BY CINDY JONES
Whether you’ve only been dating a few months, you still have that honeymoon glow, or you’re like me and you’ve been married so long that offering your spouse a multivitamin is considered flirting, it’s important to spend some one-on-one time connecting as a couple. So I crowd-sourced with the magazine staff, some friends, even some random people on the internet. I present to you, 20 ways to take back date night!
Thrifty Theme Date
Sit down with your partner and Google up a few thrift shops, preferably a town or two away so neither of you are too familiar with the store’s layout. This is a date that can take on so many themes from silly, to creative, to romantic, and back again. You can pick out absurd outfits for one another and then wear them to get food. Another option is to find a vintage piece of furniture or a lamp to restore together for your home. My favorite spin on this idea is to set a dollar limit, split up, and pick out an item that reminds you of your partner, then go somewhere cozy for a bite to eat and reveal your gifts.
Walk, Talk & Explore
I love finding little historic districts in my city, parking at a church or a park and embarking on a slow stroll so I can really absorb all the unique features of the houses and the neighborhood itself. My husband and I have turned this concept into a date many times, and It’s amazing how a quiet walk through an unfamiliar subdivision or a trail you’ve never explored can really spark conversation. Bonus if there’s a little café or coffee shop or even a gas station where you can stop for a warm drink and some baked goods to top off your walk.
A Night at the Opera
My friends Bill and Diana Cobabe had their first date at the opera, and though I’ve never attended one myself, it sounds like magic! Bill explains that even people who might not choose to see an opera can enjoy the overall experience, from being surrounded by lavishly dressed people in a stunning setting, to the music and the pageantry. Theaters will often provide subtitles with operas so everyone can understand the plot. It’s a chance to dress to the nines with your partner and that’s always a way to spark romance and feel a little indulged. “Treat yourself to a nice dinner before you go and the whole evening is magical and memorable,” Bill says. He recommends Capitol Theater in Salt Lake City and Ellen Eccles Theater in Logan, which feature several operas throughout the year.
Couples Game Night
This suggestion comes from Connection founders Ryan and Melissa Spelts, and I love it! Invite one or two other couples over, grab some snacks, bring out a few games that require partnering up and host a couple’s game night. This not only creates a fun environment where you can share solidarity and laughs with other couples, it gives you a chance to strengthen your united front. Trust me, you’re only going to get through parenting your teenagers if you’re on the same page.
Sample, Shop and Sizzle
My longtime friends Dan and Heather Deuel love to visit Ocean Mart on Friday and Saturday nights when the store gives out free samples. They stroll through trying out new foods and then pick some things out to take home to cook. You can enjoy this date at any local food market that’s outside your usual norms. You can even extend the evening into preparing the meal together. Make sure to light a few candles and put on your favorite playlist, I recommend a nice 1940’s Jazz. Leave the dishes for morning.
For busy couples with kids, what you really need is a quick and easy go-to date that won’t require a lot of effort or time. In that specifically crazy stage of couplehood, a small effort makes a big difference. Our writer Sabrina Lee and her husband sneak out late at night to order takeout and eat it in their car. They have a teenager who watches the younger kids, but you can hire a neighboring teen to come and sit in your house for an hour after bedtime. “Just eating, talking, and laughing. Best 45-minute date ever!” Our calendar organizer Amanda Koldewyn and her husband have a similar routine. Once the kids are asleep, they splurge on takeout sushi or burgers, and since they rarely have the time otherwise, indulge in a good Netflix binge or a Redbox movie. Sometimes, simple is sublime.
Sunset or Stargazing Picnic
My absolute favorite date night spin started out of necessity during the pandemic. My husband and I would get in our Jeep, grab some takeout, and find a grassy hill or an abandoned park to enjoy a sunset picnic. Last summer we put a new spin on this concept, instead of sunset we went stargazing. We packed some treats and a thermos of hot chocolate and drove up to North Fork Park to watch a meteor shower. It ended up clouding over and we didn’t see any meteors, but just sitting in the back of the Jeep, hatch open, enjoying our snacks and talking amidst the sounds of the night was relaxing and magical.
My friends Katie and Marc Nelson have become legendary for their sampling parties and this idea lends well to a date night! They purchase a variety of brands or types of any one food or drink: apples, soda, peanut butter, cheese, chocolate, etc.. and spend an evening tasting all the varieties and rating their favorites. You could even go one step further with this and post your results on social media or even start a blog about it. That way you have a lasting record—and a tangible memory of your sampling adventures.
Revisit Your Firsts
Some of my favorite date ideas are all about sweet nostalgia! If you’re in a long-term relationship, these kinds of dates definitely have potential to ignite a spark. Taking photos at the exact spot where you met, revisiting your wedding venue, or making milkshakes to commemorate the ice-cream shop where your romance blossomed are all great ways to bring back the love. My husband and I once took a picnic to the Weber State University duck pond, the place where we first started talking about our future, and I can’t express how much the small memories make you realize the value in your relationship. Don’t forget to play all the songs that were the soundtrack of your budding romance!
Destination Date Nights
Ogden’s First Friday Art Stroll – Downtown Ogden
Experience an eclectic variety of art, music and food throughout Ogden at this open gallery night.
South Davis Recreation Center – Bountiful
Swimming, an all-year indoor ice rink, and an outdoor ice ribbon in the winter.
SeaQuest Aquarium – Layton Hills Mall
See a variety of aquatic life and interact with lizards, parakeets, and sting rays.
Smith & Edwards – Willard
This place literally has everything! Army surplus, toys, art supplies, every kitchen gadget you can imagine, and a ton of fun western wear.
Ogden Botanical Garden – Ogden River Parkway
Go for a stroll, a bike ride, roller blading, or scoot along the parkway, or just sit by the river and talk.
The Rush Funplex – Syracuse
Laser tag, arcade games, mini golf, billiards, bowling and more.
Art Box – Downtown Ogden
Create a unique candle with your date. Choose from a huge variety of scents and colors, charms, and accessories.
Crystal Hot Springs – Honeyville
Relax and unwind in the soothing, spring-fed mineral pools.
North Fork Park – Liberty
Waterfalls in the spring, mountain bike trails in the summer, stunning autumn colors, and snowshoeing in the winter.
Wiseguys Ogden – Historic 25th Street
So many great comedians for couples of every taste.
J & J’s Nursery – Layton
Grab a warm drink and stroll through this lush, green paradise: plants, décor and more.