Philadelphia in 1805 for an ulcerated knee and Madison's select trips traveling without his wife, the Madisons were always together.

Dolley wrote in a letter to James in 1805, saying, “The letters of my beloved Husband are allways a cordial to my heart.”

WASHINGTON D.C.

Tired of Fredericksburg? Travel to Washington, D.C. for a Valentine’s Day out-of-town.

The National Museum of Crime and Punishment has a “Crimes of Passion” exhibit running Feb. 14 through 16.

Upon entering, staff will handcuff couples together to view the regularly featured exhibits and the special Crimes of Passion exhibit, for which information is placed throughout the museum.

The museum’s website explains that “Couples will indulge their dark side with true stories such as the ‘Valentine's Vampire,’ all while being bound to one another during this unique Valentine's Day experience.”

Tickets are $45 and include the handcuffed museum tour, one pair of souvenir handcuffs ($1 more to upgrade to furry handcuffs), and a Valentine’s Day treat.

To take a more traditional romantic route in the city, try ice skating at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Rink.

On Feb. 14, the ice rink will host another in their continuing DJ series. DJ Stylus will be spinning ’80s R&B, boogie and Valentine's Day slow jams. (The rink is open daily through mid-March, weather permitting). Admission is $8 for adults and skate rental is $3.

RICHMOND

If you prefer to visit the state’s capital for Valentine’s activities, try the CHOCOHOLIC! 2013 event at the Science Museum of Virginia on Feb. 7 at 7 p.m.

The event is billed as “Central Virginia’s largest chocolate sampling event.” For $50, visitors can sample treats from local chocolatiers, bake shops and other vendors.

Also in Richmond, visitors can relive ’80’s romance with Molly Ringwald at Richmond CenterStage.

The “Night of Jazz with Molly Ringwald” features the actress as jazz singer. Performances continue from Feb. 14 through 17. An album by Ringwald is due to be released this spring.

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976 | lestes@freelancestar.com

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