A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

101 Romantic Date Ideas That Spark (or Strengthen) a Meaningful Connection

From the fun to the flirty, these date ideas will help you make unforgettable memories with your significant other

Kiss on the forehead
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Out of romantic date ideas? You’re not alone!

My husband and I are coming up on 25 years of marriage, and while that’s a major accomplishment, it does make thinking up creative date ideas a little more challenging. In a quarter of a century together, we’ve pretty much tried it all. Add our five children to the mix, and regular romantic getaways are few and far between—we’re lucky if date night happens at all.

Whether you’ve been together five months or 50 years, date nights are an integral part of keeping the spark alive in your relationship—but not all date ideas are created equal. Couples who planned dates focused on increasing positivity and growth saw a much bigger boost in relationship satisfaction than those who went on dates to avoid negative things, like conflict, according to a 2021 study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. If increasing closeness is your goal, the researchers recommend choosing exciting activities that allow for new and interesting experiences.

This doesn’t mean you have to ditch your go-to of dinner-and-a-movie. But perhaps you could spice it up with a little creativity. To help you take date night to the next level, we created a list of date ideas to spark or strengthen meaningful connection. It’s easy to know how to be romantic with a little bit of help! All you have to do is plan the date and time.

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Two women on bikes on a sunny street
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Do a first date do-over

My first date with my husband was a comedy of errors, but in the years since we’ve had a great time reenacting that fateful night—with much better results! If your first date was amazing, try recreating it but add a little something extra to make it even more special. And if your first date was terrible like ours? You get a second (third, hundredth) chance to make it better.

For instance, if your picnic on the beach got ruined by rain and seagulls, pick a sunny day to hit the beach and pack an umbrella to ward off winged intruders. You can even make it better than the original plan with fancier food, fresh flowers or a new locale. For extra romantic vibes, pretend your relationship is brand-new again and ask them all these get-to-know-you questions.

couple on an ikea date
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Go on an IKEA date night

This is one of my husband’s and my favorite date nights! Before you judge, know that this Swedish marvel of a store has all the makings for a fun date night (and can be very budget-friendly as long as you avoid impulse shopping). Walk through the IKEA showrooms and point out things you like and don’t like, sit on all the couches, pretend to cook in the pretty kitchens, play with the kids’ toys and then go to the surprisingly good restaurant for a cheap and yummy meal. Pick out something fun from the marketplace as a souvenir, like a box of candy you’ve never tried, a small stuffed animal or a bag of frozen Swedish meatballs.

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Do an escape room

Escape rooms are one of the fastest-growing forms of live entertainment, and for good reason—they’re mentally challenging, engaging, creative and really fun. They have themes to suit every fancy, from fleeing a serial killer to exploring Greek ruins, and come in a range of difficulty levels. But the best part about an escape room as a date idea is that it requires you to work together as a couple, using your strengths to problem-solve together. Plus, you get to take fun pictures at the end, which you and your significant other can share on social media.

Stand Up Comedy Show
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Hit up a comedy show

Get tickets to a comedy show, improv theater or funny play. Laughter is the best medicine for many ills, including whatever may be ailing your relationship. Laughing releases endorphins, or happy brain chemicals, and laughing together will make you two feel closer and more bonded. Not to mention the fact that you’ll increase your number of inside jokes, a hallmark of a happy relationship.

On a budget? Stream a comedy show on Netflix—just make sure you make it special so you’re having a shared experience instead of another night vegging on the couch. Put your phones in a different room, get out the good snacks and snuggle under a blanket for two.

Preparing gifts for Christmas and New Year
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Do a “favorite things” swap

“Favorite things” parties are hugely popular because you not only get a fun little present but also learn something new about the giver. Use this idea as the basis for a date night by having each person pick out one of their current favorite things. This can be anything that delights you or brings you joy, from a new flavor of coffee to spa socks, a silly chip clip or a car freshener. Set a budget—say, $20 or less—and then buy and wrap up your favorite thing. On your date, exchange gifts and share why that is your favorite thing of the moment. You’ll learn something new about your partner and have a good time talking about something besides the kids or jobs. Don’t forget to jot it down in your phone notes for future gift ideas!

Woman playing board game with friends
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Play sexy bingo

Make a bingo card and fill each space with a little romantic gesture you can do on your date. Think of things that will increase the feeling of romance, like a kiss on the forehead, holding hands, using a flirty nickname or feeding your partner a bite of food. Whoever gets bingo first gets to choose what happens at the end of the date. This is Reader’s Digest, so we’ll keep it PG, but you and your love can make it as steamy as you like! (You could even add some of these libido boosters to a few squares.)

couple looking at stars
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Sit on your roof and stargaze

There’s a reason humans have been doing this since our cave-dwelling days: There’s something so romantic about lying under the stars and pondering the vastness of the universe together. The darkness and quiet can inspire you to talk about things that may feel too big or difficult to bring up in broad daylight. Snuggling up under a blanket to ward off the night chill is fun too.

Love astronomy? Install an AR (assisted reality) stargazing app on your phone. When you hold it up to the night sky, it will tell you which constellations you’re looking at and the stories behind them. Fans of a different aspect of the night sky can make the most of their stargazing time by cracking each other up with Star Wars pickup lines.

