For some people, romantic date ideas include dinner and a local theatre show, strolling through vineyards after sipping on sauvignon blanc or rowing across ponds while swans pose against tall grass. Yes, these are romantic, but they aren’t ideal dates for those of us who keep duct tape wrapped around our water bottles.
Much like a good movie, the true outdoorsy date should make you laugh, cry, smile and become doe-eyed all in one go. From summiting a peak to doing yoga with your special someone, outdoorsy dates inherently include challenges and achievements that bond us in ways nothing else can. Getting outside together can enrich your relationship exponentially. In fact, (with a nod to the cheese-factor here), each outdoorsy date is like a parallel of a long-term relationship full of loose rock, teamwork, scrambling, and—after all the hard work—a stunning vista at the top.
Here are five outdoorsy date ideas we whole-heartedly endorse:
You know what they say—it takes two to tango. Whether you’re navigating a rock face or supporting on belay, this sport is rife with puns that speak to dating and relationships. But in all seriousness, you’ll build trust, be forced to communicate (“Climbing!” “Climb on!”), inspire some healthy competition, and have a little fun while you’re at it. Bonus: You can climb year-round if you have an indoor gym nearby.
This seems obvious. Hop on a two-person road bike and head out for a spin. Cruise the coastline in a double sea kayak and spot seals. Pretty much all tandem sports require you to get in sync with the other person on many levels—physically and mentally—in order to propel yourselves forward. Whatever you do, don’t opt for the two-person whitewater kayak; they call these “divorce boats” for a reason. Better to stick to the inflatable duckie if it’s whitewater rapids you’re after.
Some of the best conversations occur on the trail. Your heart’s pumping, fresh air is flowing and endorphins are on the up and up. Pick some peaks you want to tackle and attempt them together. Bring a picnic lunch for a break at a scenic meadow or overlook along the trail. And pack snacks to share, like trail mix or beef jerky. Commitment-phobes: For a first date, meet at the trailhead and do a short, two-mile round-trip hike. Then, up the length with each date hike until you are comfortable doing something longer together like a 14,000-foot mountain. Want to propose on top of a peak? Hire a photographer to capture the moment from an adjacent peak.
First rule of thumb: Unless you’re comfortable completely shattering the ice off the bat, this is not first-date kind of stuff. Give your relationship time to grow so you can get comfortable being intimate with each other before you attempt this one. But know that when you do practice yoga together it will be fruitful in developing give-and-take balance in the relationship. Like rock climbing, it also helps build trust. And, you’ll finally get in that yoga you’ve been meaning to do. Be ready to laugh—it wouldn’t be called “practice” if you didn’t fall once in a while. But, guys, no little black spandex shorts, okay?
Stand Up Paddle Boarding
The best thing about stand up paddle boarding is that it can be done anywhere. From ocean surfing to flatwater paddling, it’s easy to get out on a body of water and spend an hour or two cruising around. Falls are harmless and will totally break the ice between the two of you. Most lakes and beaches have board and paddle rentals nearby, meaning you don’t need your own gear. Our advice? Once you’ve got your footing on flatwater, hire a guide to take you down a class II river. You can cheer each other on through rapids and enjoy the scenery together as the current moves you downstream.