Summer is almost here! At a loss for what the heck to do this your big date?
Summer is your chance to mix things up a little. In the dreary winter months it is not so easy to find a cool new idea for a date, whether with your main squeeze or someone you are getting to know. But the months of straw hats, tee shirts, sandals, and summer dresses come with a long list of fun options. So as you listen to this (slightly tongue-in-cheek) song about summer love, check out the list below with ten top-notch ideas.
- Visit a winery. Admittedly, this option is not available in every region of the country, but a local boutique brewery is just as much fun. When you take your date to a winery (or brewery) you will have a tasting – usually a highly educational run-through of the top vintages (or brews). The fee for these is generally $5-$10 per person. If you so choose, you can take a bottle (or growler) home with you, but that is not mandatory. Many wineries (and some breweries) also have food available. You can order a glass of your favorite and go sit outside in the shade enjoying good company, good drink, good food, and maybe even a view!
- Ride the rides at an amusement park. Whether a local county fair or Six Flags, put on your shorts, fill up your water bottles, and spend a day eating fried dough and spinning around like a top! You can play the games too, and if you pop enough balloons with your darts, or hook the fish bowl with a hoop, you could give a meaningful gift to your date: a goldfish, or maybe a 3 inch tall stuffed dog that looks like a bear. (The prizes aren’t what they once were, alas.) Let your inner child out and giggle and scream your way down the roller coaster….
- Play cards. Or backgammon or Scrabble. Pack a cooler with good beer, or your favorite micro-brew sarsaparilla, and head out to the back deck or front porch or a blanket in the park with the game (or games) of your choice. Sometimes whiling away the afternoon with a deck of cards is more fun than anything, and you can’t do this outside except in the summer. A few delicious snacks and your iPod will add just the right je ne sais quois to this intimate, inexpensive, but full-of-laughs date.
- Head out to the rail trail! Many communities now have bike paths that are either reclaimed railroad beds or simply greenways provided by your town or state. Generally, these bike paths are beautifully maintained “parks” that snake through the countryside or city and most often there are bike rental stores nearby. Use this opportunity ride aimlessly or go on a “destination bike ride.” If you plan your day, you might get somewhere for lunch or dinner before the ride back. This link provides an extensive (yet still partial) list of rail trails around the world and rail trails around the United States.
- Dine al fresco at your local food truck! Take a walk through the neighborhoods of your town or city seeking out the best that gourmet food trucks have to offer. Thai spring rolls for an appetizer here, BBQ ribs for a main meal there, and after a walk or cab ride of a certain number of blocks, you could be having homemade lavender ice cream, cotton candy, or churros for dessert.
- Enjoy the theater… in the park. Whether you live rural or urban, outdoor theater venues are everywhere. Many places offer summer theater productions in a local park. Shakespeare in the Park is popular in New York, St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Portland and so many more cities. But don’t stop at Shakespeare. If you get the hang of it, you can check out productions of any number of plays by any number of playwrights. Often combining a “pre-curtain” picnic is encouraged, and you can finish off that bottle of wine during the first act….
- Go fishing. Some of you are saying, “Yeah, that’s what I’m talkin’ about,” and others are cringing and thinking, “Oh, GOD, do I have to?” But don’t rule out this date option, even if you are not a fishing kind of person. For one thing, nothing gets you relaxed outside in nature like casting a line. You can take a fly fishing class together or just rent a couple of poles (or find them in your garage or borrow them from your neighbor) and head to the nearest pond, lake, or stream. If you really would prefer not to catch anything, just don’t use bait. (You don’t have to tell your date.)
- Take him (or her) out to the ballgame! What says summer more than America’s favorite pastime? Whether you are both avid fans or total newbies, a baseball game can be sheer fun. Personally, I recommend minor league ball. The stadiums are cozier, the food is generally better, and the beer is both better and cheaper. There are more of them than major league teams, too. You can find single, double, and triple A teams playing in every region of the country. See what’s near you. But whether you try major or minor league ball, enjoy spending a sunny afternoon or a balmy evening in the stands with your date as the boys of summer do their thing.
- Seek treasure. Sometimes a fun way to be together and explore a new (or old) place is to have a treasure hunt. Whether you are just getting to know one another or have settled in to a nice companionship, try heading out with a list you create together. As you walk and talk, you can hunt down each item as a team. If you are in the country hiking up a mountain, research local wildflowers that ought to be blooming in your area this month and add some to your list. You can add sedimentary rock or fungus, or a particular insect or bird. If you are in the city, everything from graffiti to license plates from other states to signs in different languages are possible ideas for your treasure-seeking trek.
- Find a festive festival. Summer is festival time! Big cities, small towns, and everything in between seem to have their own special kind of festival during the dog days of summer. Whether food festivals, music festivals, or arts and crafts festivals, there is bound to be food, music, and crafts at all three to one degree or another. There is plenty to do, see, hear, drink, eat, and experience as you wander the stalls, visit the stage, or sample the wares. Here is a resource for great festivals in North America this year.