A big thanks to all those who participated in the Proflowers Valentine’s Day Giveaway.  Reading through your date ideas and experiences was downright touching; I am thoroughly impressed with the creativity, devotion, and selflessness of AoM’s readers. Anyone who thinks romance is dead and that gentlemen are extinct should take the time to read through all the comments. Your cynicism will evaporate.
From all the entries, we randomly chose 5 winners. Each winner will receive a $70 gift certificate redeemable on flowers and gifts available from Proflowers.com . The winners are:
- Brian Winters Tuscaloosa, AL
- Jason Summers Sicklerville, NJ
- Larry Little Arkansas
- Alex Haden Pine Mountain, GA
- Joshua Smith Barrington, IL
Congratulations gents! Your significant other will be surely be happy come V-Day.
To those of you who weren’t selected, fear not: you won’t go away completely empty handed. Proflowers.com  has generously offered a discount to all readers. Use this link to purchase your flowers and you’ll receive 20% off your order plus a free vase. Be sure to place your order ASAP to ensure delivery on Valentine’s Day.
Of course flowers are great, but you also need to present them in a romantic setting. If you’re still in need of a creative date idea, be sure to check out the giveaway post for hundreds of ideas, from the mushily romantic to the humorous and decidedly odd. If you don’t feel like sorting through all of the entries, below we’ve selected 15 of our favorites. They’re guaranteed to make your gal fall in love with you for the first time, or all over again.
15 Creative and Romantic Date Ideas
A Night in Paris (or Rome…) Without Leaving Home
You decorate your apartment like a restaurant in a foreign country. Make it cheesy as possible while keeping it looking nice. Decorating is easy, use construction paper and cheap things you find at Michaels or something. Cheap and quick. Then you have a friend dress up like a waiter and speak in the accent of that country. Cook the themed food yourself and then have you friend “wait” on you two. He can buzz off after the food is served. It shows off your cooking skills, your romantic side, your sense of humor and your creativity.
Fun at the Holiday Inn
From Bob P.
My wife and I have been dating since college (we are now both 40). Back then, in order to get away from dorm life we would rent a room at an inexpensive hotel, bring a cooler full of drinks, snacks you can eat in bed and candles. We would get out of bed once to go out to dinner. 20 years later a good date night for us is to recreate this in the comfort of our own bedroom. We send the kids to the grandparents and stay in bed all day/night. We spend more time sleeping and reading than we did 20 years ago … but still a good date nonetheless.
X Marks the Spot
After being in a relationship for eight years and taking two years to recover I started dating again a year ago this week. Using online services, I have gone on A LOT of first dates this year. No matter who it is or what their back ground, I have found that taking a girl geocaching is the best first date by far. Geocaching is a treasure hunt involving a handheld gps, where people publish the coordinates of their cache (treasure) online and you seek it out. Girls love the idea of searching for hidden treasure. It creates a lot of interaction and many times it is a completely new and unique experience for them. It is easy to do so you can hand over the gps to them and let them go and there is some amount of oxytocin (key to female attraction and desire) that is produced when they find the first cache, a perfect time for a first kiss.
Helping Hands, Holding Hands
Volunteering together at a rescue mission or home for the elderly.
Love in the Great Outdoors
Simple date idea:
Make foil dinners and take drinks and s’mores to your favorite hiking/camping place.
Keep your drinks cold in the lake/creek-bonus if you bring a watermelon and cool it off the same way for a snack).
Spend the evening skipping rocks, and exploring before you build a nice fire and cook your meals in the coals. Spend some time by the fire making s’mores and then find some place nice to watch the stars.
Simple and romantic. Very relaxing. I’m from Oregon and this is fun do to in small groups or with just me and my date. There are variations depending on your local geography etc. (Spend the time at the beach, in the mountains, watching a distant thunderstorm etc.).
Key point here: making fire to win the affection of a beautiful girl is in our DNA! Bonus if you collect your own wood (bring a hatchet and make sure its legal) and light the fire with flint and steel without any propellant! If you use friction, even better!
Love is Like a Fine Wine
Wine tasting at a winery set on a river-gorge or overlooking some scenic landscape. Buy a couple of glasses, or a bottle, and have a picnic lunch with some nice quality meats, like presciutto or a quality salami, some nice cheese, fresh fruit, and an appropriate chocolate to accompany the wine (the deeper and redder the wine, the darker and more bitter the chocolate). My wife and I have done something similar to this on the Columbia River in central Washington state at Cave B. Sit around, talk about the beauty of the landscape, life, dreams, philosophy, family, or nothing at all and just take in the beauty.
Go Fly a Kite
Flying a kite! Sounds little kiddish, but hey, we got to let the little kid inside of us out sometime, and why not do it with the one we love.
Where the Wild Things Are
These were my best dates:
1: My girlfriend and I went to the zoo in the winter time. Since it was cold, we were the only ones there, and a lot of the animals (such as the polar bears and the tigers) were actually more active than they would have been in the warmer months. It was great to bundle up and spend the whole day there. Along these lines, one of my brothers once took his wife to Disney world in the off-season, and they were just about the only ones there; they didn’t have to wait for a single ride. There’s something nice about having a huge place like that to yourselves.
2: My girlfriend and I recently went to a playground after mass. It was surprisingly fun to enjoy the swings again for the first time since elementary school. She seemed to have a great time too, and keeps saying “we should do that again sometime”.
Working with Your Hands
The best dates have to be planned, but flexible; adventuresome, but enjoyable; creative, but grounded.
Other posts have mentioned picnics, and that’s a great foundation. But the picnic has to be somewhere unique. A skyscraper rooftop is preferable, but a greenhouse, library, or art museum are fantastic options if you have the connections to make it happen.