Female bartender hand squeezes juice from fresh grapefruit in cocktail lemonade with ice and rosemary.
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Create a couples cocktail

Many bars and restaurants offer classes in crafting cocktails. Sign up for a mixology date and use that time to create a signature drink for you as a couple. You can pick ingredients that feel symbolic of something in your relationship or just get wild and pick whatever you both think tastes good. Not a drinker? Make a creative mocktail! Save the recipe and use it for future date nights and perhaps even a future vow renewal or anniversary party.

Golf club and golf balls
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Play a round of mini golf

If you feel like you’ve run out of things to talk about, playing miniature golf is a guaranteed conversation starter! Regardless of how good, bad or strange the course is, there’s always something to discuss. If you’re already great at golf, you can up the ante with a little sports wager. Or try adding an extra challenge to each hole, like standing on one leg, putting while blindfolded or making a backward-and-through-the-legs shot. Silly? Absolutely. But a little ridiculousness can make for a healthy relationship. Plus, it’s a great reminder to not take yourselves too seriously and to remember why you started hanging out together in the first place.

A content woman reclines on a comfortable bed and gets lost in a good book
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Join a book club

If you both love to read, join a book club together. The monthly get-togethers can be part of your date night. Or keep things small: Agree on a book to read with your partner and discuss it when you’re done.

Haunted House Delusion
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Take a ghost tour

Sometimes a little spookiness is exactly what you need to reignite that romantic spark—a little fun mixed with danger and wrapped up in a mystery. Most cities now offer haunted or ghost tours of local spots. (One that my husband and I really enjoyed was Seattle’s Underground Tour!) If you don’t have a local tour or are watching your budget, look up ghost stories in your area and go create a tour of your own. Even if you don’t believe in ghosts, it’s still a great excuse to hold hands (you know, for safety).

Close up view of african left-handed businessman writing in notebook
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Write a love letter

Revive the lost art of love letters with a letter-writing date. Its old-school feel makes it one of the most romantic date ideas on this list! Shop for some pretty stationery with your significant other, then sit down and write love letters to each other. (If you aren’t sure what to write at first, look to love poems and quotes for inspiration.) Exchange the letters and read them out loud, then put them somewhere you can cherish them. Want to keep the fun going? Write letters to friends or family together—or to your future selves!

handmade tent with blankets, pillows, toys and lights in room
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Build the most epic pillow fort

Grab your blankets, pillows, chairs and heavy books! Work together to build a cozy fort in your living room or backyard. But this isn’t your childhood pillow fort. Take it to the next level with fairy lights, lots of comfy cushions, appetizers, a little champagne and a laptop for a sexy movie binge on Netflix. Make it as bougie as you like and then cozy up together in your own little world. You can even have a sleepover (and you don’t have to ask your parents first!).

Fresh, organic apple plucked from the branch.
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Visit a pick-your-own farm

What’s more romantic than wandering through a quaint farm together, gathering fruit in a wicker basket as you hold hands and discuss the neighbors’ new buggy? OK, so it probably won’t go down exactly like that, but it’s still über-romantic to check out a local farm and pick some organic produce or flowers. (Bonus: It’s good exercise!) In the spring, check out tulip farms. Summer boasts bushes full of ripe berries. And fall is prime time for peaches, pears and apples. Don’t forget to pick up some fresh cider, jam or honey on your way out.

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Do chores together (really!)

Doing a chore together, like walking the dog or folding laundry, can turn into a fun date with a little thought. Not only does it give you time to talk and connect, but it’s also a good way to serve each other. As mundane as it may sound, chores are among the things happy couples do after work to stay connected. Doing small acts of service for your partner is one of the fastest ways to increase love in a relationship. Plus, checking a few things off your to-do list may make time for more romantic activities later (wink, wink).

Close-up on an interior designer drawing a sketch on a digital tablet
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Design your dream home

Even if you’re not in a position to buy a new home, planning your dream space can be a fun activity to do together and may help you learn new things about your partner. Their sense of style, what colors they find soothing, what they would do with a shoe closet or how many bathrooms they think are necessary all give you interesting intel on your loved one! Draw it out on paper, make a vision board or use an app like Pinterest to create it.

Mature man and senior woman making lunch
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Play your own version of Chopped

Hit the grocery store and pick out a new or strange ingredient—then challenge your partner to cook something with it. They can grab extra ingredients if needed and then head home to cook. You don’t have to be a master chef to enjoy looking up and creating weird recipes. In fact, it’s sometimes more fun if you aren’t. Then you both have to try both dishes! (There’s no shame in deciding your culinary skills weren’t up to snuff and ending up at a romantic restaurant at the end of the night.)

This is also a great idea for a double date or couples date night. Each couple can be a team.

Couple kissing on field
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Smooch at the top of a mountain

Hiking is one of the greatest date ideas: You get plenty of time to talk one-on-one, the exercise will release endorphins that make you feel happier and the fresh air is invigorating. And let’s not forget about the amazing views! Plus, there’s something extra romantic about a passionate kiss at the top of a mountain, on the shore of a beautiful lake or at the edge of a dramatic overlook. You can make this date extra special by combining it with a romantic weekend getaway, but you don’t have to splurge—find a nearby mountain and make it a day trip.

Beautiful celebration picnic outdoor with tasty food and lemonde.
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Pack a themed picnic

Picnics are the go-to idea for a romantic date, but if sitting on the grass and eating sandwiches doesn’t sound like a love fest, take your picnic to the next level by choosing a theme. It can be as simple as “only red foods” or as complex as basing it around your favorite TV show or band. Get creative with love puns and food names, along with the dishes and location. And remember: Pretty much anything can be a picnic basket if you try hard enough!

