Creative summer date ideas, anyone? If slogans like “hot girl summer” and “vaxxed and waxed” didn’t already make it clear, so many of us are ready to get back into the dating scene and meet new people this summer. Like, really ready. After being cooped up inside all of last year, a lot of us are itching to put ourselves out there and actually do stuff with other people (still following current public health safety guidelines, of course). If your dates have been lackluster—or entirely nonexistent—you’re not alone. But they don’t need to stay that way.
To help you get ready for a summer of actually dating again IRL, we rounded up some creative and legitimately fun summer date ideas you can try. Whether you’re single and trying to mingle, just at the start of a new relationship, enjoying a long-term relationship, blissfully married, hoping to bond with a friend, or even interested in dating yourself, these ideas are guaranteed to be a good time for everyone involved.
1. Go on a photo scavenger hunt.
“It’s such a fun and inexpensive way to see the world from your partner’s eyes—and a great activity to walk around and do on a beautiful summer weekend. My fiance and I made a list of 26 prompts (you can definitely find ideas on Pinterest), and each bought a disposable camera. We walked around for one whole weekend and took photos that we thought fit the description of each prompt. For example, one of ours was ‘something you’ll tell your kids about one day,’ and I snapped a photo of Andrew the moment we decided we both wanted to move out of New York together. I can’t wait to tell our kids about that moment in their parents’ lives. But they could also be easy like ‘something yellow’ or ‘your favorite meal this weekend.’ We have done this a few times and it’s always so fun to develop the photos and look at them together. I love seeing what he took for a prompt versus what I saw!” —Samantha O., 31
2. Plan your own backyard Olympics.
“This was born during the COVID-19 quarantine, but could easily make for a great date on a hot summer day in an air-conditioned apartment—or outside in the backyard on a beautiful day. You basically just make up weird games. It’s so stupid but fun! Some event ideas: airplane toss, where you each make paper airplanes and see whose can go further; M&M nose, where you put peanut M&ms on the kitchen counter and use your nose to push them to the end of the counter and back; tennis ball to wall, where you sit at the edge of a room and see whoever can roll a tennis ball closest to the wall without touching it.” —Meagan R., 30
3. Attend a silent disco.
“I went on a 7 A.M. silent disco date in Central Park recently—the guy sucked but the date was really fun! I liked it because it was a sober activity and I wasn’t drinking at the time. The people were really nice, and honestly, I would have done it by myself. It was different from going to a concert because you could take your headphones off and talk to the person.” —Allison S., 30
4. Explore a historical landmark or fair.
“We like to explore new places on our dates. I’ll look on our state’s website for historical or otherwise noteworthy things nearby that we haven’t done yet or that just sound interesting. For example, we did a tour of Charles Lindbergh’s childhood home one day. In the summer, the village we live near does 1800s re-enactments and has a general store, and you can play croquet. Finding a cool historical spot, museum, re-enactment, or fair is definitely a good date for history buffs or people who like exploring and learning new things.” —Jennifer L., 33
5. Take a crafty class.
“We went to Brooklyn Glass for private glass blowing lessons. During our lesson, we learned how to use the equipment safely and were able to make several pieces to take home with us. We decided to make a paperweight, a sunflower, and two vases. The instructor was super friendly and made the whole experience very accessible. We’re into new creative experiences, so it was perfect. We loved it and would definitely go back!” —Samantha B., 31
6. Go on a water sport adventure at sunset.
“My husband and I were looking for fun and different date night ideas when I came across water bikes, which are exactly what they sound like: bicycles on what appear to be mini kayaks that float. When you peddle, you glide across the water. The bikes come with a dry storage locker, Bluetooth speakers, and zero skill or fitness level is required. You do not get wet. We opted for the ‘glow ride,’ which took place at sunset on the Long Beach marina, just south of Los Angeles. While most couples opt for a shared bike, we selected individual bikes because you can go significantly faster. While my husband thought this was going to be super lame and for children, about 15 minutes in, he turned to me and thanked me for forcing him to join me on this adventure. We had a blast peddling around at sunset to our favorite music, admiring gorgeous homes, and being outdoors.” —Farial A., 35
