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Tucson date night ideas that will save you gas money

A lack of cash due to high gas prices can put a damper on one's social life, particularly when it comes to dating.

You want to take your honey bunny to the finest places, but those places are across town from one another, and choosing between filling your tank and having a nice night out can be a real buzzkill.

Gas prices are dropping, but in the meantime, here are some date night ideas where everything you need for a good time is within walking distance.

Park Place

5870 E. Broadway, parkplacemall.com

We agree. The mall doesn't exactly scream romance. Try to make out in front of the Wetzel's Pretzels, and security is liable to toss you right out.

But a mall like Park Place on Tucson's east side does offer an opportunity for two single souls meeting for the first time to get to know each other better.

You can start at Yard House and talk about your common interests and life goals over the California-based chain's extensive beer selection and a plate of poke nachos.

Prefer local? The mall's food court has several homegrown concepts, including Fiesta Filipina (facebook.com/Fiestafilipinaconcessions), Squared Up Pizza (facebook.com/squareduppizza) and Street Taco and Beer Co. (facebook.com/Streetoncongress).

If you find out you actually like each other, maybe play a few video games or go bowling at Round 1 (round1usa.com), located in the old Park Place Sears; or catch the latest rom-com together at the in-house Cinemark theater (tucne.ws/1l0s), where security is far less likely to throw you out if you steal a kiss or two.

The mall even has live theater, from Arts Express Theatre (facebook.com/ArtsExpressAZ), which is currently showing a stage adaptation of the cheerleading film franchise, “Bring It On.”

Best of all, everything is air conditioned, which will keep your palms from sweating when you hold hands for the first time.

Live on the west side of town? The Tucson Mall (tucsonmall.com) doesn't have a Round 1 or a movie theater, but it does have the Arizona Rose Theatre (arizonarosetheatre.com), an escape room (mysteryescaperoom.com) and a fantasy bar hidden behind a gaming store (facebook.com/ShortRest Tavern).

Downtown

While Park Place is a solid choice for beginners, downtown Tucson's date destination options satisfy all levels of romance and it's only about a 20-minute walk to get from one end to the other.

Its two main thoroughfares, East Congress Street and East Broadway, are packed with restaurants, bars and concert venues. Hotel Congress (hotelcongress.com), on the east end of downtown at 311 E. Congress, is equipped with all three.

For a truly classy evening, guaranteed to impress your date whether you've just met or have been married for 40 years, start with craft cocktails at the Century Room, Hotel Congress' brand new jazz club, followed by a high-end dinner of original and innovative dishes at BATA (batatucson.com), at 35 E. Toole Ave. Think plates of butter poached San Diego halibut, smoked tomato tartlets and cucumber sorbet.

If you are looking for more traditional fare, Charro Steak & Del Rey (charro steak.com) has fine dining as offered by the Flores family of El Charro fame, at 188 E. Broadway. Enjoy some lobster tamales while your significant other rips into a thick T-bone steak.

Some other dining establishments include, Penca (facebook.com/pencatucson), 50 E. Broadway; Hub Restaurant and Ice Creamery (hubdowntown.com), 266 E. Congress; and Perche' No Italian Bistro (perchenobistro.com), 46 W. Congress, which offers an extensive selection of dishes from across Italy.

After dinner, if you've planned ahead, you'll know who is playing all of downtown's concert venues. Options are generally wide-ranging. You can catch Emmy-nominated stand-up comedian Nimesh Patel at 191 Toole (191toole.com) on Aug. 28 or opt for singer-songwriter Andy Grammer the same day at The Fox (foxtucson.com), 17 W. Congress.

Take in a show, or head to The Citizen Hotel (thecitizenhoteltucson.com), 82 S. Stone Ave., for some after-dinner drinks and then maybe a room for the night.

The Sun Link streetcar, which is offering free rides through the end of the year, runs on both Congress and Broadway and will be able to haul you to North Fourth Avenue (fourthavenue.org), Main Gate Square (maingate square.com) and the Mercado District (mercadodistrict.com), if you are looking for more stimulation.

The University of Arizona

Add a little culture to your date by taking a Saturday to explore the museums at the University of Arizona.

You can marvel collectively at early Indigenous artifacts, pottery, baskets and the like, found within the Arizona State Museum (statemuseum.arizona.edu), 1013 E. University Blvd.; or see the works of Tucson-based photographer Alanna Airitam as she captures inspiring images of Black Americans in her exhibit, "Alanna Airitam: The Golden Age," on display through Oct. 29, at the Center for Creative Photography (ccp.arizona.edu), 1030 N. Olive Road.

See highlights from the University of Arizona Museum of Art's permanent collection, 1031 N. Olive Road, with its summer "Vault Show" through Sept. 22 (artmuseum.arizona.edu), then pop off of university grounds for a little bit of local history at the Arizona History Museum (tucne.ws/azhmt), 949 E. Second St.

Wear sensible shoes (and advise your date to do the same). The UA is a big place. Sneakers are recommended.

We also recommend you head to Main Gate Square on East University Boulevard after museum hopping for its selection of mostly college hangout-type restaurants, with a dash of finer fare. Options include FullyLove's (fullyloves.com), Frog & Firkin (frogandfirkin.com) and Gentle Ben's (gentlebens.com).

Take a trip to the top floor of the Graduate Tucson hotel, 930 E. Second St., after dinner for tasty drinks and stunning views of Tucson at The Moonstone bar (tucne.ws/1khe).

Trail Dust Town

While more touristy than classy, Trail Dust Town (traildusttown.com), 6541 E. Tanque Verde Road, has an entire evening's worth of date night activities on-site.

There's a chocolate shop, regular stunt shows, a shooting gallery and a studio where you and your date can take silly photos in Old West attire.

Walk around its spacious courtyard before heading to Pinnacle Peak, Trail Dust Town's steakhouse since 1962, where you can split a Big Cowboy steak with all the fixins, or opt for a New York strip or filet mignon.

After you are done with Trail Dust Town, hoof it over to Golf N' Stuff (golfnstuff.com), 6503 E. Tanque Verde Road next door, for a rousing round of putt putt.

Looking for something with a little more kick? The Maverick, King of Clubs (tucsonmaverick.com), is a six-minute walk east at 6622 E. Tanque Verde Road, and has all of the line-dancing, two-stepping and country tunes you'll need for the evening.


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