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7 Date Night Ideas

Joanna and Alex

What do you like to do on dates? Alex and I love going out to dinner, but it’s easy to fall into a rotation of the same three neighborhood spots, over and over and over. So! Along with the Capital One Savor card, here are a few ideas for mixing up dinner dates…

* Revisit your first-date spot. One million years ago, Alex and I saw a movie and went to dinner at Café Cluny, while I wondered the whole time if he liked me and if my jokes were landing and if he would kiss me at the end of the night. Cut to one wedding and two children later, we recently went back to the restaurant, and it was so romantic to share fries at the same corner table and remember how nervous we had once been!

* Travel within your city. New York has so many different neighborhoods to explore, with so many different cuisines — including dim sum in Chinatown, Greek food in Astoria, and the Italian bakeries in Carroll Gardens. On Sundays, Nom Wah Tea Parlor comes alive with crowds devouring the amazing soup dumplings and shrimp balls, and it’s such a fun, energetic date spot. (Side note: My sister once went on a date in college, where she and her date did a spontaneous carrot cake taste test by walking to different bakeries around town — wouldn’t this be fun to do with any type of food?)

* Flirt at the bar. What is it that’s so sexy about eating at the bar, even with someone you’ve known forever? Elbow to elbow, you can watch the line cooks flip burgers, chat with the bartender, and put a casual hand on the other person’s knee. Bonus: You don’t have to wait as long for seats! Two great spots for bar meals: The Mermaid Inn, Frankies 457 Spuntino.

* Challenge each other to a game. Seek out a spot with trivia night, darts, shuffleboard or arcade games. We love Insa, a delicious Korean restaurant in Gowanus, which has karaoke rooms — where I first discovered that Alex can sing.

* The wandering date. As a card-carrying Anxious Person, aimless walks are not my thing. But sometimes we’ll make a reservation somewhere that’s not too far and not too close, then leave an hour or two early and just wander. We’ll stop into shops, browse bookstores, pass seasonal decorations, crunch leaves in a park. It makes the date feel relaxed, versus like you’re rushing to another appointment. You can hold hands and chat as you go. Plus you never know what you might stumble across on the way!

* Don’t forget the day date. Alex and I don’t often do daytime dates, so it feels like such a thrill when we do. I love going on a bike ride or walk, followed by lunch at a food truck or a classic brunch spot like Barney Greengrass. Day dates are an especially good time to take in the scenery.

* The date switch-off. As a big planner, I’m usually happy figuring out where to go. But there is something romantic about taking turns planning dates. As much as I enjoy making a reservation for a new-to-us restaurant, it’s equally fun to be surprised by something Alex picks. With a date switch-off, you get to take turns figuring out special things and hoping to impress one another, just like you did in the beginning. And that is its own kind of magic.

For date nights and dinners out, the Capital One Savor card lets food-lovers earn 4% cash back on dining out and entertainment.

What do you like doing on dates? What are your favorite restaurants? Any recommendations? I’d love to hear…

P.S. How to keep the spark alive, and our very first date.

(Photo by Ana Gambuto for Cup of Jo. This post is sponsored by Capital One. Thanks for supporting the brands that keep Cup of Jo running.)

  1. Heather Hammen says...

    My husband and I are newly empty nesters. Our kids are 19 and 21 and in college now so aren’t around most of the time. We are rediscovering the pleasure of a spontaneous date! Today we took advantage and had a nice lunch then picked out our Christmas tree. We have also been attending our favorite music concerts. We love jazz and a nice glass of wine at a jazz concert is wonderful! We are also planning our summer vacation – just the two of us! It’s been a long time but we are actually loving rediscovering each other. Kids can take precedence when they are around (rightly so!) and being a couple can be pushed to the side. It’s nice to know we still “got it”. :)

  2. joanna says...

    this fall, my husband and i took day trips on the saturdays that we didn’t already have plans. we’ve explored cute towns we’d never been to in almost 9 years in the DC area. we’ll pick it up again in the spring (once we’re done selling our condo/buying a new place/moving). it has been so much fun and now we’re planning on some long weekends away with our groups of friends next year too.

  3. Ashley says...

    Last summer my husband and I started a thing called ‘mystery date’. We alternate months planning a surprise date! It definitely keeps things interesting and keeps both parties accountable for planning the dates.

  4. Deborah says...

    We’ve got small kids, and we’ve found that a Saturday morning date is awesome in this season of life. We get the kids up, fed, and dressed. Then we head to coffee or brunch or shopping. The kids are at their best and easiest in the morning, which is nice for the sitter. And we are too, which is nice for our marriage!

