So much to do in Brooklyn on Valentine’s Day

The Heart of Brooklyn cultural campus promises a memorable Valentine’s Day weekend for families, couples and friends alike. Special Valentine’s events will be taking place at the leading cultural institutions located near Grand Army Plaza in central Brooklyn through February 14.

Nearby, top restaurants, shops and bars will help to set a romantic mood and some are also offering a “Brooklyn Bonus” as part of February’s ShopBrooklyn event. Don’t-miss “dates” for Valentine’s weekend 2010 include:

Take the whole family to Prospect Park’s (95 Prospect Park West at Fifth Street) Wollman Rink for their Valentine’s Day Special. A treat for all ages, love is in the air and Wollman Rink, Brooklyn’s only outdoor skating rink, is cutting its admission prices in half. February 14, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; skate rental charge not included.

Hop on The HOB Connection old-fashioned trolley for a free guided tour between Heart of Brooklyn’s cultural partners and through Prospect Park, 95 Prospect Park West at Fifth Street. Learn some history about the area and enjoy free candy on board. Free between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., February 14; visit Heart of Brooklyn’s Web site for routes and times.

Animal enthusiasts can warm up at the Prospect Park Zoo, 450 Flatbush Avenue, this Valentines Day with an “Animal Dating and Mating” program. Make valentines treats for Brooklyn’s furriest couples, discuss reproductive strategies on a zoo tour, and learn why size really does matter. Games, a live animal demo and tasty treats included. From 2-3:30 p.m., February 14; advance registration required at ppzeducation@wcs.org or 718-399-7339 extension 326; $10 for non-members, $8 members, ages 18 and over. For loving families, be sure to visit a troop of Geoffroy’s tamarins, a favorite of Brooklyn families who can certainly relate monkey behaviors to their own.

For “budding” love, join a Seasonal Highlights Tour (free with admission) at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 900 Washington Avenue. The Steinhardt Conservatory is the place to visit in February, where you’ll see a magical procession of South African bulbs — including lachenalias, moraeas, and clivias — in the Helen Mattin Warm Temperate Pavilion. Meet outside the Visitors Center at 1 p.m., February 13 or 14.

Double date: See two new exhibitions at Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, both opening February 12. “To Live Forever” explores the Egyptians’ beliefs about life, death, and the afterlife. In the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, experience “Kiki Smith: Sojourn,” a site-specific installation exploring ideas of creative inspiration and the cycle of life in relation to women artists.

At Brooklyn Children’s Museum, 145 Brooklyn Avenue at St. Mark’s Avenue, kids young and old can celebrate Valentine’s Day with a special “Love Potion #9” brew at the greenhouse (1:30 p.m.) and “I Love You Because…” story time (2:30 p.m.) for younger kids. Visit website for details.

Have a sweet tooth? Stop by Joyce Bakeshop, 646 Vanderbilt Avenue, to pick up sugar cookies with Valentine sayings, heart-shaped chocolate cakes, red velvet cakes for two, and more. Valentine’s pastries are available through Valentine’s Day weekend.

Kids and their families can make a Valentine’s Day Craft at various Brooklyn Public Library sites throughout the borough; check website for details. On February 14 at 4 p.m., begin your Valentine’s evening on a musical “note” at Brooklyn Public Library’s Dweck Center (Central Library) and enjoy an interlude with violinist Jessica Lee.

For couples who want to eat to a beat, Ortine Cafe, 622 Washington Avenue, will have live music at 8 p.m., February 13. Celebrate an early Valentine’s Day and enjoy this restaurant’s delicious local fare.

For more Valentine’s Day ideas in the Heart of Brooklyn, visit www.heartofbrooklyn.org.