Keeping the romance alive in a relationship is more than just a game of making sure all anniversaries are accounted for and picking up the bill at dinner from time to time. In fact, making a concerted effort to prioritize romance in your relationship, whether you’ve been together for 10 weeks or 10 years, can make all the difference between a love life that keeps you and your partner smitten with one another and one that fizzles out.
According to the results of a survey conducted by The Open University, it’s not just those grand romantic gestures that keep the spark alive. While a spontaneous vacation to Paris may be nice, it’s actually the smaller romantic acts that couples do on a daily basis that make for lasting love.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled 40 romantic experiences everyone should have by 40, from the over-the-top to the everyday, keeping the flame in your relationship stoked for the next 40 years, too.
Kissing someone as the ball drops on New Year’s.
The opportunity for sneaking off under the mistletoe may have come and gone by the time New Year’s Eve comes around, but there’s a much more romantic opportunity ahead: kissing as the ball drops. Even if your New Year’s Eve is otherwise uneventful, getting in a smooch with a cute stranger as the ball drops is a simple romantic gesture you won’t soon forget.
Getting a couples massage.
Eager to relax with your significant other? There’s no better way to bond while allowing the stresses of your day-to-day life melt away than with a couples massage. With all that tension melting away, you’ll be able to focus on what’s really important: your relationship.
Finding a trail of rose petals leading to your bed.
Is it a bit of a movie cliché? Sure. That said, there’s something so romantic about following a trail of rose petals that someone’s laid out for you. And if it happens to be followed up with a proposal, glass of champagne, or just a hot date, all the better.
Getting swept off your feet with a last-minute vacation.
There’s no denying that planning a trip can be fun—in fact, according to a study published in Applied Research in Quality of Life, it’s the part of vacationing that boosts participants’ happiness the most. That said, if you want peak romance, getting swept off your feet with a romantic vacation certainly beats comparing fares and booking hotels. Even if it’s just a short trip to a nearby bed-and-breakfast and not a grand excursion, having someone else take the reins and surprise you is about as romantic as it gets.
Kissing in the rain.
There’s a reason making out in the rain is such a staple in movies: it’s undeniably romantic. Sure, your clothes will get wet. Sure, you’ll be freezing. But having that perfect movie moment with someone you’re crazy about will always make you feel like a million bucks.
Asking for a cute stranger’s number.
It’s such a simple gesture, but asking a cute stranger for their phone number is a surprisingly fun and flirtatious way to kick off a romantic relationship. After all, few things get those butterflies in your stomach like knowing someone can’t wait to see you again.
Watching the sunrise.
While pulling all-nighters probably isn’t your fondest memory of your time in school, there’s something to be said for watching the sunrise with someone you’re involved with. Brewing some coffee, cozying up together under a blanket, and watching the new day begin can make anyone feel more romantic in an instant.
Sleeping under the stars.
You’ve got to hand it to Mother Nature: she’s a pretty impressive wingman. Case in point: the undeniably romantic feeling you’ll get after spending the night with someone special under a canopy of stars.
Having your significant other prepare you breakfast in bed.
They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but we’re pretty sure folks of all genders can get behind breakfast in bed. Whether you’re a scrambled-eggs-and-toast kind of person or love a freshly-made stack of pancakes, everyone should get to enjoy the bliss of sleeping in and having a great meal brought to them in the comfort of their own bed.
Take a hot air balloon ride.
A little terrifying, undeniably scenic, and most of all, romantic, taking a hot air balloon ride is one of those romantic bucket list items you shouldn’t pass up. And if you want to make it an even more memorable experience, take one at dawn or sunset, when you’ll get an unbeatable view of the sky and the world below.
Have a picnic under the stars.
A little starlight, your favorite foods, and your favorite person make for a memorable night, no matter where you enjoy it. If you’re looking to spice things up, try treating your significant other to a picnic under the stars and cracking open a bottle of bubbly to make it all the more romantic.
Writing each other love letters.
While email and texting are ubiquitous these days, there’s something to be said for the time-honored art of writing things by hand. Hearing all the ways someone loves you, how much they’re thinking about you, and how you’ve changed their life is always romantic, after all.
Following a romantic scavenger hunt.
Sometimes, romance takes a little work. If you want to surprise your partner (or give them a good idea about how to wow you), try setting up a romantic scavenger hunt—or asking them to do the same for you. Not only is this a playful way to show your significant other how much you care, it leads to a present at the end—and what’s more romantic than that?
Swimming in a hot spring.
Warm water, someone you’re into, and minimal clothing make for an undeniably romantic experience. If you find yourself in a hot spring with someone you’re dating or have a mutual crush on, your odds of making out are pretty much 100 percent.
Taking a spontaneous road trip.
What could be better than combining the thrill of the open road with the company of someone you can’t get enough of? Before you hit 40, make sure you’ve thrown caution to the wind at least once and ventured out on a road trip not knowing where it will take you. Of course, if you want to make it ultra-special, try driving one of the United States’ more scenic routes, like California’s Pacific Coast Highway or Florida’s Seven Mile Bridge.
Seeing a performance together.
Whether you’re hitting up a Broadway show or checking out a performance on London’s West End, there’s something so uniquely romantic about seeing a great performance together. Hold hands as the lights dim, allow yourself to get completely wrapped up in the performance, and then enjoy having a lively topic of conversation afterward, as well.
Riding in a horse-drawn carriage together.
What screams romance like cozying up under a blanket as the snow falls as the music of horse shoes hitting pavement fills the air? It may be an antiquated tradition, but when it comes to romance, riding in a horse-drawn carriage can’t be beat.
