Don't mean to start a thing, but you really need to get a move on your Valentine's Day plans. Now, if the idea of making yet another reservation for a prix fixe dinner makes your brain numb, you're in the right place. We did what we usually do when we're lost: We sought inspiration from movies. Whether you and your valentine are Disney fans, fluent in rom-com or murderinos (Google it), we've got you hooked up with 10 alternative dates that are so much better than a stuffy dinner reservation.

1. Get Super Competitive 

© Man Up (2015)

When Lake Bell accidentally goes on another woman’s blind date with Simon Pegg in Man Up (2015), an epic night ensues, complete with long walks, bucketloads of tequila and our favorite: bowling. Do the same by booking a lane and trash-talking each other, and watch as sparks (and pins) fly. 


2. Take a Legit Dance Class 

© Beauty & The Beast (2017)

If all your S.O. has been able to talk about in the last few weeks is the Beauty and the Beast trailer, then take out your dance card. Skip salsa and sign up for a ballroom class instead. Work on the dip. It’ll charm the pants off her. (Psst: The movie comes out March 17.)


3. Pretend You Live Together

Don’t bash it until you try it. The iconic Ikea date in (500) Days of Summer (2009) is simple and offers limitless opportunities to get to know each other better. (So maybe don't go for this idea if you’re already cohabiting or have been dating so long you’ve joined the “had a fight in Ikea" club.) For everyone else, casually stroll through the showroom at your own pace, choose pieces for your ideal home, make puns from the names. Celebrate with hot dogs at the end before picking up a Swedish dessert to take to your real home.


4. Wine Down

© Sideways (2004)

Take your cues from Sideways (2004) and get thee to a vineyard for a wine tasting. (You may need to play hooky from work to do this one this year, which in our opinion is extra romantic.) If your wine lingo is less sommelier-level and more “I'll have another glass of white,” then turn it into a game. Sniff the wine and discuss its legs, body and bouquet like you know exactly what you're doing. See who laughs first. 


5. Escape the Room

© The Imitation Game (2014)

Obsessed with puzzles? Drawn to cracking riddles? Then your Valentine's Day date inspiration comes straight from The Imitation Game (2014), which follows Alan Turing trying to crack the enigma code and end World War II. The stakes aren’t as high as in escape rooms, but you will get locked in a room (sexy!), and have to work together to solve puzzles to unlock the door. If you don’t have an escape room in your town, try Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. One player is trapped in a virtual room with a ticking time bomb they must defuse while the other player (the expert) must decipher information found in the bomb defusal manual. But there’s a catch: The expert can’t see the bomb, so you will need to talk to each other.


6. Get a 5-Course Meal on the Go 

© Chef (2014)

If Jon Favreau’s 2014 Chef gave you a foodgasm and the urge to grab tacos, then you’re just the type of person who will love this date. Get on Yelp, find all the food trucks in your area and organize a five-course meal hunt through the city. It might require heavy logistics, but the tastiness will be worth your plotting and mapping. 


7. Solve a Murder 

© The Nice Guys (2016)

Have a valentine who knows more details about serial killers than her own tax returns? Follow in the footsteps of The Nice Guys (2016) and channel your inner detectives for the night by tracking down a murder mystery dinner. If you can’t find one, apply for a membership to Hunt a Killer, put your heads together and work through the clues. Dressing up as your favorite detective is optional, but this may be your only chance to wear a deerstalker cap. 


8. Read to Each Other

© Notting Hill (1999)

Awww, there had to be at least one completely mushy idea on this list, right? And Notting Hill (1999) delivers. Like Hugh and Julia, find a park bench — double points if it’s in a secret garden; in a freezing climate a cozy indoor nook will do just fine. Take turns reading passages from a book to each other. Plot twist: Do the voices. 


9. Watch the Sunrise

© Before Sunrise (1995)

Early risers and Ethan Hawke fans alike will absolutely swoon at this idea. You’ll have to get up super early to imitate the plot of Before Sunrise (1995). Pick up strong coffee and sugary goodies, find a romantic overlook and snuggle up as you watch the sun light up the morning sky.


10. Get Retro

© Grease (1978)

Don’t believe the rumors  romance isn’t dead. But if you want to turn back time, take your cues from Grease (1978) and get lovey-dovey at the drive-in. If you can’t find one in your town, hit an amusement park. Try to win a plush toy for your Pink Lady or just kiss at the top of a Ferris wheel. 

By Eleni Zoe

Jo'burg born, London-educated, Athens-based. Eleni Zoe is a copywriter, daily chai drinker and the curator of Cats & Greece