Great dates

By Lavanya Ramanathan
Friday, September 3, 2010

It's hard not to fall in love -- or fall in love all over again -- in the summer.

In June, July and August, all it takes to ignite a few fireworks are real fireworks, sparkling against the purple light of dusk. Or a road trip to the shore, or a day spent sipping, swimming and sunning at a pool party. (Okay, summer's skin-baring dresses and beachy tans don't hurt.)

News flash: The arrival of Labor Day signals only that it's time to pack up the bathing suit, not to resign yourself to nine months of boring dinner dates, or worse: singledom. If summer love eluded you, fall is a great time to dust yourself off and try again.

"We're encouraged to socialize in the autumn and make new friends," says clinical psychologist Diana Kirschner, who cites a "school calendar" effect that began in our childhoods. Consciously or unconsciously, we look to fall as a chance for a fresh start, to update our wardrobes, pick up new hobbies and, yes, work on our love lives.

"It's a time that we can get our metaphorical blank tablet out" and approach dating and relationships with renewed optimism, says Kirschner, author of "Love in 90 Days: The Essential Guide to Finding Your Own True Love."

In the fall, planning a memorable date -- whether that's with someone new or a longtime love -- just requires a little more ingenuity. To get you started, we've rounded up 15 romantic outings that are perfect for the season. Finding someone to go with? That's up to you.

For Sports Lovers

Want to know if he's as athletic as he says, or if she's a poor sport? Challenge your date to skeeball, go-karts or a day at the driving range.

"Competitive dates are really fun ideas," says Laurie Davis, who advises digital-age daters through her service, "You're picking up a lot of nonverbal cues that you're not seeing if you're sitting across from each other at dinner." Think: playful taps, a little teasing and, who knows, maybe even some hands-on advice about your form.

Where to go:

Top Golf, the high-tech Alexandria driving range, is open year-round, even when there's snow on the ground. Chips in each ball keep track of the score, "caddies" keep you stocked with nachos and beers, and you can take as long as you want to play, so there's plenty of time to talk.

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