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Cupid's itinerary

Single? Attached? Parenting? No matter what your situation, there's an appropriate destination for you on Saturday.

By STEPHANIE HAYES
Published February 13, 2004

You can thank St. Valentine.

Thank him for the excuse to eat out. To drink red wine. To listen to Sade CDs and dust off the bottle of Chanel No. 5.

Thank him for the first dates, the marriage proposals, the roses at work and the picnic baskets.

Thanks, also, for the empty wallets.

For the night of lonesome mourning, watching Officer and a Gentleman with the girls, shooting pool with the guys.

For having to give everyone in class, including Billy who smells bad, a tear-away Powerpuff Girls valentine card.

Whatever you take from the holiday, there is no ignoring Feb. 14. No plans? Here are some last-minute options for lovers, loners and little ones.

TRADITIONAL

If oysters are aphrodisiacs, seafood might be an obvious Valentine's Day choice. Look for aquatic and other menu specials at Catch Twenty-Three in West Park Village, Bonefish Grill and Shells in Carrollwood, Splash! Ocean Grill in Lutz and Stonewood Grill in New Tampa.

For amore, dine at Carrabba's Italian Grill, Macaroni Grill or Buca Di Beppo in Carrollwood, Rio Roma in Lutz, TuscaBella Grill & Patio Bar in Town 'N Country or Bellisimo Ristorante in West Park Village.

If you're not sure your date is "the one," make plans to try Arigato in Carrollwood. The Japanese steakhouse promotes mingling by seating customers in groups of 10.

Score major romance points by taking your date on a sunset tour down the Hillsborough River. Oak Haven River Retreat offers guided canoe and kayak trips for $20 a person. Drift under the oak hammocks and watch migrant birds fly and river otters paddle by. Call 988-4580.

CHEAP

Scraping the sofa cushions for cash? Fill a basket with snacks and take your main squeeze to a park. The 600-acre Lake Park in Lutz has five lakes, pine flat woods and hardwood hammocks. Stroll along the Hillsborough River at Lettuce Lake Park or check out the Native American shell mounds at Upper Tampa Bay Park near Oldsmar. Parks close at 6 p.m. Romance tip: stamp out picnic sandwiches with a heart-shaped cookie cutter.

Skip the Godiva for a box of Snowcaps and take in a movie at Regal University 16, Regal Citrus Park 20 or Muvico Starlight 20 in New Tampa. Theaters offer discount ticket prices for matinee showings, seniors and students. Some recent romantic flicks include Along Came Polly, Something's Gotta Give and Win A Date With Tad Hamilton.

Sweets for your sweet? Go old fashioned at an area ice cream parlor such as Tanya & Matt's Ice Creamiest in Northdale, Ed & Eddie's Homemade Ice Cream in Town 'N Country or One Scoop or Two in Westchase.

SINGLES

Going solo doesn't have to be dismal. Single ladies with single dollar bills can catch the male revue at Club Joy in Carrollwood, starting at 8 p.m. Saturday. Call 968-1515.

The Falls in New Tampa will present a Valentine's Day couples' question game Saturday, but singles can stand by to revel in the inevitable wrong answer arguments and enjoy a comedy show. Call 971-3255.

Want to meet someone with a sense of humor? Consider stopping by Side Splitters Comedy Club in Carrollwood on Saturday to see guitarist and stand-up comedian Pat Goodwin. If love doesn't pan out, at least you can laugh it off. Call 960-1197.

Find a lonely cowpoke at Dallas Bull in Lutz. The country-western bar has pool tables, a dance floor and a mechanical bull for the brave of heart. Call 987-2855.

Or rack up at Peabody's Billiards next door to the Falls in New Tampa. The upscale bar and restaurant offers pool, darts and video games. Call 972-1725.

KIDS AND FAMILIES

For those who want to keep it in the family, stop by Odessa Park at 1627 Chesapeake Drive tonight from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for Valentine's Day arts and crafts. Kids ages 5 to 12 and their parents are invited to make gifts and cards for loved ones and have snacks. Call 926-1141.

Budding artists may want to try a stint at You Do the Dishes in New Tampa. Customers at the studio can decorate pieces of bisque pottery for loved ones and order drinks and desserts from the full-service coffee bar. Bisque pieces range from $1 to $75. Call 975-1700.

Parents can drop off kids ages 4 to 12 at Tampa Palms Golf & Country Club Saturday for KidZone Valentine's Day Party. For $25, young guests can play games, make cards, pin the tail on Cupid, decorate shoe box card holders and have dinner. Call 632-1637.

- Stephanie Hayes can be reached at 269-5303 or shayes@sptimes.com

[Last modified February 12, 2004, 12:51:07]

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