Last September, we poked a little fun at all the BCB (basic couple behavior) that seems to run rampant this time of year. But as the fall season approaches, we've decided that if you can't beat 'em, throw on a flannel shirt and join 'em. Go ahead and pick your apples, bake them into a pie, and Instagram the heck out of it. Play carnival games at your local county fair or go camping and only bring one (decent-sized) sleeping bag. Hey, just because the weather is cooling down doesn't mean date night has to sizzle out. Quite the contrary.
With some brainstorming and input from your better half, planning a fall date doesn't have to be a headache. Nor does your wallet have to take a hit—some of the best date ideas won't cost you a penny. If you both share a passion for the outdoors, then a hike (or bicycle ride) to admire fall's colors will allow for maximum bonding time. Vice versa, DIY dates (a scary movie marathon or paint and wine night) can be a blast especially if the two of you are homebodies. While some dates are more spontaneous, others may need to be coordinated ahead of time. You wouldn't want to arrive at the apple orchard only to realize that they've reached maximum capacity or worse that they've run out of apples. When in doubt, you can even spice things up with a date night idea jar.
Here are 20 fall date night ideas to heat up your relationship.
1. Pick and Bake Fall Harvest Fruit
We've already mentioned apples (which come into season during the earliest months of fall), but pears and pumpkins also make for seriously yummy pies. A quick Google search should reveal all the apple orchards and farms in your area that will allow you to take a basket into their fields. Be sure to check the weather ahead of time (you wouldn't want the rain to put a damper on your day... literally) and wear comfortable walking shoes. Matching plaid flannel shirts not required but highly encouraged for all the cute couple selfies you'll be snapping. Then, all that's left to do is head home to bake up your bounty and proceed to eat leftovers for breakfast the next day.
2. Take a Hay Ride
It doesn't need to be haunted, though that certainly ups the fun factor. Still, any ol' hayride is the perfect excuse for a #SnuggleFestWithMySweetie. Don't forget the checkered fleece blanket or you're dead to us. (Kidding.)
3. Explore Local Fairs and Festivals
'Tis the season for festivals of every kind. Chili cook-offs, cool weather craft fairs, Oktoberfests, and state and county fairs abound. Show off your softball skills from middle school and win your partner that ginormous teddy bear, or make out when the Ferris wheel stops at the top. DO insist on getting cotton candy for a sweet end to your evening.
4. Watch a Scary Movie Outdoors
Could there be anything more romantic than a movie night under the stars? Bring your laptop to your deck, back lawn, or apartment's rooftop for a spooktacular evening with your boo. Whatever you do, don't forget to bring concession stand snacks (think along the lines of Junior Mints and movie theater-style popcorn) so that you're not starving halfway through the date. If you're not sure what type of horror movie to show, come prepared with several options and then pick one that you both can enjoy. You might discover that one of you is a scaredy-cat, which will make for years and years of playful teasing.
5. Enjoy a Picnic (and Jump in Some Leaves)
We know when you think of picnics, you usually envision summer, but fall picnics are where it's at. Situate yourselves near some gorgeous fallen leaves, and unpack your thermos-contained drinks—from hot apple cider to cocoa with marshmallows—belly-warming soup, and crusty bread. Afterward, you can work off your meal by jumping in a pile of leaves for a hit of nostalgia from your childhood.
6. Carve and Decorate Pumpkins
The phrase "pumpkin patch" is very basic, but also so darn adorable. Trek out to a nearby farm and pick out the prettiest pumpkin for you and your other half to take home and whittle away at until it resembles a Disney character. Or better yet, add some friendly competition to the mix by having an epic jack-o'-lantern carving contest. The winner will get bragging rights until next year's competition.
Avoid having a messy kitchen by setting up a carving station (newspapers and paper towels for easy cleanup) on your back deck. Additionally, you'll need a metal spoon to scoop out the pumpkin seeds and a few paring knives.
7. Plan a Puzzle Night
We say this with 100 percent sincerity: Puzzles are freaking awesome. They require patience, teamwork, and creative problem-solving—not to mention the ability to come back from making mistakes and... wait, did we just describe a marriage? Light your favorite pumpkin spice-scented candle and settle in with a flight of pumpkin ales for the perfect evening at home.
8. Map Out a Hiking Adventure
It's time to bust out the L.L. Bean boots and a field jacket for some scenic strolling (and climbing, depending on the difficulty level of the trail you've selected). You'll get your steps in for the day and hopefully discover some picturesque views for an impressive Instagram story. Though it may be a wee bit chilly, don't underestimate the potential of a beautiful sunrise or sunset hike. Just be sure to dress in layers that you can shed or pile on as the temperatures fluctuate.
