Make a Date

Everyone feels the need to swoon and be swooned, and with the right date planned, summer’s hot weather means even hotter nights. The time-tested dinner and movie is great, but what else does Evansville have to offer?

The Romantic Date

Be Ready to Woo.

For Fun: A couples massage begins with you and your date — clad only in towels — joined by two strangers in the room. Wait. This is romantic: The strangers are massage therapists, and they’re here to relax you. Proponents of the couples massage tout the comfort they find sharing the experience with a partner. A few options: Bodyworks Massage Institute (2112 Maxwell Ave.), Head to Toe Salon & Spa (300 W. Jennings St., Suite 103,
Newburgh), and Absolute Beauty (7144 E. Virginia St., Suite D).

For Dinner: When the sun begins to set, the candles on the tables already are lit. At Lorenzo’s Bistro & Bakery (972 S. Hebron Ave.), where presentation counts as much as taste, the menu demonstrates perfection: an espresso-coated filet mignon (pan-seared to order with a coffee-infused demi-glaze), a rack of lamb (dressed in cumin and coriander), and the cherry-smoked duck breast (served on a bed of capellini, shiitake mushrooms, and arugula with a roasted shallot sauce).

For Drinks: Stretching two stories high, the interior bar at Blush (615 N.W. Riverside Drive) is beautiful, and arranged for comfort and perhaps a little cuddling, the contemporary furniture strikes a vogue sensibility. A signature drink: Pomegranatini, a sweet concoction of Pama liqueur, super premium vodka, and a splash of juicy flavor.

The First Date

Every relationship begins here.

For Dinner: The ambiance of Firefly Southern Grill (6636 Logan Drive) starts with the interior design: clean, straight lines mix with small, colorful light fixtures. The menu — unique spins on Southern comfort food — is perfectly priced, not overly expensive (because, hey, he doesn’t know if she is worth it, yet) or painfully inexpensive (because, hey, he’s not a cheapskate).

For Fun: Conversation continues with a walk on the Riverfront. Advantage: The well-lit, 1.2-mile stretch Downtown — from Casino Aztar to Sunset Park — offers beautiful views.

The "Party Like a College Kid" Date

Memorable date on a student budget? Possible.

For Fun: Smile and a bug could fly into your mouth — at least, that’s how fast it feels on the looping track at Kartworld (4700 Morgan Center Drive). Enthusiasts place their butts inches above the ground and zoom around the East Side go-kart center for a high-speed and safe experience.

For More Fun: If the $2 billion monster hit that was Avatar proved anything, it’s that IMAX theaters — with giant screens and wrap-around digital sound systems — have elevated the entertainment experience, especially when the medium is a 3-D film. The immense images with striking clarity could inspire cash-strapped college kids to shell out a few extra bones for a movie at Showplace Cinemas East IMAX (1801 Morgan Center Drive).

For Food: The most expensive sandwich on the menu at Fast Eddy’s (507 N.W. Riverside Drive) is $5, and the cooks don’t skimp on the portion size. The fried fish sandwich is massive; the tender meat doesn’t even fit underneath the bun. Another cheap but tasty option is the peel-and-pull shrimp (three for 99 cents); the cocktail sauce is fiery hot.[pagebreak]

The Cultured Date

An immersion in the arts and local cuisine creates a sophisticated day.

For Fun: In July and August, Cornucopia: Artifacts from the History Collection is on display at the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science (411 S.E. Riverside Drive). The exhibition is a showcase demonstration of gratitude to longtime museum donors, but the exhibition also shows love to visitors. From early washing machines to dueling pistols, historic pieces dot the museum for visitors with varying tastes.

For Dinner: So intimate is this small, mid-priced restaurant, The White House (610 Church St., New Harmony, Ind.), that often greeting patrons is chef and owner Lora Arneberg, who emphasizes local ingredients for her menu of salads, pastas, and sandwiches. Two popular choices are the sockeye salmon, a fresh, colorful dish, and the seared Indiana duck breast, served with a plum and tarragon sauce.

For More Fun: New Harmony, a town west of Evansville, is a small destination big on the arts, and as summer heats up, so does New Harmony Theatre’s 2010 season. With Broadway-tested actors and local talent, two shows take the stage: The Glass Menagerie (July 9-25) and Ain’t Misbehavin’ (July 30-August 15).

The Hipster Date

Smart style meets nontraditional eats and live music.

For Dinner: Inside a bowl at Vietnamese Cuisine Restaurant (4602 Vogel Road) is a goat leg — bone and all. It’s delicious and certainly nontraditional in meat and potatoes land.

