Classic to Creative: 10 Orlando Date Nights to Dazzle



Romance. Sure, we all want it. But we all have our own ideas about what it is. And sometimes even that varies depending on the weather, our moods, even our diets...! No matter your preference, or that of the person to whom you are pitching woo, Orlando, the City Beautiful, is rife with options for making fireworks. Or seeing them, as a matter of fact. Walt Disney World Resort offers nightly shows. Whether you want to see them amid the crowd on Magic Kingdom's Main Street U.S.A. or while dining somewhere at EPCOT – or even from the deck of a luxurious Disney yacht in the Seven Seas Lagoon – they are sure to issue oohs and aahs from your loved one. Interested in something just a tad less wholesome? The burlesque queens of the Stardust Lounge will fit that bill nicely. While nature lovers will delight not only in all the outdoorsy options Central Florida has to offer (how about a bioluminescence kayak tour out in Merritt Island?), music lovers might enjoy the sexy vibes at the Hard Rock's Velvet Sessions lobby concerts. Wanna find out if you and your date mix well? Why not take a cocktail class at the Courtesy and test the waters figuratively and literally?



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Billed as Orlando's only "rock 'n' roll cocktail party," Velvet Sessions is held on the last Thursday of every month at the beautiful Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando. Music lovers fill the plush lobby, overflowing onto the surrounding balcony â€" which affords lovely views of the property's pool and grounds â€" spilling jovially into the flashy space of the Velvet Bar as they await show time. Though concertgoer age varies, 30, 40, and 50-somethings especially enjoy the acts, usually fabulous and even iconic performers from the '70s, '80s and '90s. Past performers include The Fixx, The Little River Band, Bret Michaels, Joan Jett and Foreigner. And of course, it's all set inside an undeniably sexy hotel, a prospect that makes date night here all the more rife with possibility.


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Taller than the Statue of Liberty, the Orlando Eye is the new can't-miss icon of the I-4 corridor. On a clear day, passengers in its climate-controlled capsules can see clear to Florida's Atlantic coast. Each one holds up to 15 people for a 30-minute circuit around the wheel. But you can conquer the crowds. In fact, you can book a private capsule for special evenings. Romantic ones. Proposals, even. Not that we're pushing for it. ICON has a "Romance Capsule" package ($185) that includes drinks, rose petals, a gourmet box of truffles and private space for you and your special someone to enjoy the ride. A dedicated coordinator can help you make any special arrangements...


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You love OSC by day (and with your kids) but several times a year the facility opens its doors at night - and just for the grown-ups - which affords you not only the time to experience its amazing exhibits without distraction, it makes for phenomenal, conversation-sparking time with your significant other. And the adult beverages definitely help. Have a romantic and nerdy date night that will include all the usual OSC fun (like movies in the CineDome), plus special programming and guest speakers. There's no age limit to curiosity! $15.95 gets you in the door; book early because it often sells out ahead of time.


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Step back in time inside the Courtesy, a downtown haunt that hearkens back to the era of Prohibition. Lovingly hand-crafted cocktails abound â€" from classics like the daiquiri and Manhattan to new spins on the old-fashioned. Events and specials abound and they host a Happy Hour Monday through Friday from 5-8 p.m. with a featured homespun punch, choice draft beers, wells and wine for $4 apiece. What makes this bar a bit more romantic than some others? Reserve a space at one of their twice-monthly cocktail classes ($55/per person) with your squeeze for a little lesson in the art of shake-and-stir along with some history about the featured cocktails. Nice way to see if you and your date "mix well."


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One hour to solve the puzzle, to crack the code, to save the world. There's nothing like a little brain-teasing fun to get your date-night brain cells fired up. Head to Escapology where you and your partner can team up to fight cybercrime, save the crew of a Navy submarine, or even solve your grandfather's murder in a stately-mansion-whodunit setting. Think you'll have what it takes to escape successfully? This is one way to find out which of you is the creative thinker, who stays cool in heated situations and for sure how compatible you are in a high-pressure setting! Decompress afterward with drinks and dinner on I-Drive!


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Romance can be many things, including sultry, sexy, daring and playful. Adventurous couples on the prowl for a bump with a side of grind will find it in spades when Orlando's own saucy neo-burlesque monarch, Blue Starr, and her saucy, sequined sisters stage a feathered and garter-belted coup. This bombastic troupe performs to the delight of co-ed fans every third Wednesday of the month. $10 admission gets you fun with friends; more fun with your S.O. and wonderful with one of the Stardust's creative cocktails. The Stardust, with its throwback Las Vegas vibe, makes for a hip, kitschy date night extraordinaire.


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Timucua Arts White House


 

What happens when a world-class musician converts his beautiful downtown Orlando home into an amazingly intimate performance space? Find out at the Timucua Arts White House, a gorgeous venue that hosts musicians and artists from all over the world in, well â€" a living room. What's more, often these exhibits and performances come free of charge! This is a special venue, an exceptionally unique performance space that really showcases the incredible artistic reach of the Orlando community. Bring a dish or a bottle of wine to share and spend the evening amid the intimacy and warmth of the Timucua Arts White House.


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This Florida outfitter hosts an amazing array of kayak outings, perhaps none so suited for couples as the monthly Full Moon Kayak. Join your fellow paddlers as the sun sinks below the horizon and the big, bright moon rises to reflect on Winter Park's lovely Chain of Lakes. Paddle side by side as you enjoy ghost stories via experienced guides and raise a toast to the stars â€" and the sultry, silvery moon itself. A light snack and all kayaking or canoeing equipment will be provided. Bring a sense of adventure, your romance A-game and a willing partner for the paddle.


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Did you know that Orlando's Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes was among those chosen by the readers of USA Today and 10Best.com as one of their favorite spas? We can't think of a better excuse to give them a try next time you're looking for a special occasion treat with your special someone. RC's Spa Couples Retreat ($235-250 per couple) includes all spa poolside cabana amenities (ceiling fan, TV, fresh fruit and water and spa access), a bottle of champagne and a plate of chocolate-covered strawberries. More intimate, you say? Try the Couples' Bath (20 minutes, $145), a luxurious experience in the spa's private whirlpool followed by sumptuous refreshments in the relaxation sanctuary.


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Fireworks? They're not just romantic. They're so romantic they've become a synonym for romance. And few places will knock your pyro-loving socks off like Walt Disney World. From the "Happily Ever After" spectacular at the Magic Kingdom, where color and light explode over Cinderella's Castle like a Grucci-written fairytale ending to "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth," the 13-minute finale to a day spent at EPCOT, there are myriad places to view the light shows. Seeking top-of-the-line romance? Charter a yacht for two (or up to 18 if you're feeling less romantic) out of the Grand Floridian resort for a premier Seven Seas Lagoon location. There are more wallet-friendly Fireworks Cruise options, of course, but to be fair, these displays are just as magical when viewed from land.


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Meet A.D. Thompson

Amy Drew has spent nearly three decades as a professional writer and roughly half her life as a Floridian. The words, she has found, come easier with bare feet and rum.

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