We have Some Of The Same Lectures
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Play the Newlywed Game

Think you really know your partner well? This game will challenge that assumption! You can buy the Newlywed Game online or at stores like Walmart and Target, or pick one of the many twists on the classic. You’ll both receive a personal question, but you have to answer it as if you were your partner—what would they say is their favorite sushi or most hated movie? Your partner will tell you which ones you got right (no cheating!), and whoever has the most points wins. This game is just as fun for couples who’ve been together for one year as it is for those who’ve lasted decades. For even more entertainment, play it with other couples who’ve been together for varying times.

Tourists relaxing in hot spring near Bridgeport, California, USA
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Soak in a hot spring

You don’t have to visit one of the world’s most romantic resorts to experience R&R in a picturesque setting. Winter or summer, rain or shine, taking a dip in a natural hot spring is romantic and relaxing. You can soak and talk while taking in the beautiful natural scenery. Many hot springs come with an interesting history, so you can also learn something new about your town or community. Check the calendar for events like themed days or couples-only soaks.

young couple making origami decorations for Valentine day, top view - romantic and love concept
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Have a craft night

Couples on a budget will get a kick out of this date night idea! Using only one hour and items you can find in your house, craft a gift for your partner. A homemade heart-filled (and heartfelt) valentine, a cardboard box turned into a model dream house, a handwritten love letter covered with stickers, a towel folded into an animal shape and tied with a ribbon, flowers arranged in a vase or even a necklace made out of pasta and paint are all fun ideas. Or go all out. One of our friends took this challenge to heart and made his wife a makeup stool out of wood scraps in the garage.

Midsection of businesswoman writing on diary in train
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Start a secret love journal

Here’s a genius date idea: Go together to pick out a fun notebook that represents your relationship. Splurge and get some cool pens, colorful markers and romantic stickers to decorate it with. Put the date on the inside cover. Then use the notebook as an old-fashioned message service. Write a love note to your partner on the first page and leave the journal on their pillow. The next day, they’ll write a love note to you and put it back on your pillow.

Even if you talk regularly throughout the day, there’s just something romantic about a handwritten love message! And it can help those who are more shy or reserved share what’s really in their heart. Plus, you can jot down ideas for future date nights in the notebook! Over time these notebooks can become priceless keepsakes of your love.

Silhouetted view of attractive young couple, boy and girl embracing, spending time together, sitting in the car while watching a movie in a drive in cinema
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Go to a midnight showing at a drive-in theater

Drive-in theaters still exist, and they offer a uniquely romantic experience you can’t get at an indoor theater or at home. Stock your car with treats and blankets and pick a show you’ll both love—a rom-com, something from your childhood or an indie film. Settle in to watch, and if things get a little frisky, that’s totally cool.

Adventure Challenge Date Book
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Take the Couple’s Adventure Challenge

The Couple’s Adventure Challenge is an inspirational book filled with creative date ideas, complete with instructions, planning lists and materials. The dates are organized by month and come in a fun package alongside scratch-offs and stickers. After you complete each adventure challenge, there’s a spot to put pictures and write your memories of the date, turning it into a romantic memento.

Happy young woman feeding food to girlfriend sitting in cafe
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Recreate your parents’ first dates

Family bonding at its finest! Each of you can interview your own parents about what their first date was like. Ask where they went, what they ate, what they wore, what they talked about (including their flirty pickup lines!) and what happened at the end of the night. Then use that as inspiration to recreate those vintage date nights. It’s up to you how historically accurate you want to make it, but be sure to take plenty of pictures to send to your parents! For even more fun, repeat the process with your grandparents’ first dates.

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Attend a free lecture together

Learning something new together will help keep your relationship (and conversations) fresh and exciting. Many universities and community centers offer free classes or lectures on a wide variety of topics, everything ranging from world philosophy to beekeeping to the history of your town. Sign up for anything that tickles your fancy, then hit a coffee shop afterward for a deeper discussion of what you liked (or didn’t).

Red wine and charcuterie assortment
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Make a cutie charcuterie

Charcuterie boards are having a real moment. And we can see why—they offer endless snacking options, are creative and can be easily customized for preferences and dietary needs. All you need is a large wooden board, a platter or clean countertop and your imagination. Go traditional with cheeses, meats, olives, dried fruit and crackers. Go sweet with frosting, graham crackers, cake cubes, fruit and chocolate. Go savory with dips, pretzel bites, pinwheel sandwiches and veggies. Surprise your cutie with a custom charcuterie or make one together.

Volunteers collecting trash in garbage bags at public park
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Volunteer together

Volunteering your time together at the local food bank, homeless shelter, animal shelter or community project can be a great bonding experience. It’s not necessarily an easy date night, but it will feel worthwhile and rewarding—and seeing your partner care for others can spark some very deep and romantic feelings! Not only can it help affirm your core values as a couple, but it contributes to your community at the same time. Win-win!

Unrecognizable marathon runner in motion on the road.
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Do a fun run

Bonding while creating healthy habits that will make your love last even longer? Yes, please! You don’t have to be a serious athlete to enjoy completing a bubble, foam, glow-in-the-dark, haunted, holiday or other silly and themed fun run. Helping each other finish the race together will be a great bonding moment, and the funny memories of your loved one running through a bouncy house filled with bubbles will last for years. Or you can add a little friendly competition: First person to the finish line gets to choose dessert!