  5. My husband and I just went on a date to get our oil changed. My parents were in town and watched the kids. After we dropped off our cars, we walked to the bar down the street had a couple drinks and ate French fries. It was great – had a delightful afternoon date and got something accomplished.

  6. Jen says...

    My husband and I go on day dates on my days off since I don’t get a lot of those and since we don’t have a sitter nor do we have any family nearby. We live in San Diego so we usually hit the beach or hike along the ocean. We’ll try a new restaurant and go shopping. It’s so refreshing and relaxing to get to stroll together without having to parent.

  7. Amanda says...

    One of my husband and I’s favorite day dates is the spontaneous, no-plans Saturday, leave the house and figure it out kind. These don’t happen very often, so it’s really a treat when such a day creeps up! One rainy-ish day in September, we left the house and ended up going to a bunch of open houses, then getting drinks at a new cocktail bar while dreaming about what we want in our next home, and ending with takeout and a movie at home. Simple, fun, low-pressure, and relatively inexpensive… 10/10!

  8. Allie says...

    One of the best things we do as a family is go on “ice cream crawls” in new towns. Easily done in Cape Cod or any beach spot, you just wander from one homemade ice cream shop to the next ordering a scoop or two for your crew to share. If you want to thrill a kid, let them order ice cream at four different places. At the end of it, you really only eat one scoop total, but it is talked about all year long.

  9. Al says...

    My husband and I were legally married at a courthouse a few weeks before our wedding (we had a destination wedding and a family member officiate so it was just simpler to get the legality taken care of ahead of time). After getting married at the courthouse in the morning we went antiquing and had dinner at a fancy restaurant in Cincinnati. Every year on our marriage anniversary we go antiquing and finish the day at the same restaurant. It’s sweet to remember how special and exciting that day was for us.

  10. Zena says...

    One of our favourites is a dessert date. My husband and I met when I was a student so it was a way to save money – we’d eat dinner at home and head out to a restaurant for dessert and coffee or a cocktail. You’re usually fine getting a table as you typically arrive late and don’t stay as long as someone getting multiple courses. Plus everyone knows dessert is the best part of eating out!

  11. Kara says...

    My husband and I recently started a new tradition called Appetizer – Entree – Dessert where we pick a neighborhood and alternate picking restaurants for each dish. It’s a really fun way to explore all of the amazing parts of New York City (and its food!) and surprise each other with our selections along the way.

  12. Nikki says...

    I saw this tip somewhere when I was planning my wedding a few years ago. Every month on the date of our wedding (the 7th) my husband and I go on a date where we do something new. We take turns planning and surprising each other which is so much fun (it’s just as fun to be the sneaky planning one as it is to be surprised!). The dates don’t have to be crazy (or crazy expensive) as long as they’re new. So far, we’ve gone to outdoor movie showings, go-kart racing, rollerskating, to local playhouses, and tried new foods (how did it take me 28 years to try ramen??). My favorites though were a date where we went to three of the highest-rated donut shops in the area and ranked our favorites, and a date my husband planned for me where we visited a bunch of filming sites from The Office (we live in LA), ending at the pub that stood in for Poor Richard’s. It’s been the best tradition and has really helped us switch up the usual dinner date routine!

  13. Taylor says...

    I love this gift guide so much for ME. I want the gin, the bon appetit subscription, the thumb massagers, the cast iron skillet!!! I texted my fiance “I think I am Jo’s husband in woman form.”

  14. Kristen says...

    Our first date is hard to recreate. We met in the Athens airport before boarding a flight to Santorini, then spent our first full day in Santorini trying to meet, but were so busy with friends we kept missing eachother. We were both dead set on seeing the sunset togther, alas, we missed that too. When we finally gave up, we ran straight into eachother on a cobbled street in Oia at dusk. We had beers at a cafe with our friends, and my best friend and I packed him and his best friend into the back of a smart car convertible to drive them home. We laughed the whole ride back to their hotel, I was crying by the end!
    We are going back to Greece this summer, I’m looking forward to finding that same cafe in Oia (and catching the sunset together this time).

  15. Sarah says...

    When my boyfriend and I first started dating, I was still a grad student (ie on a budget!), so our dates were often very simple affairs. We both love cooking at home, so we’d end up almost making a day of it. Throughout the day, we’d share recipes back and forth and get an idea of what we wanted to tackle, then we’d meet at the grocery store on the way home and just savour the trip through it. Then back to the flat where we’d make our own cocktails and spend the time prepping and cooking together. Then of course delicious food and wine is served! It was all so simple but by sharing in all of the aspects of it, it made it feel really intimate and like something we were really doing together. And also lots of time for chatting and laughing.

