Whether you're looking for an idea to celebrate a once-in-a-lifetime anniversary, or to spice up a blessedly free weekend, we've dug up the best ways to spend precious time with your hubby.
By Anna Davies
Learn to dance
If it turned Silver Linings Playbook's depressed, angry Pat (Bradley Cooper) into positive relationship material, just imagine what a class would do for your guy. Plenty of studios offer sessions for first-timers and couples, but if your guy's especially intimidated, consider booking a private lesson to start.
Be a little silly
"On one of our first dates, my guy and I challenged each other to a 'triathlon' of activities we both liked," says Robyn H., 28, of Durham, NC. "We decided to compete in foosball, Pac-man, and pizza-eating. We were laughing the whole time, and now, part of the fun of 'triathloning' is coming up with three 'events' we can compete in. We've done ice skating, Connect Four, and M&M-eating and another time, we did swimming, diving, and onion ring eating."
Friday night date-night dinner can be crowded and cliché. Instead, trade carpooling duties with a friend, and spend a free Saturday at brunch. Or, just have it at home. While you can't go wrong with eggs and mimosas, Leah Tinari, owner of New York City brunch hotspot Fatta Cuckoo, swears by BLT tacos. To make them, take corn tortillas and toast them in a pan while you're frying bacon. Top the tacos with arugula, avocado slices, tomatoes, and a dash of hot sauce. Toast the day ahead with a tequila sea breeze: one ounce grapefruit juice, one ounce cranberry juice, and one ounce tequila. To make it extra delicious, eat it in bed...nearly naked.
Go back to school
"We live in a college town, and we're always scanning the school's website to see what interesting, open-to-the-public activities it offers," says Denver resident Jane S., 38. "We've seen cool authors speak, gone to shows of student work, and, I'll admit it, get a kick out of strolling around campus and imagining we we're still 19."
Get physical on the living room floor
"My husband and I have two young kids, so getting out by ourselves is pretty rare," says Rebecca K., 33, of Seattle, WA. "But we do make time to do P90X together three times a week, after the kids are in bed. It keeps us in shape, and it also gets us in a competitive spirit; we always have competitions over who can do the most push-ups!" One more reason why breaking a sweat turns up the heat in your relationship? Studies have found that competition can crank up libido, so keep challenging him on the push-ups.
There's something awfully romantic about being almost alone in the woods, quiet except for the sound of a far-off mating call. See if your local park offers tours, or head into your own backyard. "Don't worry about binoculars and equipment your first time out," advises Bob DeCandido, PhD, who runs birding tours in New York City's Central Park. "Just pay attention to the colors and the songs and see if you like it." Or, merely use it as an excuse to get lost in the woods and engage in a wild makeout session.
Hit the open water
The only thing sexier than Javier Bardem on a boat in Eat, Pray, Love is your husband. Plenty of boat tours are offered through daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial; look for a sunset one for ultimate romance potential.
See an improve show
Still mourning the end of 30 Rock? Ease the pain by grabbing tickets to a local improv show, where you may catch next decade's Tina Fey, Aziz Ansari, or Amy Poehler before they hit it big. Not only is attending these shows generally way cheaper than buying seats for "traditional" theater, the improvisers often ask for audience participation — and sell beer in the back.
Take a brewery tour
Yes, you'll learn something, but you're also likely to get a token for a free beer for your troubles. Bonus: the tour aspect takes away any residual guilt about drinking during the day. Find one by calling a microbrewery in a city near you.
Take a DJ class
Today, DJs are even cooler than rock stars, and since the DJ booth blocks any views from the waist down, no tight leather pants or Gaga-esque platforms are required. Plenty of DJ academies are springing up around the country, so run a Google search for one in your area and schedule a lesson for you and your guy. Your iTunes will never be the same.
Wander the bookstore
Your Kindle has tons of memory. but it sure isn't good at making them. Take a clue from the scene in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind when Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) continually re-meet and have conversations among the shelves. Our suggestion: Start at the the travel section and get to know each other even better by talking dream trips.
Spend the night by the fireplace
Admit it: Flames are sexier than CFL's any day. Start a fire, turn off the lights, and talk with your guy until there's only embers, like Sam (Natalie Portman) and Andrew (Zach Braff) do in Garden State.
