This month is my 20th wedding anniversary. After 20 years, you can always use a little freshening of things, so as part of my gift to my husband, I made him a "Jar of Date Night Ideas." That way, neither one of us has to think about what to do or where to go. We can just pull out an idea and instant fun!
I find that a lot of "date night ideas" are just lists of restaurants. To me, a good date night is something other than food. I mean, good food is great, but I also want activity. I want to learn something, enjoy the arts or have a discussion topic for after the date is over.
A few things to keep in mind as you read...
This list is a combination of things you could do just about anytime as well as actual events in the Triangle that have a specific date. Many of these events are recurring, though, so if you miss it there is bound to be another one. Also, if the community centers I reference are too far for you, check out the one closest to your area. All the Triangle towns have great community centers with plenty of classes and activities. And lastly, most of these activities are inexpensive, some of them free and a few of them slightly higher priced, but nothing very expensive. No one has trouble coming up with the idea to buy $150 theatre tickets, but most people can't afford that every week.
After putting so much work into identifying these great date night ideas, I just had to share them with my readers! I hope you enjoy them!
1. Pick up a picnic dinner at Whole Foods hot bar, or another restaurant of your choice, spread a blanket on the field overlooking Bond Lake and enjoy a romantic dinner. I had originally written the post to include wine, but have since realized that drinking in public is illegal. Goodby, Pinterest-perfect date night! Sniff, sniff.
4. Rent a Pedal Boat at Bond Park, Lake Johnson, Lake Wheeler, Pullen Park or Lake Crabtree. If you go to Pullen, eat at Pullen Cafe. But be sure to go early because they close at 5:00 and 6:00 on Saturday and Sunday.
6. Check out a book at Cameron Village library, then head over to Goodberry's for some frozen custard, if the weather's warm. I haven't found a vibe in the Triangle quite like the cozy, romantic vibe of Fearrington Village in Pittsboro. If you're up for a drive (30-40 minutes) you can check out the bookshop in Fearrington and find plenty of cozy nooks to read, either inside or outside. There is also an ice cream shop and a coffee shop in the Village. (Can you tell what my favorite guilty pleasures are??) and of course there is no substitute for Fearrington's famous Belted Galloway cows and Fainting Goats.
9. Check out Open Mic Night at Goodnights Comedy Club. Who knows, you might discover the next Ellen Degeneres! Open Mic is every Tuesday and you can get dinner in the Factory, a prohibition style restaurant on site.
10. Pickin' in the Pines is the late summer bluegrass and country concert series at Koka Booth Ampitheatre. Tickets are only $5, seating is open on the lawn. Picnics are allowed (but no alcohol) and the series runs Wednesday evenings from August 29th through the end of September.
11. Pop in and Paint is an event hosted by Wine and Design in Cary. They provide brushes, canvas (pre-traced, if preferred) and paint and you bring the wine and snacks.
12. Visit the North Carolina Museum of Art. While you're there, have dinner at their on-site restaurant, Iris. And don't miss the outdoor art park, a beautiful display of exhibits along a 2 mile trail, complete with fields and water features.
13. If you like plants and gardens, check out the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh. One of the things my husband and I enjoy doing together is making plans for our home, planning gardens and home improvement projects. The Raulston Arboretum is a "nationally acclaimed garden with one of the largest and most diverse collections of landscape plants adapted for landscape use in the Southeast." These plants are going to do well in your home garden. And they are all labeled. Bring a camera and a note pad and start jotting down ideas for making your own oasis in your backyard....if that kind of thing sounds like fun to you.
14. Music Bingo at Doherty's Irish Pub. A couple times a month, Doherty's hosts music bingo. I haven't been yet, but I like music and I like bingo, so it sounds like a fun time to me! You can check their calendar on the front page of their website and they also have other interesting things like Pub Trivia and Live Irish Music.
15. Take a digital photography class...or any other class you and your SO both find interesting. The Halle Cultural Arts Center in Apex offers this class in a 6 week block on Tuesdays, starting Sept 4th and running through Oct 9th. That could be your date night for an entire 6 weeks.
I really love learning things with my husband. There are all kinds of variations on this one. You could take a woodworking class (you'll find a list of places that offer them here). Or a martial arts class at any local school. Don't forget to check Groupon for shorter term commitments to see if you like it.
16. See a 3D movie at NC Museum of Natural History. They only show in Saturdays and Sundays during the day, though, so plan accordingly.
17. Hear a scientist talk about the Science of Ice Cream at the NC Museum of Science. This lecture is scheduled for August 23rd from 7:00-8:30pm, but you can find others here if that date doesn't work for you. These free lectures are given by scientists from our local universities and are really interesting! You can follow the talk by ice cream at Treat Ice Cream on Blount Street.
18. Pittsboro Street Fair. We actually have our own Stars Hollow in the Triangle and it's called Pittsboro. The street fair, a community event filled arts, craft, music and food vendors, is a great time to visit the town and enjoy it's quaint character. But if you can't make it on October 27th, don't let that stop you! Visiting a small town is a great way to spend time with your honey! While you're there, stop in to S & T's Soda shop for a root beer float and whatever you do, don't miss Screaming for Vintage, literally the best vintage store I've ever been in.
19. And while we're on the subject of festivals, they are a great opportunity for a date night! Facebook events is a great place to check for these types of things at the beginning of the month to see if you want to add one to your date calendar. You can also check the webpage of each city in the Triangle. They will have a link for all scheduled events, but they are often on Facebook as well.
A few going on this fall...
*International Festival of Raleigh, Oct 26th-28th
*City of Oaks Pirate Fest, Museum of Natural History, Sept 22, 10am-4:30pm
*Dragon Boat Festival, Booth Ampitheatre, Sept 22, 9am-4:30pm
*Oktoberfest, Booth Ampitheatre, Oct 19th
*Festival of Lights, Hill Ridge Farms Nov 22 - Dec 31st
These festivals happen every year. Check links for updated information.
20. Skywatching. Morehead Planetarium hosts monthly skywatching events, weather permitting. Check here for the schedule. Pack a couple thermoses of hot coffee and/or cocoa and some desserts for a romantic evening under the stars.
21. Old Fashioned dancing. I don't know if this even will be repeated or not, but the Halle Cultural Arts Center is hosting a "family dance" on 10/19 from 7:00-8:30. It's appropriate for kids as well, but I love the idea of going as a couple. You'll learn square, round and Appalachian dances with a traditional caller.
I hope some of these ideas were inspiring to you!
Ellen is the founder of Harmony Realty, a socially conscious realty company. Ellen believes in empowering her clients through education and open communication. Ellen is a number-cruncher at heart and takes great pleasure in following and analyzing the trends of the housing industry. She loves communicating the big picture to her clients and helping them to understand how the market affects their sale or purchase. Her honest and down-to-earth approach allows her clients to make informed and intelligent decisions to get the most out of their offers and negotiations.