Outdoor movie theater

6 Great Outdoor Date Ideas Go beyond the basics with these simple date ideas

During the summer, the weather beckons you outdoors in a way it simply doesn’t during the other three seasons. Don’t waste the sun. Enjoy summer days (and nights)  as often as you are able to. Use this window of opportunity while it’s open and mix-up your dating routine. You might even save a bit of money while you’re at it.

Table of Contents

The Park

a romantic picnic at the park

Know your local parks. if they’re not up to the job, look further afield — up to a 45-minute drive. Drive-time adds to the fun, so long as you’re not traveling for much more than three-quarters of an hour, or get lost.  With parks and nature reserves,  the possibilities are endless. Plan either for a picnic to be the centerpiece of the outing, or choose in advance a memorable eatery park-side or in easy walking distance to where you left your car.  Throw a frisbee. Fly a kite. Many parks maintain websites which will have intel for any upcoming (and often free) events, and sometimes these will be as grand as outdoor recitals, concerts, or plays.


The important thing is to have a plan. As much as you’ll wish to leave room for spontaneity and improvisation, know about the park — available on-site amenities (lavatories, for example?), its history, and anything that contributes to enjoying the park’s resources, and enjoying them safely. The more you know about the park and the buildings/venues in the immediate vicinity, the more talking points you have. If you have meaningful things to share with your date, you’ll have fodder for a real conversation. You won’t need to buy a damned frisbee.

The Drive-In

We presume we need not explain why a legitimate reason to park a car in a dimly-lit field for two or more hours appealed to a generation of frisky young motorists; but if you’re in the dark about all this… 


Back in the day, drive-ins (like diners and dives) were the place to bring a date. When temperatures and the weather permit, indoor movie theaters are lost-opportunities. Sharing a flick or two from the comfort of your own chariot can be fun.


Drive-ins are less ubiquitous than they once were, but do try and find one. As with parks, driving up to 45 minutes to get to a drive-in movie should be factored-in as part of the date. Use road-time wisely, and consider incorporating snack-shopping into the date: snacks, bevs, mosquito repellent… You may of course assemble all this beforehand, but getting supplies with your date fosters and supports meaningful communication. Remember: real communication – as opposed to: polite verbal ping-pong – thrives when there’s a shared-task or mission.


Although we’re huge fans of drive-ins, this might not be the very best option for Date One. The drive-in theater experience is a unique combination of public and private, and a good chunk of the fun derives from the juxtaposition of enclosure and exposure. But be mindful of how the suggestion could sound to a person you’ve just met.

Being sequestered with a virtual stranger in a four-wheel box will not appeal to everyone. Viewer discretion is advised.







The folks at The Art of Manliness nailed it with this one. Credit where credit is due. Show them some love.


The Boardwalk


“Let’s go for a walk” can seem like a cop-out — especially when it is a cop-out. But a well-planned and purposeful walk can be the foundation of a great date. Decide whether the walk is intended to support window-shopping, people-watching, architecture-admiration and urban photography (etc.), or whether there is an element of exercise intentionally worked into the equation. You need to be very clear about this so that both you and your date can dress appropriately, and have the right footwear.


We would not micro manage this or any other date, but do set-out with more than a debit card and hopes to wing it. Have ready a specific answer to the questions Why are we going for a walk? and Why there? The more information you can share with your date – about the route, points of interest along it, etc. – the better. Have ready, too, a few options for where you intend to duck-in for a drink or meal. If it’s not the kind of joint that takes reservations, have a backup venue in mind.

VE-RI-TAS: “A Harvard psychologist explains why going on a walk is a perfect first date”


This Atlas doesn’t shrug


National Parks

Take advantage of our national parks, and plan a hike that leads to a scenic spot or historical point of interest. Ask your date in advance, and agree on an appropriate level of difficulty before hitting the trail. Start out in the morning: unless you are both hard-core, it may be a good idea to avoid high temperatures associated with the noontime sun.

Google-search “nature reserves near me” for a map.

Find-a-Park page at the National Park Service website


Well, now you need one of these…


Hot Air Ballooning

Hot air balloon rides are not for everybody, but wow — what a way to spend part of a summer day, or evening. If neither you nor your date has floated above terra firma in a basket, this will be a date to remember. Not an inexpensive option, however, and – as tempting as it is to wish to surprise your intended guest – we recommend getting clearance before making arrangements. (If Molly Ephraim invited me to join her on a balloon loaded with Tattinger and jumbo shrimp, I’d still decline.) But if you are both on the same page with the idea, a cruise in a balloon is something special.

Balloon Federation of America


List of hot air balloon clubs


This is not sponsored content. We just really like the way they state their value-proposition.


Mini Golf

A smidge of playful contest can de-escalate first-date tensions, and miniature golf is a date-nite option which has staying-power for a reason. A kitschy classic, mini-golf is uniquely suitable for double-dates. If you are pair-bonding with another couple, you could consider adding some stakes to the match — e.g., losing team buys a round, pays for dinner, etc. Never take the match too seriously. No beau ever scored points for being unduly competitive.  

Some of the best


Some of the most unique


Some of the history


Link to US Pro Mini Golf Association


Original article and research by Kathy Phan


…and speaking of footwear for the summer, click here.

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