Dating in the winter isn’t always a walk in the park. Seriously — that’s usually way too cold an activity.
The days are shorter and the pull to stay in bed is stronger, making it harder to think about dating. Yet, there’s also something magical about dating in the winter: the way the lights glisten everywhere, how the snow blankets the world in beauty, the urge to stay inside and cuddle and so on.
For those very reasons, winter is a beautiful time to fall in love or grow your relationship further. With the right winter date ideas, you may find yourself excitedly — yes, really! — jumping out of bed and voyaging out into the world. With so many fun date ideas at your disposal, there’s something for every person and every stage of a relationship, from the first date to the lost-track-of-how-many-dates-we’ve-been-on date.
We spoke with dating and relationship experts to round up a list of the best winter date ideas — some are cheap and can be done at home, other romantic options can be reserved for special occasions. They suggest everything from the classics — gingerbread house decorating, anyone? — to the quirky. Let’s just say the latter involves a strict no-phones policy, and you’re going to love it.
If you’re looking for cold-weather activities to try with your sweetheart this season, we've got you covered.
Go away for the weekend
If this is far from a first date, why not extend it with some travel? While many trips involve going somewhere warm and sunny, there’s something romantic about cozying up in the cold.
Barbie Adler, the founder of Selective Search, a matchmaking company that works with business executives and celebrities, recommends going to a ski resort or cabin where you can “take a break from the holiday hustle and create new memories and traditions of your own as a couple.” Picture it: After a day of frolicking through the snow, you grab your partner for a cuddle by the fire as you sip warm drinks under a lush blanket. Perfection!
Related: Best romantic getaways for couples
Have a game night
Is anyone up for a round of ping pong? Visit an indoor game center for a night of friendly competition. “Remember that a date should feel fun, not like a job interview,” Logan Ury, Hinge’s director of relationship science, tells TODAY.com. “Plan a date that allows you to relax and show off your playful side. The goal is to laugh, which causes our brains to release the bonding hormone oxytocin, which increases our sense of connection to our date.”
Create a new holiday tradition
Everyone goes into the holidays with at least one tradition they’ve held on to over the years. While it can be great to share it with your partner, it’s also wonderful to start new holiday traditions together. “Creating a special date or ritual provides shared memories and gives you both something to look forward to each holiday no matter how hectic the schedule,” Adler says. “This can be something to carry on for many years, even into marriage and family.”
She suggests activities such as baking Christmas cookies, watching a holiday movie in your coziest pajamas or shopping for new decorations together.
Try a holiday-themed cooking class
Speaking of baking cookies, why not make a go of it and sign up for a winter-centric cooking class? “The holidays are all about food, so what better time to learn some new culinary skills? Whether it’s cookies, cocktails or mastering beef wellington, taking a class together to make something delicious is a fun shared experience and one that can be used in the future,” Adler says. Plus, it gives you skills to use on future dates together.
Take turns playing songs
There is something undeniably intimate and romantic about playing someone your favorite songs. Lisa Concepcion, a certified love life strategist, dating and relationship expert, and founder of LoveQuest Coaching, recommends alternating playlists on a date, especially if you’re generally shy to share things about yourself. Do you have a specific memory attached to one? Does a certain song remind you of your date? Crank it up.
Walk around a local holiday market
A simple stroll through a local holiday market is perfect for any couple — new or otherwise. Nancy Ruth Deen, a former matchmaker and relationship expert, says it's an excellent option for people who don’t drink alcohol, anyone looking for an inexpensive date (as long as you don’t pick up too many tchotchkes!) or someone looking for an easy out if their date goes poorly.
Have a bake-off
Sweeten things up — literally — by challenging each other to a bake-off. “See who can make the best cookies or pies,” Jessica Alderson, co-founder and relationship expert at So Syncd, a dating app matching people by personality type, tells TODAY.com. “Plus, you’ll get to eat some tasty treats at the end.” It’s a win from start to finish.