    Fast forward a couple of years and we still often operate this way! We also love hosting dinner parties or brunches for our friends, but the sharing of the recipes, enjoying the shopping and prep-time together beforehand, kind of makes it even more special. It’s like we have a pre-date before the guests arrive :)

  16. I read the sweetest idea on a blog the other day: the high school date! Especially if you met your love after school, it can be fun to go and do the things you might have done if you’d dated in school. A movie, a milkshake, dancing, whatever!
    With a toddler in the house and two busy jobs, we don’t get out on dates nearly as often as we should (and would like). But be sure I’ll be looking this up next time we do!

  17. Rachael says...

    Love all these ideas!! Our kids are getting older now so life feels so busy with all their activities, so we’ve become big fans of the lunch date! Sometimes we check one of our kids out of school and they are so THRILLED (for real!) to have time alone with both of us. It’s nice for all three of us to hang out casually, plus my husband travels a ton so it’s great for him to be more aware of the day-to-day stuff that our kids are thinking about. We also do a lot of mini dates where we slip out for a quick morning or evening run, but sad to say it seem like any time we are out together with a car we either end up at Home Depot or Costco by the end of the date! 😂

  18. emily d says...

    once again, a goldmine in the comments!

    we like to do friday night dates – i don’t work fridays, so i can meet the sitter early and get everything set up. we meet for a fun adventure and are home by 9.30 or 10 usually – long enough to ensure kids are asleep, but not running up the sitter tab : ) and then you have the whole weekend ahead of you! it always makes the weekend feel so long.

  19. michaela says...

    My husband and I have a standing monthly date on the day of our wedding anniversary (the 4th) to get cupcakes together. We go to our favorite cupcake shop in Seattle (Cupcake Royale!) and take a couple home to share with a glass of milk. We got the idea when we attended a wedding where the couple chose to serve pies instead of cake, and their officiant told them to celebrate the date of their wedding every month by getting a slice of pie together. We thought that was a lovely idea and we served cake, so we figured why not go for cupcakes? It’s always interesting to see where we are when that day rolls around every month—sometimes we’re in the middle of other celebrations like a new promotion, sometimes we’re in a rough patch and we grumble at each other over the day’s frustrations (well, as much grumbling as one can do with a cupcake in hand.) But it’s always a really lovely way to remember the day we committed to do this thing together, and to recognize the marriage we’ve created since then.

    • A. says...

      That’s so sweet!

    • Amanda says...

      And you get to eat cupcakes every month! So yummy!

  20. michaela says...

    My husband and I have a standing monthly date on the day of our wedding anniversary (the 4th) to get cupcakes together. We go to our favorite cupcake shop in Seattle (Cupcake Royale!) and take a couple home to share with a glass of milk. We got the idea when we attended a wedding where the couple chose to serve pies instead of cake, and their officiant told them to celebrate the date of their wedding every month by getting a slice of pie together. We thought that was a lovely idea and we served cake, so we figured why not go for cupcakes? :)

  21. Lizzy says...

    My friend had a great idea to do part of your date night with your partner and the other part meeting up with friends (because we miss hanging out with them sans kid too!). So, drinks alone together, then meet up for dinner.

    But, as a recovering NYC person in an outdoorsy city, I’m always looking for more creative dates. Usually I seek out things you can’t do or are a pain to do with a toddler in tow. My favorite so far was a sunset kayak tour!

  22. Dani says...

    aww man I love all these very heart warming stories and dreamy memories. this one guy I dated was a pescatarian (like me! i couldn’t believe it!) so we had this running-date of going to different places around our city and testing out the veggie burger on the menu and comparing. i felt adorable.

    my fiancé and i only have one day off together so every Tuesday morning we grab a quick breakfast sandwich and coffee and pop down the road to the ocean and enjoy the view……it’s actually mainly to dog-watch because dogs make both our hearts implode and we end up cracking up and creating background stories of the dogs and their humans. when it’s warm out, we will actually get out of the car and take a walk so we can MAKE CONTACT. it’s a guaranteed way of setting up our day with pure happiness.

    • Becky says...

      Love this!!! We live by the ocean and off season for the beach is dog season!!

  23. Katherine says...

    ATL people – the best date night my husband and I have done recently has been to go get foot massages at Treat Your Feet on Buford Highway then get Korean food at Stone Bowl House. Relaxing, cheap, and outside of our normal dinner date box :)

    • Katy says...

