To watch movies, or TV, or even just glance at commercials, or really interact in any way at all with pop culture, you’d think Valentine’s Day was just a celebration of new, young love. Cupid shoots an arrow, and—bam! True love, as fresh as the melting spring.
And while we here at IOA are certainly in favor of young love, we know that the idea that romance and romantic times are the sole property of the young is cruel, degrading, and truly harmful. Whether you have been married for 50 years or are meeting someone new, Valentine’s Day is a celebration of your love.
We know that sometimes dating when you are older can be tricky, but honestly, dating at any time is tricky. Relationships at any stage of life need compromise, balance, and patience. It’s the same for everyone; age is just a number.
So while not every moment can be romantic, some certainly can be. And Valentine’s Day, especially in a region as cinematic and lush as San Francisco and the Bay Area, can be a beautiful celebration of love, no matter where you are in life.
So we want you to enjoy this Valentine’s Day with the person or the people you love. There doesn’t have to be a heart-shaped box of expectations: do this the way you enjoy most.
But as a kickstarter, here are some Valentine’s Day ideas for older adults in the Bay Area. We can’t wait to hear how you celebrated.
9 Great Bay Area Valentine’s Day Ideas for Older Adults
- Spend the day with family and friends. We certainly recognize that not everyone is in a relationship, nor do we think everyone should be. But love is love, whether you are with your sweetheart or with the family and friends who make you happy to be with. Go to brunch, cook dinner, go for a picnic if the weather permits. And always remember: not being in a relationship never means that you are alone. Celebrate with all the love you have in life.
- Sock Hop at the Presidio Officers Club. The most historic building in San Francisco is having itself a throwback shindig with a sock hop on February 10th, from 7-10. Free admittance, live music, throwback cocktails, and as much dancing as you can handle. Register now for some 1950s romance.
- San Francisco Bay Cruise. What’s better than an intimate 4-course dinner over Valentine’s Day weekend? How about that dinner as you watch the jaw-dropping SF skyline sail by from a luxurious boat on the Bay? Departing from Embarcadero, these 3-hr cruises also offer live entertainment and dancing.
- Salsa Festival. Starting on February 15th, this 4-day festival at the Whitcomb Hotel showcases “social dancing, world-class performances and shows, music from acclaimed bands and DJs, workshops and classes for all dance levels with top instructors, a beginner boot camp, educational lectures and late night parties in the heart of one of the greatest cities in the world.” Shake your way to a romantic weekend, or just enjoy the hot thrill of some of the world’s greatest dancers.
- Classic Romantic Movie. Casablanca. It Happened One Night. The Philadelphia Story. Pillow Talk. Maybe you don’t feel like going out. Maybe you want to stay in and watch a great romantic movie. The Big Sick. Talk To Her. That’s a wonderful idea. When the music swells, and they kiss, your heart is guaranteed to grow 12 sizes. Before Sunrise. The Way We Were. Have we given you any ideas?
- Cupid’s Undie Run. This is the opposite of staying in. On Saturday, February 17th, starting at Pedro’s Cantina, there is a charity fun run…in your underwear. Accompanied by a party, this very short run raises money to find a cure for Neurofibromatosis. It’s a good cause and an adventure. So you can spend the weekend helping children while getting exercise or just watching people be goofy. It might be something you never thought you’d do, but there’s always time for the first time.
- Wine Tasting. Granted, there are ways to have fun without running/stripping down. February 17th is also the day of the Chronicle Wine Competition Public Tasting Festival, at Fort Mason on the Bay. Taste from some of the best vintages judged by 63 of the top wine experts in America. It’s a way to clink glasses without paying top dollars. And what’s more romantic than wine?
- A Walk in Golden Gate Park. OK, a walk in the park might be more romantic than wine, especially one as wind-swept and historic and cinematic as Golden Gate Park. We didn’t list Vertigo in our romantic movie list, for obvious reasons, but we know that you’ll feel incredibly romantic standing at the spot where earth meets sea and where man’s towering works meet nature’s roaring beauty. It’s impossible not to.
- Bridgewatch. Valentine’s Day isn’t happy for everyone. For many people, the expectations of love amplify feelings of loneliness, which is why suicide attempts tend to spike on the holiday. Thankfully, groups like Bridgewatch organize volunteers to talk to and befriend people on the Golden Gate Bridge, preventing a senseless loss of life. At IOA, we know that the offer of friendship, even (maybe especially) from a stranger, can make all the difference. It’s why we run our Friendship Hotline, and why we feel programs like Bridgewatch can make a huge difference. Is it romantic? No—but it is the heart of love.
Love Makes The World Go Round
What is the heart of love? Is it romance between two people? Is it deep and abiding friendship? Is it the warmth you feel with your group of confidantes, with your family members, with the people who know you the best? Can love be found in the laughter of shared long-running jokes, or the first breath shared by new lovers?
Is love reaching out to someone in pain, someone who is lonely, and saying, “I am with you”?
We think it is all of these things, and so much more. Love is what we celebrate at IOA. Love for each other, love for the world, love for our community, and the love of continuing this journey of life. Whether you are journeying while holding someone’s hand or embraced in a group hug, we celebrate you this Valentine’s Day. This and every other day.
At Institute on Aging, our programs and services help older adults, their families, and caregivers explore aging together, through good times and bad, as an adventure and a journey. Connect with us today to learn more.