Valentine’s Day might inspire some to seek out places named for the martyred saint who has been associated with love since the Middle Ages.
In the U.S., little Valentines exist in remote stretches of Arizona, Nebraska, Texas and other states. None of them seem to draw many residents, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have heart.
Arizona: The town on historic Route 66 about 29 miles from Kingman seems to be the most happening Valentine town around. Its small but the big draw is Keepers of the Wild, which is not a zoo but an exotic animal refuge. Visitors can take a “safari” to see Bengal and Siberian tigers, leopards, cougars, lions, baboons, macaques and other species. The nonprofit’s website says all have been placed at the refuge by animal welfare agencies. Tickets cost $18 for adults and $12 for children 3 to 12. Info: Keepers of the Wild, 13441 E. Highway 66 (Mile Marker 87).
Nebraska: It’s a frontier town with “wide open spaces, quiet lakes, grasslands, secluded waterfalls, and one of the best canoeing waterways in the country,” according to National Geographic. The big draw here is the Niobrara, designated a National Scenic River, where in summer you can take float trips and valley tours starting in Valentine. Info: Niobrara National Scenic River, Headquarters and Visitor Center, 214 W. U.S. Highway 20.
Texas: It’s remote, but it does boast an upscale Prada store -- sort of. Just 187 residents were counted in the 2000 U.S. census, far fewer than the 500 in 1914 when cattle ranchers used the town as a shipping point. The city in the far western part of the state is about a mile from the 2005 art installation called Prada Marfa, an art installation that places the designer store in a suitably out-of-place setting. As for the town: “It was founded and named when the Southern Pacific Railroad crew, building east, reached the site on February 14, 1882,” according to the Texas State Historical Assn.
Virginia: The community in the southern part of the state is named Valentines, and also has few residents. The big draw: Visitors come to Wright’s General Merchandise store starting in January and continuing through February with letters in hand. Inside is a post office that provides a fancy heart-shaped red stamp for correspondence and the “Valentines” postmark. Info: Wright’s General Merchandise, 23 Manning Drive.