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12 Great Outdoor Dates


Being outside with someone special can boost the attraction factor, but it’s not easy to come up with “wow! what-a-great-idea” ideas. Try these fresh-air-fueled activities for two.

By Caitlin Ascolese

ove is in the air—seriously. Being outside with someone special can boost the attraction factor, but it’s not easy to come up with “wow! what-a-great-idea” ideas. Rather than fall into the same old pattern, impress your date with one of these outdoor adventures.

1. Go wild
“The zoo provides endless entertainment, conversations flow easily, no one shushes you, and
Anyone with access to a lazy river and two life-jackets can enjoy drift-boating.
you don’t have the nervousness of sitting across from one another over dinner,” says Dennie Hughes, author of Dateworthy. The American Zoo and Aquarium Association can point you to where the wild things are near you: www.aza.org.

2. Reap what others sow
Fun is yours for the picking, whether you live in an area that grows fields of purple lavender or acres of juicy berries. Find a farm that’ll let you two pick your own blooms or produce. “It’s a mellow activity, but doing something new together will give you a glimpse into how your date plans for events, interacts with other people,” says Dr. Gilda Carle, a relationship therapist. Try plugging the words “pick your own” and your county into a search engine to find a location near you.

3. Help out
No matter what you like to do outdoors, there’s a community organization that needs your time, from walking sheltered dogs to building homes to clearing trails. “Shared first-time experiences have a long-term impact,” says Michelle Lia Lewis, author of Flirting 101. You and your date can reveal your good hearts to each other in a big way when you spend an afternoon this way. Find an organization at www.usafreedomcorps.gov or www.volunteermatch.org.

4. Enjoy the ups and downs
Not only are amusement parks really, well, amusing, but they can bring out both your inner kid and the grown-up who’s ready for love. “A study found that couples who do something slightly dangerous together are more likely to fall in love,” says Leil Lowndes, author of Updating! How To Date Out of Your League. So maybe you want to try that crazy upside-down roller-coaster after all…

5. Treasure-hunt together
Strolling through an open-air flea market or antiques fair offers all-day entertainment that requires little money and zero agenda. Whether your date is oohing and aahing over a mint 1940s Danish Modern coffee table or laughing at an old candy ad, you’ll learn about their design sense, hobbies, and interests. The National Association of Collectors keeps a localized list of flea markets at www.collectors.org/FM/.

6. Sail away
“When you sail, the water’s gentle rock-and-roll movement stimulates sensors in your date’s inner ears,” explains David B. Givens, Ph.D., author of The Nonverbal Dictionary. “These link directly to the brain’s pleasure centers, so you and your date will get a shared sense of euphoria,” he says. U.S. Sailing (ussailing.org) can point you to clubs and lessons nearby.

7. Be a star
“Every city has an astronomy club with enthusiasts eager to let you peek through their $3,000 telescopes,” says Jason Tesauro, author of The Modern Lover. “Just avoid crass jokes about your Big Bang theory,” he adds. NASA’s Night Sky Network — find it at nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov — provides a listing of local astronomy clubs.

8. Visit a “bark”
For an easy introduction to
For some mellow fun, find a farm that’ll let you pick your own blooms or produce.
puppy love, visit an area dog run with your date, “One date took me to a dog run with his cute miniature schnauzer,” says Ido Kadman, 32, a New York City marketing director. Not only do you learn about your partner’s pet and personality, but the surroundings offer constant conversation fodder. Even if neither of you owns a dog, you can still have fun watching the canine antics.

9. Rock out—outdoors
Long days and warm weather equal free concerts at parks and band shells. Even if the music’s not 100 percent your taste, you and your date can broaden your horizons or even connect while observing the so-not-your-type crowd. “Music tends to make people feel closer and more bonded,” says Alexa Joy Sherman, author of The Happy Hook-up. “Add a good bottle of wine and it’s a doubly sensual experience.”

10. Horse around
You don’t need shining armor to appreciate the old-fashioned romance of trotting on a powerful horse. “There’s nothing more beautiful than the view from the back of a horse,” says Jonathan Soresi, owner of Soresi Show Stables at North Jersey Equestrian Center—except, of course, the view of your date from the back of a horse. Equisearch.com will point you to a stable in your area. And don’t worry, no galloping necessary—a lazy ride that barely breaks into a trot can be just as fun.

11. Drift away
Anyone with access to a lazy river and two life-jackets can enjoy drift-boating—just board an inflatable raft and float down the river, propelled only by the natural current. “The pure, honest setting breeds intimacy,” says Ken Beatty, manager of King Pacific Lodge, a floating resort in North Vancouver, BC. With 31,000 inflatable rafts sold each year in the US, drift-boating is more popular — and much easier — than you might think! Just go to a nature preserve or park where there’s a river, park, hike upstream with your minimal gear… and float on back downstream.

12. Picnic perfectly
Packing a lunch and planning a day away is romantic, but so is a more spontaneous outdoor meal as Nick Russo, a 25-year-old online marketer from Atlanta, discovered during a recent blackout. “Since the lack of power changed our plans, my date and I went to the farmer’s market and bought fresh tomatoes, basil, and bread, and used a can of tuna to create a picnic,” he says. “Being outside people-watching that day was so much fun, we vowed to make a habit of these spontaneous outdoor meals.”


Caitlin Ascolese’s idea of a great outdoor date is if her partner has an extension cord long enough to let them watch Law & Order in the backyard.
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