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13 Outdoorsy Date Ideas

Outdoorsy Date Ideas

Do you feel like you and your loved one are stuck in survival mode after kids? Once a baby enters the picture, it seems as if former lovers are trading dish duty for childcare rather than spending time with each other.

For outdoor-oriented couples — or any couple with a hobby — finding time together can be particularly challenging. My husband and I are constantly juggling who gets to have a “grown-up” adventure like trail running or backcountry skiing and who has a kid-oriented adventure.

Even if getting time together is challenging, it should be a priority. Research shows that spending time together as a couple can increase your satisfaction in a relationship.

Want even more ideas than this post? Definitely check out this post and choose your date adventure based on your personality 🙂

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Couple cross country skis on a date

Intentional couple time does not always mean leaving home. It can include a quiet evening at home with a cozy beverage and a good game.

However, having a designated date can help couples focus on one another by setting aside time in their schedules to reconnect. Clearly, dates will not rescue a doomed relationship nor can they end harmful communication, but they can provide an opportunity for good communication, shared experience, and stress relief.

Broadening the Definition of Date Night

Given the time constraints so many of us face, if we can get childcare we want our dates to count! Many traditional ideas of a date may not greatly improve your relationship. After all, the dinner-and-movie date doesn’t provide much time for interaction or fun challenges.

High-quality dates — dates that help you connect as a couple — don’t have to happen at night. Nor do they have to involve wine, cheese, chocolate, fine dining, lipstick, or flowers. (Of course, a good date may include all these things — especially the chocolate!)

Instead, research suggests that couples should seek activities that encourage communication and are novel, playful, and relaxing.

Seek Novel Activities

Remember the thrill of entering into a new relationship? At that moment, everything seems imbued with brilliance and excitement. By exploring new activities, researchers believe that even long-term couples may recapture this thrill.

Novel activities may improve the quality of a couple’s relationship by reducing boredom and increasing excitement within the relationship.

These activities don’t have to be demanding or extreme to seem novel or stimulating. One study found that even a seven-minute novel task improved couples’ perception of their relationship.

Play Outside for Dates!

Lighthearted activities can knit couples together. By playing, partners release tension, improve conflict resolution, and even communication. These enjoyable activities may create positive emotions between couples, which leads to happier relationships.

Research aside, dates that are playful are obviously more fun!

Man rides bike joyfully thorugh the mud
Be playful!

Relax Together

Dating may help couples by providing an escape from their daily stressors — kids, jobs, housework. But when picking an activity, makes sure BOTH of you find it engaging and relaxing — or at least, alternate favorite activities.

Alternating favorite activities may actually improve your marriage over time. If every date night involves biking, which you love, but your spouse only tolerates, you could be on a path to relationship dissatisfaction.

Find Creative Childcare Solutions

For many couples, including us, finding childcare presents the biggest obstacle to getting time together. We have found a few ways around this. First, we look for easy “dates” at home or in our backyard that can give us time together without hiring a babysitter.

If you already have a daycare or if your kids attend school, consider using that time as a chance to connect to your spouse.

Family members may also be willing to spend quality time with your kids while you slip out. Some families arrange a date-night swap and take turns watching kids.

Sometimes the best “dates” involve the whole family!

Finally, you could simply plan to make your date a family date. Depending on your chosen activity, this is often better if you have kids that are either highly portable (under 2) or fully self-propelled (over 5). Also, when you include more people on your date, make sure you choose an adventure that everyone will enjoy. Grumpy hikers can really kill the romance.

“All our “dates” now include our kids since my husband isn’t around much & we only see him 3-6 days a month on average. We celebrated our 12 year wedding anniversary in December with a road trip to the Crooked River National Grasslands & Painted Hills in Central Oregon. We’re lucky our kids (& dogs) travel well & enjoy being outside with us!”

— TMM Member Domo Woodham

Dress for the Date

Sometimes having the right clothes can a date extra special. If you are choosing to have an active date, consider finding clothing that is both comfortable, stretchy, and attractive. Thank goodness athlesiure is having a moment!

When it comes to great athleisure wear, Lululemon has many offerings for men and women. Their clothing is designed with movement in mind but also manages to flatter.

Active and Attractive Clothing for Her

The Lululemon Define Jacket is ideal for an active date. It flatters the figure, wicks sweat, and even has thumb holes! I wear this jacket as a second or mid-layer and while warming up before exercising. The gold zipper and bright green color elevate this jacket beyond ordinary track jackets. When I wear it, I know I can stride into most restaurants confidently.

Like many lululemon clothing, the lululemon Define Jacket fits snuggly and runs small for its size. I ordered one size up from my usual size, but I could have gone two sizes up.

Woman skis over a bridge.

Lululemon’s Invigorate HR Tight has quickly become my new favorite leggings. They are cool to the touch and wick moisture — perfect for high-intensity workouts. Usually, I wear shorts when weight training because I become a shaky puddle of sweat mid lunge. These leggings withstood the lunge session better than I did.

The Invigorate Tights are opaque — even while squatting, and they shape the body’s curves nicely. I don’t often wear leggings outside of exercise, but these I would wear to a coffee house or pub.