      I’ve been to both of those places but never done them both in the same day – I’ll have to try with my husband soon.
      And last time I checked, Treat Your Feet was BYOB :)

  24. Katherine says...

    Thinking about going back to our first date (17 years ago) made me giggle. I’d turned him down twice already so when I actually agreed, he hadn’t planned anything and we ended up having dinner at home with his mum and sister! And the divey little Indian restaurant we went to after that, and many times over, is now a pet shop!
    My favourite most recent date though, was a spontaneous 45 minute window in the middle of a Friday. I finished up my to-do list early and his work was on my route back to pick up kids at school. He works right next door to botanic gardens, so we snuck in a spontaneous stroll in the early afternoon. Simple and unexpected, with perfect sunshine and spring blooms. Here to taking every little opportunity together :)

  25. Becky says...

    What I always think of as our first date was probably our second date. The first being an impromptu coffee date on a warm dec Saturday afternoon. The second on Christmas eve a few days later. We went to see a movie and then “missed” our train so we went for beers. We had two more within a week. Christmas has always been my favorite time of year and now for the past 5 years its extra special. I would love to go back to our early first dates but we no longer live in that city. Here’s to old memories and many more new memories!!!

  26. My husband and I both work downtown in a major city, so we are big on lunch dates while the kids are at school. Childcare is covered, and it’s such a fun break in the middle of the day. I’m quitting my job in two weeks (EEK), so those dates are about to come to an end, and I’m beyond sad to lose them.

  27. Oneida says...

    We only did this once on a dinner date but it was so fun. We told our server we were having a contest. We each were going to order for the other and then afterwards rate the choices. I think it was 5 points possible in 3 categories…taste, choice accuracy, and creativity. It was a fun surprise to see what the other ordered and we had lots to talk about afterwards as we discussed our ratings and choices. Not to mention the competitive sides of us came out and it was hilarious! I was nervous both that I wouldn’t love my meal or that, gasp, he wouldn’t love his. Ha. Our server was excited too, she got really into it and came back afterwards and was like, who won?! It really made a run of the mill dinner date turn into an adventure of competition and intrigue.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahaha i love this!

    • I love this too! And who won?!

    • Oneida says...

      Haha Belle…It was a long time ago but I am pretty sure I won but only by a point or two. It was a nail biter! And I may have been a tougher judge haha.

  28. J. says...

    I once went on an early (2nd? 3rd?) date where we sat on a couch in a hotel bar — for 3 hours! It was lovely to be sitting side-by-side, and although I was at first skeptical of his location choice, he much later told me that he thought it’d be so fun to people-watch together (it was a *fancy* hotel) and imagine what the guests and other people meeting up there were doing (in a non-creepy, non-negative way!). It ended up being cozy and relaxing and bustling/lively, because of where we were seated, and was also fascinating. We talked nonstop for hours about all kinds of things, but having the backdrop of “ooh, they look so in love!” or “he looks like he’d be good at storytelling” was a perfect backdrop for the nervousness of an early date.

    • Colleen says...

      I love this. It’d be a great friend date, sister date or partner date!

  29. Abesha1 says...

    From a different perspective… we don’t do dates anymore. We waited a long time to have our kids, and have no nearby family/ don’t use sitters, so my husband is really big on spending a day out every weekend (museums, beach, hikes, cool but distant playgrounds, symphony, etc) as a family, or randomly going out for dinner on a school night as a surprise if he leaves work early.
    During the summer we try to take advantage of all the free evening programs and concerts at local parks and community centers/ libraries.
    It works for us!

  30. Cynthia says...

    My husband and I are retired, and we often go out for lunch, as some restaurants have lunch specials, particularly if you go between Monday and Friday. Sometimes we go shopping at Sam’s Club and get lunch there. They have the best hot dogs! Sometimes it’s just a trip to Lowe’s for some home improvement stuff, but it’s fun.

  31. I love the photographers you use! Your blog is now my go-to for finding new inspiring photographers :) . Great job Ana!

  32. Chelsea says...

    It’s fun to go to another city for a date if you are able. A couple of years ago friends offered to watch our kids for the day so that my husband and I could ski together (something we had not done since having kids). We dropped them off in the morning then drove from Albuquerque (where we live), to Santa Fe. We spent the morning skiing together, sat outside on the mountain and enjoyed a beer, grabbed a quick lunch in Santa Fe, then we were home by mid-afternoon. It was such a fun day and great to do something out of the ordinary.

  33. Karen Kirsheman says...

    I often work Saturdays, so when I do, I get a day off during the week. My husband works from home. We just found the joy of the day date!!!! Our 6 year old is in school, so no babysitter. There’s a place around the corner that does a $15.00 lunch special including a Margarita. It’s the best. We chat, check in with each other & often I take a nap after while my husband picks up the kid.

  34. Andrea says...

    We also like a mini date on Sunday night that we picked up in Europe. We stay in or go out for a predinner drink and a small appetizer. Apero/aperitivo is a great way to eat something a little indulgent and to celebrate the weekend.

  35. We just moved to Manhattan and love exploring the restaurants that are a short walk away from our Harlem apartment. Our favorite so far has been Sylvia’s- the fried chicken and waffles was killer. We can’t wait to go back and enjoy a gospel brunch.

