It's hard for parents to snag a night out — always has been. Finding the time. Finding the sitter. Paying the sitter. Affording the date after you've paid the sitter. Coming up with fresh new ideas. That was all difficult. But now we've even thrown a pandemic into it! But don't worry: I've got you covered with some date night ideas for parents (and some date day ideas, too, for love knows no constraints of time). Whether you're looking for a regular, weekly outing or a special occasion like Valentine's Day, these ideas all take budget, time, and COVID into account. In other words: we're moving far beyond dinner and a movie. (Though, I'll level with you: I'll be the first in line for dinner and a movie once those things are safe to do again.)
You'd be surprised at the options we still have!
Outdoor Date Ideas
There's something restorative about being out in nature, and it can give your relationship a boost. There are lots of resources and apps to help you find the perfect hike for you.
Walk In The Park
Because, let's be honest: some of you don't really like hikes and that's OK. You can still take a nice walk.
Grab a book (or a birdwatching app) and head to a local wildlife conservancy. If you thrive on playful competition, make it a contest to see who can spot the most species. And even if you don't see any birds, you've spent a lovely day outside with your partner.
I'll admit I have a soft spot for this idea because it was my parents' first date and they decided to get married, like, a day later, so I'm convinced there's something magical about canoe dates! Rentals are available in many areas.
Go To Water In General
Beaches, lakes, and rivers are naturally relaxing, especially when you're used to going to these places with kids and now, all of a sudden, you don't have to worry about watching anyone.
If you have a backyard, great! If not, see if there are any community gardens with space or looking for volunteers. Gives a whole new meaning to getting down and dirty with your partner.
Either you both know how to ice skate and you can glide together on a nearby pond or rink or one or both of you are as precariously balanced as newborn fawns and you'll have to cling to each other the whole time. Either way it sounds fun.
See ice skating! (Though, admittedly, this is a more expensive day than the other suggestions.)
If you already have camping equipment (a tent and some sleeping bags is all you really need), campsites are generally pretty inexpensive. Sure, you don't have the same amenities as you would in a luxury hotel (or, like, at home), but it's a night away from the kids and I'm sure you'll find a way to pass the time in those close quarters with no Wi-Fi.
Date Night Out On The (Socially Distanced) Town
It's the perfect socially distanced night out. Entertainment, privacy, and time away from the kids. (If there are no drive-ins near you, this is something you could potentially do yourself in your backyard.)
My husband and I did this for our wedding anniversary this past year because it was a good socially distanced activity, but we vowed we'd be doing it again even after COVID wasn't a concern. Trail rides are relaxing and novel and, even if you've never ridden before, the horses know what to do.
Vineyard or Brewery
Because so many of these locations rely on outdoor space under normal conditions, many of them have been able to remain open in spite of COVID, providing a nice day or evening out for parents who just want to throw a few back and not deal with loud, crowded bars (or loud crowded, child-filled houses).
We may not be ready for indoor live music just yet, but many outdoor venues have space enough to more than adequately provide social distance to enjoy the show.
YouTube Date Night
Paint-Along classes have become popular date night destinations. But with the magic of the interwebz, this is something you and your partner can do at home! Various YouTube channels are dedicated to just this. Just make sure you get your materials ahead of time and that your kids are well and truly asleep, because god knows the last thing you need is a toddler demanding they be allowed to use oil paints...
Online yoga has been clutch during the pandemic. Why not try stretching and breathing along with your partner. It's an out-of-the-norm activity and, at the very least, you're getting a nice little exercise in!
Couples Massage (With An At-Home Twist)
This one is for sure a winner in my book. Look up different massage technique videos and try them out on your partner. (Probably want to make sure the kids are asleep for this one, too, because we know how one thing can lead to another with massages.)
Game Date Nights
Because when is the last time you sat down with a board game? Dust off an old classic ( I like Jenga) or try one you haven't done before.
Zoom Trivia with Friends
I thought this would be awful (who wants one more Zoom meeting at the end of a day, honestly) but after I did this as part of a group date night, I'm sold. It's a fun way to chill with other couples that breaks up the day to day routine.
Look, I'll level with you: this sounds like my nightmare, but I recognize that there are people with more athletic ability and better timing and depth perception than I have who would probably like this. And since it's usually outdoors and separated from others (you have your own cage!) it's COVID-safe and budget friendly.
Golf (Traditionally, Mini, or Range)
Golf is naturally socially distanced. Play a few holes, head to mini golf, or just wail on some balls at a driving range.
Subjective Guess Who
This Tik-Tok trend has been a favorite date night game for my husband and me: make value judgments on the various characters and see if you and your partner are on the same wavelength. I even bought Guess Who to do this and, I have to tell you, it's probably the best $9 I've spent in months.
Solve A Mystery
Games don't have to be competitive: you can go with a cooperative mystery game. Think of it as varsity level Clue (though, honestly, Clue is a good one, too). My personal favorite is Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective but there are many to choose from!
A Quiet Date Night In
It's so simple but so, so lovely. Sometimes all it takes a quick tweak of location to make everything feel fresh and fun.
Before I bought Guess Who, my fire pit is the best purchase I'd made in months. It comes in a bit pricier, but when I think of all the future date nights (and, when we can see people again, parties) that will be held out there, it's so worth it.
All About Us Session
The guided journal All About Us has been out for more than 20 years, but it remains relevant for couples today. With questions about romance, sex, and life goals, it's a great way to prompt discussions with your partner. (And it's long, so it's probably good for a few evenings of entertainment.)
Teach Each Other A New Skill
Do you know how to cross-stitch? Does your partner know how to build things? Have they asked you to teach them how to knit? Why not dedicate time to teaching one another something fun?
I see one of two options here: you can either learn how to make some craft cocktails together (your library almost certainly has a few books on the subject and, failing that, there's the internet) or you can grab "flights" of wine or beer and make your own tasting.
Go Through Old Albums
Recall forgotten memories, tell favorite stories, and cry together as you realize how big your kids have gotten.
This is a date night that involves your children, if they're old enough, which means it's not a "real" date night, but it's still cute. Have them play server/chef and let them create a magical evening for you at home. It'll probably be a microwaved pizza, but it's a nice way to show them that time together as a couple important. (Just, like, have the fire extinguisher ready, just in case.)