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6 Alabama date spots to spark a Southern romance

Sweet love is always in the air down South in Alabama. From daytime outings to a night on the town, there's a surplus of things to do for those looking to spark a Southern romance. Maybe you've just met a special someone and want to make a great impression, or maybe you'd rather subtly standout over something as simple (and delicious) as ice cream. 

We've curated six interesting date spots in Alabama that can help ignite - or reignite - a Southern romantic flame:

Take a cruise on Tuscaloosa's Bama Belle Riverboat

1 Greensboro Ave., Tuscaloosa, 205-275-0560, www.bamabelle.org

Imagine walking hand in hand with your date down a splintering wooden dock, the cicadas growing louder with each step as the Bama Belle Riverboat waits to whisk you away on the Black Warrior River.

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The Bama Belle was originally operated out of Dubuque, Iowa, but now, operating under Captain Craig Dodson's command, the history-filled paddlewheel boat has found a permanent home in Tuscaloosa. You can rent the entire boat for private events, hangout at the bar on weeknights or book a dinner cruise for a one-of-a-kind date.

Cruise times vary between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Low-key it at Birmingham's The Nick Rocks

2514 10th Ave. S., Birmingham, 205-252-3831, www.thenickrocks.com

If you prefer to spark a romance over a few drinks and live music, look no further than one of Birmingham's best-loved dive bars, The Nick Rocks, widely known as "The Nick". The building is kind of small and unassuming, but don't let its shabby appearance deter you. The Nick is a dimly lt, blue jeans-friendly, walls dripping in rock'n'roll memorabilia kind of place. The Nick is open every night, but you should definitely bring your date on an evening when a band is playing. The Nick prides itself on giving every band a chance, and has hosted many over the years. Some famous names include: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane's Addiction, Kings of Leon and Alabama Shakes. If that fact doesn't earn you cool points with your date, try this one: the clubs motto, "Birmingham's dirty little secret," came from U2's Bono after he and Adam Clayton once stopped in for a drink.

The Nick Rocks is open Sunday through Thursday, 2 p.m. to 4:00 am., Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

Tour Bellingrath Gardens & Home near Mobile

12401 Bellingrath Gardens Road, Theodore, 251-973-2217, www.bellingrath.org

Put on your best attire and primp for a proper Southern date. Located on the Fowl River, south of downtown Theodore, is Bellingrath Gardens and Home, a sprawling 65-acre property ready for you and your date to explore in an afternoon (preferably while strolling hand in hand). This Southern estate garden blooms year round, so there's never a bad time to visit. In winter, you can see over 400 varieties of camellias, Alabama's State Flower, and a "Magic Christmas in Lights" display. In spring, the garden is full of gorgeous Easter Lilies, Fuchsia, Hydrangeas and more. And you absolutely don't want to miss the garden in the fall, when the annual "Outdoor Cascading Chrysanthemums" with its thousands of mums in yellow, red and bronze will have your date in awe.

Bellingrath Gardens and Home is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tours begin at 9 a.m. Last Home Tour ticket is sold at 4 p.m.

A treat from Big Spoon Creamery. (Courtesy of  Alabama.travel)

Enjoy a treat with your sweet at Birmingham's Big Spoon Creamery

4000 3rd Ave. S., Birmingham, 205-703-4712, www.bigspooncreamery.com

Nothing screams "Perfect Southern Date" louder than ice cream. This sweet treat is great for all stages of dating, from the burning hearts of high schoolers to the older ones that may need re-kindling. The Big Spoon Creamery started in 2014 after husband-and-wife duo Ryan and Geri-Martha O'Hara hosted at a pop-up event in their driveway. In 2017, they opened the Creamery's first store in Birmingham and then, earlier this year, a second location in Mae's Food Hall in Cullman. Their success is due to lots of factors, but their menu, which includes small-batch ice cream in a variety of flavors that change with the seasons, is truly impressive. They also serve sundaes, floats and vegan-friendly fizzies. There's no better way to enjoy a bite, scoop or lick of deliciousness than with someone you care about. 

The Big Spoon Creamery is open Sunday through Thursday, noon to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday, noon to 10 p.m.

Explore Huntsville's Monte Sano State Park

5105 Nolen Ave., Huntsville, 256-534-3757, www.alapark.com

Calling all nature enthusiasts: Monte Sano State Park is ready for you. This gorgeous park has long been one of Huntsville's premiere destinations. Overlooking the Rocket City from the northeast, it provides a break from busy city life. Monte Sano - Spanish for "mountain of health" - traces its name back to the late 1800s, when visitors from across the U.S. came to enjoy Monte Sano's fresh air, spectacular views and mineral springs. Enjoy rustic cottages, picnic areas, camping and over 20 miles of hiking trails. 

Dine right at Mobile's Kitchen on George

351A George St., Mobile, 251-436-8890, www.kitchenongeorge.com

Make your dinner date a Southern affair at Mobile's Kitchen on George. Their Farm to Table philosophy provides a high-quality dining experience, while supporting the local growers of the finest and freshest ingredients. Your date will be impressed with their culinary artistry, exceptional service and cozy ambiance. It's also conveniently located in the Oakleigh Garden Historic District, so you can explore other local businesses, attractions and shops after dinner.

Kitchen on George is open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday (brunch) 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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