After the picnic it’s time to pull in something stimulating. I’d shoot for a local factory or artisan shop to take a tour of. I spent one of the most enjoyable afternoons with my wife at a bell-making foundry near Phoenix. Google “Paolo Soleri” if you’re in Phoenix and want to check it out. A chocolate factory, vineyard, cheese maker, or carpenter would do just as well though, it takes a little research and luck to find the right experience. The stained glass exhibit on Navy Pier in Chicago is another great opportunity. It allows for conversation, but also gives the opportunity to pause and reflect on the experience so you don’t feel pressured to have something to say all the time. If you’re super on-the-ball you’ll have an original way to get from the picnic to the next experience. Horse drawn carriage, limousine, helicopter, tandem bike or segways all are memorable.
After that there’s nothing left but a shared dessert. Any restaurant or grocery store can provide an opportunity for fun. This is a great place to get flexible, you can give her 3 sealed envelopes and ask her to choose one. Each envelope has a different dessert destination in store. Or, for best results I’d pull out a recipe card and take her to the store to buy the ingredients together then head home to make it together.
That would be a date worth blogging about.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Best date would be what my girlfriend and I did on our first date.
First I took her to a quiet spot in the woods next to a lake (but not too secluded, so she could feel comfortable), I put down a blanket and we had a picnic (the gourmet sodas scored extra points with her). After that I took her mini-golfing. We then went to my house where we built a fire in my front yard and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. And to cap it off we went inside, turned on some light swing and danced into the wee hours of the morning.
Watching the World Wake Up
I met this girl and invited her to go on a date, we had some trouble picking the time (we both worked odd hours), so I finally said, “what are you doing tomorrow morning-early?” She said, “I dunno, sleeping.” and I said, “I’ll pick you up at 5, bring a pair of hiking shoes, and a bottle of water.” That morning I picked her up, and we drove up into the mountains. I gave her one of my headlamps, grabbed my bag and we hiked a couple miles in darkness up to this amazing lookout over the city and mountains all around us. We got to the top just as the sun was peeking over the horizon. As the mountains changed colors all around us and the city lights began to turn on. I pulled out my backpacking stove and made bacon and eggs and orange juice and we ate breakfast and watched the city wake up.
The Forecast: Meteor Showers with a Chance of Love
During the summer months look online for days there are going to be meteor showers. Then late at night go pick up your date and bring her somewhere where there is little to no light pollution; a beach or park is usually a good place. Make sure to take a look at the weather because you want it to be a clear night. Try and get there before the shower is supposed to star. Bring along a blanket and lay out underneath the stars. It is important to know what area of the sky the shower will be in. Get a book from your local library and learn some of the constellations so while you’re waiting for the shower to start you can point them out to impress your date.
Love’s in Season
From John Paja
During the summer, when fruit is ripe and ready for picking. Take her to a fruit orchard. Bring a blanket and a basket. Go pick some peaches or apples or oranges. Then, lay your blanket somewhere nice and shady and enjoy the fruit of your labor. Have a picnic and enjoy each other’s company.
Dance the Night Away
My girlfriend and I are both in college, so my idea had to be relatively cheap.
I surprised my girlfriend out of the blue with an evening of salsa dance lessons (at a local dance studio that offers 1/2 off pricing!), then a dinner at a dimly lit restaurant, and then a quick drive up into the mountains where my favorite stargazing spot is located. We jumped up on top of my car and slipped into a sleeping bag together and watched the stars.
I think it was romantic and classy.
Quite a Catch
My best date idea: For the right woman, a quiet evening ice fishing. Bring plenty of snacks and hot cocoa, make sure the fish shack is warm, and bring along soft music that she likes. Make sure you give HER more attention than the fish, no matter how well they’re biting! When you get home, she may want you to help her get warmed up.
And finally some general dating tips:
For the single Art of Manliness readers out there, like myself:
I’ve been on more blind dates and first dates throughout my dating “career” then I’d care to count, but I’d like to think I’ve learned a thing or two along the way about how to make these successful. And naturally, being an avid AofM reader, it’s important to approach the process in a gentlemanly way.
First off, don’t wait until to the last minute to ask her out. Even if she probably will be grooming her cat and watching a movie alone on Friday night, you can’t call on Thursday night assuming that. Flatter her by asking several days in advance.
And for goodness sake give her enough information so that she can prepare adequately for the date. Should she plan on eating beforehand, or plan on coming hungry? Will she be outside and need something warm to wear? If you’ll be walking during the date, then the 4 inch stilletos are probably a bad idea…
And lastly, especially for a blind date, practice the art of the “mini-date.” Nothing worse than planning a whole Friday night out, only to realize that there’s obviously no connection within the first 10 minutes. Saturday morning breakfast is my personal favorite. No connection? 45 minutes and you’re out of there (w/o the awkwardness of dropping her off at 9pm on a Friday night…) Soulmates? Then talk for hours and ask her out for a real date on a coming night.
I like to stick to some simple rules:
1. Set the right conditions – make sure you get a babysitter for plenty of time if needed, plan so you are not rushed to get somewhere, try to ensure that no tension or stress arises during the time you have set aside for the date.
2. Put your cell phone on silent and check it when you excuse yourself to the restroom. Nothing says she’s not important like catching up with your buds while you are supposed to be wooing your lady.
3. Movies are fun and can be great, but I prefer activities where you are engaging each other. Take a class together, go somewhere scenic and talk (more importantly, listen) but whatever you do show your loved one that you are invested in her and your collective lives.
4. A caveat to number 3, it doesn’t always have to be a crazy complicated event. Mastery of the simple is far more impressive than bumbling through an attempt to be overly romantic.
5. Be a servant – “the greatest among you will be the greatest servant”. Show this in your date and follow up in small ways daily and it will have a huge payoff. You will be reciprocated.