Talk about a wild date. No need to jet off to Africa for a safari when you can get up close and personal with the exotic animals at this wildlife preserve situated 75 miles southwest of Dallas. Guests can explore 1,800 acres from the comfort of their car and encounter a variety of wildlife, ranging from giraffes to rhinos, zebras and emus. Want to take the experience up a notch? Then book one of Fossil Rim's guided tours, which include everything from a behind-the-scenes ride along to feeding runs, and an adults-only sweetheart safari complete with a candlelight dinner. Just remember to book the tour 4-6 days in advance. Did we mention that you can also go glamping here too?
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Fossil Rim Wildlife Center is a magical place for animal lovers.
Ilene's expert tip: Seniors can score 15% off admission and AAA members receive 10% off tickets for the Gosdin Scenic Drive. Check the website for additional discounts.
For variety and a consistent line-up of some of the best comedic talent in town, it's hard to beat this decades-old Dallas institution. Perhaps best known for its raucous, popcorn slinging melodramas (think horror parodies and sci-fi spoofs), the theatre also offers everything from comedy musicals, burlesque shows and improv to occasional dramas. Regular productions take place Thursday through Sunday, though there are occasional acts featured on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Weekends bring forth a double whammy of funnies with both early and late acts scheduled each night. Along with being family-friendly (with the exception of weekend late night shows), the atmosphere is always lively, and the ticket prices are always refreshingly cheap. But be sure to arrive early, it's all first come first served here.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: For a barrel of laughs on the cheap, Pocket Sandwich Theatre is one of the best value comedy shows in town.
Ilene's expert tip: Score $2 off any of the late night comedy shows (excluding Triple Threat Burlesque). Dinner service closes at 7:30 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and at 6:30 on Sunday.
Looking for something to do with your sweetie that's perhaps a little risqué? Then say hello to Viva Dallas Burlesque, an utterly entertaining extravaganza that seamlessly blends theater, dancing and comedy with a bit of mildly saucy striptease. Launched by Shoshana Portnoy, founder of Dallas-based burlesque magazine Pin Curl, the productions take place at Viva's Lounge on the first and third Saturday of the month. Performers come in from all over the country and themes run the gamut from classic to comic to sci-fi. The third Saturday of the month features Cirque du Burlesque: Think Cirque du Soleil meets cabaret and burlesque with aerialists, belly-dancers, jugglers and clowns. Tickets start at $22 and can be purchased through Viva Dallas' website or at the door on the night of the performance.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Viva Dallas Burlesque is the largest and most popular burlesque show in Texas.
Ilene's expert tip: To ensure a seat, and save money by purchasing your tickets in advance via PreKindle.com. Note that even if online tickets are no longer available, you still may be able to score seats at the door.
Want to spend time relaxing and unwinding with your true love? Then you may want to head over to the King Spa, a family-friendly Korean bathhouse (known as a Jjim-Jil Bang) where guests can soak, steam, swim, eat and even spend the night. Along with a veritable smorgasbord of feel-good treatments, guests can enjoy a massive indoor water park that features everything from a therapeutic bade pool to a whirlpool to a play pool-- complete with a 30-foot water-slide and lazy river. The complex also includes a movie theater, a childcare room, work stations and a food court that serves up Korean fare as well as pizzas, burgers and tacos.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: King Spa is a refreshingly unique choice for a date night.
Ilene's expert tip: The website offers an e-coupon good for $24 admission. Regular admission is $45 adults/$20 for ages 12 and under/Free for ages 2 and younger.
They say chocolate is an aphrodisiac, so what better way to seduce your date than with a chocolate crawl through the city's dreamiest chocolate boutiques? Dallas By Chocolate gives guests a chance to explore at least four of Dallas' sweet spots via luxury bus. The tours last from three to four hours and include dessert samples, beverages and a tour guide. Not into chocolate? No problem, the company also offers walking food and historical tours; barbecue and brewery tours; taco and margarita excursions; Italian food tours; vegetarian food tours; jazz tours; wine trail tasting tours; ethnic market visits and even holiday light viewings. Be sure to check social media for special Valentine tours and last-minute deals.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Dallas by Chocolate is the best way to explore Dallas' culinary side.
