If BBQ-ing on the deck is starting to be-or at least feel like-an everyday occurrence, shake things up to make the final days of summer hotter than ever. By Anna Davies, REDBOOK.
Lick the cone
You may eat ice cream every day in the summer, but if you always go for the same old chocolate fudge ripple, you could be seriously missing out. Make your after-dinner treat a gourmet date by giving the kids ice pops, then drizzling you and your guy's ice cream with a bit of balsamic vinegar-it sounds weird, but tastes awesome-or get creative and try some of the recipes mentioned on the Ice Cream Geek blog. Why not have orange date ice cream?
Go for a ride
With lots of cities-Denver, Washington DC, Chicago, and New York City among them-offering bike-sharing programs, it's easier than ever to grab a set of wheels. Rent one in a nearby city, or head to a local bike shop and hit a nearby trail. Fill your basket with a picnic lunch fit for a late-summer day.
Related: 25 Totally Free Date Ideas
Make your mornings count
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day-isn't it time to start acting like it? Not only can a shared plate of syrup-drenched waffles put you both in a good mood-even on a Monday-but an early meal also doesn't carry the pressure or expense of a Friday night dinner. If you can swing it, get out the door earlier than normal and grab pancakes and eggs at a local café or diner, or prepare one of these at-home breakfasts.
Bug bites, half-cooked food, and a loud family in the RV next to you can seriously dampen the sparks from a cozy campfire for two. Enter "glamping," the oddly-named trend that provides an opportunity to experience the great outdoors a little more luxuriously. Hybrid hotel/campsites are popping up around the country, offering private canvas cabins, spa-like amenities, and rustic activities like horseback riding and hiking. Check out Camp Orenda in the Adirondacks, NY, the Resort at Paws Up in Montaha, MT, and the El Capitan Canyon in Santa Barbara, CA, for inspiration, then book a weekend and get outside.
Laze by the pool
Didn't you always want to have the house with the pool? Now that you're an adult you absolutely can, especially since there are more and more easy, affordable options that don't require the use of a pool boy or taking on an extra job. Even a mini pool can be surprisingly romantic after you've put the splashing kids to bed. Chill out in the water with a bottle of wine and relax in the luxury of having it all.
Related: 25 Greatest, All-American Dates
Stuff yourself silly
These specialty trails, scattered throughout the country, offer artisanal cheeses, wines, and other delectable goodies just a short drive from home. Vermont is known for its cheese trail, Oregon has a fruit loop of fruit stands, and New York has a beer trail. Choose an "official" trail of specialty shops and restaurants or design your own by heading out to the country and hitting up some local farm stands and restaurants. Bonus points if you add a hike in the middle to burn off all those calories-and to make room for more.
Find your ancestors
HBO's Family Tree just ended, making it the perfect time to star in your own story of searching for ancestors. Studies have found that understanding where you come from can make you feel more secure in yourself, and seeing just how diverse you and your guy's backgrounds are can make it seem even more insanely cool that you ended up together. To start, download the Ancestry app from Ancestry.com. As you trace your roots, you may find some long-lost cousins, and, hey, they could have places to crash during a future vacation.
Learn a new recipe
Sure, you can always go out to dinner, but it's actually more effective to devote your date night to cooking together. Studies have found that couples that work together to develop a skill can become closer. Try finding a dish you both like on Blue Apron, which delivers new recipes and fresh ingredients weekly for quick, healthy meals.
Related: The Top 50 Date-Night Ideas of All Time
Get back to the land
It used to be that days at the farm were for second-grade field trips. No more. Farms are increasingly allowing adults to harvest veggies or eggs and feed small animals. There may be an admission fee, but you often get to keep some of what you harvest, and the sight of your sweaty guy with a hoe will be worth it. Google "day trips" and "farms" to find one in your area.
Hit the open road
Nothing feels freer than feeling the wind in your hair on the back of a bike. Rent a Vespa for a day or, if you're brave, sign you and your guy up for a Motorcycle Boot Camp offered by Harley-Davidson. If the thought of traveling on only two wheels makes you a little nervous, take your car off-roading. Some beaches allow vehicles on the sand, so find one near you, pack some snacks, and enjoy the ride.
Bonus: Plan a great fall date
Why stop wen you're on a roll? From the IHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas (September 20 and 21) to Zac Brown's Southern Ground Music & Food Festival in Nashville (September 27 and 28), fall is a great time for music festivals. Buy tickets now, put it on the calendar, and keep the sparks flying.
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