Events

Phoenix Date Ideas You'll Both Actually Enjoy

Including sunrise hot air balloon rides, spiked coffees, and a horseback riding adventure.

Desert Botanical Garden
Desert Botanical Garden

As if navigating the dating scene wasn’t already challenging enough, 2020 burst in and threw a big wrench in everything. Truly no one looks forward to a Zoom date. While the days of grabbing happy hour drinks at crowded cocktail bars and calling it a date may be on pause for now, there’s certainly no shortage of alternatives out there. And let’s be real, how much can you really get to know somebody while shouting back-and-forth about where you went to college as you’re both bellied-up to a sticky bar top? These outdoor date ideas are a literal breath of fresh air. And we could all use some of that right about now.

Visit Phoenix/Nick Laessig Photography
Visit Phoenix/Nick Laessig Photography

Bond over craft brews at Arizona Wilderness’ outdoor beer garden

Downtown Phoenix 
The craft beer lineup at Arizona Wilderness’ Downtown Phoenix beer garden is just as expansive as the city’s dating pool. You’ve got options. And a lot of ‘em. So what’s it gonna be, the coffee oatmeal stout or a mixed culture sour?

Have a picnic at The Farm at South Mountain 

Phoenix
Forget dinner and a movie. Instead, have a picnic at the farm. Spanning 10-acres, The Farm at South Mountain, a notable agritourist destination, has organic-style gardens, a trio of farm-to-table restaurants, and a shady pecan grove lined with socially distant picnic tables that make a perfect spot for an open-air weekend lunch date.

Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Co.
Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Co.

Catch an Arizona sunrise from a hot air balloon 

Phoenix, Scottsdale
Sweep your date literally off their feet with a trip through the sky on Rainbow Ryders. The views are impeccable. And the ballooning outfit even provides locally made snacks and prickly pear mimosas to enjoy after the airborne journey. What’s more romantic than that?

Kayak Kiwanis 

Tempe 
If your most recent match’s bio alludes to being inclined to outdoor adventure, test the proverbial waters and go kayaking. Wear your best waterproof duds, rent a watercraft and set out on a waterborne journey at Tempe’s Lake Kiwanis -- and hope that it all goes swimmingly.

Discover a peaceful paradise at the Japanese Friendship Garden 

Downtown Phoenix
Like dating sometimes, this year has been, well, pretty overwhelming. Downtown Phoenix’s Japanese Friendship Garden provides a much needed breather from the craziness that is 2020 that both you and your date can appreciate, respectively, while strolling through the serene setting and taking in the sights and sounds. Advanced admission can be purchased online.

Go horseback riding along the Lower Salt River 

Mesa 
Embrace your inner cowpoke, and your romantic side, and traverse cactus-dotted desert trails on horseback with your date. The experienced wranglers at Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch provide guided tours and a quick “how-to” before you saddle up. Learn more about the rides here.

Queen Creek Olive Mill
Queen Creek Olive Mill

Tour an olive grove

Queen Creek 
A trip to Queen Creek Olive Mill makes for a delicious, and educational, date. Reserve two spots for Olive Oil 101 and learn how extra virgin olive oil is made. You’ll go through an informative tasting and have the chance to explore the olive groves. Once the lesson wraps, order some sharble noshes like warmed olives and antipasto, find a seat at an outdoor picnic table or cozy-up to a fire pit and put your newly acquired tasting skills to the test. 

Secure some sweet, sweet soft serve at Topo

Downtown Gilbert
This roadside attraction-inspired burrito shop is hard to miss. Located along the popular Downtown Gilbert enclave, Topo deals in craveable elotes, heavyweight burritos and classic soft serve ice cream in flavors like lime and prickly pear. Skip ahead straight to dessert. And opt to have your sweet treat dipped. Grab a handful of napkins, too. Because you really don’t want your date to be staring at the ice cream on your chin while you’re breaking the ice, do you?

Scottsdale Arts
Scottsdale Arts

Share charcuterie in an urban park 

Multiple locations 
They say the way to a person’s heart is through charcuterie, or something like that. Go ahead and take this opportunity to show off your charcuterie board assembly skills with a romantic, and delicious, meat and cheese-filled date in an urban park. Whatever hood you call home, from Downtown Phoenix (Civic Space Park!) to Arcadia (G.R. Herberger Park!) and Scottsdale (Scottsdale Civic Center Park!), there’s likely an urban park just around the corner. 

Split a bottle of vino, al fresco at Postino

Multiple locations
If you’re like most of us, there’s a good chance you got acquainted with a bottle or two over the last eight months from the comfort of your living room. Now that you’re practically a wine connoisseur, order some wine for the table and wax poetic about notes, structures, and profiles, and please remember to let your date get a few words in, too.

Swap stories over spiked coffees

Phoenix 
When coffee and booze come together, good things are bound to happen. Phoenix’s Provision Coffee has mastered both craft cocktails and fancy coffee drinks, and have even gone as far as to combine the two. Here you’ll find a variety of espresso-based libations as well as non-alcoholic sippers including habanero mochas, honey lavender lattes, sparkling teas, and matcha, all best enjoyed on the shaded, and socially distanced, outdoor patio.

Desert Botanical Garden
Desert Botanical Garden

Take a stroll through the Desert Botanical Garden

Phoenix
It’s hard not to catch feelings in a setting as picturesque as Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden. Spanning 140-acres and one of only 24 botanical gardens accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the Desert Botanical Garden not only features thousands of unique living cacti but hundreds of rare and endangered species throughout its expansive walkable grounds. Advance tickets are required and can be purchased online.

Phoenix Coqui
Phoenix Coqui | Mark Lipczynski

Follow your heart to the food trucks 

Multiple locations 
Follow your hearts, and your rumbling stomachs, to Everest Momo where you can indulge in hand-rolled momos. Hit up Birrieria Tijuana for tortas and quesabirrias. Pay a visit to Hot Dogs La Yaquesita for bacon-wrapped Sonoran dogs. Don’t sleep on Phoenix Coqui for Puerto Rican eats. And try not to drool too much when you’re waiting for your hot and chewy fry bread from the folks at Emerson Fry Bread.  

Cruise around in a swan boat

Tempe 
Make like lovebirds and pedal your way around Tempe Town Lake in a swan boat. That’s right, swan boats! Feeling romantic? Opt-in for the date night package which includes a box of chocolates and floral decorations.

Grid Bike
Robert Garcia

Grid Bike around Grand Avenue

Grand Avenue
Historic Grand Avenue is a quirky and art-filled neighborhood decorated with colorful painted sidewalks and murals at every turn that’s best explored on two wheels at a leisurely 10mph -- by bicycle, obviously. Unlock a couple lime green Grid Bikes and set out on an urban adventure through the historic hood. And if you really want to impress your date, bring helmets.

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Lauren Topor Reichert is a Phoenix-based writer and photographer. Follow her to the food trucks and on Instagram @hungryinphoenix.