Three Active Valentine's Dates and One Anti-Valentine Excursion

The summit of Max Patch Mountain
The summit of Max Patch Mountain David Clarke
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What's better than getting roses for Valentine's Day? How about rosy cheeks, instead? Get your blood moving and your adrenaline soaring with these active, out-of-the-box valentines dates, each paired with a delicious Asheville delight. We've even thrown in an evening of sour beer and heartbreak biking...you know, for the rest of us.

For the Classic: Max Patch and French Broad Chocolates

Picnic Ready at Max Patch
Picnic Ready at Max Patch Melina Coogan

Max Patch Mountain  near Hot Springs  is a place of superlative beauty in all seasons. This 350 acre swath of pastureland with 360 degree views, from the Great Smoky Mountains in the South to Mount Mitchell in the East, provides a picnic locale that cannot be outdone. Although the summit is a quick walk from the parking lot, it's easy to hop on the Appalachian Trail for just a few minutes to claim a more secluded spot for you and your sweetheart.

The Aphrodisiac Collection from French Broad Chocolates
The Aphrodisiac Collection from French Broad Chocolates Eliza Bell Photography

Turn up the romance by bringing along a box French Broad Chocolates , artisan chocolates handmade in Asheville. Try their new Aphrodisiac Collection, specially created for Valentine's Day. It includes truffles with names like Lemon Pink Peppercorn, Cabernet & Spice, and Cosmic Love Potion—adorned with a rose petal.

For the Newly in Love: Zip Lining and Rooftop Dining

High Adventure on a Canopy Zip Line Tour
High Adventure on a Canopy Zip Line Tour Adventure Center of Asheville

If you're newly in love and hoping to impress, and boost those levels of ever-so-helpful adrenaline, then choose this wild and quirky ride through the treetops, capped off with a rooftop dinner. Spend your first Valentine's Day together in the sky.

The Adventure Center of Asheville is offering 50% off tours of their Canopy Zipline Adventure on Valentines Day. Couples are encouraged, but the deal also extends to families, friends, girls' day, guys' day—whatever your red paper heart desires. Glide through the sky—the longest zipline is a quarter of a mile!—or tap into your inner American Ninja Warrior by tackling the advanced 'red' course in the Asheville Tree Top Adventure Park, an obstacle course suspended through the trees. For a fun and off-beat Valentines Day, the Adventure Center will bring out the athletic and creative side of you and your sweetheart—and guarantee plenty to talk about over diner.

Follow your top-of-the-world adventure by eating and drinking on high. Sazerac Social Lounge downtown offers craft cocktails, Mediterranean inspired small plates, and a rooftop patio and bar. Gaze down on the city and across to the mountains as you sip a Buttercup or a Cucumber Royale. For other asheville eateries above it all, try Top of the Monk or the Grove Park Inn. (Sadly, Sky Bar is closed for the season.)

For the Smitten: Star Gazing at Five Points 

The Start of a Romantic Ride
The Start of a Romantic Ride Svend Deal

This one fuses true adventure with hopeless romance. Bundle up and fasten your headlamps, because you're going out in the dark. Tell your sweetie that you're just planning for a night ride, but don't let him see what's going in your pack: a  pretty but technical blanket , toe and hand warmers, hats, gloves, an extra layer or two. Optional: sea salt chocolate, flask of sipping whisky, fake rose. (We've trail tested this with a real rose, it did not fair well.)

Park at Rice Pinnacle trailhead at Bent Creek Experimental Forest, then choose your path to Five Points. At night, the Northern Boundary Road, which oscillates between wide gravel and single track, will be the easiest and safest option, and provides sweeping views of twinkling city lights and the dark Blue Ridge.

At the end of the ride, Northern Boundary tightens up and turns into an enjoyable, single track downhill that delivers you to Five Points, your destination for the evening. Catch your breath and sip some water, for now is the time to dazzle. Shake out that blanket, and commence star gazing—the moon will be just a sliver. Add some decadence by firing up your Jet Boil and preparing some French Broad Chocolate's Bean to Bar in a Jar Sipping Chocolate.

For The Bitter: Heartbreak Ridge and Sour Beers

Okay, so maybe you're heartbroken, love lost, spurned, cuckolded, or just simply uninterested. If you find Valentine's Day and all its rosy traditions to be truly virulent, here is an idea just for you. Spend the day riding the Heartbreak Ridge Trail in Pisgah National Forest. This is a trail that should match your mood: a crushing climb up Curtis Creek Road (there are gentler options to the top, but let's stick with the theme here) followed by an endless downhill (a familiar feeling for the Heartbroken,) with a plunge of over 2,000 feet in four miles. While this is not the most technically demanding trail in Pisgah, you can still expect plenty of rocks, drops, roots, and gnar to keep you in the zone. When you're finished, filled with fresh air and swamped in exercise endorphins, you might just be feeling a bit better. But don't sweat it, out there amongst the trees, nobody will see you.

Sour Beers to match your mood.
Sour Beers to match your mood. Melina Coogan

Following your ride, take advantage of YoungBlood Bicycles Love Your Bike February Tune Up Special- big discounts on deluxe tune ups. After all, your bike loves you no matter what. In the evening, stop over at the Funkatorium, Wicked Weed's  barrel and sour brewery. Sip on a Black Angel Cherry Sour, enjoy the cavernous atmosphere, and wallow like there's no tomorrow. It's Valentine's Day, you've earned the right.

Coffee and Love in Western Carolina
Coffee and Love in Western Carolina Melina Coogan

Be warned: you've just set the bar high for Valentine's Day. The next one will be here in 354 days: better get planning.

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