Some weekends, it can be hard to think of anything to do that isn’t cozying up on the couch and marathoning a show on Netflix. If there’s any time to binge watch yourselves into hibernation, it’s definitely on a lazy Saturday. However, if you and your significant other are trying to find fun and cheap weekend activities that are a little more analog-focused, there are plenty of non Netflix-centric things the two of you can do.
“Many successfully married couples report the importance of ‘date night’ as a way to protect and maintain a romantic connection,” Denise Limongello, Manhattan-based licensed psychotherapist and relationship expert, tells Bustle via email. It can be difficult to do date nights that feel special and significant compared to what you typically do on a weekend, especially when you’ve been together for a while, and extra especially when things like all seven seasons of Boy Meets World on Hulu exist.
Being intentional is one of the habits of happy couples. By planning out your next date night in advance, you can help rekindle that connection in your relationship while also avoiding falling into the rut of relying on whatever shows are streaming. (Did you know people did things on weekends before Netflix and Hulu even existed? It seems crazy, but it’s true.)
Here are nine old-fashioned activities relationship experts suggest bringing back for a weekend date in your future.
1. Take A Scenic Drive
“Conversation is best stimulated when couples are side-by-side, as opposed to facing one another,” Monica Parikh, dating and relationships coach, tells Bustle over email. Finding a side-by-side date idea doesn’t have to be hard, as Parikh says going for a drive in itself can be a great bonding activity. The next time you feel like going out but not, like, out-out, consider taking a drive to the town next to you. You could also try taking the long way the next time you’re in the car and not in any particular rush.
2. Do A Movie And Then Dinner
There’s a reason why “dinner and a movie” is the epitome of traditional date night ideas. However, the key to keeping it fresh is in the order that you do these tried-and-true activities. Limongello tells Bustle “making sure to see the movie first can be a way to process both of your impressions of the movie over a nice meal.” So, go ahead and queue up your next Netflix must-see after all. After you and your partner finish season two of Stranger Things, go dissect your fan theories about that ending together over dinner.
3. Take Cooking Classes Together
“Recent research demonstrates the therapeutic benefits of cooking, due to it being a sensory experience that can be both calming and soothing,” says Limongello. “Couples who take classes together often report enjoyment in the cultivation of a new skill that can be repeated over and over, again.” Afterwards, you can do a movie and a date-night dinner all from the comfort of your own home.
If you don’t want to spend extra money or commit to taking classes, you could partake in a different creative activity: at home Chopped. Pick ingredients out of your pantry, and challenge each other to make dinner and dessert. If you don’t want to leave it too up to chance, start by trying a new recipe together.
4. Do Something That Gives You An Adrenaline Kick
“Couples should also experiment with activities that stimulate adrenaline, which adds to bonding,” Parikh says. Activities that have a sense of novelty (“sky-diving, zip-lining, quad biking, snorkeling,” Parikh suggests) also help amplify the bonding experience. If you don’t feel like literally jumping out of a plane (which is understandable), try something else that pushes you out of your comfort zone (but not out of a plane).
Doing karaoke or going ice skating can both stimulate adrenaline. Did you also know adrenaline is released during sex? Just saying.
5. Go Camping
“Many happy couples who report camping as a frequent romantic activity equate the excitement of the experience with that of survival — which can be a great way for a couple to bond,” Limongello says. However, you don’t have to go full Naked and Afraid to mirror that experience. Limongello says “glamping” can also be a great way to bond if the great outdoors aren’t really your thing. “Whether you ‘camp’ or ‘glamp’, leaving your home behind for the evening, together, can be a great way for a couple to survive and thrive together,” Limongello says.
6. Solve A Puzzle Together
It may sound simple, but a jigsaw puzzle can be exactly what your relationship needs. “There are a great many traditional activities that couples can do to remain connected and communicative with each other,” Limongello says. She also mentions that some of these more old-fashioned types of activities can “foster a sense of true solidarity and teamwork,” especially when they are “a bit more goal oriented.”
Some studies suggest that completing jigsaw puzzles has health benefits, like increasing dopamine and challenging logic and dexterity. Anyone who has completed a thousand-piece puzzle will preach about the euphoria of placing that final piece.
7. Play A Board Game
A little bit of friendly competition is great for date night. Parikh specifically recommends chess, Monopoly, or “anything that stimulates the brain” as a great way for a couple to turn a weekend activity into a bonding experience.
8. Take A Walk Together
Nicole Richardson, licensed professional counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist, suggests taking a walk as a way to bond. Richardson tells Bustle over email, “going for a drive or going for a walk are connective when there are not outside distractions like phones or other people.”
“Aerobic activity… will generate closeness and conversation,” Parikh also suggests. Whether you take a more extreme sport route, like rock climbing, or bundle up and explore your neighborhood, getting your heart rate up together is good for your bodies and your relationship.
9. Paint, Play Music, Or Do Something Creative Together
“Studies show that couples with shared interests often report satisfaction and an on-going ability to relate to each other over time,” Limongello says. You can start by finding hobbies the two of you already have that are compatible. Can one of you play guitar and one of you sing? Have an in-home karaoke night with just the two of you. Does one of you like to paint and one of you enjoy wine? Turn your living room into a “paint and sip” studio.
Don’t forget to dine together afterwards for some bonus bonding. “Dinner following any shared interest other than movies can also be a great way to process an experience together,” Limongello says. So, get ready to spend some quality time at your favorite restaurant — and with each other, of course.