Photo: Bernardbodo

8 Outdoor Date Ideas

Nothing builds relationships like time outside.

Dinner and a movie only works so many times before it feels routine. Whether you’re just getting to know someone or keeping a long-term romance fresh and fun, the best way to liven up your next date is to take it outside. 

There are other benefits to getting outdoors with your honey as well: Adventure activities like climbing, snowshoeing, and hiking can help build trust and boost your problem-solving aptitude as a couple. And don’t even get us started on the aww-worthy photo ops. And besides, venturing beyond the ordinary will create memories you can talk about on dozens of dinner dates to come. Here are eight ideas to get you started. 


1. Go Ice Skating

There’s a reason this is a Valentine’s classic. And in winter, many cities at high altitudes and/or northern latitudes set up outdoor rinks all season long. And if you live somewhere really cold? Try pond skating for next-level scenery and backcountry quiet.  


Do it right: 

  • Pack a hat, scarf, gloves, and plenty of warm layers
  • Bring hot cocoa or tea in an insulated bottle. 
  • Make sure any frozen ponds are vetted for safety by local authorities or landowners before you step foot on the ice.


2. Pick Your Own Fruit

Berries in the summer and apples in the fall are widespread options, and you’ll likely find regional fruit as well. Just search for “pick your own” farms and orchards nearby. Pack a sun hat or warm coat depending on the season. And after? Use your spoils to bake a pie and serve it by candlelight. 


Do it right:  

  • If it’s a long drive, turn it into a day trip. Look for a trail along the way. 
  • Good shoes are a must; farm terrain can be uneven and sometimes muddy.


3. Go Snowshoeing or Cross-Country Skiing

This is the way to go for a quiet, scenic winter outing. Plus, it’s a bonus if you’re both trying something new. Rentals are affordable and readily available at Nordic centers. 


Do it right: 

  • Let the slower party ski or snowshoe first. They should set the pace.
  • Bring an insulated bottle of hot tea or cocoa, cookies, chocolate, and other high-fat, high-carb snacks, which help keep the body warm in cold temps. 
  • Go easy. This is a date, not a sufferfest. Together with your partner, pick out a short loop with minimal vertical gain.


4. Go Bouldering

Unlike roped climbing, which requires technical skills and gear, first-time bouldering is easy to manage on your own. Learn the basics of bouldering, rent a few crash pads from your local bouldering gym or gear shop, and head to the nearest bouldering zone for carefree fun in an outdoor setting. 


Do it right:   

  • Don’t get hung up on any one route unless both parties are really excited about it. This is no time for frustration.  
  • Don’t offer “beta” (hold-finding or technique advice) unless your partner asks you first. 
  • Pack some surprises, like fancy snacks and cold drinks.  
Photo: Axel Brunst/TandemStock


5. Jog it Out

Join a fun run. Charity 5Ks, band-fueled 10Ks, holiday runs—they’re all great ways to get some exercise and see your city in a whole new way. For the scenic version, look for a trail 5K near you. New to trail running? Get started here


Do it right: 

  • Pick out a race with a fun theme or a good cause. Bonus points if there are costumes involved. 
  • Whether it’s running, jogging, or walking, stay together and let the slower partner set the pace (this is a date, not your chance to PR).
  • Get a finish-line photo of the two of you together—the combo of runner’s high and romance will show.  


6. Plan a Picnic

Got a favorite trail? Share it. Go classic for this one: blanket, delicious food and drinks, maybe cards for post-lunch games. Everything tastes better after a few miles, but don’t overdo it. You want to allow plenty of picnic time. 


Do it right: 

  • Pack enough layers and/or sun protection for the season. 
  • Consider bringing a small tarp (and knowing how to rig it) in case you need to add protection from sun or light rain. 
  • Pick a hike that has a view, a meadow, a waterfall, or some other picnic payoff. 


7. Go Camping

A night under the stars. A campfire for two. There’s no better way to keep a spark alive. If you don’t have your own gear, borrow from a friend or rent. Public Lands offers an assortment of gear rentals that can be shipped to you or your destination.


Do it right:

  • Check the nighttime lows for the elevation of your campsite. Pack accordingly. Body heat can only do so much. 
  • Pack a cooler with cold drinks, gourmet ingredients, and allow plenty of time to make a camp feast
  • Camp somewhere that allows campfires (be sure to check regulations about packing your own wood versus gathering wood on-site). Bring two chairs and a cozy blanket. 


8. Go Paddling

You’re guaranteed some couple time when you’re in a boat together. A double kayak or canoe will do, or even a paddle boat in a local park. Standup paddleboards are also fun, but you’ll need to paddle separately. Many small reservoirs, lakes, and ponds have on-site boat houses that offer rentals, and local gear shops occasionally rent small watercraft. 


Do it right: 

  • Partner-rowing techniques can be tricky to pick up for beginners. Consider it a chance to find harmony.
  • Wear your PFD; safe is the new cool. 
  • Boats can hold a lot of cargo; pack special drinks and snacks. 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.