40 Non-Cliché Valentine’s Day Date Ideas
Cupid's Arrow doesn't have to strike over a white tablecloth.
Every year, there’s a 24-hour period where romance is irrepressibly, irresistibly in the air. To celebrate the occasion, the usual dinner-and-a-movie certainly gets the job done. But this is your annual chance to prove your love and show your other half how much you care. In other words, Valentine’s Day calls for something truly elevated.
To help you out, we rounded up the most inventive, unforgettable, heart-pumping (in multiple senses) date ideas on the planet. So cancel your reservations and take your better half for a spin on one of these romantic romps instead. Just, whatever you do, don’t forget the roses. Or the chocolates. Both will score you some easy points in the romance department. And for more great lovebird advice, don’t miss the 50 Ways to Keep Your Relationship Fresh and Easy.
Jump out of a plane.
According to a landmark study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, there’s a direct link between adrenaline and arousal—namely, that a rush of one begets the other. To truly ignite your Valentine’s Day, embark on one of the most heart-pumping activities there is: Tandem skydiving. By the time your feet touch the ground, endorphins will be rushing like nothing else. And it’s cheaper than you may think! Most skydiving centers will take you up for just a couple hundred bucks—or about the price of a five-course dinner (with wine) for two. And if your relationship is just getting off the ground, don’t miss these 40 Irresistible Second Date Ideas.
Toe the line.
For those terrified of heights—especially literal sky-high ones—you needn’t worry: There are other, less-terrifying methods of scoring an endorphin rush. Now, we’re not endorsing breaking the law in any way. But doing something a little bad, though not illegal—like skinny dipping or sneaking into a Marriott buffet—can feel so good.
Get out of Dodge.
Valentine’s Day typically falls on—or very close to—President’s Day Weekend, making it a perfect opportunity for a romantic getaway. This year, for instance, Valentine’s Day is a Wednesday, so take off Thursday and Friday and make a five-day getaway out of it. For a true adventure, forgo any planning. Instead, pack a bag, head to the airport, and book the cheapest roundtrip. Unless spontaneity isn’t your thing, in which case, just be safe and book something to the 15 Most Romantic Under-the-Radar American Escapes.
Book a room.
Pinpoint the fanciest hotel in your city. Hire a sitter. Book the Valentine’s Day package, which usually comes with a sumptuous meal, a nice bottle of bubbly, and bed-in-breakfast before checkout. Better yet, spice things by booking under a fake name, and when you meet any other couples at the bar, stick with those names. You’ll feel like a new couple—and likewise experience the honeymoon-phase passion all over again. Play your cards right, and you might even be able to get the room comped.
A horseback riding escapade has it all: nature, one-on-one time, and elegant animals. Plus, it’s a bit of a workout, so you’re sure to get some mood-boosting endorphins pumping.
Go rock climbing.
Specifically, bouldering. It’s as much as a mental activity as it is a physical one. While bouldering, you’re untethered. (It’s not as scary as it sounds; you’re never more than fifteen feet off a heavily padded floor.) Each route is called a problem. Generally, you need to figure out the solution before you attempt the problem, or else you’ll end up lost in the middle of a rock wall. This is best done with someone who knows your physical abilities and limitations, so do it with a friend—or, this Valentine’s Day, with a lover.
Catch a standup show.
They say laughter is the greatest medicine. But it’s also the greatest aphrodisiac. According to a study conducted by Zoosk, nearly 90 percent of Americans think so. What’s more, per research in Evolutionary Psychology, women experience stronger, more frequent orgasms if their partner has a solid sense of humor. If you want to elevate your own humor game, consider one of these 75 Jokes That Are So Bad They’re Actually Funny.
Hire an early-morning babysitter.
Once you become a parent, you’ve all but sealed your fate: Laid back mornings are no more. Well, for this Valentine’s Day, give the gift of sleeping in by hiring a babysitter to do all the wee-hour chores. Then, once the kids are off to school, spice things up by telling your boss you’ll be a few hours late—and spend that time in bed.
A group outing.
Once you hit a certain age, it can seem that all of your close friends are in serious relationships. For an unconventional spin on Valentine’s Day, bring everyone together. Maybe it’s laser tag. Maybe it’s go-karting. Maybe it’s Escape the Room (read on). The activity isn’t the point. Getting everyone together for a good time is.
Escape the Room.
