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Date night: beyond dinner and a movie

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- With the day of love approaching, a lot of people are stressing over how to spend it. Though you can't go wrong with dinner and a movie, there are plenty of other fun alternatives. Save the movie for later, get out and do something fun! Here are some ideas that could spice up your Valentine's Day or any other date night coming your way:

* Baking: Making cookies or cupcakes can be messy, but what's wrong with that? Pull on an apron, whip up some batter and get cozy by the heat of the oven. Plus, at the end of the date, you'll have something delicious to eat.

* Bowling: This isn't for everyone, but some people love the rush of used shoes and 10-pound balls knocking over some pins. Bowling is fun and energetic, and a lot of teens love it.

* Arcade: Honestly, does this need to be explained? Nothing says love like double-teaming on a zombie-killing game or five rounds of air hockey celebrated with some cheesy prizes and nachos.

* Bookstore date: This is for the nerdier couples out there. Go to a bookstore, pick out a favorite book or two, find somewhere to sit and just read to each other. Afterwards, you could talk about the books over some coffee or frozen yogurt.

* Ice skating: Ice skating is fun, and let's face it, an excuse to hold your date. It's not too expensive, and even if you fall every time you try, it provides laughter.

* Picnic: A picnic may be a little more difficult if it's cold outside, but you can improvise. Pack up something nice to eat and a blanket, and pick the perfect place. A park is the preferred destination, but if it is cold, think creatively. You could maybe even use your living room with some candles lit for a more romantic atmosphere.

* Hunting: This is for those outdoor couples. Even if you don't kill anything (which isn't all that romantic, but whatever floats your boat), you get to bond in a setting where you're comfortable.

* Adventure time: Grab a camera and get going. Maybe explore an abandoned building, a hiking trail, or a scenic overlook. These are all places to have some adventurous fun with your date. But remember to stay safe, and don't do anything stupid...unless you're a thrill seeker, in which case, I had nothing to do with it.

* The mall: In the words of Robin Sparkles, "Let's go to the mall...today!" (That was for you "How I Met Your Mother" fans.) Anyway, the mall holds tons of possibilities -- hanging out in the food court, taking photo booth pictures, buying each other something little to remember the occasion, playing in a toy store. The mall is a fabulous date destination.

* A night in: A night in can be spent in numerous ways like board games, video game competitions, a game of UNO or a movie marathon. (This way, you don't have to pay for movie tickets and concessions. You're welcome.) The night in is an easy, breezy way to spend time together. Order some take-out, huddle up in the living room and just enjoy the time together.

There's 10 fun and simple dates. Every single one can appeal to different people, or all of them can appeal to you.

Never be afraid to try new things either. A concert, paintball or mini golf are also good ideas.

So, the next time you want to have date night and dinner and a movie aren't cutting it, remember this list. But if none of the ideas tickle your fancy, Olive Garden and a romantic comedy still aren't a bad way to go.


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