This Valentine’s Day, skip the chocolates, roses, and fancy dinner. Show your partner you care by gifting them quality time together in the great outdoors.
Studies show that happy couples share habits and qualities like a sense of adventure, a love for play, and the belief that fun can be had doing the simplest of things. Date nights don’t have to be the lavish stuff of rom-coms.
Sometimes our greatest memories as couples are of getting lost, going on mini-adventures, or helping out the community together. Try these outdoor date ideas for a unique and rewarding Valentine’s Day.
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Cleanup a Park
If the thought of polluted parkland makes you want to scream, consider volunteering to help clean up at your nearest national park. Or, find a cause close to your community by exploring Patagonia Action Works, a search engine that finds organizations and volunteer opportunities for those wanting to fight for environmental issues affecting their own backyard.
Rather than buy a dozen pre-picked roses that will ultimately wilt and end up in the garbage, consider spending the day planting a wildflower garden with your honey. Wildflowers help fortify the bee population, which in some parts of the United States are in serious decline. Your wildflower garden will reward you with blossoms in the spring and summer while also giving back to the birds, bees, and butterflies that need our help. Here are some helpful tips for starting your own wildflower garden.
Climb a Mountain Together
Take this metaphor and make it a reality. Couples who overcome difficult challenges as a team are brought closer together. Start training for a hike or rock climb. Then, watch as over time you learn to help and motivate the other through hard times. When it comes time for the big hike (or climb), you’ll feel stronger and more prepared to tackle the unexpected challenges as a couple. What better way to celebrate love than by moving (up) mountains together?
Get Cozy by The Fire
Nothing inspires conversation and closeness like a crackling fire. On your next camping trip, bring thick blankets and plenty of firewood. Roast marshmallows or stuffed bananas over the coals while you recount your favorite moments and memories as a couple.
Grill at The Park
Plan a European-style lunch or dinner to grill at the park. Grab your picnic basket and fill it with cheese, crackers, fresh bread, sausages, and veggies. For fire cooking inspiration, turn to the likes of Francis Mallmann and his Patagonian fire cooking methods. Cooking over coals takes time, so enjoy the moment and the experience of just being in the great outdoors.
Have a Photoshoot Outside
For those celebrating years of partnership, or just wanting to capture the excitement of their relationship, consider hiring a photographer for the day. Location photoshoots with inspiring vistas in the backdrop can be an incredible way to capture the magnificence of a partnership. Choose an outdoor spot that means something to you both. Maybe the park where you had your first date, or the beach where he first said “I love you.” Find a photographer that makes you feel at ease and then just have fun while the photographer captures you at your best.
Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be characterized by Hallmark Cards and uneaten chocolates. Create V-day traditions that give back, or push you outside of your comfort zone with new adventures and activities.
Now’s your chance to treat yourself—and those you love—to a spontaneous road trip. Whether you head to the nearest state park, small-town winery, or lakeside campground, your adventure is out there.