For Fun: The West Side’s Boney Junes Music Venue (5525 Pearl Drive) connects with the music not heard on pop stations, but these bands have a growing underground following. The crowd tends to run young — it’s an underage club, after all, that doesn’t serve booze — but adults like music, too. The popular beverage choice at Boney Junes: energy drinks.

The Outdoorsy Date

One part blue skies, one part bluebirds, one part blue water.

For Fun: What began as an opportunity to research bluebirds has become an enchanting, Disney-esque trail surrounding the University of Southern Indiana campus. Spread across nearly three miles are 38 nesting boxes. Since 1996, researchers have observed 1,100 bluebirds grow from eggs to beautiful adult birds. You can see them, too, on the Bluebird Trail (8600 University Blvd.). The nesting season ends in August, and throughout the late spring and summer days, bluebird parents feed their nestlings.

For Lunch: Frank Spadavecchio’s idea was to bring a specialty food store to the Tri-State. With an abundance of imported meats and cheeses and a menu of Italian entrees, his store, Vecchio’s Italian Market & Delicatessen (14 W. Jennings St., Newburgh), provides the opportunity to make a picnic special. The cheeses read like Italian poetry — gorgonzola dolce, taleggio, or locatelli pecorino romano — and the antipastos are Italy-inspired: cherry peppers stuffed with prosciutto and provolone, broccoli rabe, and roasted peppers.

For More Fun: As the sun slips past the horizon, canoe cruisers hit Evansville’s waterways. Led by experts, moonlight canoe trips, offered by Wesselman Nature Society, come twice a month when the moon is full. On July 23 and August 20, paddle the oxbow lake at Bluegrass Fish and Wildlife Area north of Evansville, and on July 24 and August 21, try Hovey Lake south of Mount Vernon, Ind. [pagebreak]

The Downtown Progressive Date

Park the car. Walk. Eat from a wide-ranging menu.

For Appetizers: Big-screen televisions line the rectangular bar, showing Main Gate Sports Bar & Restaurant (518/520 Main St.) is a sports-centric destination — the food, however, is not the generic ballpark variety. The golden, creamy cheese for the nachos appetizer is proof.

For Dinner: Angelo’s Italian Restaurant (305 Main St.) has a rich, Tuscan feel. The farther from the entrance your table is, the more romantic and cozy the date becomes.

For Dessert: The appropriately named Taste … A Wine & Dessert House (323 Main St.) is the after-dinner destination. The menu boasts wonderful, rich desserts: pumpkin cheesecake, apple strudel cheesecake, and chocolate pâté drizzled with cherry port sauce. 

The Inexpensive Date

An experience to remember needn’t empty a wallet.

For Lunch: The Pub (1348 E. Division St.), a longtime popular hangout, presents the pizzaburger ($6.95), a combination that is 60 percent hamburger meat and 40 percent cayenne sausage. This half-pound entree, served on a buttered, toasted bun with pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese, comes with a hearty helping of chips.

For Fun: Thoroughbred racing is an institution in Kentucky, and just north of the Ohio River (yet still in Kentucky) is Ellis Park (3300 Hwy. 41 N.), the local testament to that tradition. Up-and-comers and veteran jockeys race at the nearly century-old track. Racing’s current hero, Calvin Borel, who’s won three of the last four Kentucky Derby races, once was a frequent Ellis Park jockey. Seeing the next big thing won’t cost you a thing: General admission is free.

For More Fun: Stadiums wear down. This unavoidable fact leads to visibly rusted bolts or cracked cement. Yet, Bosse Field (1710 N. Main St.), one of the oldest professional ballparks in the country, has none of that. The venue — the home field for the Evansville Otters, a Frontier League team — offers more than 40 home games where competitive baseball mingles with fun, mid-inning antics for a low price: $5.  

The Active Date

This date requires very little sitting.

For Fun: When the summer humidity hits, the earlier, the better for a 5K run (that’s 3.1 miles, Americans). In July and August, we know of six — see our Guide, p. 99 — including the YMCA 5K Warm-Up Run. The YMCA means “warm up” as a preparation course for October’s Evansville Half Marathon; we mean it as a warm-up for rock climbing at Vertical eXcape (1315 Royal Ave.). The climbing gym offers an opportunity for a date built on trust. As one person climbs to the top, the other remains on the ground acting as the rope support in case the climber falls. It’s a lesson in relationships: Rely on each other.

For Dinner: A long meal at a restaurant hardly seems appropriate after an active day. At Ma. T. 888 China Bistro (5636 Vogel Road), the take-out options are plentiful. One suggestion for a light meal is the chicken lettuce wrap, an option for carbohydrate-conscious diners. Served with leaves of iceberg lettuce is a mixture of finely chopped chicken, water chestnuts, onions, and green peppers.

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