    We are definitely big fans of going to bars for dates :) some nearby favorites are Solomon & Kuff and Bierhaus

  36. Veronica says...

    Similar to your last tip, my partner and I love to each plan a part of the date to surprise the other with. For example, he’ll plan drinks and an activity, and I’ll plan dinner, or vice versa! It’s so fun to see what the other has planned and it makes the date feel long and luxurious to move to multiple locations!

  37. Em says...

    Not a traditional date, but on weekend mornings my husband and I like to go to the gym together and then get brunch afterwards. It feels relaxed and nice :)

  38. Christina says...

    Love these ideas! In Denver, we have the “Passport” (a coupon book for buy-one, get-one drinks at various restaurants) and the “Dining Out Passbook” (same thing for food). We’ve done both, and it just is such a great way to find new restaurants to try out. It has definitely gotten us out of a “same three restaurant” rut. We still return to old favorites, but there’s a longer list now. :)

    • Danielle says...

      Thank you so much for mentioning this! We’re new-ish to Boulder and right after I read your comment I saw a post about the Boulder Passport. Such a good way to try new things, save $, and decide on a place.

  39. Lisa says...

    My husband and I ALWAYS eat at the bar on date night. We rarely wait for a table unless we are out with a group. My husband bartended for many years, so maybe it’s just more in his comfort zone? You’re absolutely right that it feels more intimate.

    • Maggie says...

      Yes, I’m in the same boat. My husband is still in the bar business so we always belly up. Less formal with a bartender as your server and the people at the bar are usually pretty interesting and you end up chatting with them. Sitting next to someone gives you quick access for a kiss or a hand on the leg. <3

  40. Deanna says...

    My friend and her husband worked their way through the alphabet on dates, and they alternated planning. Some letters were easy (B for bowling and beer) and casual, some dates were fancy, and some were challenging, but I can’t think of any she struggled on right now, though I’m guessing X is a safe bet.

  41. I loooove sitting at the bar with husband, probably because it’s something we don’t really get to do anymore with two kiddos.
    Fun story – a while ago we were meeting after work for a date, each of us coming from a different borough. By chance we ended up on the same subway car, close enough to see each other but not close enough to say anything (without yelling I guess). We spent the rest of the ride stealing glances / smiling goofily / maybe blushing. When the car finally began to empty out, we ran up to each other and kissed. It might have been one of the most romantic moments of my life.

    • Danielle says...

      This has happened to me and it is just the best!

    • Laura C. says...

      We had something like that ages ago! My husband and I were dating and one morning I spotted him while taking the subway (we worked at the same place), and I just went and kissed him on the spot by surprise very passionately. A woman nearby saw us and was very surprised and was smiling all the time! She thought we were to completely strangers to each other! I told her then that he was my fiancé.
      Thank you for bringing back the memory!

  42. in our first few months of dating, my husband took me to Longwood Gardens and bought us a membership – our FIRST together purchase. we on random saturdays throughout that year we would trek there for long ambling walks through the gardens. 7 years later and we recently purchased another membership this year and now we take days off during the week to go. sometimes, we’ll make a weekend of it.

  43. Glenda says...

    Road trip within the same state and exploring (our wander date)
    Book store and coffee
    Long walks to watch the sunset
    Dinner and a movie
    Movie and Dessert
    Brunch date

  44. Courtney says...

    I work in a middle school and I am pregnant right now. My husband works from home on Fridays and if his schedule allows, he brings my Chick-Fil-A on Fridays and eats lunch with me in my classroom. I get so excited on my way to the office to sign him in. My students are enthralled when they come back from lunch and he is there. It’s a good date!

    • linda says...

      This is so sweet!!

  45. Kristina says...

    For anyone trying to fit dates in with kiddos afoot, we have a tradition of cutting out early (4ish) once or twice a month, and going to happy hour before our 6 pm daycare pickup. No substitute for more extended dates, but it’s nice to squeeze in a little just-the-two-of us time without having to deal with the logistics of a sitter or swap with friends.

    • Dee says...

      This!!! We have a similar set up where occasionally I ”work from home’ but really work from the cafe round the corner from my husbands work so we can go out for lunch together whilst the kids are at nursery!

  46. We do a date switch off every month- one of us plans a date out and the other plans a date night at home. With a three year old, it’s nice to have some time at home set aside as well as the big nights out!

  47. Sequoia says...

    These are all so great!

    I’m currently on maternity leave awaiting our first child and I’ve been nervous about what dates are going to look like going forward.

