Planning a date tends to change dramatically as relationships grow and mature. First dates often involve activities that allow you and your potential S.O. to learn more about each other (and decide if a second date is in the cards), whereas dating after the one-year mark becomes an opportunity to connect on a deeper level. If you’re in a long-term committed relationship, the dates you plan with your other half might focus on breaking routine to keep the spark alive.
Regardless of which stage your relationship is in, fall is the perfect time to shake up your usual “dinner and a movie” plans for a seasonal activity. You can get close in a haunted house, work together to pick the perfect pumpkin, visit an apple orchard, play in the fallen leaves, or even take a quick vacation in search of fall foliage. Seriously, fall just might be the most romantic time of the year. No matter where you are in your relationship, experience the season with these fall date ideas.
The first date will always come with jitters and nerves, no matter what you have planned. Take advantage of fall activities that will help you get the conversation flowing and can keep you distracted if the connection starts to fizzle.
- Walk through a corn maze. 10Best has a list of the best corn mazes across the country, including the Great Vermont Corn Maze in Danville, Vermont, and Exploration Acres in Lafayette, Indiana.
- Chat over (pumpkin-spiced) lattes—pick a coffee shop or cafe with great people watching to help inspire the conversation.
- Venture through a haunted house.
- Pick pumpkins and roam through haystacks at a pumpkin patch. If all goes well, combine date ideas and head over to the nearest coffee shop for a pumpkin-spiced beverage.
3 Months In
After a few months of dating, feel free to plan more meaningful outings. Now that you’re likely feeling more comfortable with each other, find activities that interest both parties, or take turns doing something each of you are really into. For example:
- Enjoy a homemade picnic in the park. Have fun building a charcuterie board together beforehand—there are so many options for meats, cheeses, and accoutrements.
Get tickets for a football game, a theatre performance, or visit to an art or history museum.
- Go hiking in the crisp fall air. An interactive activity like hiking provides opportunities to learn more about your date. You'll need to work together to stay on and navigate the trail, and your natural surroundings offer a lot of material to draw conversation topics. For example, would your date rather live in the mountains or near the ocean, and why? Or, why not both exchange stories about a funny or embarrassing encounter in mother nature?
- Visit a brewery or winery and see if you and your date have compatible tastes. Then, choose something to-go to enjoy together on another date.
6 Months In
At this point, you’ll want to do just about everything together. Plan a date that challenges you both to work together or involves spending a whole day with each other that doesn't involve a Netflix binge and take-out. For example:
- Test your skills in the kitchen at a cooking class. A virtual cooking class works well to shake things up at home too. For example, in 2020 Airbnb partnered with a number of noteworthy chefs like David Chang, Claudette Zepeda, and Rōze Traore to host virtual cooking experiences. And one San Francisco-based company even offers truffle-centric cook along experiences, like a truffle mac and cheese cooking class.
- Take a long drive through roads coated in fall foliage. Some of our favorite drives include leaf-peeping in California to Michigan, and the Catskills in New York.
- Spend a day at a nearby fall festival.
- Visit an apple orchard and see who can fill their basket first. And don't forget to snap a photo for posterity—and Instagram.
One Year In and Beyond
After a year or more together, you probably know what you like to do as a couple, and most dates happen naturally as you spend more and more time together. Plan something special this fall to remind each other how much you enjoy being together. Just because you’re in a long-term relationship doesn’t mean your days of adorable fall dates are over. For example:
- Visit the farmers market to select seasonal produce (maybe even a few products you both haven't cooked with before) for the week of cooking ahead. Plan to sample the food vendors to your hearts' content.
- If it's available near you, take a hot air balloon ride over fall foliage.
- Go camping and pack plenty of blankets for cuddling by the fire. Find some of our favorite campsites in Sequoia National Park, in California, and Lake McConaughy, Nebraska.
- Book a stay at a bed and breakfast in a nearby town with the best fall foliage. Even better, agree to go tech-free for the length of your stay. Some of our favorite design-savvy bed and breakfasts can be found in Portland, Charleston, and Wiscasset, Maine, to name a few.
- Snuggle near the fire with a movie at home with no distractions, even if that means coordinating a sitter for the kids.
- Make candy apples together.
- Rake the leaves and then play in them. This may seem too simple, but with our always-on, busy lives, a nostalgic activity like this can be a gift.
- Cuddle up on a hayride.
- Splurge on a fall vacation to somewhere you’ve never been.
- Take a walk in the park in a new-to-you neighborhood to admire the weather and change of scenery.
- Then ask the barista at the nearest coffee shop to point you in the direction of their favorite brunch or dinner spot.
- Go antiquing at a flea market to add to your collection (or start one!).
Stargaze in your backyard or on the porch with a glass of cider and a warm blanket.