On a road trip with our dog
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Go on a mystery drive

Get lost with your love to explore your region. Grab the car keys, turn off the GPS and set out on an adventure. The rules are simple: Let yourself get lost while driving, then explore the areas where you end up. Did you stumble on a charming little town? Get some lunch. Did you come across a lake you didn’t know existed? Sit by the shore and enjoy the time together. And yes, it’s totally fine to use GPS to get home when the adventure is over.

Mature Adult Male Playing Pickle Ball Photo Series
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Play pickleball

Pickleball—a cross between tennis and table tennis—is quickly becoming the most popular recreational sport in America. And there’s a good reason for that: It’s addictively fun. If you’ve never played, a lesson can make for a fun date. For more seasoned players, signing up for a weekly league is a guaranteed night out together. Or just grab your paddles and hit up a local court.

Asian LGBTQ guy painting self-made pottery at home studio.
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Paint personalized coffee mugs for each other

Most pottery stores offer paint-your-own sessions. You go in as a couple and choose whatever item you’d like to paint. The shop will provide all the supplies and, when you’re done painting, fire your masterpiece in a kiln for you. You can pick it up afterward (usually a week later). One way to add a little romance would be to paint a coffee mug for your beloved, decorating it with their initials, pictures of things they like or, if you’re not feeling particularly Picasso-esque, their favorite colors with a heart on the bottom.

Another idea: Paint a flower vase together and then take turns buying each other bouquets of fresh flowers.

Jar with roas heart and rolled up notes
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Make a date jar or calendar

Take the stress out of planning future date nights by using one date to create a list of fun date ideas. Write each one on a piece of paper and put them in a jar. Decorate the jar and store it in a prominent place in your home. When date night rolls around, take turns picking a strip—then do that activity.

An option for people who don’t love surprises is to take that date-night list and assign each one a day on a fresh calendar. Label it “One Year of Romantic Dates.” Cross off each as you do it.

African-American Boy Holding Gamepad Close Up
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Have a video game tournament

Video games can make for a fun date night, as long as you’re playing them together. Pick something silly, short and easy to learn, like Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros or Just Dance on Xbox. A little friendly competition can be fun—whoever wins gets to pick dinner.

Chef preparing maki sushi
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Sit at a sushi bar

Eating sushi is a classic date idea, but you amp up the fun and conversation by sitting at the bar or somewhere you can watch the chef prepare the sushi. Sushi rolling is an art form, and you can learn a lot about the ingredients and methods used to make this tasty dish, along with how to eat sushi. Some sushi restaurants even offer classes so you can try your hand at making a roll yourself.

Couple listening to music while sitting on bed at home
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Make a sexy shared playlist

What one person thinks of as the ultimate romantic song is rarely their partner’s top pick. So spend an evening sharing your favorite spicy songs and build a shared playlist that will get you both feeling the heat. Be sure to share why you find that song so romantic—perhaps it was the song you had your first dance to in middle school, or maybe it was the song that was playing during your first date together. Spotify, YouTube Music and Apple Music all allow you to build shared playlists that either of you can edit. (Hint: Set the visibility to private … unless you want all your friends and family to know about your lingering crush on Bon Jovi.)

Young couple having dinner together at the night market
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Experience a different culture at home

Traveling to a foreign country is an awesome idea for a romantic getaway, but you can simplify it for a fun (and more budget-friendly) date night. Pick a culture you’d like to learn more about and visit a museum, watch a documentary, take a class and/or go to a restaurant that centers on that culture.

reading love poems in a woodsy park
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Exchange love poems

Poetry was basically invented as a way to share feelings of love, romance, affection and even angst. Go someplace quiet that will spark creativity (like a museum, nature preserve or park) and take 30 minutes to write each other a love poem. Get as silly or as serious as you like, and don’t worry about not being Shakespeare—your partner will love it because it comes from you. Work in private jokes, memories and feelings. Then read the poems to each other.

Not feeling the creative spark? Take the time to look up a favorite love poem and read that to your partner, sharing why it made you think of him or her.

Low angle image of young couple cooking meal together.
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Bake bread or make a dessert together

Cooking dinner can feel like a chore, but baking and decorating cupcakes can be a fun (and tasty!) date. Try a new recipe together, or make a classic dessert you know you’ll love. The connection comes from working together to create something delicious. Don’t feel like dirtying all those dishes? Buy premade cupcakes or cookies, icing and decorations, and go to town. Make love-themed cupcakes or get silly. Then feed each other.

Medium shot of smiling couple dining at rooftop restaurant in Marrakech
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Sit next to each other

For your next date night, try changing up the seating arrangement. Think about it: When you go on a date with your loved one, where do you normally sit? Unless you’re at a venue like a sports arena or theater, where you have to face forward, you most likely choose to sit across from each other. This is better for eye contact and conversation, but simply changing the dynamic of where you sit can introduce a whole different vibe.

Sitting side by side can feel a little more intimate and even lead to more vulnerable conversations, as many people feel more comfortable sharing their deepest thoughts while looking ahead rather than making eye contact. Noticing where and how someone sits is a great intro to learning how to read body language, a key relationship skill.

Rear view of young Caucasian women visiting their local botanical garden
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Go on a plant walk at an arboretum

Arboretums aren’t your average greenhouses—often they showcase local, exotic and rare plants. Many have indoor and outdoor walking paths, along with lots of information about each type of plant. Be sure to check out your arboretum around the holidays. It may have a “lover’s tour” for Valentine’s Day, a spooky ghost walk for Halloween or festive lights around Christmas. Bonus: Many offer a free day each month, making this date very budget friendly.

