kristy holland

I t's finally here: the end of the semester. Three weeks of class-free break are within spitting distance. And if you've been struggling with schoolwork for the last few months, you're probably relived to switch things up and get a fresh start.

But what if you've been fighting a different kind of get-ahead battle: trying to make a move on that lecture-class cutie, or breaking the "just-friends" barrier between you and your crushable best gal pal? For those of you making slow progress in romance this fall, the end of classes may spell disaster. If you're not already close to your love interest or haven't made an outside-of-class connection, come next month, she may be lost in the sea of 20,000 other undergrads.

What can you do? Make a move, Romeo. Break the ice with a smooth opening line about the stuffiness of the library and whisk her away for a study-session escape to get some fresh air.

Taken totally literally, the best fresh air to be had around Boulder is atop one of its nearby peaks. With this week's snow still lingering, skip the steeps leading to Mt. Sanitas and Bear Peak and instead opt for a sunlit ridge in North Boulder known as the Hogback Loop, which starts at the trailhead just north of the Broadway/28th Street junction (take the first right turn after the light). The 2-mile loop tops out about 1,000 feet above its start point and takes as long as two hours to hike. Bring a thermos of hot cocoa so you can take in the fresh air -- and the view over the city and plains -- from rocky perches on the ridge.

If you don't feel like gearing up for a trek in 30-degree temps, take a slightly less conventional approach to freshening up by escorting your date to Tonic Oxygen Bar (2011 10th St.; 1 p.m.-11 p.m.). The hippie-Zen setting and bar serves up elixirs, raw-food snacks, and five- to 20-minute session huffing super-oxygenated air -- boosted from a "normal" 21 percent to a dizzying and concentrated 90 percent oxygen. Pick from an assortment of aromatherapy flavors like "concentration" -- and brain-power-boosting grapefruit or eucalyptus and fill-up on the yummy treats between puffs.

Not feeling as wholesome as vegan cookies and floral-scent-inhaling suggests? The air there isn't exactly "fresh," but The Hookah House (1325 Broadway St.; hookahhouse.com) wafts a fruity-scented aroma of traditional Persian flavored tobacco. If you've never before smoked a hookah, the one-time tobacco diversion isn't likely to hook you, it's relatively cheap -- you can smoke to your heart's content and enjoy a couple of high-end coffee or bottled sodas for under $20 -- and the college-scene-y space provides a vibe that's cooler than most other 18-and-over venues.

Kristy Holland writes about date-night ideas once a week for the Colorado Daily. Tell her about your date ideas at boulderdatenight@gmail.com.