Imagine you’re at work. It’s 4:00 p.m., and you’re trapped in the office. Your boss is due back at 5:00 p.m., and if she shows up before you figure out how to leave the office, you’re stuck there forever. That’s just one of the puzzles available at one of Escape the Room’s 16 nationwide locations. The IRL puzzle masters won’t force you to stay locked in an office forever, of course, but the thrill remains. It’s an exhilarating activity to do with a group—or just one-on-one with your better half.
Ride a hot air balloon.
Step back a century and take a laissez faire journey over some sprawling American countryside. Pack a sweater, though: It’ll get cold up there! And fore more adventurous ideas, here are the 15 Best Under-the-Radar American Escapes.
Hit the slopes.
Between hot cocoa by the fire, huddling up on the gondola, and playing racing each other down the mountain, you can’t beat a skiing or snowboarding venture for romance. Better yet, carving some turns is part of The Secret To Avoiding Winter Weight Gain.
Sit front row at Fashion Week.
For New York-based folks, this year, Fashion Week wraps up on February 14th. To get a quick infusion of glitz and glamour into your relationship, attend a runway show. No, you don’t have to be a fashion editor or Instagram influencer to attend. Just check out the official schedule for tickets. But be wary: Many don’t go on sale until the day before—or even the day of—the show.
Find a department store—Neiman, Bloomingdales, Barney’s, whatever. Decide on a set amount of money. You each have 30 minutes to buy something for each other. Whomever picks the best gift wins. For ideas on how to win, check out the 100 Wow Gift Ideas For the Person Who Has Everything.
Galavant like it’s the Roaring Twenties.
Hit up a jazz club, but make a ’20s-themed evening out of it. Bust out the three-piece and the gown. Take a horse-and-carriage there. Order absinthe—the right way, with the flame-and-sugar contraption, just like they used to do nearly 100 years ago.
Take to the sea. (Or the lake.)
Whether it’s something leisurely (a boat ride or a canoe trip) or something intense (paddle boarding, surfing, windsurfing), engaging in a water-based activity is sure to put a spin on your Valentine’s Day. And if it happens to be by sunrise, sunset, or fully-lit moonlight, that’s even more romantic. You just might have to live in a warmer climate to pull this date off. And for more V-Day inspiration, here are the 15 Ways to Make His Valentine’s Day Extra Special.
Stepping onto the real green can be stressful, competitive, businesslike. So tone things down and go to a miniature golf course instead; bright colors and zany designs are sure to keep things light. But keep a tiny sense of friendly competition: Whomever loses has to buy the other one dinner.
Attend a gallery opening.
Between the museum-grade art, bottomless bubbly, and free hors d’oeuvres, an art gallery opening has all the trimmings of a great date. Plus, you’ll get a chance to mingle with a seriously interesting crowd.
Make your own art.
Or, if you’d rather make your own art, know that that’s an option, too. All around the country, wine-and-paint spots have been popping up like daisies. And yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like. You bring your own wine—or beverage of choice—and make your most valiant effort at painting a predetermined piece. Though every piece of art is ostensibly based off the same initial artwork, the results are generally wildly different, and it’s equal parts fascinating and entertaining to compare. It’s a perfect opportunity to see who of the two of you is the better artist.
Get your Legolas on.
Heading to the local archery range might come across as a more primal date than, say, dinner and a movie. But you’ll get a chance to literally be like Cupid.
Or get your The Dude on.
In the event that shooting sharp objects isn’t for you and your boo, try a different type of physical, playful competition: Bowling. Better yet, go cosmic bowling, where the lights are dimmed and the neon is in full swing.
Enroll in a Bikram session.
Steamy, sweaty, and forced into contorted poses? Yes, few things are sexier than a hot yoga (or “Bikram”) class for two—especially on the most romantic day of the year. Can’t stand the Bikram-standard 105 ºF heat? Opt for a regular duo yoga session: It’s a proven method for improving your love life.
Yes, really. Dinner doesn’t have to be cliché. Just have fun with it. Instead of just doing a traditional dinner, make it a miniature adventure and split the meal up among multiple stops. Grab drinks at a cocktail bar, apps at a tapas place, entrées at a tablecloth restaurant, and dessert at an Italian bakery. Save the best—that would be the cannoli—for last. Whatever you do, always come equipped with the knowledge of the 40 Relationship Tips That Are Actually Terrible.
Score a reservation at a highfalutin establishment.
