Beyond the Dinner Reservation: 10 Ideas for a Great Date

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against the dinner date.  My list of restaurants that I want to try in this delicious-food-laden city is constantly growing faster than my ability to make and keep a reservation.  Some of my favorite times with Aaron have, in fact, taken place, in a well-recommended restaurant over heavenly small bites and exquisite entrees– but not all of them.  No, some of them happen in less romantic and more impromptu settings.  I’m sharing a handful of my favorite dates and a few others you can try in lieu of the prix fixe dinner menu this February 14th (or any day for that matter!).  I would love to hear what your best dates have been!

(above image via Style Me Pretty , below image via Gal Meets Glam)


1. The Dream Car Rental: I was pregnant with Parker when we decided to rent this 1960 Porsche Speedster for a shoot and drive it up the PCH.   After the shoot, we proceeded to joy ride the afternoon away, stopping at Malibu Seafood and dipping our toes in the Pacific before heading home through the canyon.  It was a total dream! (PS. How old is this Instagram shot from that day?!)

2. The Neighborhood Walk: Choose a walkable neighborhood and make a date out of it.  Pop into thrift stores, grab a casual lunch or coffee, and walk and talk your way past the different houses and buildings.  You’re bound to discover something new that you wouldn’t have otherwise. (And your fitbit will appreciate those extra steps!)

3. The Class: Learning something new together is a well-researched way to marital bliss!  Whether it’s guitar lessons, pottery, a cooking class, or ballroom dancing, consider signing up just the two of you and seeing what happens!

(below images via Once Wed and Parker, Etc.)

4. The Progressive Dinner of Sorts:  Aaron and I did this one summer in Vancouver. We were there for just 2 or 3 nights for our anniversary. If you know anything about Vancouver then you know this was not enough time to dine at every great restaurant the city has to offer. Since we were having trouble deciding on just one for our anniversary dinner, we decided to do drinks and appetizers at one, entrees at another, and dessert and after-dinner drinks at a third.  Sure we didn’t get to deep dive into the menu of each, but we got a feel for the ambience and food and it was really fun to pop in and out of a handful of different places that night, walking from restaurant to restaurant.  (I wrote about how to do it for a big group here!)

5. The Photo Adventure:  When Aaron and I were first dating, we would regularly go visit new places, each toting along a camera. (Well, Aaron packing a camera for each of us.) This was before phones on cameras were as good as they are now.  It was both creative and fun for me to learn something new– like shooting on a DSLR.  We also had a lot of fun pictures to show for it when we were done!  (The Getty Museum off of Sunset in LA was probably my favorite photo adventure date we went on!)

6. The Star Gazers:  Download a star gazing app, pack dinner to go, and head far enough outside of town that the stars shine bright. It’s a great excuse for some peace and quiet and a good opportunity for conversation that you might not necessarily have over roast chicken.

(above images via Vogue)

7.  The Food Truck Date:  While food trucks are far from new, I often overlook them when making date night dinner choices.  If the weather is nice, though, why not opt for an outdoor picnic with food truck fare and support your local small business (and your wallet!)

8. The Tourist: Do you ever see people taking tours of things in your own city and realize you’ve never actually done that?  If it weren’t for people coming to visit me in LA, I probably never would have hiked to the Hollywood sign or visited Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.  It could be a tour of your state capitol, a historical architecture tour, or some other opportunity to walk with a group and learn something new about your city.  Buckle up your fanny pack and enjoy the ride.

9. The Museum or Gallery:  What is it about art that sparks new ideas and conversations?  It’s fun to talk about perspectives and see how your aesthetics are similar and different and the types of things you each gravitate towards.  You could also buy your favorite print from the gift shop as a momento from your date.

10. The Sunset: This sounds a little cheesy or trite, but in this age of technology and constantly being on the go, making a date to go sit and be still and actually watch the sunset sounds so therapeutic.  No picnics. No distractions. Just take a deep breath and enjoy the stillness.  You can grab dinner on the way home.

What have been your best dates to date? Any favorite destinations or locales?

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