Couple Riding Bicycles In Autumn
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Take a scenic bike tour

Thanks to e-bikes, pretty much everyone can spend a day tooling around town on a bicycle. Look up popular bike routes in your city, sign up for a guided tour or rent mountain bikes and hit the hills. You can ride for an hour or an entire day, depending on how the date is going. End your ride at a romantic casual restaurant. Or live out your rom-com dreams and rent a tandem bike, scooting around on a bicycle literally built for two.

Couple Smiling While Looking At Selfies On Smartphone Together
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Make a digital timeline of your relationship

Together, pick out the photos that best represent the course of your relationship and use them to create a digital photo collage, Instagram reel, video or online slideshow. You can include big events, like your wedding, the birth of a child or the adoption of a dog, and smaller things like the time you stumbled on the best taco restaurant ever. Don’t forget to include pictures that show what you’ve overcome together as a couple, like moving to a new state or healing from a serious illness. You’ll have a great time bonding over these shared memories, and you’ll have something you can look back at over and over again (and share with your friends or kids).

Young gay coupleYoung gay couple sitting on sofa at home. Using a laptop and watching a movie
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Watch each other’s favorite childhood movie

Whether you got nightmares from watching The Dark Crystal or loved Barbie: Fairytopia so much you wore out the DVD, everyone has a movie from their childhood that stuck with them. (Not that anyone asked, but mine is The Last Unicorn.) Ask your partner what their movie is and then watch it together. And be sure to ask them to share their memories of it and what feelings the rewatch brings up. It may end up being terrible, thought provoking or ridiculous, but either way, it will be fun, and you’ll learn something new about your love. Next week, it’s your turn!

Three dogs chewing on a stick, Fort de soto, Florida, United States
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Go to a dog park

It’s a date that will make at least three of you happy! Take your sweetheart and your fur baby to the local dog park for some fresh air. While your pup runs amok, you and your partner can catch up or just enjoy watching all the dogs.

Two muscular build men having weight training in a gym.
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Hit the gym together

Working up a good sweat together can be a great way to work off the stress of the day, catch up and get some endorphins pumping—all while building a healthy habit. Pump some iron, run on the treadmills or step out of your comfort zone and try a dance or cycle class together. Then wind down afterward with a healthy smoothie.

Young Couple Going To Marriage Counseling
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Book a couples counseling session

Hear us out! Relationship therapy isn’t just for relationships in trouble! In fact, it can be a great tool for taking a good relationship and making it stronger. Book a session with a local couples counselor and then hit a coffee shop afterward to talk about what you learned or any realizations you may have had. Protect your relationship by taking time to talk about it and work on it before you hit the inevitable rough patches in life.

Father and adult son touring winery
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Take a grown-up field trip

Fun fact: Many businesses offer free tours if you ask. This includes everything from national chain grocery stores to your local Mexican restaurant to a nearby university. Some of my husband’s and my favorite dates were touring an herbal tea factory and touring the robot-led warehouse of a blood products company. Weird? Definitely. Interesting conversations for weeks afterward? Absolutely. You can ask any local business or check out lists of homeschool field trips—they are rarely kids-only ideas.

Dosing containers with colored ink to dye clothes
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Make matching tie-dye socks

Tie-dye kits are an inexpensive tool for a hilarious date night. All you need is the bottles of dye, rubber bands and any white cotton item of clothing. You could make matching tie-dye T-shirts, socks, bandannas—yes, even underwear. You don’t even need to purchase new items; this is a great way to upcycle white or light-colored clothes that you no longer wear. Once they’ve set and been washed and dried, wear your silly matching creations with pride out to get ice cream. (Pro tip: Make an extra item for your sweetheart and give it as a birthday, Christmas or Valentine’s Day gift.)

Millennial Couple Outdoors in Small Town America Having Coffee and Pastries Photo Series
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Stroll main street

Regardless of size, every city has an interesting downtown. When was the last time you walked around yours? Check out local artwork, try a river walk, pop into an indie bookstore for a romance novel, try out a local bakery or brewery, browse a funky thrift store and stop by your town’s tourist center. Chances are, there are fun things to do that you’ve never noticed or have forgotten about.

trivia night sign
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Attend a trivia night

Are you a wealth of knowledge about random facts? Do you love learning new things? Are you competitive? And are beer and onion rings your idea of a great dinner? If you answered yes to these, make your next date night a trivia night at a local bar or restaurant. You and your partner can team up to answer trivia questions, or you can join forces with other couples. If you don’t have access to a trivia night, you can play a version together online.

Happy couple playing coin operated air hockey game at a gaming parlour
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Hit the arcade

You loved Chuck E. Cheese as kids, so think of going to a modern arcade as the adult version of the mouse fun house. Load up your card and play a wide variety of games, from basketball to claw machines to motorcycle racing. And don’t forget to save your tickets to get a prize from the arcade store at the end! (Just don’t think about the fact that you paid $60 for a small stuffed animal and a roll of Smarties—the fun was worth it!)

Real estate agent showing a house to black couple
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Check out new homes

Even if you’re not in the market for a new home, touring open houses is still really fun. You can see how the wealthy live, get ideas for decor and talk about things you like and don’t like in a home. Bonus: Sometimes there are free snacks! For more fun, create a fictional couple persona—say, Australian multimillionaires looking for a starter home to get their 36-year-old son out of their basement. Bonus points if you use accents.

