Simple ideas for a fun date

By Mark Winter
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No matter where you live, there are simple activities you can afford to try with your new date.
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Entertaining dates for all seasons

There's this huge misconception flying around that a date between people who don't know each other very well has to be magical and perfect and unique for them to hit it off. Nothing could be further from the truth. The only universal rules to follow are that you both have fun and you both contribute to the conversation. Unless you live in Miami, Paris, London, New York City, Los Angeles, Rome or somewhere else with a variety of nightlife activities, you'll probably have to plan your evening in advance. Remember, staples like ordering in and renting a movie may sound dull to some people, but they're "tried and true" because they work. If your secondary goal of the night is to be entertained by outside sources, there are a limited number of mediums that can help you: music, film, theater, sports, museums, variety shows, zoos, aquariums, historical exhibits. If you aren't willing to actively contribute to the action, then you have to go to the action or bring it to you. Here are some simple ideas for a fun date to get you started if all seems lost. Spring, Summer and early Autumn activities Rollerblading There is nothing more exciting than whizzing by crotchety old neighbors walking their dogs and screaming downhill at 20 miles per hour holding the hand of a cute date. Be nice and offer to catch your partner if he or she isn't experienced. Even if you can't manage to keep someone from a spill every time, it'll take a lot of the fear out of a potential public fall on one's butt. Barbeque in the park Depending on where you live, your local park may be the prettiest (and most romantic) spot in town. Take advantage of the peace and solitude: show off your cooking skills; bring along the Frisbee; take a walk and stand amazed at how the little furry animals can survive without stress, email, cable, or 401k plans. Amusement park or boardwalk Usually this involves some quality time behind the wheel and a hefty parking fee, but the atmosphere is worth it if you deal well with lines and lots of people. Games, rides, contests, shops—the great thing about theme parks and their cousins, the local fairs and amusement parks, is that you can be talkative and competitive or laid-back and quiet and still manage to have a good time with the other person. The sights and sounds are overwhelming. This may be one of the simplest ideas for a fun date, if only for selfish reasons; most people want to have an excuse to be a kid again, even if it's just for one day. Miniature golf

Double dates at Putt-Putt were standard fare for high-school-age people on a tight budget the last time I checked. No one really knows WHY tapping surlyn balls down little artificial green corridors into plastic castles is fun; it just is. One of the greater mysteries of urban life is how we exploit the absurd and make bets on it. There is definite skill involved, to be sure, but the art is in how well you can drive a ball across a two-foot moat after downing enough booze to see three golf clubs. Fore!

Autumn/Spring activities Renaissance fairs Running along the same vein as amusement parks but with a medieval twist, faires are abundant during the late summer and the early fall. They're cheaper than a day at Six Flags, but you may end up spending more money on this fun date once you see all of the costumes, weapons and foods for sale inside the village grounds. The Sterling Renaissance Faire in NY, for example, has a wooden maze, a swinging Viking ship, hay sack fights, archery, the strong man hammer challenge and more. That's not including the numerous musicians, actors, tarot card readers, acrobats, jugglers, troupe performers, royalty and jousters you'll run into between boutiques or rides on the elephants. Corn mazes / DIY harvests Outside of major metropolitan areas, farmers like to use the seasonal harvest times as opportunities to invite customers onto their farms to pick fruits, gourds, pumpkins, etc. Some farms have games or races through the rows of corn or hay bales. Others even have high-tech electronic tracking systems and walkie-talkies because their corn mazes are so large. This is one of those afternoon ideas for a fun date, the alternative to an early dinner or a car trip to somewhere out of town. Bonus: it's inexpensive, and you take lots of spare, healthy food home. Except for the pies. Those you probably don't need. Mmm, raspberry pie... Winter weekends Football games For the sports fanatic, it doesn't get much better than season tickets to Penn State at the 50-yard line. For some reason, freezing your butt off standing outside at night in the snow is infinitely more appealing if you're watching football, or better yet, watching football with a date. Go figure. Hey, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Just make sure you bring an umbrella. And a sleeping bag. And that giant foam mitt collecting spiders in the garage all summer. Sledding Tobogan rides are a ridiculously cheap and easy way to waste an afternoon away goofing off, not to mention burning off some excess calories. Remember, you have to get all the way back up the hill if you want to slide down again.

I suppose you have to be lucky enough to live near big hills and public parks that allow sled racing and the like, but I've never had any problems finding unexplored while slopes and simply walking onto them without permission. As long as you don't slide down screaming at the top of your lungs at 2 a.m. or damage private property, no one should care. No, snowfall is not 'private property,' but that doesn't mean you have the right to trespass. The friendly neighbor with the two-acre woods behind his house will probably appreciate a heads-up before you start 'clearing' his foliage, but I doubt he'll mind that you're enjoying the weather and have found a clever excuse to 'fall' on top of your significant other. By the way, it's always a good idea to avoid crossing into the yard of that guy that owns Dobermans and defends his porch with a twelve-gauge shotgun. Not a good way to end a fun date. Ice skating So you aren't Michelle Kwan. Get over yourself and try this sport out. It's like rollerblading, with greater traction and fewer hills. Everyone falls their first few times. Some people fall every single time they get on the ice. The thrill of sliding without your feet ever touching the ground is incredible. Bend your knees and search out your center of gravity. Little movements when you're standing still are far more likely to send you up feet-first than big moves during skating. This is another terrific opportunity for high-contact, conversation-independent, innocent flirtation. What are you waiting for? Let's hope this guide has given you simple ideas for a fun date. Now you can improvise upon stock formula dates and improve on them to your own degree. Good luck!

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