Build a gingerbread house together
If want something more specific to the season, decorate a gingerbread house together. “This is a great way to get creative and have some festive fun,” Alderson says. Whether you design it together or each take a side, this activity is a lighthearted way to stir up some competition and ultimately, grow closer as a team. Plus, you get to eat some gingerbread along the way.
Winter can be challenging for many people, especially with the recent inflation. With this in mind, Adler suggests spending your time helping others by working at a local charity kitchen or taking part in a toy or food drive.
“Giving back to the community while spending time with your partner allows you to have the shared experience of doing something good together,” she says. “Not only will you be able to learn more about each other, but you will both have accomplished something meaningful together.”
Shop for holiday gifts together
Why not make your shopping run into a fun date? If you're in a newer relationship, a shopping date is a great opportunity to learn more about their taste and discuss the people they're shopping for. Want to go all out? "Make the day memorable by stopping for an upscale lunch or ending the day with seasonal cocktails in a festive holiday setting," Adler says.
Take in the holiday lights
There's something romantic about strolling — or driving — through lights with your beau. “Cuddle up together while seeing some amazing Christmas displays,” Alderson says. Whip up some hot chocolate beforehand so you can keep warm on your adventure.
Have a 'no phones or tech night'
Getting rid of all technology may not sound like a fun date night, but hear us out. “The evening can be anytime you choose, with an emphasis on growing together and learning more about the other person," Adler says. Plan something fun to do, whether it's a spa date, game night or at-home wine tasting. Putting the distractions away will help you help maintain and grow your connection.
Laurel House, a relationship expert at eharmony, recommends heading outside for a day of sledding. Take a moment to discover your inner child together and sled down nearby hills. For extra closeness, hop on the same sled and glide down, holding on tightly to each other.
Attend a holiday ballet or musical performance
Get into the seasonal spirit by going to a winter performance of some sort. “The holidays are a time rich with arts, music, and theater, so take advantage of all that is available and enjoy a luxurious evening with your partner,” Adler says. If you don’t have one in mind, pick a random show playing that night since often, day-of tickets are discounted!
Go ice skating
Pretend you’re in "Serendipity" — minus the part where you struggle to find the love of your life years after first meeting them — and go ice skating. “You don’t have to be a pro! It’s a cute way to try something new and have some laughs,” Deen says. Lacking some balance on the ice? Just hold on to your date.
Have dinner together (but apart)
If you’re not in the same place as your partner, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a nice meal together. “Cook dinner for yourselves or order food and eat together via video,” Concepcion say. “It’s a fun way to keep communication flowing in an environment that you both are most comfortable in.” While you eat, turn on some holiday music or watch a movie together for extra merriment.
Cut down your very own Christmas tree
One of the most wholesome traditions of the winter season is getting a Christmas tree. Even if you don't live together, you can help the other person pick out a true Tannenbaum. “Go drive out to the actual Christmas tree farm, choose your tree and cut it down,” Chris Rabanera, LMFT, and founder of The Base EQ, tells TODAY.com. Want to extend the date? Hang lights, drape tinsel and dress it up with some ornaments.
Go for a drive
If it's too cold for a stroll, then take in nature from the comfort and warmth of your car. Go for a drive on a sunny day — you know, when the snow is glistening and the world looks magical, suggests Concepcion. See where the roads take you or head to a viewpoint you've always wanted to look at. Either way, it’s a clever way to spend time together “outside” without, ya know, actually being outside.
Attend a paint and sip class
Pick up a paintbrush and a wine glass, suggests House. You never know how you'll walk away feeling after a first date, so at the very least you'll have a small souvenir (and perhaps, a little buzz) to bring home with you on the cold winter night.
Have an indoor picnic á la 'The Notebook'
There are few things as simple and romantic as an indoor picnic. Set up candles and blankets in the bedroom or living room, suggests House. Add in a spread of your favorite foods and your special someone, and you have a cozy date night to remember.