When it comes to romance, my significant other is um, let's say romantically challenged. Yes, he did propose to me on a Christmas Eve...but it was only after we put out the fire, and I'm talking actual fire here, thankfully a teeny-tiny one. Over the course of the past decade of (primarily) marital bliss—and another six years hence while making sure we truly wanted to tie that proverbial knot—we've had more than our fair share of romance, right here in River City.
Let's start with the February 2010 weekend of "Snowmageddon," when more than 20 inches of snow fell in about as many hours. It begins with a delightful Friday night dinner at a Downtown restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows. We drink Manhattans, dine next to the window and watch as snow blankets downtown. Then, it's off to Heinz Hall to hear the Pittsburgh Symphony - a first for us - to hear "the Mahler," as we later hear it called. We stamp snow off our boots and enter the elegant Heinz Hall. "My, haven't we matured," I say to the guy who I met at a Lucinda Williams' concert at the old Metropol.
During intermission, we marvel at the winter wonderland in the courtyard. The music inside is just as enchanting. After that wonderful performance, we step outside into a snow globe that is the city and are grateful to live only three miles away. It is a night to remember. And so the tradition of date night with the Pittsburgh Symphony is born.
Taking It Off, Putting It On (the pounds, that is!)
Bike riding can be another romantic escape - especially along Pittsburgh's beautiful river trails. One of our best bike rides bar none took place along the North Shore Trail during the last weekend in February 2000 - when the temperature hit the high 60s. Sweating with your sweetie in February? Believe it!
Switching gears here...Next up on the merry-go-round of romance is none other than Kennywood. Nonono, not the Old Mill, if that's what you’re thinking! Though back in the olden days, this was THE go - to place in the park for whatever the expression is that kids call making out these days. Uh-hem. Now, it's all about the sharing of Potato Patch Fries. Nothing says love than being able to double dip with the one you love.
Speaking of eating, there is the obvious destination that comes to mind when it comes to planning a romantic dinner in Pittsburgh, no joking. Dining anywhere along aptly named Grandview Avenue's Restaurant Row on Mt. Washington scores big in the romance department. The food...The glittering city lights...The glistening rivers...The glorious bridges. And, OMG, that view! We've celebrated a number of anniversaries, a few birthdays and an engagement from high atop Mt. Washington-and every dinner was as special as it gets.
A trip to Phipps - especially in the winter - is primo for budding (and enduring) romance. Step inside the century-old glass walls and be instantly surrounded in natural, albeit meticulously manicured, beauty. If, as Ralph Waldo Emerson, said: "The earth laughs in flowers," then Phipps Conservatory is one seriously special place to grin from ear to ear, while strolling hand-in-hand with your lover - and, if you're lucky, your best friend, too.
I'd be romantically remiss if I didn't mention Schenley Park, located right across the street from Phipps. Specifically the Schenley Park Cafe and Visitor Center. The huh, you say? Visitor whaaaat? Romantic? Yepper. Built between 1903 and 1904, this one-time picnic shelter-turned-concession-stand-turned-tool shed-turned-ewwww-snake museum, this charmingly restored building is (in its restored state, not the ewwww snake museum state) the site where my not-necessarily-romantically-minded, but-yet-oh-so-loving husband and I married 10 years ago this June. We wrote our own marriage vows and will return to renew them - God, Buddha or the Big Kahuna willing on June 3. (Get ready, Paul!)
The fire in the kitchen is long extinguished. Yet the flames flicker on. Yes, romance in the City of Bridges is plentiful. Just ask Paul.