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The weather is thawing—and so is the dating scene. Whether you’re chatting with the Hinge hotties or have already made contact with one (or more!) IRL, summer is basically peak dating season. Between the long, sunny days and warm nights, there’s so much to do with a date, like soaking in the rays in a two-person kayak or cooling off with Monet paintings at the city’s art museum. So, why not plan ahead with your summer date ideas this year?
“Summer is a time for us to enjoy great weather and marvel in the beauty around us, instead of our mobile devices,” says Laura Jacobs, a professional matchmaker and founder of Modern Dating Coach. “Plan something more than the typical, ‘Let’s grab drinks.'” It’s the time to bring the creativity and use the summery good vibes to your advantage. After all, everything is better in the sun.
Summer date ideas might look like a fairytale dinner on a secluded tea light-lit patio, road tripping to go bouldering for the first time, or sketching a landscape scene in the park like you’re in Little Women. But there are options for the times you want to stay inside, too, like having a fake campout in your living room or channeling your inner mad scientist by churning up ice cream in the kitchen.
Ahead, you’ll find 20 summer date ideas to try out this season, whether you’re an outdoor adventurer or would rather drink spiked seltzer on the beach. Either way, these matchmaker-approved dates are sure to strengthen your romantic bond and make for golden-hued memories.
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If you live in a city, chances are there’s a different street festival every weekend in the summer. These events can be great opportunities to explore something new together, whether it’s a type of art or regional cuisine. Take a stroll through fests at off-hours so you can walk and talk without worrying about losing each other in the crowd.
Turn the romantic sunset date on its head by opting to catch a sunrise instead. Appreciating the beauty of nature in the moment can heighten your romantic connection, Jacobs says.
Not an early riser? Use the promise of a bonus breakfast date to get you out of bed.
There’s a certain adrenaline rush you get diving into water in the nude. But before you strip down, make sure the pool or lake is private so you don’t surprise any nonconsenting bystanders. Cannonball!
Don your flowiest floral ‘fit for a garden party all your own. Take a date to a nearby sculpture garden to make up meanings behind the modern art, or visit a conservatory or botanical garden. Love is in the air.
Go rustic for a night in your backyard or a nearby camping site. Nowhere near nature? You can even make a road trip out of it. This date gives you a chance to truly disconnect and be mindful of the time you’re sharing together. No distractions, just scenery (and hopefully a lot of s’mores).
Paint and sip in the park.
Put an alfresco twist on the classic paint and sip date. Use your surroundings as inspiration, like a dog park or a skyline at dusk. You’ll both enjoy expressing your creativity without the distractions of other classmates.
If you live near water and have the resources, Jacobs says a boat rental can be a unique date experience. This could be taking out the canoe, renting a rowboat, or chartering a sailboat if you’re fancy like that.
Spend a day in the backyard and have a quintessential summer cookout. Crank up the country tunes, fill the cooler with ice, and grill up the goods, like pineapple and veggie burgers. Barbecuing a meal together—however no-frills it is—can give you the satisfaction of achieving something together.
Here’s an idea to let your imagination run wild. Seek out a flea market neither of you have visited before and get lost in the stalls. Discover unique wares like jewelry or antique trinkets, and make it even more interesting by inventing stories about where an item came from or who it once belonged to.
Prepare to get crafty and a little bit messy. Try your hands at tie-dying a pair of white shoes or a sweater you nabbed at the craft store. No matter how it turns out, you’ll experience creating something together and come away with a lasting memento.
Get on some paddle boards.
Why not experience an environment from a different perspective, say on a stand-up paddle board? If you live near calm waters, you can likely rent a stand-up paddle board for a couple of hours. Find a shop that includes a lesson before releasing you into the open waters if you’re a first-timer.
Jacobs suggests planning a double date with a like-minded couple—think a tennis match or even a game of bowling. Not only is the planning stage exciting, but it can also create deeper friendships and bring out other sides of your date.
There’s a guided tour for everything from haunted houses to wine trails and beer and bike tours. Sign up for one that interests the both of you, or go rogue and make it a choose-your-own-adventure day where you tour downtown or all the shops in one theme (my vote is ice cream).
Whether you’re the morale booster or the adventurer in the relationship, going on a hike engages both personas. It’s a great way to appreciate nature and the strength of your bodies, and this kind of physical activity can bring you closer together, Jacobs says. Plus, wait for those endorphins to hit when you reach the top.
Watch a movie outside.
While it can be difficult to find a true drive-in movie theater, local park districts, outdoor music venues and even bars have outdoor movie programs to take advantage of.
Attend a baseball game.
Snag cheap tickets to a minor league ball game, and bond over hot dogs and beer, sing loud and proud during the seventh inning stretch, heckle the opposing team, and talk about life during the middle innings. Classic summer date.
Visit a farmers market.
You know those cute couples that stroll hand-in-hand through the farmers market? That could be you. Pick up fresh produce for dinner and a croissant from the bakery stand you both love. And don’t forget to try allll the free samples.
“Planning out a picnic shows more creativity and effort than a typical dinner date invite,” Jacobs says. Assign one another to bring the beverages, snacks, a main dish, or dessert, and find a quiet patch of grass to spend the afternoon together. Think potluck, but make it flirty.
You might not think you’re a competitive couple, but maybe that’s because you’ve never been at a starting line together. Register for a 5K run, and use the race to gas each other up. Winner buys dinner.
Ready for an adrenaline rush? Your budding relationship may thank you. Thrill-seeking dates like biking (or rock climbing, or surfing, you get it) can actually lead to sexual attraction and arousal. Talk about heating things up.
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