If you think you can get away with going to (or worse, getting takeout from) the same boring restaurant every Friday with your boo, think again. We’re upping the ante on date night expectations, people! Creative date ideas don’t have to cost a ton of money, and they don’t require a ton of effort, either—just a little thoughtfulness and pre-planning! Why not spare a few minutes to brainstorm some great date ideas for you and your SO to enjoy? You’ll have a great night and they’ll love you even more for getting creative. It’s a win-win, in my opinion.
Still, I know not everyone has a laundry list of great date ideas floating around in their brain. That said, I do, and I’m happy to share. It can think of quite a few (24, to be specific) great date ideas right off the bat, and no matter what kind of couple you and your SO are, I’m confident you’ll love at least a few. Not everyone wants to snuggle under a pillow fort or plan their fantasy vacation, and I get that! Not all dates are created equal, so pick a few, try them out over the weekend and see which one becomes a regular in your date night routine.
From sunrise beach trips to museum exploration, there’s quite the variety within this lineup, so read on to see which dates sound like a good fit for your relationship. Then, put ’em into action! Oh, and by the way, you can totally take credit and tell your date you thought it up on your own. Your secret is safe with me.
1. Go On A Picnic
Head to Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or your local market before the date and get some cheeses, breads, fruits and whatever else your little heart desires. Package it all up in a cute basket or cooler, bring a picnic blanket or some beach towels and plop down to enjoy your feast at a local park. Major photo app alert.
2. Mini Movie Night
Get a mini projector, some movie theater candy, popcorn and a blanket. Host a cozy movie night in your own home. This is way better than going to an actual theatre for a million reasons. You can pause the film to pee, use your phone, and of course, make out stare-free if things get steamy.
3. Scrapbook Your Personal History
Whether your S.O. has a ton of baby pictures they want organized or you end up printing out the best of your college years from a Facebook album, you’ll have tons of fun scrapbooking together as you relive old memories and exchanged funny stories. It’s an intimate task, but also a great way to get to know someone a little bit deeper.
4. Take The Ferry
If you live on a coast or by water, chances are there’s a ferry nearby. While plenty of people use these big boats to commute, they also serve as a little mini cruise around your hometown, so have you and your partner dress up and make a day out of it! Make a point to grab lunch wherever the ferry docks before taking it a second time back home.
5. Fantasy Vacation Planning
This is definitely one for the long-time couples, y’all. Take some time to research your dream vacation, and lock in where you’d go, where you’d stay and all the activities you’d do. Then, put on your best salesperson face and try to “sell” the other person on your idea. Maybe it’ll just be for fun, maybe you two will end up booking your next trip!
6. Wake Up Early For Sunrise
If you live by a body of water (or anywhere else where you can guarantee a great view), set an alarm for a little before sunrise and plan to both wake up. Put on your comfiest sweats, hit up a coffee drive-through for something warm and energizing, and head to your special spot to watch the sunrise together. If you’re not early risers, you can try sunset instead!
7. DIY Portrait Time
Hang up a sheet, get some props from a dollar store, and have a little fun in your homemade photo booth! Get a disposable camera (or just re-download Huji) and make an afternoon out of it. This is also a great way to ensure your partner ends up posting you on their IG feed, wink wink!
8. Chef It Up
Pick a family favorite dinner or dessert recipe and really try to nail it. Cooking together is an incredible bonding experience! Or, if you and your boo are more competitive, make the same dish separately and invite some friends over to decide who is the best chef, Chopped style. I’m rooting for you!
9. Spa Day
Pick up some fancy bath supplies or massage oils, light some candles and try to find a copy of that CD every massage place has that’s just bird noises over Mozart. Bonus points for plush robes, cozy slippers and face masks!
10. 500 Days Of Summer It
You know that scene in the movie where they go to Ikea and pretend they live there? Yeah, well I recreated it on a date once and it was honestly cute AF. This works for any and all furniture stores, people! You just need a partner that’s willing to lean into the gag.