Staying seated for your entire meal is fine, as long as you shoot for the moon—by going to the absolute best place in town. If you’re a resident of Chicago, New York, San Francisco, or Washington, D.C.—the only cities in America with Michelin-starred restaurants—you have the opportunity to really impress. To land a table at these in-demand hotspots, learn How to Buy the Best Table at Any Restaurant.
Take cooking lessons.
To really turn the culinary creativity up a notch, forgo the restaurants and cook your own meal. But instead of just staying home and cooking the same old Crock-Pot dish, sign up for some cooking lessons. The educational environment is certain to bring levity and novelty into your evening—and you may learn something, too.
Tour a local brewery.
As of 2016 (the most recent year for which official stats are available), the United States had more than 5,300 operating breweries, per Brewers Association figures. That means, wherever you may be in the nation, you’re likely no more than a stones throw away from a brewery, where you can see firsthand how the beast (beer) is made, drink it, and, more often than not, grab a tasty bite as well. It’s standard date fare, sure. But you can’t beat the unique environment.
Go to a wine tasting.
Between vineyards in California, Oregon, and New Jersey (yes, really), we’re in the throes of an American wine renaissance. So try out a tasting. See if you can’t spot the difference, by palette only, between a Walla Walla Syrah and a Finesville Merlot. Turn up the fun factor by drinking every last drop, no need to spit in the bucket.
Take a mixology lesson.
It’s one thing to be able to throw together a good martini. But who knows how to whip up a corpse reviver? Or a last word? Take an expert-guided course with your one-and-only. Each person picks a different cocktail. Now, you have two excuses to restock your bar cart. And once you’ve mastered those, learn the 20 Cocktails Everyone Should Know How to Make.
Consider setting aside the lavish dinners and elaborate dates. This year, volunteer. Visit an animal shelter or a soup kitchen and really give back.
…on a roof. Most cities have hotels or hotel bars with rooftop pools. And in many cases, you can pay a small fee to dip in. However, if you can’t, chances are, the pool will be locked behind a keycard-gated door (in hotels, at least). In this situation, just wear your swimsuits and follow the next folks through the door. If anyone questions you, just say you forgot your keycard.
In the winter, everyone’s all about ice skating. Buck that trend and hit up your local roller disco. (Yes, a few of these relics still remain.) Dancing, skating, greasy grub: It’s a true blast—from the past.
Test your acting chops.
A Broadway production is one thing, but for a truly unique night out, snag tickets to increasingly popular interactive performances, like Sleep No More or Accomplice the Show. These fourth wall–shattering shows give you a chance to taste the spotlight by pulling you directly into the action.
Get dinner at the movies.
All around the country, you’ll find more and more movie theaters (like Alamo Drafthouse Cinema) that offer the whole package: Drinks, dinner, and, of course, a movie. Talk about putting a spin on a classic.
Park at the drive-in.
Or consider going to the drive in. Pack some blankets, set up on the hood of your car, and kick back like you’re years younger than you are.
Gaze at the stars…
Pack some blankets, hot chocolate, and Champagne (it’s a special day, so don’t skimp and buy Prosecco) and head to a spot devoid of light pollution for some serious alone-time romance.
In the event that the weather isn’t on your side—and chances are, since Valentine’s Day comes in the dead of winter, it won’t be—hit up a planetarium. You’ll get all the magic of stargazing and none of the frostbite.
Nothing beats some good-natured, tangled-up fun—especially if it’s just the two of you.
Make it a fright night.
Yes, haunted houses and ghost tours are typically relegated to everyone’s favorite October holiday. But these scary escapades typically run all year round. And if you’re lucky enough to be in Portland, Oregon, you can embark on the Haunted Pub Tour: A two-and-a-half hour, beer-soaked route that kicks off at an Irish pub and winds through the city’s “paranormal” spots before ending at the Merchant Hotel, Portland’s reputedly spookiest haunt. By the end of the night, you’ll be leaping into each other’s arms for safety.
Treat yourselves to the whole package: Couple’s massages, mud baths, manicures (yes, dudes, you should get these, too), facials. By the time the venture is over, you’ll feel refreshed and rejuvenated. The only thing left to decide is what you’ll spend your newfound energy on.
Redo your very first date.
Sure, it’s standard long-term date fare (particularly for anniversaries or Valentine’s Day). But the romance factor cannot be overstated. Venturing back to where it all started will take you right back to what lit the spark in the first place. And who knows—maybe the spark will light up again, except even brighter. And if Valentine’s Day is going to be your first date for the first time, be sure to check out the 40 Most Irresistible First Date Ideas.
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