couple on a date outside winter dogs stock photo

Whether you have been married for decades, together for years or are even just starting a new relationship, planning fun and adventurous dates is important to keeping the magic alive in a relationship.

Heading outdoors is a great way to break up the winter cabin fever, if you’re prepared. Remember to bundle up — from your head to your toes — and don’t forget a mask.

“Lean into it,” said Jill Hinckley, founder of Hinckley Introductions matchmaking agency with an office in Portland. “It does require more planning than usual.”

These outdoor date ideas will make memorable adventures with your partner.

Take a hike

Hiking is a great way to get your blood pumping while enjoying all the romantic, scenic views that Maine has to offer.

If you are new to winter hiking, you might want to invest in some warm boots or snowshoes. Another worthwhile tool for Maine’s dark winter days: headlamps.

“I had a couple throw on a couple of headlamps and walk in a state park the other night,” Noreen Rochester, founder of Cara Matchmaking in Portland, said in November. “Luckily, we’re Mainers and we’re pretty hardy and we can get out and do those things.”

Spice up your daily walk

Even if you aren’t a sporty couple, you can still enjoy the winter scenery without trekking out to the woods. After you’ve put on your warmest layers and grabbed a mask, fill a Thermos with hot chocolate (if you spike it, we won’t tell) and head out for a winter jaunt.

Even if you are just going for a walk around the block, spice it up by planning a photo scavenger hunt. Create a list of items to find, or you can use categories, like snapping a picture of something in every color of the rainbow, or one thing that begins with each letter of the alphabet.

“When you find the items, take pictures of the two of you with that item,” Blake said.

Another way to add a little excitement to your daily walks? Head to the beach. Maybe it’s not the time for sunbathing and splashing around in the waves, but Maine’s beaches have a unique beauty that is perhaps enhanced by cool winter days. You can even make a trip to a lighthouse that you have always meant to go to but have never found the time for before.

“Cape Elizabeth at the lighthouse is a nice sort of tourist venue if you will,” said Ron Cater, owner of the Matchmaker of Maine personalized matchmaking service in Portland. “[Check out] places that would be an almost ‘touristy’ point of interest, a fun thing if you weren’t from Maine you would go to.”

Dine al fresco

Maybe you can’t dine in at your favorite restaurants, but lots of restaurants are still doing curbside pick-up. You can have a takeout picnic with your favorite dishes, or even bring some food of your own.

“Picnics are the biggest hit since March,” Rochester said. “They’re taking a couple of blankets and going to a beach or a park or out in the woods as long as it’s someplace safe. Each person brings a bunch of stuff and they’re having a wonderful time.”

To make it a little more comfortable during the winter, Rochester said to bundle up, bring blankets, warm drinks and maybe a portable space heater.

If you are lucky enough to have a fire pit in your backyard, have a s’mores night together.

If you don’t have a yard that is big enough for a fire pit, you can also purchase space heaters for your patio and perhaps dine al fresco or have a winter BBQ. You can grill up your summer favorites, or try something adventurous and new.

Try a new winter sport

Maine has seemingly endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, even in the winter, including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snowboarding, fat-tire biking and dogsledding.

No matter what your skill level or interests, you can find something that interests you. If you and your partner have never tried one of these sports and have always wanted to do so, now might be the time.

“If you’ve never gone snowshoeing before, you can do it at some of these open areas and parks,” Hinckley said.“It’s kind of fun to try snowshoeing for the first time [as well as] cross country skiing.”

It may be worth investing in some basic winter sports equipment. Rochester said that ice skates are a great one because if rinks are open you can go there with masks, but you can also ice skate on ponds once they freeze over. In Bangor, public outdoor ice skating rinks are usually set up in Broadway Park, Chapin Park, Fairmount Park, Stillwater Park and Bangor Gardens Park.

If ice and snow sports don’t interest you, try something else that will get you moving.

“Paddle tennis is kind of cool,” Hinckley said. “There’s a few paddle tennis courts around Maine [like the York Paddle Tennis Club and the Arundel Paddle Club]. When it snows they shovel off the court, so you can play all through the winter.”

Or, if you’ve attempted all the tried-and-true winter sports and are seeking something really bold, Rochester said that you could even try winter surfing, which she said some surf shops in Kennebunk are offering.

“I have clients that are going to do that,” Rochester said. “If you have the right gear on you’re ok. That’s just one more thing that people are willing to do.”

This first appeared in the January/February issue of Bangor Metro magazine, available on newsstands throughout much of Maine. Bangor Metro is also available by subscription.