Planning date night can sometimes seem daunting. First dates are nerve-racking when you are sitting over dinner awkwardly navigating small talk, special occasions warrant something out of the ordinary and lifelong partners can start to feel the monotony of frequenting their favorite haunt. If you’re ready to mix it up or kick a new relationship off with a bang, we’ve rounded up 11 date night ideas that show you know exactly what makes your honey’s heart skip a beat.
If you’re looking to up the luxe factor for your next date, grab your Vineyard Vines polo and book one of these: a private yachting experience on Long Island Sound, complete with a curated yacht inspired menu from L’escale’s expert chefs. Choose from one of three yachts and opt to dine aboard the boat on oysters, caviar, champagne and crème fraich strawberries among the menu options. Prices start at $500. If you would rather dine on solid ground, book a reservation at l’escale after your yacht experience. “I would recommend a selection from the raw bar,” advises David Fletcher, director of operations at l’escale. “Oysters and shrimp for starters, and the prime filet mignon rossini or New York steak for an entrée.”
Before the Covid-19 pandemic put the world on hold for a while, axe throwing had just taken off as one of the most popular new things to do on a Friday night. Blue Ox Axe Throwing has not only survived but thrived through the years to become a premier facility for axe throwing in the Northeast. Opt for the open throw when you book; it’s one privately booked lane for minimum two throwers. Starting at $45.73 for two.
When you’d rather stay in, Wanda Richardson, Greenwich, CT-based private chef and founder of Jar Cooking Co., can prepare you and your date a culinary adventure for your tastebuds right in your own home! With eight years cooking professionally and education from the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC, she prepares tailor-made menus for her clients, considering food intolerances and allergies as well as preferences. Her dishes are inspired by her Southern background but with a healthier, modern twist. “There are no set menus because every client is given a personalized menu based on their own preferences,” says Richardson. Cost varies depending on the menu you choose but ranges from $150 to $200 per person.
These don’t happen every day but if you can, don’t miss the next Adult Night at Legoland Discovery Center in Yonkers on August 24. You can really get to know someone over a series of Lego build challenges, or maybe learn something new about your partner as you compete for prizes. The events are 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and are themed (August’s event is themed DreamZzz to celebrate the launch of Lego’s new 4D movie DreamZzz. Come in PJs and win a prize.). Tickets are $25 per person and include all build experiences, rides and 4D movies, raffles and more. Check the website for future dates. legolanddiscoverycenter.com
If you and your date like to live life in the fast lane, book a visit to Grand Prix New York. This premier go-kart racing facility keeps growing and this summer just added a new fleet of high-tech karts that go faster and allow for longer races. Plus, the virtual reality games, arcade, ninja course, bowling and axe throwing give you plenty to do if the date is going well and you don’t want to go home. “Not all dates have to be dressy or at night,” says Laressa Gjonai, marketing director for Diamond Properties. “An activities-based date allows couples to break away from the traditional dinner date routine and try something new and exciting.” Fuel Bar and Restaurant is walled in by glass so you can watch other racers while you dine. The restaurant has a new expansive food and drink menu. “We’ve made planning a date easier than ever and way more fun!” says Gjonai. gpny.com
What’s more romantic than Shakespeare in the park? If you’ve been to the shows in New York City and think they can’t be topped, think again. The top-caliber cast who performs for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (HVSF) has been surprising and wowing audiences since 1987 with their inventive and engaging productions of The Bard’s work. “Seeing a show at HVSF allows you to make the most of the summer by enjoying truly beautiful surroundings with someone special,” says Sarah Soliman, marketing associate for HVSF. This year, the company is performing Henry V and Love’s Labor’s Lost. Productions were once held at Boscobel Historic site but have been so successful that they have moved to their own home with sunset views over the Hudson River. Pre-order a picnic and dine right on the grounds, bring your own picnic supper, or reserve a table at the nearby Valley Restaurant. “They’re fun and thought-provoking, so whether you’ve been married for decades or you’re taking someone out for the very first time, you’ll have lots to talk about after the show.” There are matinees on the weekends and shows at 7:30 p.m. most nights through September 17. Tickets start at $10.
Ok, so this one might not be for every couple, but if you feel really secure in your relationship and want to see how strong your partnership really is, try a date at The Panic Room in Norwalk. They offer multiple escape room experiences with themes for every adventure-seeker, like Abomination—The Legacy of Dr. Frankenstein, Wrongfully Accused (which has a CSI vibe) and The Lost Treasure of Captain Lawrence (think Jolly Roger) all in Stamford, or Tick Tok: The Inheritance, which prompts you through some brain teasers to inherit the estate of your Russian hedge fund uncle, and The Last Resort, with a Murder Mystery storyline à la Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler, both in Norwalk. All their escape room experiences are $32 per person.
Tap into your inner teen and visit The Cave in Bethel, CT, for a night of laser tag and mini golf. This indoor glow-in-the-dark facility has garnered rave reviews from critics, families and couples alike. Once known as Monster Mini Golf it re-opened a few years ago as The Cave with more attractions including virtual reality games, laser tag, a high ropes course, mini bowling and more. Make a day of it and then head to The Sycamore for dinner. One of the last standing drive-in diners, this restaurant has an authentic ’50s vibe, whether you order their delicious milkshakes to your car, or venture inside, and you’ll enjoy seeing the vintage cars that frequent the parking lot.
In the heart of White Plains, The Opus, one of Westchester’s newest hotels and one that has garnered accolades from travel pubs everywhere, offers five-star luxury hotel calibre spa services and you don’t have to book an overnight to get them. Their Rest and Renew traditional Swedish massage (staring at $175) helps reduce tension and is perfect for those who are new to massage treatments. For a deeper relaxation, try the trendy CBD Recovery Massage (starting at $195) that uses cold-pressed hemp, marula and jojoba and olive oils to relax and clarify skin. Both treatments can be 60 or 90 minutes. After your treatment, make a reservation at the Kanopi restaurant. At the top of the Renaissance building, it offers panoramic views of the Hudson Valley and a Mediterranean menu. Adventurous couples can try the chef-led tasting menu with boutique wine pairings.
If your honey likes to get physical, take a hike up to Kent Falls. There are tons of romantic moments along this quarter-mile trail. It’s steep, so hold hands as you climb. As you hike the falls, feel the mist as water heading to the Housatonic River cascades 250 feet down. If you feel a little messy for dining out afterward, pop over to Arethusa Farm for some decadent ice cream made fresh on the premises. Or you can book a room at Fife and Drum Country Inn and dine there after a quick shower.
If you like nature but don’t want anything too strenuous, visit Lasdon. Hold hands as you stroll the American Chestnut Grove where arborists are doing important work to preserve these rare American trees, or take the path down the historic tree walk where you can use your phone for a self-guided tour. The focal point of the arboretum is the Lasdon Memorial Garden, established in 2001, it’s a one-acre formal garden with seasonal bulbs, summer annuals and fall mums set among sculptured shrub borders and walking paths. It’s a popular spot for wedding and engagement photos, so no one will mind if you steal a kiss! The whimsical Dinosaur park is a favorite spot for fans to take pictures with Lexi the T-Rex. Make sure you have a blanket. You can settle in for an afternoon of live music here, where summer concerts, from 2-4 p.m. on select dates, continue through September.