Go ahead, be a little cheesy
Plenty of restaurants offer classes on the fine points of the smelly stuff, but it's easy to set up one in your own home as well. Head to a cheese store (or the cheese counter at your grocery store) and ask for recommendations. "For beginners, it's best to choose items from the same region," says Beth Griffenhagen, marketing manager at Murray's Cheese, a gourmet cheese shop in New York City. "Matching a beer or wine with a few cheeses from the same place usually works because the environment has interacted with the elements in the same way, often producing a complimentary flavor."
Document the night
Head to the pub around the corner, hit the coffee bar for dessert, or just grab takeout — but be sure to take plenty of fun, artsy or silly Instagram pictures. Not only will it create an awesome memory, but studies have shown that looking at photos of your significant other can make you feel even more connected to them, so find a favorite and print it out.
Take a trendy workout class
Even if he's a treadhead and you're a die-hard spinner, there are plenty of classes that allow you to meet in the middle. For example, Crunch gyms nationwide offer a class called SurfSet, where workouts are done on surfboard-like contraptions on springs, while the super popular — and hardcore — CrossFit phenomenon has drop-in rates for people who want to try the workout without committing to a gym.
Head to the drive-in
Grease's Sandy and Danny aren't the only ones who have a corner on the drive-in. Now that the kitschy location is making a comeback, you can find locations at driveinmovie.com. Grab some snacks, lean back, and enjoy.
Forage for mushrooms
It sounds like a survivalist move fit for Hunger Games tribunes, but fungi-finding has actually become a legit pastime around the country. Think of it like hiking with a cool reward: You get the ingredients for an amazing dinner as you hunt through coastlines and mountains for edible mushrooms. Check out the North American Mycological Association for guide-lead tours near you.
Brew your own beer
You could drive to the supermarket for a six-pack, but what's the challenge in that? Brewing beer at home has gotten really popular in the past few years, with ready-to-go kits available online at Williams-Sonoma and on Amazon.
Take a ride
The top of the Ferris wheel is the ideal place for true feelings to come out, and not only because it's an awesomely dramatic movie shot, à la Never Been Kissed. Research has found that adrenaline-spiked activities mimic the feeling of falling in love. When you're with your guy, those butterflies can be transferred from your feelings about the ride to your feelings about him.
Hit the club
We're not talking fist pumping. Lots of cities are cuing into Gen X nostalgia and creating '80s video dance parties where you can show off your best moonwalk or outdo Courteney Cox with your Dancing in the Dark moves. Check out Portland's '80s Video Dance Attack or Google "'80s Dance Parties" and your area. Alternatively, show off your own moves at home by YouTube-ing your favorites, playing them on your flatscreen, and partying like it's 10 years before 1999.
Venture into the kitchen
"We love Taco Tuesday; we try different main meats and experiment with flavors," says Chicagoan Erin G., 29. "It sounds simple, and we've got the prep-work down to a science, but because we don't have to concentrate on the task at hand, we can really enjoy being with each other."
Serenade each other
One of the most romantic scenes in the romantic movie Once is when Guy (Glen Hansard) sings to his love in a guitar store. Is your musical prowess about as technical as pressing play on iTunes? Check Groupon for guitar lessons: just one will allow you and your guy to at least tentatively pick a tune. Plus, research suggests working together to learn a new skill can actually tighten your bond.
Keep it together when you're apart
"My guy travels a lot for business, and one way I've found we can stay connected, especially on trips over a week long, is to keep a weekly movie date," says Sarah B., 28, of Pasadena, CA. "We'll pick something we both want to see and watch at the same time, texting or calling during scenes we like (or hate!)."
Take a spin around the gourmet grocery store
"A grocery store near us always serves a ton of samples on the weekends," says Erin S., 29, of Brooklyn, NY. "My guy and I like to go and taste, then get a few treats for a pre-dinner appetizer. It's a fun way to try new foods and makes shopping more of a treat and less of a chore." Stores like Cosco and BJ's give out plenty of samples, so you should have no trouble finding a spot to nibble near you.
Play strangers in your own town
In Roman Holiday, Audrey Hepburn plays a princess in disguise who ends up spending her day with a sexy journalist (Gregory Peck) who knows who she is, but doesn't reveal it so he can get a scoop. While role-playing is optional, spending an afternoon exploring a nearby city (having lunch at a cool bistro you've never been to because it's full of tourists, taking a walking tour of a local cemetery, or having your picture taken together by a town landmark) is a great way to see your world — and each other — in a whole new light.