Young couple in romantic mood on bed
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Pull an all-nighter

Remember when you first started dating and you would stay up all night talking? Pull another all-nighter with your significant other, and spend the night reminiscing—not looking at the clock! You can laugh at everything from your silliest relationship moments to flirty jokes and would-you-rather questions. You might be surprised what new things you can still learn about each other.

girlfriends singing into a microphone on karaoke night
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Sing karaoke

Singing karaoke in front of a bar full of strangers can be intimidating and not always very romantic. But many places now offer individual karaoke rooms you can rent. They have all the equipment you need to belt out your favorite romantic duets, plus food and drink service at your fingertips. Or get a machine and DIY a home karaoke setup.

Low Angle View Of Couple Embracing Against Hot Air Balloons In Sky
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Make a bucket list

Create a bucket list of everything you want to do together with your partner before you get too old. You can add big adventures like going bungee jumping, taking a hot-air balloon ride or booking a couples cruise. But also include smaller goals like adopting a cat—anything that makes you happy! After you’ve finalized your bucket list, make a goal-setting vision board for the life you want together.

Two women playing and training a dog in a dog shelter. He wants to adopt a dog.
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Help out at an animal shelter

Fun date night, doing something good and snuggles with furry friends? Win-win! Most animal shelters will welcome volunteers, even for an hour or two. You can help clean, organize or whatever else the shelter needs. Then spend the rest of the time walking the dogs, petting the cats and snuggling the fur babies. The hardest part is resisting the urge to adopt one (or all) of the animals.

breakfast in bed. Romantic anniversary ideas
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Have breakfast (or dinner!) in bed

Pretend you ordered room service and eat your meal together in bed. Just make sure the food isn’t messy. This is one of the most romantic anniversary and Valentine’s Day ideas. Who wouldn’t want breakfast brought to them in bed on a special day?

Farmer's market produce stand
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Get dinner at a farmers market

Your local farmers market is the perfect place for a casual morning or afternoon date. Try samples of new foods and check out local fruit, veggies, honey, meat, baked goods, candles, spices, jewelry and even specialty items like wild mushrooms. Buy ingredients for a tasty dinner that you can cook together later. And don’t forget a loaf of fresh bread! Can you even say you’ve been to the farmers market if you didn’t leave with a loaf of homemade sourdough?

Asian Chinese LGBTQIA+ couple at home during weekend
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Have a spa day

Looking for a great winter date idea when outside temps are dropping? Make an appointment at the spa. If you’re on a tight budget, it’s easy to do an at-home spa day as well. Pick up some face masks at the store and some cucumber slices for your eyes. Light a candle, play some relaxing music and enjoy!

Ooo, I can definitely feel that
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Do (or try to do!) yoga

Do you know how to do a downward-facing dog? What about warrior pose? You will when your yoga class is over! Yoga can have great benefits for the body and mind. It’s a fun way to connect with your partner and with yourself. You might even find you want to make it part of your weekly routine.

Top down of an English to Italian translation book in the hands of a woman
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Practice a new language together

Learning is more fun when it’s shared. Come up with a language you’d both like to learn or get better at. Eat the culture’s cuisine, label household items and practice basic conversations. (You can even throw in a few flirty questions in your new language to amp up the romance.) When you’re ready, go on an entire date where you can only speak the other language. Work at learning and perfecting it together. It’s OK to make mistakes as long as you have fun with the process.

Couple together at romantic concert
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Attend a concert

Do you and your partner share musical taste? Find musicians you both like and go see them live! You could buy tickets to a rock concert, the orchestra or live music at a local bar. It’s a whole different experience than just listening to music on your phone or computer.

Active Senior Couple at the Fairground
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Go to an amusement park

Head to a local carnival or amusement park. Play pinball and ride the Ferris wheel like you’re both teenagers again. Or get daring and tackle a roller coaster together. At the end of the day, try to win a stuffed animal or prize to take home. You might be surprised by how much fun you have.

Young Couple Climbing Together
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Try rock climbing

This date is the perfect mix of fun and active. There are rock walls for all skill levels, so you can find the right amount of challenge. Cheering each other on as you climb will remind you that love can move mountains—or at least (try to) climb them.

Beautiful couple receiving a body massage after a beach rest at a tropical resort. Travel concept
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Get a couples massage

A massage is a great way to practice holistic wellness and a romantic way to spend time together. Your back and shoulders will never feel better! If a massage at a spa resort isn’t in the budget, look up a video of how to give a massage to your partner, then take turns.

Close-up Of Legs Wearing Roller Skating Shoe, Outdoors
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Go skating

See if the roller rink has a disco or DJ night, and show up with your partner ready to have a blast! Dress in fun but breathable clothing—you can even get retro with your outfit.

If ice skating is more your speed, bundle up for a trip to the rink, then warm up with hot chocolate afterward. Even if you aren’t very good at skating, you and your partner can hold on to each other for support as you laugh your way around the rink.

couple drinking coffee in bed. Romantic ideas for her
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Take a mental health day

Call in “sick” to work and spend the day together just relaxing and catching up. This shouldn’t become a habit, but doing it once can be a great way to reconnect with your partner during an otherwise busy time of the year.

