El Pasoan and model Julian Cavett Maldonado looked to reality TV to find a love match.

The 26-year-old was a contestant on the FOX TV show “Love Connection with Andy Cohen,” appearing on the show June 5.

A graduate of Hanks High School and UTEP who now lives in Los Angeles, Maldonado took his date and contestant Kirstie to the Santa Monica pier to ride the ferris wheel and enjoy ice cream. The couple later shared a lobster dinner.

Kirstie picked Maldonado as her match, and the two won a romantic overnight getaway –and $10,000 after the audience also chose Maldonado as the match among three contestants.

But you don’t have to go on a game show to have a great date story.

Whether it’s the first date or the hundredth, sharing a romantic evening that took some heart and planning with your sweetheart shows them you’re interested in making everlasting memories.

After all, everyone loves to be swept off their feet from time to time.

Here are some fun, romantic, outside-the-movie-theater area ideas around El Paso:


For the outdoorsy


Galactic surprises await you on a night of stargazing at Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site in far East El Paso County.

Tour the night hand-in-hand with your significant other, guided by park staff. Sharing a telescope to explore the glittering night sky together is a rom-com waiting to happen!

The sunset road trip down Montana Avenue and out of the city limits to get to the state park can be romantic in itself with the right conversation or your favorite music.

If stargazing isn’t enough, Hueco Tanks also offers a hike and paint program where you take a guided hike to a quiet area to paint a portrait of the scenery.

Who knows, including your date in your painting on the rocky hills may be the equivalent of Jack painting Rose in Titanic.

Where: 6900 Hueco Tanks Road No. 1 (about 30 miles northeast of El Paso on U.S. Highway 62/180)

How much: $9 depending on event

Info: 915-857-1135 or tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/hueco-tanks; facebook.com/TPWDHuecoTanks/


For the kid at heart


If you’re a full-grown adult who has never met a trampoline you didn’t like, Rockin’ Jump (followed by ice cream, of course) may be where you take a leap of faith on love.

This is a really active date idea where you can show off your somersault skills, and any date should be impressed – or at least humored.

Be sure to get a good stretch in before though, because nothing says romantic buzz kill like pulling a muscle. (If your date owes you massage, that may work in your favor.)

Where: Westside at 4585 Ripley #5; Eastside at 1691 N. Zaragoza

How much: Between $11 and $22; depending on the amount of jump time.

Info: Westside, 915-603-3076; Eastside, 915-298-0142 or RockinJump.com


For the movie lovers


Okay, so if you can’t escape movie watching, why not take it outdoors and make it more romantic than ever before?

First, grab your date, then stop to pick up a pizza, don’t forget your laptop, and head to Scenic Drive at about 7 p.m. Find a good parking spot at a high point on the mountain, park and enjoy your dinner on the hood of your car or the tailgate of your truck with a great sunset view.

Share the experience of one of El Paso’s famous sunsets together, as dusk falls upon the two sister cities below.

Once it grows darker and the city begins to glitter, get cozy inside your vehicle, set your computer on the dashboard and play a movie. It’s like a modern-day version of a drive-in without those pesky old-fashioned staticky speakers. Something about cuddling in a car that’s reminiscent of young love, isn’t it?

Where: Off Rim Road or off Alabama Street to Richmond

How much: Free (plus the pizza and movie download or rental)

Info: Destination El Paso, 915-534-0600; visitelpaso.com/places/scenic-drive


For the thrill seekers


There’s no better way to test a relationship than by locking yourself in an inescapable room together where teamwork is the only way to escape. El Paso’s new game room Operation Outbreak is completely interactive.

After you reserve your spot, you’re able to choose the room’s crime theme – Zombieland or London. Once you enter the room at your scheduled time, you get brief instructions and suddenly, the doors lock.

You only have one hour to search for the clues and keys needed in order to find your way out.

If your significant other likes puzzles and games, this provides a different kind of bonding that relies on communication and cooperation to get out.

If you don’t finish on time, you’ll still be let out – and you may have a better date story.

End the night with a victory dance, or a much-needed glass of wine!

Where: 4530 Montana

How much: $20 per person

Info: 915-412-0740 or EscapeGameEp.com

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