I was asked by Cooking Light to share my expert advice on fun date options that don’t involve food. Below is the article that I contributed to.
by JENNY MCCOY
For many of us, date night equals fancy dinner night. But if you’re on diet or simply trying to eat healthier, going out to eat—or even cooking an extravagant meal at home—can dampen any amorous vibes. After all, there’s nothing sexy about stressing over calories.
The good news: there are ways you can get your romance on without taking a single bite. The even better news: these sans-food date nights can be more memorable and exciting, because you’re breaking monotony and pushing yourselves out of your comfort zones, which can breathe fresh energy into your relationship and strengthen your bond.
Another bonus of this type of date night: “If people are fully engaged in something thrilling, then they won’t even be thinking about food,” says Los Angeles-based clinical sexologist Sunny Rodgers.
When planning your out-of-the-box experience, “The key is to do something to get to know their personality, vulnerable side or parts of the self they keep hidden,” says Saudia Twine, a Michigan-based licensed marriage and family therapist. “But you also want to enjoy the experience in the moment.”
Here, 16 unique, food-free date ideas that will help you do just that.
Soak in a beautiful view.
Pack a blanket and candles and drive to a pretty overlook, or a public park where you can see the stars. Spread out the blanket, light the candles and cozy on up together as you enjoy each other’s—and Mother Nature’s—company.
Take a spin.
Pull your bikes out of the garage (or rent some) and cruise around town at sunset. Stop periodically along the way to soak up the views, share a smooch, and snap a picture or two to remember the ride.
See a show.
Buy tickets to a local play, musical or concert, and make the evening feel extra special by getting dressed up for the performance. Then, grab a drink or cup of tea afterwards to discuss the show.
Check out a museum.
Look up the current exhibits at your local art, history or science museums and pick one that’s appealing to both of you.
Try your hand at trivia.
Find a nearby bar that’s hosting trivia night and sign yourselves up as a team. Pick a funny team name and school each other on niche topics.
Channel your inner Picasso.
Register for a local painting, drawing, or pottery class. You’ll learn a new skill, create new memories, and leave with a tangible reminder of the evening.
Show off your musical chops.
Hit up a local karaoke bar, and after a drink (or two), sing one of your favorite duets together. Ask a fellow bargoer to film your performance so you can look back on it and laugh/cringe in the years to come.
Dance it out.
Suit up in your classiest attire and attend a dance class. Salsa, merengue, tango, and ballroom dance can all be extremely romantic if you’re in the right mindset with the right partner.
Attempt an escape.
Visit an “escape room,” aka a physical adventure game where you’ll attempt to solve puzzles and riddles with the help of clues, hints and strategy. Escape rooms are becoming increasingly popular and are hosted in major cities across the country.
Book a couples massage.
“You can relax with each other and even have light conversation while sharing this intimate experience,” says Racine R. Henry, a NYC-based licensed marriage and family therapist.
Book a table at a local jazz club, and if you’re feeling extra fancy, get dressed up in 1920’s-themed costumes for the performance. “It gives you something to talk about after you leave and can get you in the mood for a romantic evening,” says Henry.
Hitch a ride.
If you live in or near a big city, buy tickets for a horse-drawn carriage ride or, if you live near the water, a boat ride. It’s “another intimate experience that also involves forethought and planning,” says Henry. “That sentiment is a romantic gesture.”
Leave your phones at home (or put them on airplane mode) and turn your full focus on simply enjoying each other’s company in the great outdoors while you hike, kayak, rollerblade, ride horses or embark on another type of al fresco adventure.
Volunteer your time.
Volunteering with your special someone feeds two birds with one seed: you better your community while also solidifying your bond with your partner. Most communities will offer an array of opportunities—like serving meals at a homeless shelter, playing with animals at a humane society, working with school children, etc.—so you can likely find one that matches both of your passions.
Attend a lecture or podcast taping.
Do a quick online search to learn about upcoming talks or podcast tapings in your area. Plan to grab tea or coffee afterwards so you can debrief on what you learned.
Lace up your bowling shoes.
Book a lane at a local bowling alley and try for a strike. Terrible at bowling? Even better. You’ll have more to laugh about and bond over.