    Something I’ve been doing since I’m up so early these days is making really lavish breakfasts and setting the setting table with the same intensity as a candlelit dinner. Its a really nice treat for my husband and we get to linger over each other before the chaos of the day starts.

    I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep this up but maybe it’s just important to figure out something that works for you wherever you are in your relationship or life right now.

    • Dana says...

      Dating my husband was surprisingly easy the first few months of my son’s life. He loved to be worn in the carrier, so I wore him while we went to happy hour, on long walks, to museums and out to lunch… that ended when my son was about 6 months old and wanted more interaction from us, but my husband and I got a surprising amount of date time those first few months. We were quite tired, so most of the dates were day dates or early evening dates.

    • Mallory says...

      If you’re planning on going back to work, I’ve found day dates are the easiest with kiddos. While they’re at daycare/school, we’ll sometimes work out of a cafe next to each other in the morning before going into the office, meet up for lunch, or one time we ducked out a couple hours early and saw a movie before pickup time. We’re lucky that our jobs are a bit more flexible, but it’s so much easier than getting a sitter (which we still like to do when we can, but it’s tough!). Enjoy your first little one!

    • Christina says...

      “we get to linger over each other” <3 <3 <3 this sounds so sweet, Sequoia. best of luck with your little one!

    • Super Scared Mama-To-Be says...

      Sequoia, I am right there with you! I just found out I am pregnant, and I am so scared of losing my personal one-on-one time with my husband. I’ve heard so many people suggest getting out more now (before baby is due, and shortly thereafter), but it’s daunting when you are facing more baby expenses.

      Thank you for your suggestions everyone!

    • Inge says...

      My husband and I do lunchdates once in a while. Sometimes just a sandwich, sometimes proper warm lunch in a restaurant. I work during the week, he is sometimes at home during the week since he occasionally works weekends. No need for babysitters, kids are in school or daycare. Sometimes we hire a sitter in the evening too or we do a sleep-over at family to go to theatre or concert or to go out with friends (like 5x a year or so).

      We also take time to go out alone with our own friends, while the other person stays at home. I forgot to do this in the beginning, I felt like baby and I were ALWAYS together, and when I went out with my husband, we talked a lot about the baby too. I missed myself. With my friends (some of them don’t have children), I could feel like my old-pre-child-self again for a few hours. I could talk about other things and feel a little ‘baby-free’ like before. I need that once in a while.

  48. Victoria says...

    Yes! Morning movie dates!! Cheaper tickets and we enjoy grabbing coffee before. Plus, you still have daylight to burn afterwards. It’s tough to drag yourself out of the house but I’m always glad I did.

  49. Ella says...

    I’m a big fan of the wander date, where we just walk around and talk. So lovely to have that time to just do as we please :)

  50. Catherine says...

    My husband and I work 40 blocks away from each other in Manhattan, but never see each other during the day. Last year we instituted “date lunch Fridays”- once every few months, we meet at this hilarious, old-school delicatessen and share corned beef sandwiches and cream soda- I am about to turn 50, but these dates always make me feel like I am cutting class!

    • Carly says...

      This is the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard! What a wonderful and romantic idea :)

  51. Farhana says...

    Find a quiet place- a quiet corner in your home or a bench in a park. Then, the two of you hold hands, and thank God for all that you share- privileges that you took as entitlements, and took for granted.
    Start with the ability to hold hands………

    • Cat says...

      I love the idea of including gratitude as not only part of one’s relationship with oneself, but also as a part of interpersonal relationships, especially important ones! I’m newly married and realizing that this one big relationship involves so many smaller ones; roommates, co-owners, co-financial managers, domestic upkeep partners, romantic partners, emotional partners. Adding in things like gratitude, which we tend to think of as personal, can open up whole other sides of a person to you! Plus what a great thing to model for others!

  52. polyana says...

    We do date nights every Tuesday! We found it takes the pressure off thinking we have to go out on a Friday after a long week of work, where we just want to hang out at home, and gives us a break in the middle of the week from… said work.

    Plus, not many people go out Tuesdays, so there are always drink specials at bars, if we don’t feel like going out, we’ll order food and watch Masterchef or a movie at home, and we get treated to great service at emptier restaurants, get to pick our seats at the movies without having to plan ahead, and etc.

    It’s also nice to look forward to a date night without having to wait the whole week for it. Speaking of which, today’s Tuesday <3

  53. Katie says...

    I’m all about the switch-off! My bf and I schedule a date each month, and rotate who is in charge of planning. More often than not, it’s a surprise for the other person, which is entirely terrifying to the bf as a planner, but he’s learned to trust me! We’ve really spanned the gamut for our dates: concerts, hikes, massages, picnics, canoeing, and comedy shows! We’re rolling into year 3 of the tradition and I think it’s something we’ll keep up for a while. It helps to divide the responsibility, makes you feel special when they think of something you’d like, and keeps date nights on the calendar when schedules otherwise seem so busy!

