Great Dates

Take extra time to plan a special date—you never know where it might lead.

Movie dates can be boring, especially if the flick’s a bomb. Create your own entertainment with activities that require partnering. Here’s a list of offbeat suggestions that’ll score points for thoughtfulness and attention to detail. If nothing else, they’ll help build trust and maybe even spark a little passion.

1. Ride a tandem
Pack a picnic in your bicycle basket, and go. Dale Head, owner of Easy Ride Bicycle Rentals on Balboa Peninsula’s boardwalk, provides built-for-two beach cruisers so you and your partner can pedal and explore. Bikes rent for $25 an hour, or $50 a day. 9 a.m. to dark daily. Easy Ride Bicycle Rentals, 101 Palm St., Newport Beach, 949-566-9850,

2. Go Rock-Climbing
In climbing, camaraderie and bonding go hand in hand. Gym manager Devin Schoeman sees couples get closer when they look out for each other’s safety. A beginners’ class, “Fight Gravity I,” is $70 per couple for seven sessions, including rental equipment. Sessions are 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, and noon to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Reservations required. Rockreation Sports Climbing Center, 1300 Logan Ave., Costa Mesa, 714-556-7625,

3. Take on the Tango
Try the tango in the authentic setting of an Argentine milonga dance party. The evenings are hosted by instructors Patricia Reeves and Cesar Ricaurte, who believe the tango is one of the most expressive and passionate dances you can learn. Classes cost $15 and cover one session and admission to a milonga afterward. Sessions are Sunday evening: at 5 for beginners, 6 for intermediates, and 7 for advanced students. The milonga is from 8 to midnight. Londance Dance Studio, 3625 W. MacArthur Blvd., Santa Ana, 949-837-0440,

4. Glide on the ice
It might be challenging, but operations manager Jeff Phillips says ice skating can be a lot more romantic than a standard dinner and a movie: Think soft lights, a mirrored disco ball, music, and videos-from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday. Admission is $12 per person; skate rental is $3. Aliso Viejo Ice Palace, 9 Journey, Aliso Viejo, 949-643-9648,

5. Paddle a kayak
Rent a double kayak and make your way through one of the county’s harbors, where the water is calm and the paddling is easy-which is perfect because you’ll want to concentrate on rowing as a team. Cost: $20 for one hour, $35 for two hours, or $55 for a full day. Dana Point Jet Ski and Kayak Center, Shipyard Building, 34671 Puerto Place, Dana Point, 949-661-4947,

6. Breathe in sync
In partners yoga workshops, couples take interactive sessions. Instructor Glen Swindler describes it as a way to work together on balance, help each other with poses, and provide each other with moral support. Cost: $40 per couple. Deep Dog Yoga, 22345 La Palma Ave. #101-A, Yorba Linda, 714-606-7667,

7. Rent a paddle boat
Couples who paddle a boat around a 3-acre lake at Irvine Regional Park usually end up laughing. That’s because they often are surprised to discover who has the best coordination, the most stamina, and the strongest work ethic. No reservations required. Cost is $12 per half-hour. Irvine Park Rentals, 1 Irvine Park Road, Orange, 714-997-3636,

8. Ride in a gondola
It’s romantic, and you can steal a kiss, in 16th century tradition, while passing under a bridge. Owner Georgia Mahoney’s staff has been ferrying couples in 30-foot gondolas for 13 years. Attire: sweats to evening gowns. Cost is $85 for about one hour of boating, and includes a basket of snacks. Gondola Co. of Newport, 3400 Via Oporto #103, Newport Beach in Lido Marina Village, 949-675-1212,


By Cheryl Pruett  /  Photograph by Jason Wallis

This article originally appeared in the November 2010 issue.

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