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Romantic Valentine's Day dates that won't break the bank

January 31st, 2013 Seasonal

Whether you consider yourself a hopeless romantic or not, Valentine's Day is an occasion where you have to pull out all the stops to show the one you love how much he or she means to you. And while a simple gift of flowers and chocolates might have been sufficient for your first V-Day, now that you're in a long-term relationship, you're going to need to go above and beyond the call of duty.

However, Valentine's Day doesn't exactly come at the best time of year from a financial perspective. After a prolonged holiday season that includes Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year's Eve, chances are you've spent your fair share of cash on new clothes, presents and travel arrangements. That's not to mention the rising costs of heating and tax season looming in the near distance. Despite all this, you can't get past Valentine's Day without doing something special for your significant other.

Luckily, you can still capture the romantic spirit of the day without sacrificing your entire bank account. Here are some creative Valentine's Day dates for you to consider this Feb.14.

Visit the site of your first date
When it comes to romantic gestures, bringing back the early days of your relationship is always a big hit. Whether you were high school sweethearts or met in the workplace, consider heading to the same place where you had your very first date.

You can see how much has changed since you first went ice skating at the local pond years earlier or what new restaurant inhabits the location of the Italian bistro you went out to on that initial date. Or maybe you'll find that the place is exactly how you remember it, bringing up plenty of happy memories for your Valentine's Day.

From this starting point, you can also take a walk down memory lane to explore other important locations and moments in your relationship. Consider stopping by the church where you got married or visiting the scenic overlook where you proposed. After all, Valentine's Day is about celebrating your love.

Whip up a home-cooked dinner
Everyone seems to head out to a local bar or restaurant on Valentine's Day, so deciding to spend an evening at home can be a nice change of pace for you and your significant other - especially if you surprise him or her with a gourmet home-cooked meal. The time and effort you put into whipping up a delicious dinner for two at home is sure to impress your date.

If you feel like you need a little culinary supervision to avoid burning your dishes, consider asking a friend or relative to give you some pointers. For a final touch, lay out a nice table cloth and add candles, flowers, fine dinnerware and a nice bottle of wine to set the stage for your V-Day dinner. Afterward, you can dance to some of your favorite love songs or watch a Valentine's Day movie marathon featuring your top romantic flicks.

Plan a picnic at the park
While this might not be possible in some regions of the country that are still dealing with heavy winter snows and near-freezing temperatures, those living in more moderate climates should consider a classic picnic in the park for Valentine's Day. Grab a traditional picnic basket and stuff it with all the necessary staples - fruits, veggies, sliced cheeses, deli meats, wine, outdoor dishes and a checkered red blanket. There's nothing quite like enjoying the warm sun and fresh air while dining to create a romantic mood, making it a perfect Valentine's Day date.

Head to the great outdoors
Are you and your significant other fans of Mother Nature? If so, planning a weekend adventure around your favorite outdoor activity could be a great way to celebrate your relationship. Camping is a fun and simple getaway that allows you to pursue pastimes like canoeing, fishing, hiking and mountain biking. Or, you could decide to scale a nearby mountain or explore an intriguing cave. Whatever recreational adventures you and your significant other enjoy, spending time doing what you love with the person you love is sure to be a hit on Valentine's Day.