  54. My husband and I (who are from Dallas) had a relaxed elopement to Brooklyn. The morning after we got married we decided to do a yelp search for a place to eat. We ended up finding House of Small Wonder, a tiny hidden garden-like cafe where the only sign was a simple sandwich board outside. It felt so secret and special which made it the perfect place to celebrate being an official duo.

  55. Tracy says...

    Yay for Barney Greengrass! I’ve been in the Bay Area for maybe 12 years now, but every time we are back in NYC, I make the trek to the Upper West Side for the nostalgia there.

  56. Sasha L says...

    We are celebrating my husband’s sobriety birthday this Saturday with a special dinner out at a fancy place we’ve never been and a soak afterwards at a local hot springs (we are so lucky to have four in our area, so relaxing and fun in the colder months). I’m making a yummy weekend breakfast to start the day and we’ll do a snow hike too, I can’t wait for all an day adventure with my sweetheart.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      congratulations to your husband, sasha! that is really something to be proud of.

    • K says...

      Thanks for sharing, Sasha. My own partner is starting a recovery journey and one of the things I’ve been pondering is how we will approach special occasions. I’m heartened to know there are others out there going through the same journey, which makes it feel less lonely. <3

    • Sasha L says...

      Thank you Joanna, ❤️

      K, hugs to you. The beginning is hard, but it does get easier. A few things that help us, we are in it together and that perspective really makes support easier; I am clean and sober too (also a really happy choice for me). A twelve step program (NA) was a life saver, especially at the beginning. It really helped with strategies and feeling connected to others. You have to meet others who are doing sobriety successfully. I wish you both the best, it’s a whole new happy life on the other side! XO

  57. Lindsey says...

    We’re big art people, and a lot of the best museums in LA are free, but have a really long standby line. So a couple of weeks in advance, we’ll reserve tickets for a specific day, and then we not only have something to look forward to, but we can waltz right in and spend all our time looking at the art, rather than waiting in line. We try to get a morning slot, so by the time we’re done, it’s lunchtime, and we can wander on down to Grand Central Market, or something similar for a fun lunch. I love day dates!

    • Terry says...

      Which are your favorites?

    • Lindsey says...

      Terry- our two favorites for modern art (which is our go-to) are the Broad and the Marciano Art Foundation. I think you actually have to reserve tickets for MAF, but they’re free. The Broad you don’t have to, but it definitely makes it easier! We’ve also seen some great exhibits at MoCA, the Getty (and the Getty Villa–another must reserve in advance place), the Skirball (recently we saw a Jim Henson exhibit that was so sweet), the Hammer (they do a biannual exhibit called “Made in LA” featuring all local artists), and Hauser & Wirth (there’s a fantastic restaurant there as well that I highly recommend). Hope that helps! There’s so much good art in LA!

  58. Lauren E. says...

    My husband usually works in the evenings on weekends (he’s a standup comic) so the day date is our jam. We prefer a movie and THEN a meal so we can talk about whatever we just saw. Why don’t more people do that?!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes!!!! i totally agree with this!

    • b says...

      I agree because if you’ve known a person forever (married, living together, bff, whatever) it can sometimes still be hard to find stuff to talk about. But if you do the movie, play, museum, whatever before the meal, bam, instant conversation starter.

    • Victoria says...

      Yes! A few times, my husband and I have gone to the earliest showing of a movie and then gotten breakfast afterwards. We’re still in the pre-kids, get a cocktail on Saturday night stage, so it’s fun to mix it up and do a date first thing in the morning. Plus, our big city is still quiet that time of day and it’s so nice.

  59. Ashley says...

    My husband and I like to do “food tour” dates where we have an appetizer/light bite at one restaurant, main course at another, and dessert or after dinner drink at a third spot! This works best at places that have seating at the bar or that don’t have lengthy waits for tables. It’s always super fun and allows us to be flexible on planning because we come up with a few different options for each spot after our first location, just in case our food moods change! It’s also great on vacation to eliminate the planning/reservation-making for a night!

  60. Kirsten Foster says...

    My husband and I do a coffee morning date every Friday. We have been doing these morning dates for the past 4 years and have rarely missed a Friday. It is fun to have something to look forward to at the end of a busy week and we use the time to work on our relationship. We always ask the same 5 questions: 1. What was your highlight of the week? 2. What have you been dreaming about this week? 3. Do we have any unsolved conflict from the week? 4. How can I pray for you this week? 5. What is one thing I can do for you this week to make you feel loved? Friday mornings have become a special time for us and we look forward to our time together before going off to work!

    • Ashley says...