Ilene's expert tip: Tickets can be purchased online. Score a 5% discount on tickets by entering the code 5EAT.
Sure, the movie date thing is always a good option, but how about a cinematic experience where you can actually step into the story? Enter Dreamscape Immersive, sort of a cross between a cinema and theme park ride which with the aid of body-mapping and real-time motion capture technology, participants have the ability to interact as full-body avatars within a virtual 3D environment. Here, guests can choose between three adventures: Alien Zoo, a sci-fi-themed journey through a wildlife refuge in space; the Indiana Jones-style escapade Curse of the Lost Pearl; and The Blue, an underwater rescue expedition to help reunite a family of whales. Tickets are $20, and each adventure, from beginning to end, takes approximately 35 minutes (including check-in and gearing up). Dreamscape is located at NorthPark Center on level two between Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Dreamscape is ideal for those who want to take their date to the next level.
Ilene's expert tip: Tickets can be purchased online (recommended to get your desired adventure at your preferred time) or in-store. All are family-friendly, suitable for ages 10 and up. Kids under age 13 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Strolling through Mother Nature is nice and all, but galloping through it is infinitely better. Widowmaker Trail Rides provides small groups of novice and experienced riders alike guided horseback rides along the scenic shores of Lake Grapevine, located just 30 minutes from downtown Dallas. Trails wind through 1000-acres of stunning landscape that includes everything from lush forests to meadows, hills and creeks. The two-hour rides are priced at $90 per person and are offered year-round by appointment only. Best of all, since it's by appointment most of the rides end up being private ones.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: It doesn't get any more romantic than a sunset horseback ride along the shores of Lake Grapevine.
Ilene's expert tip: Depending on the schedule, private rides can also be arranged.
Nothing says love like an adrenaline rush. Just minutes from downtown Dallas lies Trinity Forest Adventure Park, a seven-acre combination obstacle course and zip line park boasting over twenty zip-lines which are spread out over six aerial obstacle courses. The courses are all self-guided to allow everyone to move at their own pace, but it's important to watch your time since tickets are only valid for three hours. In addition to aerial courses, the ranch offers a slew of recreational activities, such as rock climbing and pedal boats, on weekends during the summer.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Trinity Forest Adventure Park is one of the only aerial adventure parks in the state.
Ilene's expert tip: Secure your spot and save $5 on each ticket by reserving in advance.
Looking for an unforgettable thrill? Then the Cavanaugh Flight Museum is for you. For aviation enthusiasts, the museum boasts a stellar collection of military aircraft, but even better is actually getting to take to the air in one of these historical flying machines. The museum offers 30-minute flight experiences starting at $150 on a variety of warbird aircraft, ranging from a Bell 47/OH-13 Sioux helicopter (the same kind that was used for MASH during the Korean conflict) to a T-28B Trojan trainer, a North American P-51D Mustang and a Cessna O-2A Skymaster. Now, how's that for taking your relationship to new heights?
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: The Cavanaugh Flight Museum is one of the only places to take flight in an authentic warbird aircraft.
Ilene's expert tip: Helicopter flights start at $90. Flights must be booked at least 48 hours in advance.
Of course, there's nothing more romantic than a gondola ride through the canals of Venice. But if you can't swing a trip to Italy, the next best thing is to book a gondola ride through the waterways of the Mandalay Canal and Lake Carolyn. Gondola Adventures offers plenty of options for making it a date to remember, ranging from one-hour basic tours to full-blown gourmet dinner cruises. Plus, they offer a variety of ways to ramp up the love factor with specialty enhancements like scattered rose petals and special messages delivered in a decorative bottle. Alternatively, the company also operates Irving Water Activities which provides hour-long public cruises (starting at $80) aboard a covered Lear electric boat Fridays through Sundays.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Nothing spells romance like a gondola ride on a canal.
Ilene's expert tip: Be sure to reserve in advance, and also request a singing gondolier.