The season of love is upon us, and we are happy to help guide the lovebirds of Lincoln on how to make this special day one to remember. Whether you are spending the day with a special someone, or spreading love to your friends, family, and community, Valentine’s Day reminds us to lead with love. It may be the day dedicated to love, but February 14 should not be the only day that ranks love at the top spot of importance. Love should be an integral part of everything we do, every conversation we have, and every decision we make. Without love, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

Expressing undying love for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day doesn’t cost any money, but nearly everything else does. While there’s nothing wrong with showering someone you love with gifts, it’s still possible to celebrate this wonderful holiday on a budget.

First, it’s important to plan ahead. The best strategy, especially for a popular, romantic restaurant, is booking early. Shopping early can also guarantee that you get exactly what you’re looking for, and you avoid overspending at the last minute.

Speaking of shopping, gifts don’t always have to be expensive jewelry or flowers. To get more creative with your gift ideas, it may help to think of flowers other than roses. Not only are roses pricey, but they don’t last long. Some alternatives to consider include tulips, daisies, lilies, and many other types of flowers, many of which may be cheaper than roses. If you’re looking to cut back on Valentine’s Day costs, consider creating your own gift rather than buying one. There are some inexpensive DIY ideas and kits available like candle-making kits, cookie kits, and embroidery portraits that are thoughtful and won’t break your wallet.

While Valentine’s Day can be an expensive holiday, there is nothing romantic about going into debt for over-shopping. Be realistic about what you can and can’t afford, and remember that the day will be special no matter what you do. Show the people you love the most how much you care about them with these helpful tips from these local businesses!

A Classic Dinner

Carmela’s Bistro & Wine Bar has been in Lincoln’s quaint Pioneers Woods Shopping Center since 2008. It is truly the love child of its owner, Marci Hanshaw. Her vision of a sophisticated-yet-cozy eatery and bar is alive at Carmela’s, and it shines through with a European-inspired elegance combined with the charm of an American bistro. The walls are full of playful wine-loving sayings and photos of Hollywood’s most iconic faces from the 50s and 60s, such as Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, and Johnny Cash. There is also an impressive wine wall in the main dining area that showcases Carmela’s vast selection of vino.

Carmela’s will be offering a four-course Valentine’s Day Prix Fixe Sweetheart menu for $80 per couple. The first course is a shared appetizer with choices of asiago crab dip, bruschetta, and a deviled egg course named “Wicked Eggs.”

Each person will then select their own second course. The options are crab chowder, salad, or brussels and kale. The third course is the entrée, where each person can choose between different main proteins or a butternut risotto. Dessert is the final shared course with the options being cheesecake and “Better than Sex” cake.

Those interested in this special dinner can make reservations at

If your plans for Valentine’s Day are already in the works, Carmela’s Bistro & Wine Bar keeps things exciting by doing a Date Night special on Monday and Tuesday evenings, a Million Dollar Burger special on Wednesdays, and more. With two dining areas, an outdoor patio, a variety of seating options, and a private event room, Carmela’s is a welcoming restaurant for all.

The Perfect Stay-cation

Valentine’s Day is on a Tuesday this year, which means you and your sweetheart may not get the chance to get away. Lincoln is full of great options for stay-cations surrounded by wonderful local restaurants and fun, eclectic activities.

Ideally located in the heart of Lincoln, The Kindler Hotel offers the area’s first and only boutique lodging experience. Their first-in-class service, distinctive dining, unique bar menus, and a wide array of amenities create an unrivaled guest experience. It fuses gracious hospitality with a contemporary art collection for a truly memorable stay in Husker Nation.

The Kindler Hotel is surrounded by revered attractions and top-rated restaurants, all of which are within walking distance or a brief drive. The unique history and vibrant culture of Nebraska are within reach.

Sink into plush bedding, admire fine finishes, and appreciate thoughtful and modern conveniences. Your downtown haven will be waiting for you at the end of your busy day in Lincoln. The Kindler offers a variety of room options that include in-room amenities such as complimentary WiFi, personal coffee makers, and a refrigerator.

For Valentine’s Day this year, The Kindler Hotel will feature live jazz music with Bobby Gadoury in the Boitano’s Lounge from 6-9 p.m. They are also offering a special add-on package to a room reserved from February 10 to February 14. This is the perfect place to spend Valentine’s Day or any romantic evening with someone you love. Make someone you love feel special and treat them to The Kindler Hotel.

Locals and guests alike come together in the lavishly appointed lounge to enjoy uniquely crafted cocktails and a seasonal dining menu developed by Brian Boitano — world-renowned Olympic skater and Food Network star. Savor satisfying dishes and locally sourced ingredients in a hip and welcoming atmosphere. Boitano’s Lounge is the perfect place for dinner or nightcap.

This is the perfect place to spend Valentine’s Day or any romantic evening with someone you love. Make someone you love feel special and treat them to The Kindler Hotel.

Wine from the Heart

What’s more romantic than wine? Treating your special someone to locally-produced wine can be the cherry on top of a romantic evening.

What started out as a hobby has turned into a popular Nebraska destination celebrating over 20 years of business. James Arthur Vineyards (JAV) in Raymond opened its doors in 1997. Since then, the winery has hosted thousands of guests, including visitors from every state and numerous countries from around the world. JAV is Nebraska’s largest winery and is located just north of Lincoln. Surrounded by nearly 20 acres of grapes, wine production is also supplemented by a number of Nebraska grape growers.

To celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, JAV has planned several sold-out events. While you may not be able to snag a ticket this year, these are great ideas to stick in your back pocket for next year. It also never hurts to call the winery closer to the event date to see if they’ve had any cancellations.

On February 4, James Arthur Vineyards is hosting a wine and chocolate pairing event with The Chocolate Season. They will pair five JAV wines, including two of the 25th-anniversary selections, with chocolates crafted by The Chocolate Season.

On February 10, JAV is celebrating love with a chocolate-inspired buffet. The special event includes a variety of chocolate-themed appetizers, salads, soups, entrees, and desserts. Tickets include a bottle of select JAV wines.

Finally, on February 11, the Meet-Your-Winemaker Valentine’s dinner will take place. This is a five-course meal with wine pairings in JAV’s party room.

Of course, for those looking to go all out, the Vineyard is available for private rentals in their party rooms. JAV offers an exceptional location for your dream Valentine’s Day. Their richly appointed private party room with comfortable furnishings, rich décor, and spectacular views affords an extraordinary venue available nowhere else in the region. They’re well known for their excellent service, ambiance, and food, and they prioritize personalizing the menu for your group as a way to offer better service and presentation.

If you can’t make it to Raymond, JAV has a tasting room in their From Nebraska Gift Shop in the Haymarket. While sipping wine, browse through the store where they showcase the best products made in Nebraska. Just like JAV’s Nebraska-made wines, they are proud of the wonderful products they carry that represent Nebraska’s finest producers of food, wine, and gifts. Here you can also find the perfect Valentine’s gifts for the Nebraska lover in your heart!

No matter if you are practicing a little self-love or treating your true love to something special, take this Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to enjoy an exciting new adventure. There are so many professionals in the area that want to help you make this day a day to remember. XOXO!