Love and Cheerios are in the summer air, as people cram their year of fun into a few sun-filled, non-puffy-jacket-requiring months. While there’s always a coffee date, a candlelit dinner and patio drinks, nothing takes away first-date jitters and the pressure of awkward small talk like some good, old-fashioned activity. And if you use a little imagination and an iPod, these local dates are practically straight out of a movie montage set to sappy pop music.
For the romantic
Row a boat for two at Hoyt Lake. Some of the most famous romantic movies include at least one rowboat scene, so the opportunity for movie reenactments is endless. At Hoyt Lake, views of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery peek through the trees, helping set a picturesque scene along with the Frank Law Olmsted park’s abundant foliage and fairy-lit Terrace restaurant. A half hour on the brightly colored boats costs $10. It’s also weather dependent, so while a ride in the rain might sound romantic to the pluviophiles, it’s a fair-weather activity. Arm strength and Ryan Gosling not included. Info: Hoyt Lake Rowboats, 199 Lincoln Pkwy. Hours: 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
For the spontaneous
Belt out your favorite songs at The Gypsy Parlor. Every Thursday night, the wonderfully eclectic West Side parlor hosts a karaoke night, complete with a song selection to satisfy every music taste. Hear the likes of Mr. Brightside -- shout-sang by the inebriated -- and soulful Alicia Keys, belted out by the genuinely talented. Immersive bohemian vibes ring from the twinkly sidewalk patio through the usually crowded bar to the back, where the small stage, tables and casual lounge area give the impression you’ve walked into someone’s beautiful living room in an old Victorian home. Keep your eyes peeled for someone offering tarot card readings or ask the always-trusty Zoltar machine, the same kind notably from “Big,” to grant a wish. No one will judge if it’s for a better singing voice. (No one will judge you if you don’t care much about the quality of your singing voice, either.) Info: Gypsy Parlor, 376 Grant St. Karaoke is from 9 p.m. through 1 a.m. every Thursday.
For the cultured
Enjoy a night of Shakespeare in Delaware Park. A blanket on the hill, a picnic basket of cheese and crackers and open-container laws within the outdoor theater; the components of romance. Then, add a free Shakespeare show in the mix. Die-hard Early Modern English fans watch intently, following every word, among casual watchers who garner a respect for the craft, among those there purely for the picnic basket of cheese and bring-your-own wine. No matter where you fall on that spectrum, it’s undeniably romantic. And if you need to move your blanket further away during intermission for a chance to chat, the sound of the show carries far enough and clear(ish) views of the stage are seen from anywhere on the hill. Info: "Much Ado About Nothing" continues through Aug. 19. Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Shakespeare in Delaware Park, Shakespeare Hill in Delaware Park, behind the Rose Garden. 199 Lincoln Pkwy.
For the adventurous
Zip line, rock climb, paddleboard and more at Buffalo RiverWorks. It’s hard to define Buffalo RiverWorks, but a “bar-restaurant-arena-concert venue-activity course” is a way to start. Four ziplines zigzag 100 feet up between RiverWorks’ towering grain silos, offering moments of pure exhilaration and impressive views of the Queen City and its waterfront (pending you keep your eyes open). The thrill-seeking doesn’t stop at the end of the zip line. There’s rock climbing up the side of the silos, with varying skill level, and kayaking, paddle boarding and hydro biking through the Buffalo River. New this year: a rain or shine high ropes course. Surviving a high ropes course together has to be some sort of relationship strength test. Info: Buffalo Riverworks Adventure Activities, 359 Ganson St.
For the cool kids
Catch cheap shows at Mohawk Place. Ignoring the cell phones and craft beer list, you could easily feel like you’re back in the '90s at this grungy downtown concert venue. The moody, retro ambiance is nothing short of charming, inciting a craving to snap your fingers and instantly change into a well-worn band tee and motorcycle jacket, with a cheap beer in hand. Shows are refreshingly cheap, some are free, most are $5-$15. They house around 400 local and national acts each year from a broad range of genres; punk, grunge, indie rock, pop, alternative metal, rockabilly. Cheap drinks, cheap music and feeling like you’re actually, maybe, kinda sorta cool? Check. Info: Mohawk Place, 47 E Mohawk St.
For the movie buffs
Cozy up to a movie in the park. With no shortage of local outdoor movie spots in an area lucky enough to have two drive-in movie theaters, Delaware Park’s free, weekly movie series stands out. While many outdoor movie showings are nearly exclusively children’s flicks, this selection is decidedly more sophisticated and diverse. The series is notable for its list of well-loved, throwback flicks mixed with recent highly rated favorites and a picturesque backdrop of the park’s lush greenery.
Watch the Buffalo-made Hollywood film "Marshall" (Aug. 10), Audrey Hepburn dazzle in “Roman Holiday” (Aug. 24), or the more recent blockbuster “Black Panther” (Aug. 31). Movies are on Friday nights at dusk through August. Bring your own buttery popcorn, sugary candy and a cooler of drinks. If you arrive early enough with an insatiable craving for something a bit healthier, Ashker’s Juice Bar has a stand in the park where it serves its signature smoothies. Grab one near the Nottingham Terrace and Amherst intersection, by the baseball diamond. Info: Movies in the Meadow, behind the Parkside Lodge in Delaware Park (84 Parkside Ave.)
Story topics: Your Guide to WNY