Recreating the From Here to Eternity beach scene.
Creating a picture-perfect romantic scene doesn’t have to mean spending a fortune. Before you hit 40, it’s time to give your own take on From Here to Eternity’s famous beach kiss scene, scratchy sand and cold waves be darned.
Dressing up together for Halloween.
The very act of dressing up with someone else for Halloween can be a surprisingly romantic gesture. Spending weeks (or months, for Halloween purists) planning your costumes, customizing them, and preparing for the big day is a great bonding activity that will make you feel at one with your partner in no time.
Sending someone a drink at the end of the bar.
While there’s a fine line between cute and creepy, getting a drink sent to you by a cute stranger (or sending a drink to a cute stranger) is a surprisingly romantic experience. Even if you’re not on the market, doing this as a means of surprising your significant other when they’re out on the town is an undeniably cute and romantic gesture.
Taking a French cooking class.
It often seems like other cultures pale in comparison to the French when it comes to romance. The good news? Even if you’re not from la République itself, taking a French cooking class is the next best thing—you’d be surprised at how far wine, cheese, and peppering your julienning with “je t’aime”s can go.
Creating a scrapbook together.
Taking a walk down memory lane with your significant other is a romantic experience every couple should have at least once in their lifetime. Creating a scrapbook full of relationship memories, from movie ticket stubs from your first date to photos of your wedding day can help you remember why you fell in love in the first place.
Receiving a bouquet at work.
It’s always fun to have private romantic gestures, but sometimes, you just want the world to know how much you love that special person. Before you turn 40, you deserve to have that admiration acknowledged in front of the people you see every day. And whose cubicle couldn’t use a little brightening with great bouquet or gift basket?
Learning to tango.
The ultimate in sexy stepping, learning to tango is always a romantic experience. Whether you’ve just started dating or have been together for years, learning the dance of love is a great way to get close to your partner, both physically and emotionally.
Roasting marshmallows over an open fire.
Sometimes, the most romantic experiences are the simplest. Before you let another decade pass you by, curl up with your sweetheart in front of a crackling fire, make s’mores, and whispering sweet nothings to one another.
Going for a limo ride together.
Even if you’re not millionaires, you should still spend at least one evening acting like one with a romantic limo ride. Break out the champagne, the roses, and ask the driver to put up the partition if you just can’t resist stealing a few kisses.
Having dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Home-cooked meals have their place, but enjoying something prepared by one of the word’s master chefs is an entirely different experience. Before your 40th rolls around, treat yourself and someone special to a meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant for a romantic date you won’t soon forget.
Going wine tasting at a famous vineyard.
Whether you’re an amateur sommelier or usually get your wine from a box, enjoying a tasting at a vineyard is an undeniably romantic experience. And if you want to make it even more romantic, try taking a vineyard tour in the fall, catching the sunset as you enjoy one another’s company while enjoying a great glass of wine.
Riding horseback on the beach.
There are plenty of romantic ways to enjoy the beach without donning a swimsuit. Taking a horseback ride on the beach is a great way to reignite that spark, and an experience every couple should get to enjoy at least once in a lifetime.
Going for a sunset sail.
The open water, the breeze, and the company of someone you’re just head-over-heels about make sailing a wildly romantic activity. Bonus points if your significant other can accurately identify port, starboard, and tie a clove hitch without checking their phone.
Recreating the pottery scene from Ghost.
While you may not have the early ‘90s charm (or hair) of a young Demi Moore or Patrick Swayze, recreating their famous pottery scene from Ghost is an experience every person should have once before their 40th. A little clay, some “Unchained Melody” on the stereo, and you’ve got the makings of a romantic evening you won’t soon forget.
Camp out during a meteor shower.
Even if sleeping outdoors isn’t usually your style, there’s no denying how romantic cozying up together and catching a meteor shower can be. After all, the only thing more romantic than watching a shooting star is watching hundreds of them descend at once.
Swimming with dolphins.
A once-in-a-lifetime experience everyone should get to enjoy at least once, swimming with dolphins is a surprisingly romantic way to get in a workout while enjoying the beauty of nature.
Receiving an insane gift.
Budget? What budget? At least once before you turn 40, you should be the recipient of a gift so lavish that a thousand thank you notes wouldn’t be able to express your gratitude.
Riding a tandem bike.
A little cheesy, but undeniably adorable, taking a tandem bike ride is the two-wheeled equivalent of a parade float announcing, “We’re so in love with each other!”
Pretending you’re strangers and pick your significant other up at a bar.
Want to have a romantic rendezvous with your significant other? Try a little role play. Dress up, meet at a bar, and pick them up like you’ve never laid eyes on each other before.
Seeing your favorite artist in concert.
There’s nothing like an amazing performance to bring you and that special someone closer together. Dance, sing along to your favorite songs, and let the world around you fade away.
The only thing more romantic than spending time with someone you adore on solid ground? That thrill coupled with the unbelievable exhilaration of sharing a death-defying experience with one another.
Going skinny dipping.
A lot romantic and a little naughty, skinny dipping is an experience everyone should enjoy before their 40th (and after, if you’re so inclined). The act of ditching your suits and running into the water in the buff will have you feeling like kids again in no time.
Taking a once-in-a-lifetime vacation.
Vacations are good for your mental and physical health, and when it comes to romantic experiences, taking a truly once-in-a-lifetime trip just can’t be beat. Whether you fly to Japan for the Cherry Blossom Festival or spend Christmas morning in Paris, this is one romantic experience everyone deserves to enjoy.