Image via WikipediaDinner-and-a-movie tradition can create Valentines memories
Valentine's Day is only about a month away, but it's not too soon to start planning a night out.
I cannot really offer any sound advice about Valentine's Day gifts because I am terrible with gift ideas and, like many guys, I end up going to the store at the last minute.
What I might suggest, though, is some ideas for dusting off the old Valentine's Day standby of a meal and a cinema movie, ideas that could also be used for nights out with or without the rest of your family throughout the year.
Much of my movie going takes place at the modern ShowPlace 10 multiplex in Mattoon, but I like to visit old-fashioned downtown movie theaters whenever I can. These movie theatres may be a bit old fashioned in some cases (aren't we all), but offer plenty of atmosphere and nostalgia.
Downtown business districts and their brick storefronts often host some of the best restaurants in their communities as well, so there is some local flavor readily abound to accompany a night at the cinema.
Champaign's downtown is host to many upscale restaurants, including Carmon's French bistro. I have long been a fan of Minneci's Ristorante and other Italian restaurants that are clustered just to the southeast. A Bombay Indian Grill is also located in this community.
The Virginia Theatre and the Art Theater are both located in downtown Champaign. The grande Virginia features live entertainment and films other than the latest new releases, such as Feb. 13's "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind".� The Art has an independent focus, and most recently showed "Me and Orson Welles".�
I'm still getting to know downtown Decatur, but I have already become a fan of its Pastabilities Italian Grill. I tried the rich seafood lasagna during my first venture and plan to work my way through some of the other mouth-watering dishes there. Some of the seating areas are sectioned off with screens, creating intimate dining areas.
Downtown Decatur is also the place of The Avon Theatre, which has its massive original screen and two smaller screens. The Avon shows new releases, including art films. I watched "The Aviator" at the Avon, a perfect setting for a historical epic. The Avon is scheduled to show the all-star romance "Valentine's Day" over Valentine's weekend.
Good eating and cinema going can also be found in smaller towns.
My family and I recently took a short road trip to Taylorville to try Gambino's Louisiana Restaurant. We shared a combination platter with gumbo, jambalaya, alligator,etoufee, catfish,shrimp, crawfish tails and beignets. Our food was tasty, and the entrees on the menu looked great as well.
While we were in Taylorville, we headed downtown to watch a cinema movie at the two-screen Kerasotes Cinema. Since then, I spoke with a Taylorville resident who recommended that we should also try Florinda's Italian Ristorante and the 24-hour Dave's Toasty Shop grill downtown.
A dinner and a cinema movie do not necessarily have to be in the same township, either.
We ate lunch and some great pumpkin ice cream this fall in downtown Tuscola at Flesor's Candy Kitchen, which also has a soda fountain and bistro. The display cases there are filled with delicious homemade chocolates and other candy.
Then, we drove 12 miles on U.S. Route 36 and Illinois Route 130 to watch a movie at the two-screen Gemini Cinemas in downtown Villa Grove. Our Flesor's candy corn made a great sweet and salty snack with the Gemini's popcorn.
Old-fashioned, downtown film theaters can also be found closer to home at the Will Rogers Theatre in Charleston, Boarman's Roxy Theatre in Shelbyville and the Paris Theatre. All 3 are located in close proximity to the restaurants around their towns' courthouse squares.
I plan to visit the Roseland Theatre in Pana later this year and I am hoping that the Heart Theatre in downtown Effingham will be reopened someday.
A night out at these film theatres may involve a bit of a drive and seeing a movie that is not the newest of blockbuster, but the visit is worth it.
Each of these theaters has unique character, whether it is architecture, decor or movie selections, that make it unique and will hopefully, in turn, make the night even more memorable.
The new rage is painted wine glasses ? You heard it here first.