30 Best Summer Date Ideas

How to make the most of summer with your lover.

Last updated on Jun 01, 2011

Couple looks at the best summer date ideas. Bella White, Britus, Darren Baker, Pedro Christiansen 12019 | Canva
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Ah, summer. The longest, warmest days of the year mean the cold-weather date options you've subjected yourself to all winter just won't do (we're looking at you cozy wine bars!). Summer means great weather, tons of time spent outdoors and the shedding of layers. If your brain's still in winter mode, don't worry — we've got you covered. We've collected some of the best summer date ideas to make sure every second of your summer romance is spent actually romancing your sweetheart, not hemming and hawing over plans.

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We've picked our top 10 favorite date ideas in three different categories: activities, food and cocktail trends, and day trips. From rooftop dining in New York City to getting out of town for a hike outside Chicago, we've targeted the best summer date suggestions across the country. Whether it's a first date or your four-year anniversary, these date ideas are sure to deliver the dose of summer fun you've been craving all the cold, dark winter long.  So, when it comes to great summer dates that are as unique as you are, we know what they're talking about.

RELATED: 3 Romantic Summer Date Ideas That Aren't Cheesy

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Here are 30 best summer date ideas:

1. Go fountain hopping

One of the most romantic movie scenes of all time is from Fellini's La Dolce Vita where Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni dance in the Trevi Fountains, but you don't have to go to Rome to recreate this romantic moment. Grab a towel, some beach balls, maybe a floating mattress or two, head to the nearest park/college campus/any place with lots of fountains, and pretend it's your personal resort for the day. Or, make like Mastrioanni and Ekberg, and dance like no one's watching.

2. Set up our own lemonade stand?

On the hottest day of the year, head to the curb and channel your second grade selves by setting up a lemonade stand for the sweltering bystanders. Be sure to make the lemonade free, or use proceeds to raise money for a good cause. Or, if you're looking for a more adult version (and want to really impress your friends), try making Tequila Snow Cones.

50 Best Summer Date Idea Pexels / Onur

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3. Have a stargazing picnic

Make dinner, grab some bug spray, and head outside or up to the roof to eat under the stars. You can make it romantic by setting up lights, pillows and blankets — your own romantic rooftop fort. Make a playlist for the occasion as you lie back and try to point out as many constellations as you can. It's the perfect setting for a perfect kiss.

4. Fly a kite

Kite flying is a perfect activity date for the couple who wants to get outside but isn't too sporty. It's a fun throwback to being a kid, just active enough to keep things interesting but not so consuming that it prevents you from maintaining a conversation. You'll have a good time laughing together while trying to get your kite in the air (it's surprisingly difficult!), and once it's up, you can kick back and watch it fly while date conversation flows effortlessly.

5. Head to the state fair

A fair is a great summer date spot, because it combines all kinds of date activities in one location: food, activity, people watching, and just walking around. You can learn a lot about your date based on their fair preferences: do they like the rides, or prefer the animal showcases? Be sure to hit up the carnival games for some friendly competition, which studies show is one of the most important elements of a date and naturally leads to flirting.

6. Watch some street ball like it's a real game

Why spend a summer day cooped up in a stuffy stadium when you and your date could be out in the open air, watching the next generation of NBA pros hone their skills? Grab some popcorn, some sneaky drinks and your favorite novelty foam "#1" fingers and secure a bench at local blacktop courts. Root for opposing teams and don't be afraid to get rowdy. After all, trash-talking is one of the best flirting methods known to humankind.

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7. Plan a sidewalk chalk surprise

If you really like someone, and you think they really like you too, it's okay to pull out the Amelie-esque big guns. Tell your date to meet you in the park, but don't tell them ANYTHING else. Arrive early and leave elaborate sidewalk chalk directions leading to your actual location. Have a fancy picnic—cheese, wine, fresh fruit, the whole nine yards — waiting when they arrive. Your date will be so impressed they'll probably plant a big, wet smooch right on your clever little face. And you'll deserve it, you sly fox! Read more:

8. Have a two person bike parade

Here's a recipe for a totally original summer date that's fun, easy and promotes real bonding. Ingredients: 2 bikes, 1 portable boom box, colorful streamers, two containers of bubbles with wands. Decorate your bikes with streamers, bump your favorite summer jams and let the bubbles fly as you ride around the neighborhood celebrating the season for all to see. Guaranteed "awwwwww" generator.

