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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 02/ 3/2011

Valentine's Day: Best ideas for a fun first date

By Lavanya Ramanathan

Replace the excessively romantic dinner date with a sweet but casual brunch, and you'll spare yourself plenty of awkwardness. Who knows? You might even have fun. (Evy Mages/For The Washington Post)

Sometime between New Year's and Valentine's Day comes this weird, almost instinctive urge to get back in the gym, back on a budget, and, if you're single, back on the dating scene.

You can meet people on Match, OkCupid, or the just-moved-into-Washington HowAboutWe. Or the old-fashioned way: Complimenting someone's shoes in a bar.

But once you've got the date, go armed with the knowledge that there are certain accepted wisdoms about first dates.

They should never be long romantic dinners (too much pressure). It's okay to suggest something quirky or even introduce your date to some place new (it makes you look thoughtful, and cool). And don't talk about your exes.

So where can you go? Check out our Best first date ideas, an eclectic list that includes a cool museum party, brunch, an artsy movie, indie coffee shop and retro-cool bowling alleys. And be sure to check out (and commit to memory) Fritz Hahn's excellent list of happy hours that will impress a date.

By Lavanya Ramanathan  | February 3, 2011; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Valentine's Day 2011  
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