The great outdoors: 12 socially distanced date ideas

The moment has arrived! With lockdown restrictions gradually being eased around the world, you may finally be able to meet up with someone you’ve been chatting to online. But of course, in many places, we still have to practise social distancing and avoid being inside or in crowds – so it’s time to get creative with your dates.

Some parts of the world are currently enjoying summer, which makes outdoor dates easier, but wherever you are, there are ways to have fun and get to know each other while staying safe. (As well as checking the latest guidelines in your area, you can read more on meeting in person, and how to travel and interact safely here). My favourite activity for first dates was a river walk followed by hot chocolate at a riverside café: simple, inexpensive and relaxed. You don’t need to be physically close to establish a connection – conversation, sharing and laughter all help to build intimacy. So here are my top 12 ideas for outdoor dates…

1. Have a picnic. Choose a park, natural beauty spot or designated picnic area, then settle down to eat and chat. Bring something to sit on, and your own food, drink and utensils (and hand sanitiser!) to avoid cross-contamination.

2. Take a bike ride. If you both own bikes (hire shops may still be shut), plot a route through a park, along a seafront, through some country villages or, for the more adventurous, off-road. Stay safe, though – you don’t want your date to end in an ambulance!

3. Enjoy an outdoor tipple. Many street cafés, pub gardens and restaurants with outdoor seating have reopened. Check in advance what the venue’s limits and requirements are. For instance, there may be a limit on customer numbers (in which case, make a reservation) and you may have to pay by card.

4. Be a beach-comber. Packed beaches are to be avoided, but if you know a seaside spot where you can socially distance, what could be nicer than walking in the dunes, paddling in the surf, and sitting on a sea wall enjoying a bag of chips?

5. Go to market. Many outdoor markets have reopened, so if checking out flowers, food, fashion or furniture is your thing, why not make a day of it? Chat as you browse, then visit a street food stall for snacks.

6. Take a stroll. This could range from a leisurely wander through a city park and feeding the ducks, to a serious mountain hike. If your date is a wildlife lover, why not try a nature walk? Plan toilet stops in advance, and carry drinks and nibbles.

7. Visit a grand garden. Historic homes and castles may still be closed, but many of their spectacular grounds have reopened to the public. Check ahead what facilities there are for toilets and refreshments.

8. Enjoy an outdoor performance. Drive-in movie theatres are reopening, while drive-in and outdoor movies, concerts and comedy nights are popping up to offer socially-distanced entertainment. You may not be able to share a car with your date just yet, but an outdoor event could be an exciting date.

9. Visit a zoo or nature reserve. Animal lovers? Zoos and animal sanctuaries are opening again (with limits on indoor enclosures). Or if you prefer seeing birds and animals in their natural habitat, then nature reserves and wetlands centres offer top nature-spotting opportunities.

10. Get sporty. For energetic types, there are plenty of activities you can enjoy outside, from playing tennis to wild swimming. If it’s winter where you live, sledging could be a super-fun date. Or for something less challenging, how about kite flying? Basic kites are fairly cheap, and it’s an exhilarating way to spend a windy day – but don’t get close enough to get your strings tangled!

11. Go berry picking. Pick-your-own fruit farms are reopening so, if the weather’s fine, spend a few hours picking delicious soft fruits – then chill out and feast on the fruits of your labour.

12. Be a tourist in your own town. With the streets empty of overseas visitors, now is the ideal time to explore your city and rediscover historic monuments and landmarks. Plan a sightseeing tour on foot ¬– some attractions are reopening to visitors, too.

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