Maybe you've got chocolates and a sappy Valentine's Day card at the ready, but does figuring out how to spend the day full o' love leave you scratching your head?
Not to worry. You can get an early start this weekend with a number of events for lovebirds sure to be a memorable windup for the main event next week.
GOLD COAST DINNER
It's not often that you can spend an evening at an early 20th century mansion. But this weekend, you'll be able to see the historic Vanderbilt estate during a meal that encourages diners to meander around between courses. The night begins with hors d'oeuvres and wine in the Memorial wing, amid artifacts from Asia and Africa. It continues to the Vanderbilt's private living quarters; then guests can select from four entrees that will be served in a dining room with glass-encased porch overlooking Northport Harbor. Dessert rounds out the evening in the Lancaster room with its fireplace and large windows. Diners can have a look at the Vanderbilt Library and a Spanish tiled courtyard.
INFO 631-854-5579, vanderbiltmuseum.org
COST $100 per person
TOUR A GRAND CASTLE
Most visitors to Oheka Castle in Huntington are guests at ritzy weddings and formal galas. But this weekend, the estate's doors are open to the public for Valentine's Day-themed tours and sweets. One-hour guided tours take guests through several areas of the castle including the ballroom, library and a room full of Charlie Chaplin memorabilia and photographs. Afterward, coffee and tea will be served with a selection of treats from Oheka's pastry kitchen. For an extra $25 a person, you can also share a bottle of Champagne and have chocolate-covered strawberries with your sweetie at a private table.
WHEN | WHERE 1-hour tours 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday (and Tuesday) at Oheka Castle, 135 West Gate Dr., Huntington. Reservations required.
INFO 631-659-1400, oheka.com
ADMISSION $25 ($50 includes Champagne and strawberries)
Nothing captures a love story like a song -- and the rock band Chicago has told plenty of stories with hits ranging from "I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love" to "Here in My Heart." Sing along to a live performance of the group's top rock ballads as performed by the tribute band Beginnings at the Dix Hills Performing Arts Center (7:30 Friday night, $30-$35), 305 N. Service Rd., Dix Hills.
WHEN | WHERE For love affairs of an earlier era, nothing spells nostalgia quite like The Beatles. The folk-harmony trio Gathering Time will perform a selection of Beatles love songs in an acoustic guitar concert 2 p.m. Sunday, also at Dix Hills Performing Arts Center ($20).
INFO 631-656-2148, dhpac.org
Remember those old-fashioned school Valentine's Day dances -- the butterflies in your stomach as you slow-danced with your sweetie? The times may have changed, but you can still keep that romance alive at these nostalgic dances themed to different eras.
The Long Island Sound Big Band, a 19-piece big band, and two singers will perform everything from Sinatra and swing to Latin and pop tunes. A cash bar is available, along with a buffet dinner and Viennese table.
ADMISSION $55 ($25 dance only)
'50S SOCK HOP
With a DJ spinning '50s records, prepare to break out your best lindy hop at this dance, presented by the Sons of Italy Vigiano Brothers Lodge 㐶. Although '50s attire isn't required, feel free to dress the part. Dinner is potluck style (water/soda included) -- BYO wine and beer.
WHEN | WHERE Friday night at 7, Bates House, 1 Bates Rd., Setauket. Reservations suggested.
INFO 631-928-4138, vigianobrotherslodge.com
ADMISSION $20 ($15 if you bring a half-tray of food for potluck)
Multicolor flashing lights and a disco ball will light up the club's dance floor as a DJ plays '60s to '80s music and contemporary hits. A buffet and chocolate fountain with strawberries is included.
WHEN | WHERE Saturday night at 7, 230 Elm St., Southampton
INFO 631-283-2494, southamptonhistoricalmuseum.org
ADMISSION $60 ($50 advance)