A dozen great dates in Philadelphia

    Ice skating at the RiverRInk (Image courtesy  of Matt Stanley)

    Ice skating at the RiverRInk (Image courtesy of Matt Stanley)

    Philadelphia is known as the City of Brotherly Love. Sometimes people lengthen it to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. But if you have something even more romantic in mind, here’s a list of the best date spots in the City of Brotherly Love, Sisterly Affection, and Hot Dates!

    Victor Cafe

    1303 Dickinson St.What could be more romantic than sharing an Italian meal and bottle of red wine with your date, while being serenaded by opera singers? Professional performers and talented students moonlighting as servers break into song every 20 minutes or so. Even couples who aren’t opera aficionados can’t help but be moved by the expressive performances.

    Longwood Gardens

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    1001 Longwood Rd., Kennett Square, Pa.Strolling along more than 1,000 acres of woodlands, gardens, conservatories, and fountains provides a lot of places to grab your sweetie’s hand or steal a private kiss to stay warm. The cold-blooded can enjoy more than 4,500 orchids displayed in three indoor locations through the end of March. And for a special valentine treat, stop by on Feb. 11 and 12, when there will be violin performances in the conservatory.

    Ice Skating at the RiverRink

    101 S Christopher Columbus Blvd.When you ice skate at the Blue Cross RiverRink, the romantic view of the Ben Franklin Bridge is sure to warm your heart. If that’s not enough, you can sit by the fire pit in the rustic, but cozy, winter garden that’s illuminated by thousands of lights. If that’s not enough, head to the Franklin Fountain Confectionary Cabin for a s’mores kit, and toast marshmallows. If that’s still not enough, visit the area under the pergola that’s been dubbed “the kissing corner,” and if even that’s not enough, rent a private warming cottage. The ice skating rink and winter wonderland are open seven days a week, but only through March 5.

    Capogiro Gelato Artisans

    (Locations throughout the city)If Capogiro’s gelato isn’t considered an aphrodisiac, it should be. The gelaterias have beautiful displays of gelato. The flavors are constantly changing and include favorites like Madagascar bourbon vanilla, Saigon cinnamon, sea salt gelato, and Thai coconut milk. The gelato is made fresh daily in small batches using seasonal ingredients. Make it your destination or stop by post-dinner.

    Philadelphia Zoo

    3400 W. Girard Ave.It can be fun to wander around the 42-acre zoo in the winter, when it’s less crowded. It is not only the nation’s first zoo, but also one of the most innovative, with a campus-wide network of see-through mesh trails that enable animals to roam. Called Zoo360, the trails allow animals to create their own experiences and visitors to interact with animals on the move. Less hearty types can explore indoor spaces like the Reptile and Amphibian House, Avian Center, Small Mammal House and Primate Center to see lots of uninhibited residents acting like, well, animals.

    One Liberty Observation Deck

    1650 Market St.From One Liberty Observation Deck on the 57th Floor of One Liberty Place, couples can see all of Philadephia, over the Ben Franklin Bridge into New Jersey, over the Schuylkill River to West Philadelphia, and well beyond. Go just before sunset to take in the daytime view then catch the sunset too. It is super romantic and a great backdrop for taking some photos with your sweetie.

    Hop Sing Laundromat

    1029 Race St.Impress your date by taking him or her to this mysterious speakeasy in Chinatown. The elegant bar serves inventive cocktails made with high-end liquors and freshly extracted juice. Half the fun of going to Hop Sing is finding it and getting in. It doesn’t have a sign, just a doorbell and iron gate, which you won’t get past if you’re wearing sneakers or a baseball cap. And, if you pull out your phone, you’re likely to be thrown out. That means your date won’t be checking texts or photographing drinks — you get 100 percent of the attention.

    Love Park

    JFK Boulevard and 15th StreetOne of the best places in Philadelphia for selfies (alone or with your sweetie) is in front of Robert Indiana’s “Love” sculpture. But you won’t find love at Love Park (a.k.a. JFK Plaza). The iconic sculpture is across the street at Dilworth Park while Love park undergoes renovations. It will be put returned to its original location when renovations are complete in the summer.

    Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens

    1020 South St.Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens is an outdoor, three-dimensional art installation made of mosaic tiles, folk art statues, colorful glass bottles, bicycle parts, thousands of mirrors and found objects. You walk up, down, around, and through this massive labyrinth, which is indeed magical and provides plenty of nooks and crannies for affectionate embraces. On Valentine’s Day there will be two special candlelight tours, with wine, focusing on the many romantic aspects of artist Isaiah Zagar’s work.

    Chris’ Jazz Cafe

    1421 Sansom St.Down Beat magazine named Chris’ Jazz Cafe one of the “100 Great Venues Around the World to Hear Jazz.” The intimate lounge/restaurant serving Southern-style cuisine lives up to its billing, with live jazz nearly every night. It’s a tiny venue, so every seat is up close and personal with the musicians, and each other. On Valentine’s Day, there are three shows by Philadelphian Joanna Pascale and her band, who have a repertoire of more than 400 songs, including many love songs like “I Wanna Be Loved” and “I’ll Remember You.”

    Laurel Hill Cemetery

    3822 Ridge Ave.One of the most romantic places in the city is the final resting place of General George Mead and about 40 other Civil War-era generals, six Titanic passengers, Phillies sportscaster Harry Kalas, and scores of other prominent Philadelphians. Stroll together along the architecturally designed paths at Laurel Hill Cemetery, the nation’s first cemetery, a tranquil spot on a hill above the Schuylkill River. On Valentine’s Day, those with eternal love, can take the ‘Til Death Do We Part tour highlighting the love stories of the cemetery. Learn of the woman who buried only her heart with her true love, as well as other tales of love and loss between couples, family members and even pets. The tour concludes with a fireside reception with hot chocolate, wine, and hors d’oeuvres.

    McGillin’s Olde Ale House

    1310 Drury St.Finally — if you don’t have anyone to take along on these date-ventures, visit McGillin’s. The charming pub opened in 1860, making it the oldest continuously operating tavern in Philadelphia and one of the oldest in the country. More couples have met, gotten engaged, held bachlor/ette parties and even gotten married at McGillin’s than anywhere else in Philadelphia. The crowd gets younger as the night gets older — so plan the timing of your visit accordingly.

    Irene Levy Baker is author of “100 Things To Do In Philadelphia Before You Die” and owner of Spotlight Public Relations. All of the items above are listed in the book. See the other 88 things here. Find it on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter. Tell the author you read about it on WHYY’s NewsWorks, and the author will sign it for you.

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