A Different Kind of Date Night

Seeing this week’s blockbuster might keep you up on the latest from Hollywood, but it can make for a lousy date routine if you never take your girl anywhere else. In an effort to keep things fresh, check out these six cineplex alternatives that will create better conversation, longer lasting memories and a more fulfilling relationship.

You’ve got the girl, the get-up and the night off. Before you call that nice restaurant and check to see what is playing at your local theater, consider this: There are other things to do on a Saturday night besides dinner and a movie. In an effort to help you avoid falling into a dating routine, here are a few date ideas to keep things fun and exciting in your relationship.

A Long Walk

Jill Scott had the right idea: “Let’s take a long walk around the park after dark. Find a spot for us to spark conversation, verbal elation, stimulation.” A walk is a fantastic idea for a date, especially early on in a relationship. There are few things nicer on an autumn evening than wandering around your city hand in hand with that special someone. This is a great way to chat about any number of things, and get to know your companion even better. As an added bonus, it’s completely free.

Slightly Sporty Night

I, for one, never tire of the occasional night out bowling or playing miniature golf. These two laid back sports offer the opportunity for a little friendly competition between you and your date. A night at the bowling alley can usually include arcade games, cheap food, and, of course, bowling.

In the case of mini-golf, you get to spend a night outside joking around on the course in a quieter alternative to the bowling alley. Either way, both locations inevitably lead to you standing behind your lady as you try to fine tune her swing or toss.

Music the Way it Was Meant To Be: Live and Free

In many cities I have lived in, one can usually find a free concert happening somewhere nearby sometime in the non-winter months. Often these concerts will feature lesser-known acts, enabling you and your date to either feel special for “discovering” a great new band or to share a laugh at the expense of a less-than-stellar performance.

Occasionally, a radio station will sponsor free shows headlined by more popular acts. For example, this summer I saw Matt & Kim and OKGo completely free. Attending a concert with your date almost always will spark up an excellent conversation about music, which is a fantastic way to get to know someone a little better.

Tasty Idea

Most cities have a free weekly paper that will keep you abreast of happenings and nightlife in your area. In these papers, you will more than likely see notices advertising a beer or wine tasting. While these events can sometimes be costly, you can usually also find smaller-scale tastings that are affordable, sometimes even free! As for the date, nothing says classy like sipping on an adult beverage and noting minor details about its aroma or its finish.

Worst case scenario, you’ll have the opportunity to get to know yours and your date’s tastes a little better.

Eating In

So you want to win a girl’s heart? Cook her dinner. And do it well. Most guys would be amazed at how simple it can be to prepare and serve a gourmet meal for the lady in their lives. Websites like Brokeass Gourmet can help you with the recipe, and you can take it from there.  Buy some tea light candles from the dollar store, pop them into wine glasses, crack open a decent wine, bring out your best dishes, and put on some classy tunes to set the mood.

Your date will swoon over the effort you put forth before even tasting your meal, which will hopefully add to the experience (it may help to practice fixing the meal before the big night).

Dance Your Ass Off

A recent survey said that 99 out of 100 girls love dancing. While that may not exactly be true, it’s probably pretty damn close. For this date, you can go back to that weekly paper and look up some dance classes.  I recommend starting with something fun, like swing or jazz. You and your date will have a blast trying to master the choreography while spending most of the evening in each other’s arms. Taking her out for dance lessons will also show a fair amount of bravery on your part, as it shows that you’re not afraid to try new things and even look silly doing them.

So the next time you and your significant other are looking for something to do, consider this list. While I enjoy dinner and a movie as much as anyone else, it’s important to switch things up every now and them to keep it interesting. Feel free to comment with more ideas for great date nights and may your dates be merry and bright!

Got a great date idea? Share it with the rest of us in the comments!

Patrick is a jack of all trades currently based in Philadelphia. Not one for sitting still, he fills his free time with writing, photography, and traveling. You can find more from Patrick on his blog: http://thewhatzine.blogspot.com/.

  • Josh

    Patrick,

    A great article filled with thrifty, yet, enjoyable suggestions. Also, another suggestion that some people might be more apt to try (if they are timid about escaping the restaurant atmosphere), is to go for a very small/low key restaurant. One of the best dates I have ever been on was at a very small “hole in the wall” restaurant. The prices were kind to my wallet, which as a poor college student was a very welcomed relief, and the atmosphere was much more relaxed, and romantic, than you find at your larger scale eateries. The restaurant supplied a single red rose for my date, being as how it was Valentine’s Day, and a live pianist provided the background music to a very enjoyable night.

  • Patrick

    Josh,

    That sounds fantastic! Small restaurants are great alternatives to larger fare, and aside from being more likely to do cool things like providing a rose, their atmosphere tends to be much more intimate. A very good suggestion indeed!

  • Thomas

    I will wholeheartedly support the suggestion of cooking for your date but I’d also like to suggest cooking with your date. You can determine how much you want them to help; maybe they’re with you making the menu and shopping, maybe their just the sous-chef under your professional guidance. Either way, I’d say it puts a little less stress on you and allows you to demonstrate some value without excessively pampering.

  • http://abetterhuman.blogspot.com Steven

    Most of my personal circle of influence is dirt poor, so we always share free or inexpensive dating tips. One great tip a friend shared with me was to go to a book store, and each of you spend 10-15 minutes looking for something you are interested in that the other one may not know about you. Then meet back up and talk about it.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Steven,

    That’s a really cool and thoughtful idea. Thanks for sharing!

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  • http://langkampracing.com Nick

    Some good thoughts here, but I’ve got another to add.

    Movie under the stars…. Lay out a blanket in the grass, take her to the neighborhood park, the backyard, where ever, as long as the evening will be warm with good weather and no bugs. In the modern laptop world a full length movie is no big deal to watch, so take it outside with some drinks and lay under the stars while watching it. Redbox costs a dollar!

  • http://www.primermagazine.com/2010/learn/2010-fall-beer-review Andrew

    Nick,

    That’s a really great idea! Thanks for sharing it, I’ll have to give it a try.

  • Greg

    I was talking with this girl from school, and found out we both love this little diner downtown that’s in an old train car, and we decided to have a breakfast date. I gave her a “wakeup call” that morning and picked her up outside her dorm, we ate a delicious (and cheap) breakfast, had a fantastic time, and I dropped her off 90 minutes later. It was sweet, classy, cheap, and a wonderful memory. Try a breakfast date!

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Greg, That’s a really fantastic idea. Very smooth.