Come winter, you can catch me at my coziest, comfiest, and cold-weather best. I fly through knitting projects, read all the books, and make the most warming soups for every meal. But while I love dedicating all the weekends and weekday nights to personal growth and deepening the relationship I have with myself, it doesn’t leave a lot of time for dating. In an effort to put myself out there more this year and start 2022 as my boldest, most unapologetically-aligned self—in other words, I’m committed to changing things up. I’m pulling myself away from my favorite spot (the couch) and seeking out connection, spontaneity, and that ever-elusive spark. Whether you’re single like me or in a long-term relationship, I’ve rounded up the best winter date ideas for everyone whose love life could use a little shaking up this season.

In need of an idea for an upcoming first-time-meeting-IRL date? Or maybe you’ve been with your partner for years, and you’d rather fall asleep at 8 p.m. than go out again for dinner and drinks. Wherever you find yourself across the spectrum of relationship status, it’s easy to fall back on our tried-and-true options. Especially in winter, when the weather and shorter days seem to narrow our options, it can be hard to think of something fun and exciting to do together.

Here’s the truth: Frankly, sometimes I just don’t have the energy for all that goes into dating. Dating as we’ve traditionally known it can feel like a chore. There’s so much production that goes into the back-and-forth exchange of messages and the countless changing of clothes in search of the perfect outfit (okay, I actually like that part). Well, I’m here to tell you (and convince myself) that dating can and should be fun. A little planning and time spent brainstorming are well worth the effort.

Dates offer you the opportunity to open up and share yourself with another person. And when you try something a little out of the ordinary, you can grow closer by connecting over the shared experience.

So let’s get to the fun already! Here are 19 winter date ideas that offer something for everyone. Get active, get creative, and get ready for sparks to fly.

image by wynn myers

Read on for all the winter date ideas your season needs.

image by kate lesueur

Something Creative

Cook a new meal. If you’ve been a couple for a while or are living together, you might have a few go-to recipes you make on repeat. Shake and spice things up (literally) by cracking open a new cookbook or searching the internet for a dish you’ve always wanted to try. And no worries if the meal doesn’t turn out—it’s the act of making it together that’s the best part. 

Tackle a project. Have a big house task you’ve been meaning to cross off? Take it on together! While it might not seem like the most romantic night in, you’ll both gain a sense of accomplishment from seeing a project through. Bonus points if you end the evening with pizza and wine—because you both deserve to be rewarded for all your hard work.

Pretend the power’s out. You don’t have to wait for a winter storm to make this date happen. Turn back the clock about a hundred years and kill the lights. Pile on your coziest blankets, light a few candles, and order in ahead of time. It’s the perfect intimate setting for an evening of intentional conversation.

Make breakfast for dinner. While scallops or pasta are definitely a romantic dish I’d never pass up, there’s something inherently comforting about mixing up waffle batter or flipping pancakes next to each other at the stovetop. Make it even more special by adding mimosas or bloody marys to your menu.

image by kristen kilpatrick

Something Cozy

Build a fort. Remember the scene in The Holiday when Cameron Diaz crawls into Jude Law’s daughters’ fort? I definitely do, and from the first time I saw that movie, I made a pact to myself that I’d be making a fort with someone special in the future. Grab blankets, pillows, and whatever other fort-building supplies you have around and transform your living room into your own secret hideaway.

Cuddle up in front of the fire. Is there anything better than zoning out and cuddling up in front of the fireplace? There’s a reason Netflix has three-hour-long specials dedicated to exactly that.

Marathon your favorite feel-good movies. If you’re like me, this means a roundup of all the best Nora Ephron and Nancy Meyers movies, but your partner may have different tastes. Choose a movie each and watch, laugh, or cry away. Oh, and don’t forget the snacks.

image by riley reed

Something Inspiring 

Give back. You know that volunteering feels good to do on your own or even with a group of friends, but it can be a particularly powerful point of connection for you and your date. The “helper’s high” is a real phenomenon, and giving back is a great way to establish closeness and get in a good mood together.

Visit a museum. Or a gallery, an exhibit—anything that gets you out of the house and immersed in a new medium, art movement, or topic. Looking at art or diving into a new subject can inspire thoughtful conversation and help you each learn more about how the other person thinks and views the world.

Plan a trip. Is there anything better than dreaming big together? While winter might not be the best time for going the distance, planning for the future and mapping out a getaway can build excitement and anticipation for the months ahead. Pick somewhere you’ve always wanted to explore, look up hotels, make a Pinterest inspo board, and even check out flights. Sometimes, the best part of a trip can be the planning itself.

Learn a new skill. There is such a thing as intentional screen time. Pick a project or hobby you’ve both wanted to try or agree on a skill you’d each like to master. Sites like Skillshare, edX, Coursera and even Harvard University offer a wide range of online courses. There’s nothing like connecting over a shared love of learning.

Listen to a lecture. One of the benefits of life moving more and more online is that cultural centers, bookstores, and even universities are offering eye-opening virtual talks and readings. New York City’s 92Y has a ton of online events to choose from and you can check out sites like Open Culture and Edukatico for even more options. If you’re worried about having something to talk about, this should do the trick.

image by Michelle Nash

Something Outdoors 

Play in the snow. Whether that’s sledding, snowshoeing, skiing, or building a snowman, simply getting outside and enjoying the white fluffy stuff will fill you both with child-like joy. 

Go to the beach. I’m not joking. While some people may think the beach is only for the months between May and September, there’s something about walking along the water all bundled up that’s meditative, healing, and of course, romantic. If it isn’t too cold, be sure to bring along a picnic and a thermos of hot cocoa.

Take a hike. Like going on a walk, but on a whole new level. Research local trails in your area or plan a bigger trip out in nature. You’ll get a good workout, have plenty of time to talk, and get to take in some seriously stunning scenery all along the way.

Explore a little green space. Spend some time in a garden, park, or any public space in your city or town with sights to see. You can book tickets at a botanical garden or search for in-season blooms that are at their most vibrant in the winter. Some might even be open in the evening, making for the perfect mood lighting.

image by riley reed

Something Active

Try rock climbing. Reach new heights as a couple and book some time at your local climbing gym. Not only is rock climbing a great workout, but it’s also mentally challenging, making for a truly unique first, third, or who-knows-what-number-we’re-on date.

Work out together. I’m serious. As we all know, exercise comes with plenty of benefits beyond the physical gains a good workout can give you. Endorphins are definitely real and getting warmed up together can be a good precursor to, well, you know…

Take a dance lesson. Who doesn’t love a good dance party? While you’re welcome to book a class at a studio, you can also set up an at-home sesh courtesy of YouTube. Slide the couch to the side and clear out some space to get your groove on.

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