Redbook Mag - Summer, Outdoor Date Ideas

15 Dates Worth Abandoning the AC For

Searching for outdoor ideas that are more exciting than visiting the same old rooftop bar that everyone else goes to? Look no further!

By Jane Bianchi

Bike in the big city: Head to NYC to try out the city's newly launched bike-sharing program, CitiBike. Sign up for a one-day pass ($9.95 plus tax) or a seven-day pass ($25 plus tax) that allows you to unlock a bike from any of the 600 locations, ride it for 30 minutes, and then return it to any station. "Rousing physical activity may boost adrenaline, a hormone that is associated with attraction," says Bela Gandhi, president of Smart Dating Academy, a consulting firm that provides dating advice.

Take a thrill ride: Feeling a little scared can make your heart pound, and amp up the romance when you instinctually squeeze your partner's hand, or fling yourself into his arms, says Elana Averbach, a Cleveland-based dating coach at KickStartLove. That's more than enough to prompt a trip to Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. There, you'll find the brand new Gatekeeper "wing" roller coaster; riders lie on their stomachs to the left and right of the track. It's the longest (4,164 feet) and has the longest drop (164 feet) of any wing coaster in the world.

Let's hear it for puppy love: If you're crazy for canines, especially your own, sign up for a dog yoga class with your hubby and the pooches at the W Hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona, suggests Phoenix-based matchmaker Joann Cohen. During the session, which is held outdoors on the first Tuesday evening of each month, your dogs do the moves; you're there to massage them and help stretch them into various positions that will increase their flexibility and relax them. Afterward, you and your man will think of downward facing dog in a whole new way.

Cook things up, locavore style: "Invite two or three other couples to go to a local farmer's market with you and your partner, and decide on six ingredients that each couple needs to buy," says Gandhi. "Then have an outdoor cook-off; challenge each couple to make something delicious out of those six ingredients on a backyard grill, and let your taste buds judge who wins." If you live near either, both the Minneapolis Farmer's Market and Seattle's Pike Place Market have a huge selection of seasonal produce.

Take flight: Will falling from the sky help you fall more deeply in love? If you've got the guts to find out, Cohen believes it's worth a shot. At Skydive Sebastian near Port St. Lucie, you'll drop in tandem over the east coast of Florida with a scenic view of the Atlantic Ocean.

Take in great art in the great outdoors: Cultured couples will enjoy strolling through Grant Park's Butler Field in Chicago on June 29th and 30th for the 56th annual Gold Coast Art Fair, which features over 350 artists from across the globe, and prices ranging from an affordable $25 to a jaw-dropping $25,000. You can also watch artist demonstrations, eat a gyro, rock out to live music and participate in a crafty project, like making spin art or graffiti art.

Do something spooky: Here's one unusual activity that Cohen recommends trying; Austin, TX is a great spot for it. At dusk any evening between March and early November, watch 1.5 million Mexican, free-tailed bats fly from under the Congress Avenue Bridge downtown. For the best view, grab a blanket and picnic at the Austin American-Statesman's Bat Observation Center. That's a heck of a lot more interesting than your standard dinner and a movie, eh?

Take stargazing to new heights: Sure, you've checked out the constellations from a blanket in the backyard, but this search for the Big Dipper is a whole other story. Travel to New Mexico's Sacramento Mountains with high-tech binoculars. The weather there is rarely foggy, you're far away from bright city lights, and you're at a high altitude, all of which add up to ideal viewing.

Hop in a hot air balloon: For a dreamlike date and unforgettable views, float high in the sky in a beautiful hot air balloon. "Gently glide over Sedona, AZ and admire the amazing red rocks and wildlife from above," says New York City dating expert Tracey Steinberg. At Red Rock Balloon Adventures, one to one-and-a-half hour sunrise rides are $195 per passenger.

Not your ordinary putt-n-putt: A little competition is a lot health, so take bets on who can hit a golf ball the farthest while enjoying the fresh air, says Cohen. Dallas' Top Golf raises the game to a new level; it embeds each golf ball with a microchip that allows you to track your shots and win prizes for hitting targets from various distances.

Ride the rapids: Get wet and wild by tubing down a winding river. Smoky Mountain River Rat in Townsend, Tennessee offers two styles of tubing and kayaking: The "lower" section of the river has relaxing rapids, while the "upper" section has more serious waves if you're up for a rocky ride. Plus, you get postcard-worthy views. Flirt with your man by surprising him with a splash now and then.

Travel back to your childhood: Eating corn dogs and cotton candy, riding go-carts, and cuddling with animals in a petting zoo are just a few things that many state fairs and town carnivals offer, and enjoying these activities with your guy will make you both feel like carefree kids again, says Averbach. It's hard to top the annual Iowa State Fair (August 8th to August 18th) where this summer's attractions include a Toby Keith concert, a demolition derby, and the world-famous cow made out of — what else? — butter.

Earn a picturesque sunset: Fill your day with hiking, windsurfing or kite-boarding in the San Francisco Bay area's Golden Gate National Recreation Area. One of the biggest urban parks on the planet, it stretches along the coastline for almost 60 miles. When you're exhausted from all that activity, relish an evening sunset over the Pacific. "Have a picnic dinner on a blanket while you watch to make it extra romantic," says Gandhi.

Swing from the trapeze: If you have ever dreamed of joining the circus, now's your chance to make that fantasy come true. Take an outdoor trapeze class with your cutie at Trapeze School New York in Manhattan, LA, Boston, D.C. or Chicago. And don't worry about your skill-level; beginners are welcome. "It's truly a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants experience that can lead to some serious sparks later," says Gandhi.

Climb into the saddle: Explore the wilderness and get to know each other better while riding a pair of horses, suggests Steinberg. Never been in the saddle before? The Vermont Icelandic Horse Farm in Waitsfield has small horses that aren't intimidating to beginners. And you're surrounded by a lush, green countryside filled with dirt trails, forests, and meadows. Afterward, sneak into the woods for a quick kiss, etc.

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