If you’re reading this on the day it’s posted, then a very merry Valentine’s Day to you! If you didn’t realize it was Valentine’s Day until that last sentence and you’re now freaking out, FEAR NOT, for I am here to help you with some extremely last-minute date ideas for the C-U area.

None of these options involve advanced planning or complicated reservations, and most of them are pretty cheap. Let’s dive right in to these romantic evenings that are all 100% Tom Ackerman tested and approved.

  • Hop in the car, drive in any direction until you hit a cornfield, park on a country road and make out for a while - Though it’s not really the right season for this, cornfield car makeouts is a completely free date activity, and a bonafide Illinois tradition.
  • Drive out to Gibson City and have an extremely German dinner at Bayern Stube - There is so much of everything at Bayern Stube: food, beer, ambiance (it may not have the best ambiance, but it definitely has the most). Also, you can get to know your date a little better on the 35 minute drive to Gibson City… and again on the 35 minute drive back to Champaign.
  • Play Laser Tag at Skateland - Forge your relationship in the fires of GLORIOUS COMBAT (in a completely safe environment which is fun for the whole family)
  • Sneak out of work to Hopscotch and eat too many baked treats - Hopscotch bakery closes at 5:30 normally, which is a great excuse to leave work early. Meet your date there, have a coffee and like four cupcakes each and then you won’t even have to worry about Valentine’s Day dinner.
  • Go to board game night at Titan Games - There is nothing more romantic than pushing tiny wooden pieces around a scrap of cardboard with the one you love. Don’t own any board games? That’s ok, Titan has many that you can borrow.
  • Take a swim at the Urbana Indoor Aquatic Center - It’s dumb that Valentine’s Day is in February. Inject a bit of summer into your date, and show off your hawt swim attire by taking an excursion to the Aquatic Center. WARNING make sure to wait 30 minutes after eating before jumping in the pool. Public swim hours are 6-9 p.m. on Valentine’s Day (and also every other weekday).
  • Take an evening walk through Meadowbrook Park - Yes it’ll be cold and probably also wet, but you and your date can huddle together for warmth. Won’t that be romantic? Also you might see a deer!
  • Go to the Illini Union, sit in a big comfy couch and do some people watching - It’s a well known fact that observing strangers and whispering about them brings people closer together. There are many places in C-U where you can have some prime people-watchin’. I selected the Union because it is slightly more romantic than the bus terminal.
  • Eat dinner at Harvest Market, then go grocery shopping - This is the ULTIMATE date for extremely practical couples. Grab some fried chicken and a nice wine, then pick up paper towels, shampoo, frozen egg rolls, and whatever else you need. Harvest Market is having wine and cheese event for Valentine’s which is already at capacity, but you can still go to the store and have an awesome and sorta romantic time.
  • Attend the Illinois High School Association Regional Tournament for girls basketball in Rantoul - So, if you like sports I haven’t found anything going on in Chambana on the night of the 14th. However, there is a regional girls basketball tournament in Rantoul. Looks like all the local high schools will be competing, so get out there with your date and support… whichever high school you feel the most strongly about!
  • Do some romantic couples skating at the University of Illinois Ice Arena - Ice skating can be an excellent date activity if you have some level of skating competency. A warning though. You may be all pumped up from watching figure skating and ice dancing in the Olympics, but don’t try any of that junk during a date. Nothing sucks more than spending Valentine’s day in the emergency room. Public skatin’ runs from 7:30 to 9:30 on Wednesdays. It will cost you some amount of dollars unless you're a student who owns their own skates.
  • Escape from an escape room at C-U Adventures in Time and Space - Though none of the puzzles here are particularly romantic, an escape room is still a great way to spend an evening and there are open slots on the night of Valentine’s. Two is the minimum number of players for most of the rooms so this is a good option for a double or triple date. Just know that escape rooms can be a high-stress environment. My last relationship ended during a heated escape room argument, but you'll be fine I'm sure!
  • Grab dinner at Scotty’s Brewhouse and then see literally any movie playing in the theater - If your goal is to completely ignore your date, you can’t beat Scotty’s + a movie. Sit anywhere at Scotty’s and you’ll be able to see a minimum of 14 televisions. Then hop over to the theater and continue to not talk to your date for an additional few hours.

If your date scoffs at any of these suggestions, tell them that you found them on Smile Politely (C-U's own online magazine), so they must be good.

If you actually go on any of these dates tonight, do let me know in the comments. Good luck out there everyone!