How to have a 100% free (and fun) Valentine’s Day

prospect park winter
Why pay on Valentine’s Day when you can walk through a tunnel of love (of sorts) in Prospect Park? via Flickr user Mambo’Dan

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and you know what that means: Duane Reade is guilting you with boxes of overpriced chocolates you now feel pressured to buy for your main squeeze on that “special” day. If you’re reading Brokelyn, you probably want to impress a significant other without breaking the bank (unless you’re these guys) and sometimes collaging pictures together from your road trip to Philly just isn’t going to cut it. In the spirit of romance and all that, here’s a ready-to-go, adventure-packed and couples-approved free Valentine’s Day in BK. It won’t cost you anything, but there may be a few catches along the way. 

The Eve Before

1. Troll here, in case anyone’s giving away a pair of new boots in your date’s size. Or, get your hands on some cute fuzzy pets that need a home!
2. Write some gooey love poetry. It is an excellent backup for failed plans, or can simply be pulled out at an opportune time during any of the adventures below.
3. Sign up for a free Citi Bike day pass, (get your sig-O in on it, too. This will be your mode of transportation, unless you’ve got your hands on an unlimited Metrocard). Most of these spots are close to docking stations, just make sure to consult the map.

The Day Of

10am Start your day off right with a romantic pilgrimage across the Williamsburg bridge for delicious free cupcakes in SoHo. Nope, not kidding. Follow Georgetown Cupcake on Twitter to get a hold of their daily ‘not-so-secret flavor’, and use it like a password at the cash register. No purchase required.
*The catch: 1 per customer and first 100 customers only, so get there as close to opening as possible.

brooklyn bridge
Go ahead and do the picture on the bridge thing. We won’t judge you today (still judging actually). via Flickr user satosphere

11am Alright, that’s enough of Manhattan. Bike it back to BK—via the Brooklyn Bridge this time, for a change of scenery. Take copious Instagram-worthy ride pics along the way, and land yourself underneath the idyllic Dumbo arch (where you can snap yet more obligatory cliché couples’ photos).
*The catch: We’re all judging you. 

12pm Getting hungry again? That means it’s samples time, at the iconic freeloader’s heaven. Make your way over to the Court St. Trader Joe’s for whatever they’re serving up at their nibbles & coffee station. Super-bonus: Know anyone who works at TJ’s? Ask to go full ‘Lady and the Tramp’ style: a singing quartet of store clerks, a checkered square of cloth and sample cup by candlelight filled with a single whole-wheat spaghetti noodle you two can slurp on. Hell, even if you don’t know anyone, a couple crew members might do it anyway if the store is slow and they’re bored.
*The catch: You probably need at least 3 cups apiece to feel like you ate anything. 

brooklyn free store
Anarchy being the most romantic of political philosophies anyway. Photo by Eric Kingrea

1pm Now that you’ve replenished your stores of energy, it’s time to shop for each other’s gifts… but not with money, duh. Hop on your trial Citibikes and hit up the Brooklyn Free Store in Bed-Stuy for a smorgasbord of gratis wares!
*The catch: You’d better hope it’s still cold enough to be off-season for bedbugs. Ain’t nobody got time. 

3pm To the Brooklyn Public Library! Rent some quirky books, like the Kama Sutra or Rumi’s poetry. Then, take advantage of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s free winter weekday admission and read excerpts to your date on a bed of roses pile of dead branches. When the garden closes at 4:30, you can head over to the adjacent Prospect Park and let the romancing continue: carve your initials into a tree trunk, skip stones together in the reservoir and serenade your sweet thing at sunset from the stage of the abandoned gazebo.
*The catch: Hope you don’t mind getting accosted by dogs and babies, who make up the majority of the park’s mafia. 

6pm Something sweet is now in order, to fight off those frosty outdoor temperatures. Swing by Stork on Franklin Avenue (in Crown Heights) for a free goody bag of candy hearts that say what you haven’t had the courage to since your day began!  And if you didn’t find anything at the Free Store, this would also be an optimal time to present that obtained-in-advance Craigslist gift.
*The catch: Your significant other might get the wrong idea altogether, since Stork is a baby store.

7:30pm Romantic dinnertime! Two options here:
1. The Judaically-inclined can get themselves over to the Chabad House in North Williamsburg, which offers a free boozy festive meal  (V-Day happens to coincide with Shabbat this year. Who says religion can’t be sexy?)
*The catch: You might have to sit through the half-hour of services first. 

2. Head a few blocks South to Crocodile Lounge and split one of its free pizzas. Yeah, it’s only free with a drink purchase…so you’ll need to cozy up to one of the customers for their pie ticket. But after their 3rd or 4th beer, most of those people will have consumed enough pizza to feel in a giving mood.

harold and maude
End Valentine’s Day with this nice couple

9pm Now that you’ve pre-gamed with some of the hardest partiers in the borough, you and your honey can cozy up in the dimly-lit back room at Videology for their gratis screening of Harold and Maude, one the best romantic flicks of all time.
*The catch: dirty looks from the bartenders, since you’re not throwing down for drinks. Unless you’ve both got Beer Book 5. Just be sure to tip! You each have a dollar, don’t you?

11pm and beyond Uh…and in case you get the late-night munchies before turning in for the night, you can always resort to more drastic measures than the ones listed above.

And there you have it. A penniless V-Day that will have your special someone swooning in your arms.

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