Whether you want to romance a new partner or spice up your marriage, the humble date night is the zest your love life needs. This simple act of courtship can shift a fun fling into a long-term liaison, bring the flirtatious aspect back to a steady relationship, or be the powerful antidote that turns a rocky romance around.
Despite its importance, date night is often overlooked because we’re either too busy in our relationship or we avoid one-on-one time for less intimidating group dates. I know that making date night a priority with my husband has been a game-changer for us. It shows that the two of us are committed and passionate about each other to save that date but also the connection and bond it establishes between us during those dates is priceless.
So, we want you to put your creative cap on and think outside the usual restaurant rendezvous or movie night. Here are a few of our favorite unexpected tête-à-têtes.
Plan a Night of Board Games and Trivia
It’s something we’re encouraged to do as families, but what about as couples? Sometimes it’s good to ditch the seriousness for a dose of silliness and revel in some good old-fashioned fun. You can make a night of it, even give it a name, and tally the scores from each game along the way. Not only does this friendly competition make things interesting, but also, .
Some of our favorite board games include , , , , and . Or if you prefer card games, we love . Make sure you balance out the juvenile with plenty of mature snacks, including with expensive .
Book a Night at Your Local Hotel
Who says hotels were only for interstate or international vacations? Look up some of the in your local area. You can treat your valentine to a delicious three-course meal at the in-house restaurant, then retire to the bar for cocktails and Champagne, have a bit of a dance, then enjoy a nightcap in your room surrounded by stunning interior design, and a balcony with a view.
In the morning, splurge on a relaxing couple’s treatment at the hotel spa, or enjoy a buffet breakfast followed by sunbaking by the pool—. It will feel like you went away for a romantic weekend, but it’s only a short drive back home. Enjoy all the luxury trimmings, without the hassle of travel.
Give Water Sports a Go
There really is nothing quite like being out on the water; it’s so peaceful. So imagine just the two of you out there with Mother Nature. There are so many awesome water sports to try, from stand-up paddleboarding to kayaking, surfing, and canoeing. If you live by a coast and you’re both beginners, there’s usually a nearby where you can learn together. To step up the fun factor, look up hydro bikes and pedal boats in your area.
Swap the Cinema for the Dance Floor
While we all love watching the latest flick on the big screen, taking your date to the movies isn’t really the most exciting option—. Instead, let our favorite flicks be your guide and take note from Tatum in or Jennifer Lawrence in , and dance your way into romance. You can take lessons as a couple, improvise at your local bar, or boogie up a storm in your living room with a dance video game.
Go on an Adventure Hike in Your City
If you want to get to know someone, then take a hike together. You can choose a local track in your city or take a drive to one nearby. Either way, it gives you plenty of time to talk and get to know each other while you sweat it out in nature. The best part is when you finally reach the summit, you can take a moment to enjoy the views—and maybe a romantic kiss, too.
Get Physical and Work Out
If you both love the outdoor life, then book a trendy yoga class in the park together or plan your own workout on the beach. If you prefer a private setting, then swap the public places for your living room and throw in a DVD, or opt for a class. You can make fitness fun and inject some competition into the routine. Studies have found that , so what are you waiting for? Start planning that workout date stat.
Visit the Local Bookstore or Library
There’s something sexy about watching someone read a book. If you need proof of this, then check out the insanely popular . Not only that, but libraries are typically beautiful places—architecturally and visually—they are steeped in history, and the possibilities are endless. Since you have to be quiet, in both a bookstore and a library, it’s also a cute opportunity to whisper to each other, discuss book titles or covers, reference your favorite reads, and get to know one another on a literary level.
Have Fun at the Arcade
We love this because it’s something a little out of the ordinary and makes for a nice nostalgic date option. You’ll feel like loved-up teens all over again when you ride the Ferris wheel, race each other in bumper cars, play the kitschy carnival games, and walk home with the oversize toy you won under your arm. Be sure to eat cotton candy and corn dogs.
Tour Your Own Town Like Tourists
We’re so busy working most of the time that we forget about the incredible sights and things to do in our hometown. Well, it’s time to stop taking it for granted and start planning a tourist-themed date for your loved one. You can even map out an official holiday schedule, complete with attractions to see, restaurants to eat at, and the top boutiques to shop in.
To really step it up a notch, you could even book a hotel in town for the night where all the action takes place. Don’t forget your camera so you can take cool pictures of your adventure, and then turn them into a .
Take a Mini Road Trip
Sometimes we’re so caught up with work that we need to physically remove ourselves in order to truly focus on our lives and relationships. Getting out on the open road, even just for an hour or two out of town, is one of the best ways to spend time together and forget about everything else for a while. The car trip there gives you enough time to chat, and then you can hit the pavement and explore. Before you leave, do some research about where to go and eat, or pack a picnic lunch and pull over somewhere unexpected; pretty romantic, right?
This post was originally published on September 9, 2015, and has since been updated.