9. Hula hoop it up

How many awesome summer dates are also a great core strengthener? While doing crunches together in the park doesn't scream romance, hula hooping is a fun, goofy activity that will give you the giggles and maybe even lead to full-on belly laughing. Which is also a great core strengthener.

10. Spend a hot day at the zoo

You probably don't remember how great the zoo really is. The adorable animals, the cotton candy, feeding time in the lion cage. You can walk around all day, holding hands and there's always a new topic of conversation right around the next corner. Don't worry about the heat. If you get too hot, you can always head to the Rainforest Building, cuddle up, cool down in the artificial mist while exotic birds fly overhead. When it comes to summer lovin', you want to have a blast. And nothing can get you and your boo into the groove more than seeing some sweet tunes together in concert. It's the perfect opportunity to hold hands, dance up on your man, and even sneak in some PDA.

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The summer movie season isn't all about giant robots, superheroes, and making things go "BOOM" really loudly. There's also a little thing known as "counter-programming," where smaller, more intimate flicks vie for an audience's attention in the hopes of getting some of that blockbuster runoff. The big action tentpoles may get dudes into theaters, but it's the gentle jabs of their girlfriend's elbows that get them settling in for a nice, romantic date movie. While many of these kinds of films carry the stigma of pandering solely to female viewers and their begrudging boyfriends, we've compiled an eclectic list of some of summer's most promising date movies, with a little something for everyone.

You're strolling hand-in-hand on the beach with your love, the sea salt gently misting through your hair, when suddenly, it happens. The two of you exchange looks, hungry with desire, then grab one another and say, "You wanna get something to eat?" This summer, whether you want to cool off when things get steamy (try a paleta, a Mexican-style popsicle!), or heat things up (jalapeño cocktails, anyone?), YourTango is here to make sure your summer dates are filled with flavor. Taking you through some of summer's biggest food trends is New York-based culture vulture Elyssa Goodman. Booze blogger Diana Vilibert also shares two of her favorite summer sips! Grab your man and a fork and let's get started.

RELATED: 9 Clever Ways To Take Your Date Nights From Ho-Hum To Holy Cow

11. Amped-up childhood favorites

Nothing says youth like summer love, but no matter your age you can enjoy childhood food favorites with an adult spin! From popsicles to grilled cheese, these amped-up kiddie classics will remind you of those carefree summer days, maybe even easing those first date jitters. Some examples include: Paletas (Mexican-style popsicles) in flavors like Hibiscus and Avocado. Grilled cheese sandwiches with goat cheese, candied bacon, apple, and an adult shaved ice (made with liquor.)

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12. Gourmet picnics, local products

Your date is one in a million, and they deserve more than any old picnic. You wouldn't settle for your sweetie, so why settle for egg salad when you could have so much more? With enticing fresh markets popping up everywhere as we head into summer, try some locally grown or gourmet products to make your picnic that much more special. Go for goat cheese instead of cream cheese, pear-apple wine instead of beer, arugula instead of lettuce. And for a delicious picnic treat, try these Prosciutto, Goat Cheese and Fig Sandwiches!

50 Best Summer Date Idea Pexels / cottonbro studio

13. Feed your senses at food festivals

A great date should be a sensual experience — why not try a date that literally feeds your senses? Food festivals are everywhere this season, so walking around not only holds the possibility for delicious food, but that oh-so-subtle hand-hold that can kickstart summer love.

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14. Fruit in unlikely places

Chocolate-covered strawberries are a sultry treat, but sometimes we forget that fresh fruit has more than one use! Especially in an unusual recipe, a meal with fresh fruit is a great way to cool down. Try it for unexpected flavors in a sandwich or a salad. Why not substitute fruit for an old favorite in a Bacon, Lettuce, and Cantaloupe Sandwich?