7. Plan a different kind of blind date.
“My ex and I used to do this thing we’d call ‘blind dates,’ which was where one of us would plan it and the other would have no idea what the activity was until it was time to go. The only insight you got at all was what to wear, so if it was cold and you were going to be outside, you’d know to wear a jacket. Activities ranged from dinner and a movie to a scavenger hunt through the mall.” —Kristen L., 30
8. Spend the morning perusing yard sales.
“My husband and I have started planning summer Saturday morning outings where we hit up yard sales or estate sales, and then end the morning at our local diner. We recently bought a new house, so we’re in the market for all kinds of furniture. Perusing yard sales is a fun way to get some things for a great price—like the outdoor sectional sofa we recently snagged for $100—but it’s also fun in a voyeuristic way to see other people’s things. We always have something good to discuss when we go grab breakfast and coffee afterward.” —Amy W., 31
9. Have a picnic at sunrise.
“My fiancé and I did a sunrise picnic this past summer in Lake Tahoe and it was one of our favorite dates! Key ingredients to making this a fun time: Set out everything you need the night before and have a rock-solid plan for where you’re going and how you’re getting there. We packed up our car with blankets, breakfast (we just kept it simple with fruit and granola), flashlights, and coffee (duh). You can always throw in a few fun touches to make it a proper date, like freshly cut flowers in a small vase, some pillows to lounge on, and a guitar or ukulele if music’s your thing. Go wild, make it you! A big thing that people sometimes forget when it comes to sunrises is that the best part is usually before the sun actually rises, so aim to get to your picnic spot about 30-40 minutes beforehand to truly appreciate the colors and beauty.” —Samantha O., 31
10. Hit up the local dog park.
“A date in the dog park is the perfect first date. Your pup is a built-in wingman, and you can really tell a lot about a person based on how they treat animals! I’ll bring my dog, and it’s fine if they don’t have their own dog, but they better be a dog person. It’s also cute to bring a little rosé in a cup or something, but not necessary.” —Will G., 29
11. Go camping…at home.
“This one is fun and exactly like it sounds! And before you say ‘But what if I don’t have a backyard??’ Neither do I. This is definitely something that can be modified to fit city living; you just might have to get a little creative. I like this one because it gets you out of your usual nighttime pattern—and thanks to the pandemic I feel like my fiancé and I really settled into a routine. Ideally, for this one, you’d grab a tent, sleeping bags, flashlights, and anything else you need to make this comfortable and fun. And then go set up camp in your backyard, or balcony, roof deck, or even living room, as if you’re really at a campsite. There’s something so fun about being all snuggled up in a tent next to your favorite person.” —Samantha O., 31
12. Pick a word or theme and plan a day around it.
“One fun date we’ve been doing recently is one of us picks a word or theme and the other person plans a day based on it. We’ve done as basic as ‘seafood’ and as abstract as ‘yellow’ or ‘vintage.’ It’s a lot of fun seeing how your partner or date interprets the word and where they go with it. Plus, one person gets to have a whole day of fun surprises!” —Meagan R., 30
13. Set up your own food tour.
“We do a dine-around in our downtown area. I select a restaurant we have been to over the last year for each different course, and then we ride rented bikes or scooters between each course. This gives my husband and me the opportunity to remember the fun we had the first time we visited these spots while making additional memories.” —Shelley R.
14. Go for an (iced) coffee walk.
“Taking walks with a cocktail was a big-time COVID-19 date hang, but even a coffee walk is a favorite date of mine. You’re moving and not just sitting there staring into each other’s eyes the whole time, so it’s nice and low pressure. Plus, you get to enjoy the weather and maybe even check out a new neighborhood, depending on where you meet for the date.” —Meagan R., 30
15. “Travel” to your favorite country without leaving home.
“My husband and I traveled a lot before kids and COVID-19, but we always make it a point to try and do one fun date night at home each month. One of our favorites was our ‘Tour Through Italy,’ which ended up being a weekend inspired in part by our love of Italy, a new cookbook my husband got called The Roads to Rome, and the new Stanley Tucci show, ‘Searching for Italy.’ Each meal was based off a different area and their cuisine, and then to inspire us, we would watch the Stanley Tucci episode that went with that region. We did cheat for some of the meals and got breakfast from our local Italian bakery and ordered dinner on Friday night. We got our girls in on the action too, when we did our portion of fresh pasta making. It was a lot of fun and became a little getaway (minus the dishes).” —Susan L., 33