THE LOOP — If your Valentine's Day plans involved hoping to snag a last-minute reservation at a Downtown dining destination, dream on.
Luckily, there are plenty of happenings in the Loop this Friday for couples and singles to ring in the holiday that don't include sit-down dining or require advanced planning.
You might even score some bonus points for thinking outside the heart-shaped, chocolate-filled box.
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For the couple that hates crowds — but loves heights: Who says the only acceptable Valentine's Day meal is dinner? Willis Tower's 99th floor Skydeck is hosting a breakfast buffet on Feb. 14 from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Rouse your sweetie before work and gorge on scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon, danishes and bagels in the sky. Reservations are required — call 312-875-9447 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a spot — and admission includes a photo on the Ledge. (Where 574 marriage proposals have taken place since its opening: hint hint.)
For adventurous (or hibernating) Loopers: Temperatures Friday are in the balmy mid-20s, but if the thought of braving the cold for a night out after work chills your excitement, take your V-Day underground. The Pedway below the Loop is stocked with restaurants, bars and places to shop, all accessible underground. Visit some of our favorite hotspots or uncover new hidden gems while the above-ground restaurants and attractions fill up.
For cocktail enthusiasts without a reservation: Forget about dining at most Downtown restos Feb. 14 sans-reservation. But if you want to hit a hotspot and don't mind grabbing a bite somewhere less swanky, make a tour of hitting some spots with themed drinks available at the bar. Best bets include "Love Potion Number 0" at Mercadito 108 W. Kinzie St., "King of Hearts" at Sepia on Jefferson Street, "HIM" and "HER" at Filini on Columbus Drive and the newly-opened Sidedoor's "Valentini" at the corner of Rush and Ontario streets.
For singles or couples looking to boogie: The funky chicken won't take you far on the dance floor. Luckily the American Rhythm Center at 410 S. Michigan Ave. is here to help with an all-night Valentine's Day series of dancing lessons. For $10 per person or $16 per duet, dancers at any skill level (including beginners) can drop by for open dancing from 6 to 9:30 p.m., and/or for Soul Swing lessons at 6:30 and Disco lessons at 8. Ticket price includes a glass of wine, snacks and soft drinks and a goodie bag full of gift certificates.
For a taste of Europe, without the trek to O'Hare or Midway: If your ideal Valentine's Day involves wandering a country market in pastoral France, you're not alone. But chances are slim you can make that dream a reality by Friday afternoon. Capture the experience without leaving the Loop at the Chicago French Market at 131 N. Clinton St. Grab a-la-carte bites as you wander by places like Da Lobsta, Pastoral and Delightful Pastries, and even buy gifts like swanky olive oil, teas and wines along the way.