Feb 102013

Kristen Manieri is the founder of GreatDatesOrlando.com, a website that’s been giving date night ideas to Orlando couples since 2007. 

Sure you can break the bank to woo your sweetheart, but you don’t actually have to. There are a ton of fabulously romantic experiences in Orlando, all of which will cost you less than $20. 

1. Date Night at Leu Gardens
On starlit evenings, you and your sweetie can snuggle up on a blanket in the beautiful 50-acre Harry P. Leu Gardens. Hundreds of lovebirds flock to Date Night at Leu Gardens on the first Friday of most months (Thursday, February 14 for Valentine’s Day) when the outdoor screen shows romantic flicks and blockbuster hits. Tickets are just $5.

2. Wine Room at Winter Park
Wine aficionados and newbies alike will enjoy a DIY wine tasting experience at The Wine Room at Winter Park, where the Enomatic Wine Serving System gives guests the chance to sample selections of over 150 different types of wine simply with the touch of a button. Couples load up a debit card with cash and then wander through the living room-esque locale sipping wines and noshing on gourmet cheese plates. 

3. The Food Truck Bazaar
With over a dozen starlit shindigs scheduled each month, The Food Truck Bazaar offers couples an atypical dining experience with a reputation for gourmet food like lobster rolls, chorizo tacos and root beer flavored cupcakes. Don’t forget chairs or a blanket; seating is typically scarce.

4. Trivia Nights
Engage the heart and the mind with a little mental stimulation on your next date night: Earth Trivia is played at bars and restaurants all over the Orlando area seven nights a week. The game is divided into rounds of ten random questions that you answer as a team. You write your answers on the sheets provided and then hand them in at the end of each round. Winners are announced and prizes (usually gift certificates to the restaurant) are given away.

5. Wednesday Night Pitcher Show
Arguably one of the prettiest bars in Orlando, Enzian’s Eden Bar hosts the weekly Wednesday Night Pitcher Show, a laid-back cocktail party featuring a retro classic film on a giant outdoor screen. Jell-O shot movie trivia add to the fun. 

6. Stargazing
Take your date night out of this world, literally, with a visit to the Planetarium at Seminole State College where weekly interactive shows bring thousands of stars and the stories behind them into clear view. Cost per person is typically $6. You can also see the stars at the Crosby Observatory atop the Orlando Science Center where skywatching events are scheduled on weekend evenings throughout the fall and winter months.   

7. Friday Night Live
The Eddie Rose Amphitheatre at Uptown Altamonte hosts local bands for Friday Night Live, a weekly live music most Friday nights beginning at 7 or 8pm. Free and open to all music lovers, the outdoor concert features an ever-changing line-up of musical styles, from calypso to rock to jazz. Afterward, take a stroll through Cranes Roost Park, where a 1-mile lakeside trail winds through the 45-acre park.

8. RDV ice-skating
Don’t forget your sweaters and socks when you visit to RDV’s Ice Den, where the Olympic size ice skating rink is kept at a chilly 50 degrees Fahrenheit. On Friday and Saturday evenings DJs fill the rink with TOP 40 tunes for the coupled-up skaters gliding across the ice. Skate rentals, as well as hot chocolate, are available on site.

9. Lake Eola Swan Boats
Paddle out onto the 29-acre body Lake Eola via a swan boat during the next warm evening. Boat rentals, which cost $15 per half hour, can be secured at the swan dock across from Relax Grill until 7pm Sunday – Tuesdays, and until 10pm Wednesdays – Saturdays. Reservations are not required. 

10. The Great Outdoors
Think about renting a canoe at Wekiwa Springs, a tranquil and untouched state park north of Orlando where a beautiful spring and river gives couples the option for swimming and kayaking. Or perhaps rent some bikes and head for a ride along the West Orange Trail. 

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