Who said dates have to be on Friday night with an expensive babysitter at home? We started doing weekday dates a few years ago, and they are some of our favorite ways to spend a “vacation day” from work. Here are 6 outdoor date ideas we’ve done that you might also love! (And right now, outdoor dates are where it’s at!)
Back when we lived in Chicago, M and I had two young babies and no family in the area. We lived in downtown where babysitters were short on supply and very expensive. We decided the best time to “go on dates” was during the day when the boys were at daycare, and so began our tradition of “weekday dates”.
We are both fortunate enough to have paid time off of work. The boys were already in daycare. And we didn’t have to wait forever and day to get a reservation at a restaurant or pay a fortune for tickets to a fancy event.
On the contrary, we have always preferred dates that are low key and involve some type of exploring or exercise. A lot of our dates are outside on nature trails, park sport-courts, and city sidewalks.
We have continued our weekday dates for many years. A few times each year, M and I take a day off from work while the boys are in school to hang out. We block off our work calendars, turn off our computers, and just enjoy spending time together.
These dates end up being a great time slow down, connect, and simply enjoy each other’s company. We don’t want to jam pack the day with a full agenda, but we make a concerted effort to have some definitive plans in place so as not to sit around and waste away a perfectly good child-free day.
We talk while we walk. We knock off a few of the lingering things on our to-do lists… together and without kids in tow! And we feel refreshed after a day away from the grind.
6 Outdoor Weekday Date Ideas
We regularly recommend weekday dates to our friends if they can make time, and I encourage you to try it if your schedule permits. Here are a handful of ideas to spend time with your spouse or significant other outside to enjoy nature and explore your local community while the kids are in childcare or school.
Hike a Local National or State Park
National and state parks are amazing. For all the important tax dollars spent to take care of them, I haven’t historically used them as much as I should. We are trying to change that.
Over the last year, we’ve visited a Bryce and Zion National Parks and then spent a week in Banff National Park for vacation, but we’ve also spent a weekday day here and there hiking at a National Historic Site Park and State Parks not far from our house. We’re lucky to have these gorgeous parks at our disposal, and we should definitely take advantage of them.
Take a Walk Through Your Neighborhood
A walk through your own neighborhood may seem simple, but simplicity is part of the beauty of an easy walk along the streets near your house. We find that going for a walk, even if it’s ten or fifteen minutes, separates us from our work, computers, and chores. We have great conversations in which we are fully engaged, as opposed to chatting over laundry or laptop screens.
Try A Trail Run
It only took me one trail run to figure out that these are much harder than running on paths or roads. That being said, it doesn’t take long to work up a sweat and sneak in a great workout with your partner by taking a jog through the woods (or whatever type of trails you have around your area). If running really isn’t your thing, a walk through trails is equally fulfilling.
Play Pickleball Or Tennis At A Local Park
I grew up playing tennis and played competitively until my older son was born. Since then, I set aside my racquets except for an occasional outing with family. Pickleball is a mix of ping pong and tennis that seems to be growing in popularity. We have only played a few times, and I think it’s a great game for adults. You don’t really need much experience to play a good game of either tennis or pickleball, have a lot of fun, and get a great workout. Some parks we’ve visited even have equipment available to borrow if you don’t want to buy your own gear.
Do A Circuit Workout At The Local High School Track
This is one of our go-to workouts when it’s warm enough outside to do it. We head to the local high school and do a workout together on the track.
We have to be mindful of the high school schedule because we can’t use the track during games (of course), but we’ve often used it during high school practices for soccer, football, and lacrosse. We really enjoy these workouts.
We typically run two laps and then do 10-20 push-ups. We repeat this simple circuit ten times. When M is feeling ambitious he runs bleachers, but that is way out of my lane, so I run laps instead.
This is another workout, like the neighborhood walk or the trail run, where we spend a lot of time talking to each other. With two kids and two jobs and lots of extracurricular activities, we don’t often take time to just sit down and discuss life. These simple workouts that are great for our physical health end up being great for the health of our relationship as well.
Spend An Afternoon Meandering Through Downtown
After living in downtown Chicago for seven years, we developed quite an appreciation for urban living. With two young boys, the suburbs are the spot for us now, but I suspect we will end up back in the city not long after our boys finish school. We love heading into the city for a day or an afternoon to just walk around and enjoy the energy of downtown.
Spending time outdoors is a boon to our health, mentally and physically. Research conducted by the University of Derby and The Wildlife Trusts that was shared by BBC Earth showed a scientifically significant increase in people’s health and happiness after spending at least a small amount of time in nature for thirty days.
If you can, I definitely recommend trying some of these weekday dates with your partner. Our friends make fun of us occasionally for calling a joint workout a “date” but… don’t knock it ’til you try it.