11. Literary Love
Go to a bookstore, locate one (or more) of your all-time favorites and swap them. Find some comfy chairs, hunker down, and enjoy an afternoon discussing your picks. This is also a great date idea if you’re about to spend time apart. That way you can take your boo’s fave book on your trip, read it and discuss it when you return. Two dates in one, y’all!
12. Become Bartenders
Head to the liquor store and pick up some funky liquors you wouldn’t normally go for. Then, go home and try to make each other a signature cocktail or shot. Who knows, you might just whip up the drink that will get served at your future wedding reception! If your boo already is a bartender IRL, they’ll have a big advantage—but at least you’ll get to enjoy their drinks!
13. Fitness Sesh
Taking a workout class together can be a great bonding experience! Or, if you don’t want to shell out the coin, you can use online videos and do it from home! If you want a little more ~togetherness~, might I suggest some acroyoga? Laughs are guaranteed.
14. Get Crafty
Head out to a craft store and pick out the first kit that seems interesting. Spend a few hours painting models, making sand art, braiding friendship bracelets or trying your hand at sculpting. When you’re done, you’ll have a (probably bad-looking, but still sentimental) craft to remember your time!
15. Indoor Scavenger Hunt
Grab a pack of plastic easter eggs(or any other smallish object) and label each with a compliment, secret, or coupon for a service (you know the kind!). Hide them around your home and dare your date to find them all!
16. Food Truck Lunch
Find out where the food trucks in your town gather and convince your date to try something new for lunch! Something about ordering your meal from a food truck feels so spontaneous and funky. Great date material!
17. Smell The Roses
Take your date to the nearest nursery (the plant kind, not the baby kind) or flower shop and soak in that light, humidity and plant smell as you wander. You can even pick up a small succulent or houseplant to remember the day.
18. Volunteer Together
What could be better than doing some good with your boo? Volunteer at a local animal shelter or somewhere else you two decide on together, and dedicate the day to helping others. You’ll feel so great after!
19. DIY A Wine Tasting
Stock up on some wines (some of your faves plus a few you’ve never tried before) and pour them all into different glasses. Then, have your boo come over for an at-home wine tasting! Compare faves and see if you can’t find your new go-to date night bottle. Make sure to have charcuterie on-hand, too!
20. Pop In For A Pop-Up
Look up local events in your area and spend a few hours perusing! This can be anything from pop-up shops to temporary galleries to weekend farmer’s markets! Just going somewhere new (even if all you’re doing is browsing) elevates a standard date.
21. Museum Crawl
Look up obscure museums, or even popular ones you haven’t gotten around to yet. Try to fit as many as you can into an afternoon or just spend the day discussing one or two exhibits. Prepare to feel cultured as hell.
22. Blind Taste Test
Pick a category—water bottles, soda, fast food fries, chocolate bars, etc.—and buy multiple well-known versions. Then, have one partner try them all blindfolded and rate them or guess which is which. This might sound silly, but you’ll be surprised how into it you both get! Especially when you realize you actually hate the taste of your ~favorite water~ in comparison to the one you never buy.
23. Hit Up A Roller Rink
If it’s spring or summer, rent some skates and go to a local roller rink for tons of laughs (and, potentially, some athletic struggles). If it’s winter, Christmas-ify your date and go ice skating instead!
24. Support The Arts
Find a community theater production of something that sounds interesting. Even if you aren’t theatre buffs, you might end up having a great time! If you can’t bear the thought of sitting through a two-hour play, try an improv comedy show or something else light-hearted.
25. Go Back To School
Find a community class for something that sounds interesting to you both—flower pressing, hot yoga, or creative writing. Building a skill together is a beautiful thing! Plus, if the class requires multiple sessions, you have more than one reoccurring date night lined up to look forward to.
A version of this article was published in 2018.