9. Venture Out Thrifting Together
Couples who thrift together, stay together. Whether you hit up local thrift shops or venture out to consignment shops in neighboring cities, the start of the season is the best time to scoop up some gems—and yes, that includes those signature fall flannels (oh-so-cozy and just the right amount of oversized) that will have you both twinning for every autumnal photoshoot on the horizon. Plus, fall cleaning and back-to-school shopping means lots of folks just cleaned out their closets so now is the peak season for the best selection.
10. Go Camping and Light a Bonfire
Stargazing and s'mores are an obvious must, as well as storytelling around the campfire. Share funny (read: embarrassing) stories from your childhood or take turns narrating spooky ghost stories. Don't get so caught up in the spontaneity of a fall camping excursion that you forget to pack the essentials—namely, a two-person sleeping bag for optimal cuddling, a tent, flashlights, and spare batteries in case your S.O. is scared of the dark.
11. Hang Out at a Cidery or Brewery
Hot spiked mulled apple cider is a seasonal staple (bonus points if you score warm apple cider donuts) that deserves to be on every fall bucket list. An indoor cidery or brewery is a chill place to spend an afternoon once the weather gets a little too nippy for your liking. If there are no such local options, make your own signature cocktails at home. (These fall cocktail ideas are perfect for pumpkin spice latte lovers.)
12. Check Out a Corn Maze
This date idea can be totally cute or totally creepy depending on whether your vibe is more Field of Dreams or Children of the Corn. Let's assume it's the former—an afternoon or evening in a strategically manicured corn field sounds like an opportunity for showing off your navigation skills and sneaking hidden kisses among the rows.
13. Organize a Flag Football Group Date
It'll be just like that Friends Thanksgiving episode. (Maybe involve a little less cheating and inappropriate flashing in your recreation, though.) Bonus basic points if you rock the braided pigtails and backward hat a la Rachel Green.
14. Visit a Haunted House
Fall goes hand-in-hand with haunted houses and corn mazes. It's all in good fun, right? These types of attractions range from "kid-friendly" to "I'm actually going to wet myself." Figure out where you and your partner fall on the spectrum, then find an appropriate venue. If you want extra company, you could even turn it into a group date.
15. Get Lost on a Long Drive
Walking is nice, but have you tried driving? Some winding country roads aren't safe to traverse by foot, but the trees lining them are too pretty to miss when the leaves turn. And, of course, there are modern-day vehicular luxuries to consider too—on-demand radio (better yet, curate your own fall Spotify playlist), seat warmers, and a GPS once it's time to reorient and head back home.
16. Have a Wine and Paint Night
Unleash your artsy side with a wine and paint date night, but have it in the comfort of your own home to keep things extra cozy. Put one of you in charge of picking up the supplies (acrylic paint, canvas panels, paintbrushes, and aprons) and the other can supply the vino (or non-alcoholic sparkling cider). To keep things on theme, we recommend painting autumnal scenes of the local foliage. Don't sweat it if you're not a budding Picasso, by the end of the night you'll both have masterpieces to show off.
17. DIY Your Own Candy Apples
If you have a sweet tooth and are looking for an activity to get in the Halloween spirit, then look no further than homemade candy apples. This nostalgia-inducing treat is super fun to make and even more tasty to eat afterward. All you'll need is a handful of ingredients (scroll through Pinterest for a recipe that catches your eye), plus apples. Once they're coated in a caramel or sugar coating, you'll be able to decorate them with sprinkles, crushed walnuts, or even M&Ms.
18. Attend a Football Game and Tailgate
If you're not a big sports fan, then the idea of attending a football game may make you groan a bit but hear us out. Nothing says fall like a return to your alma mater for homecoming weekend. Just as the leaves are starting to turn, you'll be back on grounds when it's showing off the most. If time allows, you could even plan a fun scavenger hunt consisting of all your favorite places (best study spot, best scenic view, best dive bar, etc.). Factor in tailgating—give or take a few rounds of cornhole—and it's a win-win.
19. Rent an Airbnb and Head Upstate
The adrenaline rush of going somewhere new with your partner is enough to get both of you excited for a road trip. When it comes to leaf-peeping adventures on the east coast, there's no shortage of fall getaway destinations to choose from. From the Berkshires of Massachusetts to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania, you'll have no trouble locating an Airbnb for the weekend. Try a charming cabin in the idyllic countryside or even a cool treehouse nestled away in the woods.
20. Go on a Bookshop Date
Call us hopeless romantics at heart, but there's something so endearing about a bookshop date. Pick a charming bookstore with a cafe (and preferably comfy couches so that you can linger for a bit) and get lost in thoughtful conversation. The aroma of coffee beans coupled with the soft hum of acoustic tunes in the background will make for the ultimate fall date.