Date, dining and gift ideas for Valentine’s Day in the Capital Region

Robert Hundley

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and we want you to feel the love this year. 

Whether you’re celebrating with a special someone, a group of friends or if you just want to treat yourself, our Best of the Capital Region winners can help ensure you’re commemorating the occasion in style.  

By the way, the voting period for Best of 2022 begins on Feb. 21, so make sure you save some love for your favorites! Stay in the know about this year’s contest by signing up for our Best of the Capital Region newsletter.

Getting ready

Look and feel your very best this Valentine’s Day with a new outfit from one of the Capital Region’s best malls. Whether you’re in need of a quick trim or you’re ready to go bold with a new hairstyle, the best local barbers, stylists and salons have got you covered.

Best barbershop

William Yager, owner of Patsy’s Barber Shop, with a customer at his shop in Albany, NY. 

John Carl D’Annibale

Winner: Patsy’s Barber Shop

Second place: Duke’s Barber Shop

Runner up: Gregory’s Barbershop

Runner up: Bernie’s Barber Shop

Runner up: All in Cuts

 



Best hair salon

Kimberly "Kimora" Fray, a cosmatelogist and wig specialist, styles a wig for Kathy Marin of Valatie on Tuesday, Nov 8, 2016, at Rumors Salon and Spa in Latham, N.Y. (Cindy Schultz / Times Union)

Kimberly “Kimora” Fray, a cosmetologist and wig specialist, styles a wig at Rumors Salon & Spa in Latham, N.Y. 

Cindy Schultz

Winner: The W Salon

Second place: Rumors Salon & Spa

Runner up: The Bowery Salon and Beauty Bar

Runner up: Jenna’s Salon

Runner up: Pixie Salon



Best individual hair stylist/barber

William Yager, center, owner of Patsy's Barber Shop, with customer Dan Atkins of Albany, at his shop Tuesday March 6, 2018 in Albany, NY. (John Carl D'Annibale/Times Union)

William “Tragedy” Yager, owner of Patsy’s Barber Shop, with a customer at his shop in Albany, NY. 

John Carl D’Annibale

Winner: William “Tragedy” Yager of Patsy’s Barber Shop

Second place: Rita Foley of The Bowery

Runner up: Kate Smith of Pixie Hair Salon

Runner up: Marcus Moore of Jean Paul Spa and Studios

Runner up: Noreen Sharkey of The Image Studio Salon

Runner up: Jacqueline Paratore of ChrispyCuts



Best local mall

Kate, who is a participant in the Colonie Community Connection work program, folds cloths at Boscov's where she is interning through the program on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, at Colonie Center in Colonie, N.Y. The work program provides students with opportunities for career exploration through partnerships with Boscov's, L.L. Bean, Christmas Tree Shops, Sports Zone and PCX Apparel.

Kate, a participant in the Colonie Community Connection work program, folds clothes at Boscov’s where she is interning through the program on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, at Colonie Center in Colonie, N.Y. 

Will Waldron/Times Union

Winner: Colonie Center

Second place: Stuyvesant Plaza

Runner up: Crossgates Mall

Runner up: Clifton Park Center

Runner up: Wilton Mall


Gift ideas

Treat your sweetie to some sweets from the region’s best bakeries, sparkles from the best jewelers or some self-care from the best spas. A bouquet of flowers is always lovely, but if your partner has a green thumb, why not take advantage of the selection at the region’s garden centers to give a gift that keeps giving? 

Best bakery

Plate of Italian cookies from Bella Napoli, a bakery known for its varied and colorful holiday cookie platters. 

Plate of Italian cookies from Bella Napoli, a bakery known for its varied and colorful holiday cookie platters. 

Will Waldron/Times Union

Winner: Bella Napoli

Second place: Villa Italia

Runner up: Bake For You

Runner up: The Cookie Factory

Runner up: Upstate Cookie Shack

Learn more



Best garden center/florist

Our spring Snapchat tour started with Hewitt's Garden Center in Guilderland. (Peter Bowden/Hewitt's Garden Center/Special to the Times Union)

Hewitt’s Garden Center in Guilderland. (Peter Bowden/Hewitt’s Garden Center)

Winner: Hewitt’s Garden Centers

Second place: Faddegon’s Nursery

Runner up: Gade Farms

Runner up: George’s Market & Nursery

Runner up: Becker’s Farm



Best jewelry store

This ring from Hannoush Jewelers in Albany, Clifton Park and Pittsfield, Mass. costs more than $100K. When Albert Hannoush, who designed the ring, posted it to Facebook, he received more 500 reactions. 

This ring from Hannoush Jewelers in Albany, Clifton Park and Pittsfield, Mass., costs more than $100K. When Albert Hannoush, who designed the ring, posted it to Facebook, he received more 500 reactions. 

Courtesy of Albert Hannoush

Winner: Hannoush Jewelers

Second place: Northeastern Fine Jewelry

Runner up: Glennpeter Jewelers

Runner up: Frank Adams

Runner up: Harold Finkle Your Jeweler



Best spa

The relaxing room at Spa Mirbeau in Crossgates Mall on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, in Guilderland N.Y. The 17,000-square-foot facility is the latest edition to the Mirbeau Companies day resorts. It includes an aqua terrace with bar, fitness and yoga studios, French bistro and retail boutique.