      Great questions!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      wow, this is so thoughtful, kirsten.

    • Kim says...

      I love this idea!

    • Priscilla says...

      This is a brilliant and heartwarming idea. I love it!

  61. Amy says...

    When our kids were babies we made a pact to see live music once a month. Now they are teens and we see 4 to 6 shows a month. I couldn’t tell you the last time we went out to dinner or to a movie.

  62. kiki says...

    when I visit NYC, it’s usually for work. Which means my “tourist” hours are somewhat limited. BUT, I’ve had random weekday mornings open and have hunted for all the famed brunch spots and have had SUCH a hard time finding places that are open on a weekday for brunch! (Not a problem in Portland, where I’m from…no one here works a normal 8-5 job.) Any hot tips on weekday brunch spots??

    Also, LOVE the carrot cake tasting idea!!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s a good point! most restaurants do brunch on weekends only. but here are some great places in downtown manhattan where you can find great eggs/bowls/waffles/etc during the week:

      Balthazar, the classic french bistro, is always bustling and fun and their breakfast menu *feels* like brunch: https://balthazarny.com/contact-us/

      the smile is super fun and cool, always: https://www.thesmilenyc.com/

      cafe gitane is totally delicious and was one of the first places in NYC to do avocado toast (their version KILLS):
      http://www.cafegitanenyc.com/mott/menus-m.php

      buvette’s eggs are TO DIE FOR, and it’s so tiny and french and beautiful on a little west village street: https://ilovebuvette.com/about/

      banter, a cute australian cafe, has really really good bowls: https://www.banternyc.com/menus/#day

      finally, jack’s wife freda has an upbeat, cheerful vibe and things like green shakshuka, breakfast bowls, grilled hallumi, etc
      http://jackswifefreda.com/

      hope this helps! suddenly i’m starving:) xoxoxo

    • gretta g. says...

      I was at Jack’s Wife Freda for a late lunch once and as I was walking in, Benicio del Toro was walking out!

    • Tara says...

      Egg Shop is super cute and has great weekday breakfast, too!

  63. Jenn says...

    I have this extremely nerdy fantasy of doing a date with my husband at our wonderful local independent bookstore (Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs, NY) and each wandering around alone, finding books the other person might like and then buying them and talking about them over dinner later. It’s so simple, but also deeply intimate and romantic—at least to a former publishing person married to an English teacher. Now that I’m writing this out, I’m thinking maybe this is what we can do a for a little Christmas present?

    • Caroline says...

      I love this idea!!!

    • ellen says...

      Love the original Northshire in Manchester Vt!! There are a number of great restaurants in the area for date romantic dining;)

    • Anne says...

      Do it! This is our Valentine’s Day tradition – we each pick out a book for the other person to read. There have been hits and misses over the years, but it’s always fun to see what my husband chooses for me. After all, who needs another big gift so soon after Christmas?

  64. This winter I’m really looking forward to an ice skating date with my husband! Three years ago when I moved to the states from Latin America (where there is no ice skating at all) to marry my now husband we would go ice skate… I’m not good but I was learning… The next two winters we couldn’t go as I was pregnant and then I had a newborn baby so going out on dates was more difficult and taking a newborn along wasn’t an option…. this year we’ll take a night (or two?) for both of us and go!

  65. Ashley says...

    These are great suggestions. Funny you mention The Mermaid Inn. Last spring, I was there by myself at the bar and started chatting with the guy next to me. We ended up going on a super romantic date that involved dinner at a Japanese restaurant and a late-night walk around the West Village :)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, what a new york story, ashley! love that.

  66. Kirsten says...

    The breakfast date! Since we had our baby we’re often exhausted by the evening. We’ve gone out to dinner a couple of times but we’re just so tired by then. So rather than force it now our favorite date is to get a coffee at our local coffee shop and go on a long walk around our neighborhood. It gives us time to chat and connect, we get outside, and we’re both awake! It’s awesome.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that sounds so nice! and congratulations on your little one :)

    • Elle says...

      I totally agree! We found a sweet neighborhood kiddo to watch our littles for a couple hours in the morning on some weekends. Hubby and I go get coffee, chit chat over breakfast, and generally enjoy the morning together. Bonus: the babysitter gets the best time of day for our boys and there are no routine things to do during the time (e.g., naptime, lunch, etc.), so walking out the door is a breeze. Everyone’s happy!

    • Emily L says...

      Love that idea! Even without kids I’m often too tired to go out at night! I get home from work and would rather stay on the couch…

    • Amy says...

      We like day dates for the same reason – a baby-sitter hangs out with our kids while they’re awake (instead of just sitting on the couch while they sleep), and we still get our quiet evening time to ourselves at home that night as a bonus!