Whether you are planning a first date or a suprise for a long-time partner or spouse, we have a few fresh ideas that satisfy any budget. You don’t have to wait for Valentine’s Day to plan a unique date–make a special date any time of the year:
Indoor candlelit picnic. If weather is not cooperating for a traditional picnic al fresco, surprise your date with a candlelit picnic at home. Cook a special meal yourself, or order takeout from your favorite restaurant and set up with your softest blanket, some pillows and candles in a quiet, dimly lit space.
Dark skies. Stargazing is becoming more difficult across the country as urban sprawl spreads. Use this dark sky map to find the best areas for stargazing that have reduced light pollution. Then check out the meteor shower schedule, review your local forecast, and pack a blanket and pillows to lay back and count shooting stars.
Visit a farm. Apple picking, pecan picking, even cotton picking are all within a short drive from Raleigh. Look into farms in your area and what they offer. Afterwards you can make an apple pie together!
Cooking class. Not sure how to make that pie after picking apples? Find a pastry class in your area. Classes may have different formats. Some focus on technique and are hands-on, while others are instruction-based and may serve you the prepared meal after class. Saving up for a trip to Europe? Find a Mediterranean cooking class to get your partner excited for a future vacation.
Dance lessons. Whether your style is ballroom dancing, Argentinean tango, or hip-hop, there is a dance studio out there for you. This is an especially wise date to schedule before going to a wedding, reunion, or other formal function. You may surprise your date with the lesson, but you can also surprise others with your dance skills.
Build something together. Do you or your partner have an eye for design? Find an art center in your area to see what programs fit your interests. Here in the greater Triangle area, there is a woodworking school in Pittsboro where students can build furniture. In Western North Carolina there’s a blacksmith school.
Money to Burn!
Helicopter ride. Most commercial airports also offer private flight lessons and rides. If your main airport does not offer this type of service, search for airports on the outskirts of your area. There are helicopter lessons and rides in Raleigh offered at several area airports that are a perfect way to see your city in a new way.
Fly to another city just for dinner (and maybe a show) and fly home. You may be surprised how many flights under $150 round-trip are available from your closest airport. See if cities within an hour to hour-and-a-half flight time have any airline ticket specials. If so, search for top restaurants in that city (or find a restaurant that serves locally-sourced food). Book flights, make reservations, and surprise your partner. I guess after all the work you put in planning, you could easily extend your stay and make it an over night “date-cation” and enjoy breakfast before heading home!
Rent a yacht. Okay, perhaps this is a real splurge! But yes, you can rent a yacht in just about every country, and if you want to stay domestic there are yacht rentals in many major US coastal cities. For example, renting a private yacht for three days in the spring of 2014 leaving from Miami is $1,755. Have a bigger budget? Rent a yacht with a crew to serve you! Of course, depending on where you live you may need to travel to the coast first, so factor in that expense too.
Happy Date Planning!