The relaxing room at Spa Mirbeau in Crossgates Mall on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, in Guilderland N.Y. The 17,000-square-foot facility includes an aqua terrace with bar, fitness and yoga studios, French bistro and retail boutique.

Will Waldron/Times Union

Winner: Spa Mirbeau

Second place: Kimberley’s A Day Spa

Runner up: Complexions

Runner up: Artistry of Face

Runner up: Rumors Salon & Spa


Dining out

Enjoy a romantic night out at one of the Capital Region’s best restaurants. Plus there are even more restaurants offering special dine-in meals for Valentine’s Day. If you’d rather enjoy a cozy-night in, there are plenty of takeout options as well.

Best restaurants and bars

Steaks from 677 Prime in Albany.
Steaks from 677 Prime in Albany.

Provided, photos from 677 Prime

Take a look through the top-rated restaurants from the Best of 2021 contest’s Dining Out section, which includes best Italian restaurant, best steakhouse and best restaurant to open in the past year. 

Learn more



Dine-in and takeout meals for Valentine’s Day

Hoping for a several-day stretch Valentine's-related dining, many area restaurants are offering special features and holiday menus for all or part of the Feb. 10 to 14 weekend. And they will not be forced by the state to close at 10 p.m., as was the case last year during the pandemic. 

Hoping for a several-day stretch Valentine’s-related dining, many area restaurants are offering special features and holiday menus for all or part of the Feb. 10 to 14 weekend. And they will not be forced by the state to close at 10 p.m., as was the case last year during the pandemic. 

elenaleonova/Getty Images

Take a look through the places to dine out on Valentine’s weekend — Friday through Monday, Feb. 11 to 14 — as well as restaurants, caterers, retail markets, etc., offering Valentine’s meals to go.

Learn more


Date ideas

Experience the arts and culture the Capital Region has to offer with a trip to the theater or one of the region’s art galleries. Going for more of a laid-back vibe? Attending a comedy show or open mic night might be the way to your loved one’s heart. You could even take a ‘staycation’ by booking a night at one of the best hotels. 

Best art gallery

Wedding gown display at Albany Institute of History & Art's new exhibit on "Well-Dressed Victorian Albany," Wednesday Oct. 4, 2017 in Albany, NY. (John Carl D'Annibale / Times Union)

The Albany Institute of History and Art won the best art gallery category in the Times Union’s Best of 2021 readers’ survey.

John Carl D’Annibale

Winner: Albany Institute of History and Art

Second place: The Clark Art Institute

Runner up: MASS MoCA

Runner up: The Hyde Collection

Runner up: Albany Center Gallery



Best local comedian or comedy troupe

Comedian Steve Van Zandt
Comedian Steve Van Zandt

Winner: Steve Van Zandt

Second place: Erin Harkes

Runner up: Greg Aidala

Runner up: Mopco Improv Theatre

Runner up: Sean Reid



Best hotel

Exterior of the Sagamore Hotel on Lake George on Tuesday, April 11, 2017, in Bolton Landing, N.Y. 

Exterior of the Sagamore Hotel on Lake George on Tuesday, April 11, 2017, in Bolton Landing, N.Y. 

Lori Van Buren/Times Union

Winner: The Sagamore

Second place: The Desmond Hotel

Runner up: Longfellows Hotel & Restaurant

Runner up: The Adelphi Hotel

Runner up: Gideon Putnam

Runner up: The Inn at Erlowest



Best movie theater

The movie "Tenet" had a small audience for the first matinee viewing of the day at Regal Cinemas at Colonie Center on Friday, Oct. 23, 2020 in Colonie, N.Y. Movie fans are returning to the theaters for the first time since the pandemic started. (Lori Van Buren/Times Union)

Regal Cinemas at Colonie Center in Colonie, N.Y.

Lori Van Buren/Times Union

Winner: Regal Colonie Center & RPX, Colonie

Second place: Landmark’s Spectrum 8 Theatres, Albany

Runner up: The Madison Theatre, Albany

Runner up: Scotia Cinema, Scotia

Runner up: Bowtie Criterion Cinemas 11 & BTX, Saratoga Springs

Learn more



Best open mic

Robinson & Rohe perform on reopening night — April 2, 2021 — at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs. For the foreseeable future at the venerable coffeehouse, audiences will be limited to 34 or less for concerts, which will last about 75 minutes, no intermission. No food or drink is available, allowing all patrons to stay masked throughout. (Katie Dobies Photography.)

Robinson & Rohe perform on April 2, 2021, at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs.

Katie Dobies Photography

Winner: Caffe Lena

Second place: Rustic Barn Pub

Runner up: Upstate Concert Hall

Runner up: Oh Bar

Runner up: Wicked Eatery and Pub



Best theater company

A view of Proctor's on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, in Schenectady, N.Y. (Paul Buckowski/Times Union)

Proctors Theatre won the best theater company category in Times Union’s Best of 2021 readers’ survey.

Paul Buckowski/Times Union

Winner: Proctors Theatre

Second place: Capital Repertory Theater

Runner up: Young Actors Guild of the Capital Region

Runner up: Playhouse Stage Company

Runner up: Mopco Improv Theater


 

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