Mature woman painting in art class
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Paint and sip

You don’t need to be artistic to give this one a go! With a little wine to let your creativity loose and an instructor to give you guidance, you might be shocked at how much fun you have—and how good your paintings turn out. After the class, you can hang the art in your home, swap paintings with your partner or save them for a future gift. What better way to say “Happy Valentine’s Day” or “Happy Birthday” than with homemade art?

 couple preparing food for dinner
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Cook dinner together

Help each other make dinner one night. If you’re horrible at cooking, it’s a great opportunity to learn! Pick a new recipe that looks tasty (but not too ambitious). Pour some wine, put on some music and give yourself plenty of time to make the meal so nobody gets too hungry if the process goes long. This one is a staple of romantic date ideas for a reason!

Mid Adult Couple Watching TV In Living Room
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Have a romantic movie night

If you love rom-coms, this one is for you! Pick one or two of your favorite romantic movies and watch them together while you snuggle on the couch. Pop a bag of popcorn and open some wine to enjoy as you watch.

Two friends eating fast food outdoors
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Try a new food

Is there a new Caribbean place you haven’t eaten at yet? Have you been dying to try Malaysian food? Find a restaurant that serves something you haven’t eaten before and try something new with your partner! If you share dishes, you can taste-test multiple things on the menu and discover something you love. Your favorite food could be something you haven’t even heard of yet!

Ice cream cone. Ice cream with waffle cones. Waffle cone being held by a girl. Colorful cereal toppings for vibrance. perfect for hot summer days or winter.
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Have an ice cream date

This one is a classic! Go for a vintage vibe (without the antiquated dating etiquette) by heading to an ice cream parlor. For a modern twist, hit up a shaved ice stand or a gelateria. Try a fun flavor or order your all-time favorite! It’s a sweet way to spend some time together (and satisfy your sweet tooth).

Smiling lesbian couple watching television while sitting on sofa at home
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Binge a TV series

Can’t wait for the new season of The Bear to come out? Are you both super into The Last of Us? There’s nothing better than spending a Saturday snuggled up on the couch together. Pick a new series you’ve both been wanting to watch or an old series you love, and binge it all day. Don’t forget to stop for snacks—and to try to predict what happens next!

Two Photographers looking at their cameras
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Play paparazzi

Spend a day outside taking pictures together, whether it’s a photoshoot of each other or the scenery. A local botanic garden is a great place to get some nature shots! You can hone your photography skills and get some beautiful pictures to treasure too. Print out your favorites and put them in your home, or post them online with funny or cutesy Instagram captions for couples.

Happy senior man with arm around woman having wine against sea in boat
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Go on a dinner cruise

If you live near the water, a dinner cruise is one of the best romantic date ideas. Delicious food + beautiful water views = an evening that can’t be beat.

Happy fans at the stadium
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Cheer on your favorite team

If there’s a sports team both you and your partner enjoy, go see a game! Whether you splurge on front-row seats or stay in the nosebleeds, you’ll have a fun time in the competitive atmosphere while cheering for your favorite team. Win or lose, you’ll be making memories with your partner.

Black couple watching movie at cinema
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Go to a movie theater

Sure, you could cue up a romantic movie on Netflix, but that’s nothing new. With so much available to stream at home, sometimes we miss out on the silver-screen experience. Pick a new release you want to see together—whether a romance or film in some other genre—and go watch it on the big screen. Pack your favorite snacks so you don’t have to pay for the overpriced candy. Want to save even more? Some theaters offer discount tickets for matinees or less popular days.

Shot of an affectionate couple enjoying a cup of coffee while admiring the view outside
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Catch the sunrise

If you and your partner like to sleep in, try mixing it up! Pick a day when you will get up early together and watch the sun rise. With the help of some coffee and maybe a breakfast sandwich, you won’t miss the extra hours of sleep (much).

happy senior couple with dogs walking. Romantic ideas
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Take a sunset stroll

Night owls who treasure morning sleep more than spectacular sunrises can still go on an awe-inspiring, sun-centered date—just move it to the evening. An easy and impromptu sunset stroll proves that romantic date ideas don’t have to be complicated or expensive. Find a local walking path, a park or a beautiful view and go for a stroll as the sun sets. Bonus: It’s a pet-friendly activity! If there’s a local bakery or cafe, stop in before or after to grab a to-go dessert to end the night with.

High angle view of men sitting on sofa playing chess smiling
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Have a game night

Break out a board game or some cards and show your partner your competitive side. To make things exciting, say the loser has to clean up after dinner. If your strategy board game needs more players, invite other couples over to join. You can put on some music and mix some drinks (or mocktails) to make a game night that can be as cutthroat or as chill as you want.

Young Tourist Couple Taking A Photo Of Themselves
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Be a hometown tourist

Be a tourist in your own town or a spot nearby. See the local landmarks, go window shopping and visit a new restaurant or cafe. Trying new things is an important part of keeping your life (and your relationship) feeling fresh and interesting.

Two women sitting on a restaurant
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Have a “first” date night

Pretend you’ve never met before. What would you do to impress a potential lover? Get dressed to the nines and book a reservation at the hottest restaurant in town. You may find yourselves falling in love all over again.

wine and cheese. Romantic ideas for her
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Pretend you’re in Paris

If you and your significant other’s love language is spending time together, you probably thrive on travel as you explore new places together. But let’s be real: Most of us can’t drop thousands of dollars on an international vacation just to spend quality time in a new and exciting way. We can fake it, though!

Pretend you’re in Paris or another city you both would love to visit. Sip on drinks and nibble foods from the region. Listen to music from the country. Simply enjoy each other’s company and talk about all the places you hope to travel to together someday.