15. Rooftop dining

Imagine the entire city at your feet, lush greenery above you. So often in big cities it's difficult to find a splash of nature, and after the long week you and your date have had, a rooftop picnic might just be the relaxing, restorative time off you need. It's a visual feast to accompany your actual one, and the scenery will be worth it at the very least! 

16. Drinks with purées

Adding pureed fruit to a cocktail adds a sweetness and coolness matched only by your number one. Now, perhaps accordingly, bars are using puréed fruits and even vegetables as part of their cocktail menus. This includes but is not limited to puréed sweet peas in the Sweet Pea cocktail at certain New York bars.

17. Some like it hot…

Sometimes summer brings out our spicier side, and cocktails are no exception. Try drinks made with jalapeño or jalapeño-based tequila to bring out the caliente in you! 

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18. Pickle your fancy

Sometimes you and your man are cool as a cucumber, but why not give your love a healthy zing this summer with a pickle juice cocktail? Pickles have the freshness of cucumber, a summer drink staple, with that sassy attitude perfect for a new twist on an old favorite.

19. Hands on: Make your own cocktail infusions

Between the shelves of fruit-flavored vodka at the liquor store and the long list of flavored liquors popping up on bar menus, infused spirits are everywhere this year. But why stand elbow-to-elbow with dozens of boozy bar patrons to give the trend a taste? Make a sweet and spicy date night out of it.

20. Suggestive spirits: Drinks with libido-boosting ingredients

Is that a cocktail in your hand, or are you just happy to see me? With the growing popularity of fresh ingredients in cocktails comes another pleasant boost — to your libido. Set the mood (subtly — that family-size portion of oysters is a touch heavy-handed) by ordering up a drink that incorporates a tasty and libido-boosting ingredient like chocolate, pineapple, or ginger. Or make your own at home.

An occasional change of scenery is good for the soul — and your relationship. Studies have shown that traveling with your significant other and experiencing new situations together can bring you closer as a couple. Stepping out of your usual routine also gives you the freedom to relax, play, laugh and really connect with each other. But you don't have to wait for a long weekend to get away. Whether it's your first date or your fortieth, you can easily take your romance on the road with our picks for the country's best day trips.

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RELATED: 7 Cute Date Ideas, As Inspired By Your Favorite Romantic Movies

21. Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture; Pocantico, NY

Home City: New York
Distance: 25 miles
Perfect for: Foodie couples

Located north of Manhattan, the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture is a mecca for locavores. The 80-acre sustainable farm cultivates local, seasonal food and lets you see just where it comes from, through tours of its livestock pens, planting fields and greenhouses. You and your sweetie can also wander along the woodland trails, watch animals grazing in open pastures and help gather vegetables and eggs. Once you've worked up an appetite, you can share a romantic dinner at the award-winning Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant, which serves "farmer's feasts" using fresh ingredients from the day's harvest.

22. Catalina Island

Home City: Los Angeles
Distance: 22 miles
Perfect for: Beachcombing couples

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Even though it's just 22 miles from LA, Catalina Island feels more like Capri than California. The intimate isle boasts soft white sand beaches, colorful marine life (including dolphins, sea lions and flying fish) and every Los Angeleno's dream: no traffic (cars are banned on the island so residents and visitors get around on golf carts). The clear blue waters surrounding Catalina Island also make it an ideal destination for snorkelers and scuba divers.

23. Starved Rock State Park; Utica, IL

Home City: Chicago
Distance: 93 miles
Perfect for: Outdoorsy couples

Couples can connect with nature — and each other — at Starved Rock State Park. Forests of oak, pine and cedar trees fill the 2,630-acre park, which also contains 13 miles of hiking trails, 18 canyons, sparkling waterfalls and sandstone bluffs with sweeping views of the Illinois River. Day trippers can also go fishing, take a ride on a paddlewheel boat or just sneak off to a secluded spot for some private canoodling.

