It's official: Summer is in full swing, which means you only have a few months left to get through your yearly bucket list. Get started with ideas that'll put 2012 firmly in the rearview mirror. By Rachel Mosely, REDBOOK.
Duende, OaklandHead to market
One of this year's dining trends puts a new spin on an old standard, meaning you basic dinner date will be anything but boring. Market-style restaurants, where you pick your food at a counter, and then sit down to eat in a restaurant with an upscale vibe, are becoming increasing popular. Standouts include Chicago's Little Goat, Denver's upcoming Source, and Oakland's Duende, where you can stroll among local art and listen to live jazz as you get your grub on.
Pop away for a bit
Camping may not be glamorous, but between sleeping under the stars and unrestricted cuddling time, it's definitely romantic. With a stay at a pop-up hotel, however, you can get the best of both worlds. Some of the most buzzed-about properties have sprouted up in Tulum, Mexico-Design Hotels' Papaya Playa, where luxe, beachfront, thatched-roof cabanas start at $85 per night-and the UK-with the Pop-Up Hotel offering accommodations for specific events, such as the highly-anticipated annual Glastonbury Festival. If you're not planning to head overseas, look out for a stateside version soon. Danish firm Pink Cloud recently announced plans to open pop-up hotels in New York City.
Related: 25 Totally Free Date Ideas
Swing by a speakeasy
The '20s came roaring back this year with Baz Lurhmann's May reboot of The Great Gatsby, and the related revival of art deco-inspired trends in fashion and design. That's why now is the time to slip into a vintage speakeasy-flapper apparel optional-for a gin rickey with your dapper date. For an out-of-the-ordinary night, try the Varnish in Los Angeles, where the authentic Prohibition-era ambiance starts with the discreet entrance at the back of legendary restaurant Cole's Downtown.
Hit some balls
There's nothing like a little friendly competition to recharge the romantic batteries. After a couple of rounds at Spin, a boutique chain of chic ping-pong lounges, it might be tough to tell what's flying faster-the paddles or the sparks. With an appearance on the last season of Project Runway, a high-profile celeb connection-Susan Sarandon is a co-owner-and a growing roster of locations that includes New York, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Toronto, and a new Dubai outpost, Spin offers an experience nothing like the one your kids and their cousins have in the basement.
Everyone loves a two-for-one deal-and personal trainers are no exception. The industry has seen a rise in discounts on services for pairs and small groups, as opposed to the traditional one-on-one setup. Take advantage of the trend and contact a local gym to find out about group rates. Work up a sweat-and multiply your motivation-with a couples session, or make it a double date to further maximize your savings.
Related: 25 Greatest, All-American Dates
If he's more Kanye and you're more Taylor Swift, this may be the long-searched-for secret to your grooving as a couple. The silent disco-a party during which you quite literally dance to the beat of your own drummer, via a set of wireless personal headsets piping DJ-curated tunes-is taking the national nightlife scene by storm. The events were as hyped as some of the live performers at two of the year's biggest music festivals-Indio's Coachella and New York City's Governors Ball-but aren't limited to huge, pricey shebangs. New York-based Silent Storm Sound System has made appearances at events large and small nationwide, from rock concerts and movie screenings to weddings and wine tastings.
Introduce coffee to cocktails
Wondering how to spice up the classic café date? Why not throw in a couple of drinks? It's easier than it sounds-and it doesn't have to involve smuggling a flask into Starbucks. Coffeehouses all over the country-like Sweetleaf, with a new location in Queens, NY, and Hodges Bend, in Tulsa, OK-are expanding their hours and moonlighting as cocktail lounges. Meet your husband after work and switch seamlessly from an afternoon pick-me-up to happy hour for a guaranteed farewell to those weekday blues.
Related: The Top 50 Date-Night Ideas of All Time
Be young at heart
You might assume that theme parks are just child's play, but there's more than spinning teacups on tap when it comes to thrills. According to recent figures from Theme Park Services Inc, approximately half of theme-park visitors are over the age of 25. Even the most family-oriented fun-lands are adjusting their offerings so grown-ups can get their kicks-sans kids. At Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival, held from late September through early November, you can eat and drink your way through a not-so-small culinary world. Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari in Jackson, NJ, hosts a concert series each summer, with a reggae lineup in store this August. A bonus: There's very little risk of being turned away at the height requirement checkpoint.
Watch a food competition
Fine wines and craft cocktails have had plenty of time to get on the adventurous dater's radar. Now, with events ranging from chili cookoffs to chocolate flights, food-based spectator events are on the rise, and olive oil is enjoying a steady climb as a power player. As U.S.-grown oils-particularly those from California-gain traction, tasting bars and classes have spread as well. April's New York International Olive Oil competition was the biggest U.S. event of its kind to date, with 22 countries bringing hundreds of varieties to the table. Get in on the action with a visit to a local purveyor: Start browsing-and priming your palate-at the online directory for the Olive Oil Times, the organization that sponsored April's Olympics of EVOO.
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