Bethany Clough

Think Valentine’s Day is cliché? Here are six unusual ideas for Fresno sweethearts

Here are six things to do on Valentine’s Day 2019 in Fresno

Looking for some unique gift to buy or things to do for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day here in Fresno, California? Options include breadstick bouquets, heart-shaped food, renting luxury cars and zoo adoptions.
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Looking for some unique gift to buy or things to do for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day here in Fresno, California? Options include breadstick bouquets, heart-shaped food, renting luxury cars and zoo adoptions.

Anybody can buy flowers or make a dinner reservation for Valentine’s Day.

But what if you want to do something a little more creative for your valentine? We can help. We put together a list of Valentine’s-themed things you can do that are a little outside the norm. Some are downright wacky. Some are just a little different.

Buy a “breadstick bouquet” from Olive Garden. The restaurant will probably be packed Thursday, but it’s encouraging people to buy a take-out order of their breadsticks and present them to their Valentine in a paper wrapper that says “Love at first bite.” You can choose from several different sayings and print a wrapper with a saying that you like online.

You roll up the breadsticks like a bouquet in the wrapper and present it to your valentine. Olive Garden is probably hoping you’ll buy a to-go meal from them too, but that’s up to you.

Rent a Lamborghini – or another car that normally costs $200,000 to $300,000. Oxotic of Fresno lets you drive their luxury cars, with a pace car in front that takes you on a tour of certain locations.

In addition to the Lamborghini Superleggera, you can also drive a Ferrari 458 spider convertible or an Audi R8 spyder convertible. Tours range from 15 miles to 165 miles and include a drive to Millerton Lake, Bass Lake, Yosemite or other locations.

The experience costs between $99 and $1,200 miles and includes pictures and video of you driving and posing with the car. Book any tour from 15 to 70 miles and you’ll get upgraded to the next-longest tour for free for Valentine’s Day, plus get matching T-shirts.

To reserve, call (855) 696-8421.

Adopt a porcupine. The Fresno Chaffee Zoo is giving people the chance to ask “quill you be mine?” with a Valentine’s adopt-an-animal special. For $50, you can virtually adopt a porcupine (meaning you don’t get to take it home).

The price includes a plush porcupine, a certificate of adoption, a fact sheet with details about porcupines, two tickets to the zoo, and your Valentine’s name listed on the zoo’s adoption board for a year. Half of the money pays for physical and psychological activities with the porcupines that encourage natural behavior.

To adopt, go to the zoo’s admission booth, call 559-498-5921 or check out the deal online.

Plant a tree in your valentine’s honor. You don’t even have to get your hands dirty because Tree Fresno is offering “tribute trees” that they plant for you. Species include native valley oak, purple leaf plum, deodar cedar and mondel pine and they can be planted in five groves in parks and trails in Fresno, Clovis and Reedley.

For $400, Tree Fresno digs a hole, plants a 15-gallon tree, continues to care for it, and hangs a metal tag on the tree with the name of the person being honored. You also get an emailed confirmation that can be presented to your Valentine, along with a poem, certificate and ceremony from Tree Fresno that can be scheduled on the third Saturday of the month.

Reserve a tree by calling (559) 221-5556, emailing or pay for one on the Tree Fresno website.

Have dinner at a breakfast place. Most people don’t think of Patio Cafe in Fig Garden Village as a dinner place (though it is open late Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays). But the restaurant is serving a Valentine’s Day dinner with a throwback vibe.

See, the Patio Cafe opened 21 years ago. It got its name because the chef literally used to cook on a grill on the patio in front of the restaurant (where the bands play now on weekends). That chef was Reyes Chacon, who now runs the Gastro Grill food truck and Chacon’s Catering. Longtime Fresnans might remember him from the sandwiches he made at Christensen’s Food World, a grocery store where CVS is now.

Chacon and Patio Cafe owner Robyn Richardson have teamed up for this special dinner - and possibly more dinners in the future.

Starting at 5 p.m., customers can order from a special menu that includes entrees like a blackened free range chicken with Argentine red shrimp fettuccine, wild-caught Alaskan salmon with seared scallops, a charbroiled steak or a vegan lasagna made with the chef’s red oak smoked tomato sauce and vegetables. The entrees cost $30.

Appetizers, salads and dessert will be available too and priced individually. For an extra charge, diners can get a wine pairing with each course with wines from Bella Vino Cellar, the wine store and tasting room a few doors down.

Call (559) 243-1074 to make a reservation, though they are accepting walk-ins. Extra tables will be available inside Bella Vino for dining.

Buy a dessert taco. Fresno loves tacos, so a taco as a symbol of love is totally appropriate. And while regular tacos are available any old day of the year, Valentine’s themed cookie tacos are only available this week.

Frosted Cakery at 1292 N. Wishon Ave. is selling a box of two sugar cookies – a taco holding a little heart and a heart-shaped cookie that says “be mine.” The box sells for $12 can be purchased on a first-come, first-served basis at the bakery.

And speaking of dessert tacos, a new business at Sierra Vista Mall in Clovis is selling those too. Chocolate Wishes and Treats just barely opened at Sierra Vista Mall near the theater.

Their dessert taco, in this story by Bee reporter Robert Rodriguez, is described as a “waffle folded into the shape of a taco. But there is no carne asada here, these tacos are filled with stuff like ice cream, gummy bears, sprinkles, chocolate chunks, and toasted marshmallows.”

Buy heart-shaped food. The Fresno area has a surprising number of foods that come in heart shapes this time of year, much of it locally made. If you didn’t see our story about this in The Bee last week, keep an eye out for La Tapatia Tortilleria’s red heart-shaped tortilla chips, Krispy Kreme’s conversation heart doughnuts, heart-shaped sopes from El Premio Mayor and Valley Lahvosh’s heart-shaped crackers.

Bethany Clough covers restaurants and retail for The Fresno Bee. A reporter for 20 years, she now works to answer readers’ questions about business openings, closings and other business news. She has a degree in journalism from Syracuse University and her last name is pronounced Cluff.