Young Couple Unpacking Vegetables In Kitchen
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Do a grocery run together

It may not be sexy, but it can be fun! Part of the reality of life is that romance alone doesn’t put food on the table. Helping your significant other cross this errand off their to-do list helps solidify your partnership, and it can even be an enjoyable way to spend time together. Make a playlist to sing along to in the car, or try buying something new at the grocery store. It’s easy to add small moments of joy to everyday life together!

Two business women eating healthy lunch at work
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Spend your lunch hour together

If you both work from home or your offices are close enough, get lunch together. Spending a little bit of time with your significant other is a good way to break up the workday and fit a date into a busy schedule.

Hands of women toasting with glasses of white wine
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Do a wine tasting

Set up a wine tasting at your favorite vineyard. You can pack a blanket and some food and enjoy a nice picnic while you’re there as well. Don’t forget to buy a bottle (or several!) to bring home—or as a gift for wine lovers in your life. Among romantic date ideas, this one is a classic.

packed lunch with a good luck note
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Pack your partner’s lunch

Try packing each other a lunch the night before, putting fun snacks and surprises inside. For inspiration, you can write a note or love quote on the peel of their banana or doodle pictures on their brown paper bag. When you both open your lunch at work or at home, you’ll be surprised by what’s inside and remember that your partner is thinking of you during the day.

Looking at wedding photos
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Walk down memory lane

Gather all the old photos the two of you have together—from formal wedding photos to random snapshots—and talk about your favorites. If you’re crafty, you can print some out and create a scrapbook. Include other mementos you’ve been collecting, like plane tickets or event wristbands. If crafting isn’t your thing, you could both write down your favorite memory and then swap papers.

Young Caucasian couple camping near lake
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Head outdoors

Pick a weekend when the weather is nice and go kayaking or camping. The great outdoors can help connect you with yourself and each other, and the endorphin rush of exercise will have you both grinning. Just make sure your significant other is as excited about the idea as you are—no one wants to get dragged on a camping trip when they’d rather be sleeping soundly in a four-star hotel.

Gay couple in the clothing store
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Go thrift shopping

Go to a thrift store and pick out silly clothes for the other to try. You might find that you love something totally unexpected! Don’t forget to look through the home goods for cool vintage pieces too.

Happy Couple Having Fun in Hot Tub
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Plan a staycation

You don’t have to go far from home to get a little R&R! Book a staycation at a nearby romantic hotel for the weekend. Treat yourself to room service and a dip in the hot tub!

Gay couple relaxing on a couch
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Make it a documentary night

Pick two documentaries on the same subject and watch them both, back to back. You’ll learn a ton about the topic and can compare how each film approaches the subject. At the end of the night, talk about which was your favorite and why.

Mobile phone on white table.
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Put the phones away

Phones are a constant distraction, and being on yours nonstop is a terrible relationship habit. Studies have shown that just having a cell phone within sight, even if you aren’t using it, can negatively impact the quality of a conversation. Try a date where you put the phones out of sight to really focus on each other. To take it a step further, you could try an unplugged date with no tech at all as part of a digital detox.

Woman with disability enjoying modern art
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Have a museum day

Visit a museum together! If you love art history, share what you know. If you don’t know much about art, appreciate the colors and talk about which paintings you like best. Or if science is more your thing, you can go to a natural history museum instead. Either way, don’t forget to hit the gift shop!

Young black couple on picnic in the park.
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Plan a park date

Sit on a bench together in a local park and just enjoy being outside. You can people watch, look at the animals or even pack a picnic. Simply chatting and sitting in nature is a great way to practice gratitude for the little things and the time you and your significant other get to spend together.

Cropped shot of young woman arranging fresh flowers at home
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Try flower arranging

Go to a home goods store, a thrift shop or a craft store to buy new vases together. (Or buy the supplies to make your own.) Then pick out some bouquets and try your hand at ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. Don’t forget to study up on flower meanings so you know what your flowers say! You’ll spend a fun day together and end up with totally custom flower arrangements.

Five ballerinas en pointe on stage, arms around each other, rear view
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See some live theater

Go see a show! From musical theater to improv to opera to ballet, there are so many different kinds of shows you can buy tickets to. One of them will surely sound interesting to you and your significant other. Support the arts and have a memorable night out while you’re at it.

Photo of a smiling young couple and their dog riding in a car on a bright summer day.
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Travel together

If you want to test your partnership and how you handle challenges together, traveling domestically or internationally is a great way to practice your problem-solving.

How will your partner react if you accidentally miss a bus in Barcelona or lose your keys in Cairo? Does either of you know how to drive a stick shift? How good are you at learning languages? Experiencing somewhere new together will teach you a lot about yourselves and each other. If you aren’t sure where you want to go, these are the best places to travel this year.

Happy Mature Hispanic Couple Dancing At A Party
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Go dancing

Surprise your partner with a night of dancing. This could be a Zumba fitness class, a ballroom dance class or even line dancing at a local bar. Even if you have two left feet, you’ll share a lot of laughs. And who knows, maybe you’ll discover a new talent!

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Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen is a health, lifestyle and fitness expert and teacher. She covers all things wellness for Reader’s Digest and The Healthy. With dual masters degrees in information technology and education, she has been a journalist for 17 years and is the author of The Great Fitness Experiment. She lives in Denver with her husband, five kids and three pets.