Active and Attractive Clothing for Him

Lululemon’s ABC Slim-Fit Pant looks business casual but feels like sweats. They are perfect for dates that involve both outdoor activities and dining.

Immediately, my husband loved the four-way stretch in these pants and their breathability. He wears them to work, skiing, and lounging at home. I love that its wrinkle-resistant fabric reduces laundry time and retains its shape for longer.

Lululemon’s fit for men runs true to size, making it easier to find what works for him. This pant comes in many gorgeous, classic colors to suit many tastes.

Man smiles while cross country skiing
Lululemon’s ABC Pant Slim and Surge Warm Zip are perfect for active fun or wearing casually.

Lululemon’s Surge Warm Half Zip keeps him comfortable while exploring trails all winter long. As a runner, he appreciates the shirt’s ability to wick sweat even as it helps retain his core body temperature. He uses it as a mid-layer during the winter and as a light sweater in warmer temperatures.

(Mostly) Outdoor Date Ideas

By getting outside, couples immediately open themselves up to novel experiences and play. Time outside may also lower stress, which can be an important part of dating.

Some of these date ideas may involve finding childcare or with a little expense, but many can be done for free after bedtime.

Date #1: Ski or Snowshoe in the Moonlight

If it’s snowy, strap on your cross-country skis or snowshoes to explore a moonlit landscape. Straying far from home, you may find yourself in unfamiliar territory. As the moon reflects on the snow, everything glows silver. The trees become ink against pure white.

Mica in the rocks glistens, reflecting the glow of the headlamp. Nocturnal animals scurry by on their nightly missions.

Couple smiles while cross country skiing on a date
Team member Rita and her husband head out for a twilight ski date. She is wearing Lululemon’s Another Mile Down Vest.

Depending on where you live, you may not need child care for this date idea — only a headlamp and some way of traveling in the snow.

For extra credit, pack a thermos of hot chocolate and marshmallows. Nothing ends a wintery adventure better than a hot drink. Make some hot chocolate and snuggle with your loved one after exploring.

“We love doing an early morning mtb ride together and then getting coffee. Or an evening mtb ride with dinner or snacks afterwards.”

— TMM Member Rita Muller

What to Wear

When she cross country skis or runs in the winter, TMM Member Rita prefers to wear her Another Mile Down Vest. This vest keeps her core warm when temperatures dip below freezing. It looks great around town as well as on the trails.

Warm Weather Alternative

Substitute snowshoes for hiking boots. (Also see our tips for enjoying a winter without snow!)

Date #2: Bike to Your Favorite Restaurant

Instead of driving, plan an interesting bike route to your favorite restaurant. Not only is this a more sustainable means of transportation, but it is also more fun.

Alternatives

Any fun means of transportation will do! Do you enjoy rollerblading? Then rollerblade to the Thai restaurant. Snowmobiles and ATVs can also be an exciting way to get to your dinner date.

Becky and her husband toured Quebec City by bike.

Date #3: Sign Up For a Race Together

Ever noticed how easy it is to chat with someone who is training for the same event as you? There seems to be an endless option in topics — how to train, when, problems that occur. When you and your loved one sign up for a race together, not only do have the race time set aside as “couple time,” you have a common challenge to overcome and a fun topic of discussion for months!

As the race approaches, you and your partner may want to train together, if childcare permits, or on alternate days.

Husband and wife prepare for a "date" of running a winter ultra marathon
Team member Jami completed an impressive winter ultra marathon with her husband.

Bonus

Make it a relay race! Relay races and other team events can build camaraderie rather than competition between couples.

What to Wear Running

Jami skis and runs in her Base Pace High-Rise Running Tights. The technical fabric is designed for a smooth lightweight fit.

Date #4: Play Keep Away

This childhood game can be a silly impromptu at-home date activity! Grab a soccer ball, basketball, or a couple of hockey sticks and a puck and play.

Before beginning, make sure both of you are willing to keep it fun — rather than overly competitive. (This isn’t the time to release pent-up frustration.)

Bonus

Enhance the romance by allowing tickling, gentle tackles, and light body checks.

Date #5: Plan a Ski Adventure on a School Day

If you have school-aged children, send them to school while you and your spouse enjoy a day off! Most family days on the mountain with younger children involve trading solo adventures with time on the bunny hill with your kids. While this is fun most of the time, being solo can get lonely and bunny hills boring.

Man watches sunrise while alpine touring
The sunrise glowed during this pre-coffee ski touring date.

Use your school as a built-in daycare, so you and your spouse can explore the whole ski resort together. Order take-out for dinner for you and the kids, and you’ll have a more peaceful evening after the adventure.

Date #6: Try the Couples Challenge

Stuck at home with kids after 7? Struggling to find childcare or too exhausted to think of romance? We have all been there. The Adventure Challenge Couples Edition has lots of creative dates, many of which can be completed at home for very little cost.

The book comes with 50 scratch-off adventures to complete with your romantic partner. Once you have scratched off the instructions for that adventure, you MUST complete it — no matter how silly!