24: Galveston, TX

Home City: Houston
Perfect for: Architecturally-inclined couples
Distance: 54 miles

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A trip to Galveston is a trip back to the grandeur and elegance of the Victorian era. Horse-drawn carriages take visitors through the island city's streets, which are lined with dozens of historic 19th-century homes and mansions. One of the most popular is Bishop's House, a striking Victorian castle decorated with intricately carved ornaments, stained-glass windows, rare woods, bronze dragons and even a fireplace lined with pure silver. In downtown Galveston, the Strand National Historic Landmark District has one of the largest and most well-preserved concentrations of Victorian architecture in the country, along with museums, art galleries and antiques shops.

25. Zip Line Tour at Historic Banning Mills; Whitesburg, GA

Home City: Atlanta
Distance: 48 miles
Perfect for: Thrill-seeking couples

An increase in adrenaline has often been linked to an increase in attraction, and Historic Banning Mills can get hearts racing in more ways than one. The property's exhilarating zip line course features the world's longest continuous zip line (at a half-mile long) and dozens of sky-high suspension bridges and tightropes. Couples who really want to up their attractiveness can take on the adrenaline-pumping "Big Daddy" zip line, which reaches heights of 200 feet and speeds of up to 60 miles per hour.

50 Best Summer Date Idea Pexels / Mam NC

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26. Mount Vernon; Mount Vernon, VA

Home City: Washington, DC
Distance: 16 miles
Perfect for: History-buff couples

Sprawled across 500 acres, Mount Vernon is the former plantation home of George Washington and still looks very similar to the way it did when the first president of the United States lived there. The mansion features original furnishings owned by the Washington family, while the farm breeds animals similar to the ones Washington had (roosters, mules, oxen) and Colonial millers in the reconstructed gristmill grind corn into meal and wheat into flour just as it was done more than 200 years ago. Not that interested in Washington? You and your paramour can bond as you explore the estate's bucolic gardens, forest trails and wharf overlooking the Potomac River.

27. Sterling Vineyards; Calistoga, CA

Home City: San Francisco
Distance: 73 miles
Perfect for: Oenophile couples

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The romance begins as soon as you arrive at Sterling Vineyards. A serene aerial tram ride travels over lush trees and a waterfall to the Mediterranean-inspired winery, which sits atop a 300-foot knoll and is reminiscent of a Greek monastery. After being greeted with a glass of wine, lovebirds can take a self-guided tour of the winemaking process, stroll through the art galleries and toast each other on the outdoor terrace while taking in breathtaking panoramic views of Napa Valley.

28. Fort Worth Stockyards Historic District; Fort Worth, TX

Home City: Dallas
Distance: 39 miles
Perfect for: Wannabe cowpoke couples

Smitten city slickers looking for a piece of the Old West can spend the day at the Fort Worth Stockyards. A former livestock market, the district now celebrates the cowboy way of life through live rodeos, daily cattle drives and western-themed shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. There are also walking tours, trail rides and the Rodeo Zone, where cowboys and cowgirls-in-training can learn the arts of roping, barrel racing and mechanical bull riding.

29. Museum of Glass and Tacoma Glassblowing Studio; Tacoma, WA

Home City: Seattle
Distance: 33 miles
Perfect for: Artistic couples

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There's nothing hotter than playing with fire, and the artists-in-residence at the Museum of Glass do just that in the Hot Shop, where you can watch them create stunning masterpieces from molten glass. Inspired, you and your date can then head to the Tacoma Glassblowing Studio to melt each other's hearts while melting your own glass and blowing and shaping it into pieces of art.

30. Garden of the Gods; Colorado Springs, CO

Home City: Denver
Distance: 65 miles
Perfect for: Active couples

Colorado is famous for its amazing ski slopes and snow conditions, but the outdoor action doesn't stop once summer arrives. One of the state's most stunning attractions is the Garden of the Gods, a public park featuring towering red sandstone formations that are more than 300 million years old. The steep, Salvadore Dali-esque rocks are perfect for rock climbing (which is permitted) and provide a beautiful backdrop for twosomes who want to hike, mountain bike or take a horseback ride along the 15 miles of nature trails.

Original links: Activities, Food and Drink, Places, Concerts, Movies

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