Going out for Valentine's Day can be horridly expensive and completely unnecessary. D.C. Valentine's dinner prices are similar to New Year's Eve...it would be really difficult to get away from spending less than $200 on dinner out because so many restaurants do pre-fixe meals ranging from $75-$150 per person. I'm all for not cooking dinner on Valentine's Day, but I think there are other options out there that won't break the bank.
If you happen to live in the D.C. area, pick up prepared foods from a fancy grocery store such as Whole Foods, Mom's Organic Market, or Balducci's and go out for dessert and a glass of wine at a fancy pants place. I'd recommend Serendipity 3 if you can get in (I've been to the original NYC location) and there is nothing better than a giant sundae or one of their famous frozen hot chocolates! Another idea would be to get takeout from your favorite restaurant and then make a special dessert at home that doesn't require too much effort...like chocolate covered strawberries (hint: heat the chocolate over low in a mini-crockpot...it won't burn or get too cold). You can head to one of the outdoor ice skating rinks at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, Pentagon Row, or the Reston Town Center and then treat yourself to a huge hot chocolate at Oyamel or Pitango. If you must cook, why not head to a cooking class at Sur la Table? I've been wanting to go to one of their gourmet cooking classes which range from $39-$79 per person. At least with a cooking class, you aren't responsible for the dirty dishes!
If you happen to be lucky enough to spend Valentine's Day with all your single girlfriends, make it fun! Go bowling, do one of those painting and wine parties, host a sleepover, or have a potluck (feel free to make it desserts only!).
I'll be sharing my Valentine's plans later in the week, but have I missed any super fun D.C. dates? Obviously, these tips work in almost any city, but let us know what's going on in your towns!