The adventures are grouped by category. Visual guides let you know how long the mystery adventure should take and what it might cost before you commit.

The Adventure Challenge also offers a book for bedroom adventures called In Bed. This could be the perfect just naughty-enough Valentine’s Day gift for this nice girl to give.

Date #7: Include a Biking Adventure to Your Romantic Getaway

Thinking of planning a getaway? Cycling is a great way to travel. TMM team member Jen Gardner’s favorite date adventures involved biking along the beach in Tel Aviv and in the Peak District of England.

Similarly, my husband and I celebrated our tenth anniversary by cycling around Quebec City.

Women rests beside bike
Team Member Jen poses by her bike while on a couples-get away with her husband.

Biking can be an intimate way to travel. On a bike, riders are exposed to the sounds and smells of the region.

One can easily stop to take a quick picture while traveling. In a car, you would need to find a safe place to park, which can be challenging in a city or on a busy road.

Date #8: Take an Outdoor-Oriented Class

Grow as a person and a couple by taking a class together. While the options for outdoor-oriented classes are endless, I recommend picking something that you both have a similar experience level. This will reduce the embarrassment one of you may feel by struggling to learn in front of a more skilled partner.

Interested in becoming more resilient during outdoor adventures? NOLS offers a Wilderness First Aid course designed for people who love exploring wilderness areas.

Many state parks offer classes in a variety of fields. Learn to paddleboard, discover native plants, or explore historical sites through your local state park.

Some retailers, including REI and LL Bean, also offer classes. Improve your navigation skills with REI’s orienteering classes in Colorado or snowshoe in Maine with LL Bean.

Don’t forget to check your local gyms and Facebook groups for courses and activities.

Date #9: Hike at Sunset as a Couple

Very few views are more incredible than watching the sunset from the summit of a mountain (or hill). Hiking provides a great opportunity for conversation — or for companionable silence. Try to time your hike to watch the glow of the fading light.

Couple smiles as sun sets behind them
The sun was just setting as Becky and her husband summited the mountain.

While sunsets are inherently romantic, team member Rebecca Hosley makes the moment more magical with fancy cheese.

“(Our favorite outdoor date is to) hike to watch the sunset, complete with a charcuterie spread at the peak. We then hit a brewery on the way back for a beer and dessert.”

— TMM Member Rebecca Hosley

Remember to pack headlamps for the return hike!

Date #10: Find Your Version of the Love Boat

Kayaks, canoes, paddleboards, and even motorboats can help you and your loved one escape the mundane. Some watercraft, like kayaks and canoes, can bring you close to bird nests and other wildlife.

If you want a very cool date, paddleboards can both be great exercise or a great place to nap.

Sunrise over a misty lake
The rising sun and mist appeared like fire over this lake in Maine during one pre-dawn canoe trip.

Before you leave, make sure you have a good idea of where you might go and what direction the current is flowing. A waterproof cooler will protect your snacks and drinks.

“We rented kayaks and floated down the Frio River. The places we had to carry them tested our patience with each other!”

-TMM Member Victoria

Date #11: Challenge Your Teamwork on a Ropes Course

For a high-adrenaline, team-building date, try a ropes course. Ropes courses often force couples to communicate clearly, overcome obstacles, and accomplish goals together in a low-risk environment. Some ropes courses offer events designed to build trust within a couple.

Date #12: Go Backpacking as a Couple

Once a year, my husband and I leave our kids with a relative and go backpacking. We enjoy the challenge of summiting multiple peaks and exploring wilderness areas. I’m always amazed at how little one actually needs to survive for a few days in the woods.

We spend the hike talking about various struggles in our lives or discussing books and ideas. It’s always a pleasant time for us to rest our minds as we exercise our bodies.

Couple drink coffee while backpacking
Even mediocre coffee tastes amazing when backpacking.

When we return home, our modest house suddenly seems like a palace. Running HOT water feels like a fancy spa. After the hike, I see my everyday life as pure luxury — and I think that’s pretty romantic.

Date #13: Try a New Sport Together

Many outfitters rent gear so curious people can try the sport before they invest. My husband and I rented fat-tire bikes and explored a local biking network. Other team members have rented alpine touring gear, paddleboards, and kayaks. If you love to hike, try climbing which can help you learn the balance and strength necessary for some hikes.

A new outdoor activity may simply be a fun thing to try out — or it could lead to a shared hobby. Last year, our team member Rita rented alpine touring equipment for a day. This year, she purchased a setup for herself.

 “We picked up rock climbing a little over a year ago, and it’s been a super fun couples sport and one of our favorite date activities.”

— TMM Member Stephanie Johnson

Do What You Love … Together

Classic date nights are classics for a reason. They are comfortable and appealing but by infusing your dates with adventure and outdoor challenges, you can deeper your relationship.

It’s important to respect who you and your partner are.

One of our team members recently went pheasant hunting as a date. Pheasant hunting might not be a traditional date, but it was a perfect time for them to be alone together — and that’s the point!

Couple kisses at summit

Related Articles:

Playful Outdoor Date Ideas

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