Learn something fresh
"We love going to new museum exhibits, and will always go even if the topic doesn't seem to interest us at first," says New Yorker Andrea F., 35. "For example, we recently went and saw one about how artists manipulated photography before Photoshop. It gets us out of our routine and we always end up having interesting, philosophical conversations about what we see."
Linger at your favorite store
Lululemon offers complimentary workouts, Apple gives software demos, and Home Depot has home repair classes. Find an activity at your favorite retail outlet, and break up a ho-hum day of chores by learning something new for nada.
Fulfill your bucket list
In A Walk to Remember, Landon (Shane West) helps Jamie (Mandy Moore) cross items off her bucket list before she dies of leukemia. And while that's extreme, taking the time to do the things you've always wanted to with your guy helps further anchor your relationship and commitment to each other.
Head to the local nursery
More and more greenhouses are opening up cafes and gift shops, which make the destination more than just a place to buy mulch. Not only that, but walking around brightly colored flowers — especially when it's still freezing outside — can help influence your moods.
Head on a (mini) road trip
"Every Saturday morning, my husband and I choose a cool or quirky destination about an hour away from our home and head there," says Amanda F., 31, of Snoqualmie, WA. "It could be a new store, it could be a flea market, or it could be a restaurant, but I've found that the drive itself is an awesome way for us to discuss what's going on in our lives." It turns out that thanks to your seating position, the car could be an ideal place for serious discussions. "Men tend to open up more when you're sitting side by side than face to face," explains James Cordova, PhD, Professor of Psychology at Clark University. This is especially true when you're talking about something heavy, creating a situation in which eye contact could be interpreted as threatening or challenging.
Hit up a whiskey tasting
There's something about setting down a tumbler full of 12-year-aged Maker's Mark that brings out the primal manliness in a guy. (Maybe it's his sexy, faraway look while he's trying not to show reaction to the sting? We have no idea, but whatever it is, we'll take it.) States like Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee are known for their whiskey trails and plenty of urban restaurants specialize in whiskey, but you can also recreate your own by trying a bottle of bourbon (think Jack Daniels), Scotch (think Johnnie Walker) and Irish Whiskey (think Jameson), says Ky Soto, mixologist for The Thirsty Crow, a Los Angeles whiskey bar. Pour yourself "two fingers" worth of each — or better yet, let him — and have a glass of water on hand to sip between each taste. Soto recommends really paying attention to the different tastes present in each alcohol, but if your mind wanders to that Daniel Craig Skyfall Scotland scene, we won't judge.
Hit a morning matinee
"My husband and I love movies, but we've recently felt like the entire Friday night ordeal, from the crowds to the prices, was too much for us," says Jill D., 45, of Brookline, MA. "So now, on a Saturday when our kids are at soccer or a play-date, we'll go in the morning. Tickets are less expensive, and we'll bring in bagels from our favorite spot. Plus, we have the whole theater to ourselves to stretch out!"
Meet for drinks at a local landmark
Top of the Space Needle. In the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Staring at a cloud-covered Golden Gate Bridge. As we've all learned from movies like Sleepless in Seattle, iconic locations lead to even more iconic moments. Toast the fact that you're already living your happily ever after and admire the view.
Sign up for a mud run or color run
Dirt — and lots of it — is the pervading theme at these non-competitive fun runs spouting up around the country. They often require you to work in tandem, which is an awesome way to bond, and the finish-line sometimes stocks celebratory beer tents for thirsty participants. To find one in your area, log on to Active.com.
Plan a picnic
"Nothing makes me happier than a blanket, basket, some yummy snacks, and a Kindle full of books I'm ready to read," says Jenna S., 33, of San Mateo, CA. "Even if we're just in the backyard, something about lying on the ground, both of us reading our own thing, takes me right back to college in the best way."
Explore a winery
The go-to activity was made famous in Sideways, but there's lots of not-so-obvious things to do at wineries. More and more are equipped with hiking trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, and even pools, turning vineyards into all-day destinations. Or see if there's one in your city; in some areas, urban wineries are becoming almost as common as local breweries.
Play a childhood game
"Every Friday night, my husband and I order pizza, uncork a bottle of wine, and play old-school card games or board games like Battleship," says Kristin R., 30, of Cedar Grove, NJ. "It's a good way to unwind after a tough work week!" Breaking out the old board games or dipping into your child's stash can actually make you two closer. A study found that nostalgia-triggering activities can make you feel more connected to your partner.
Play with puppies
Your house may be a little too full to consider adding a four-legged friend right now, but that doesn't mean you can't look. Head to a local animal shelter and get a warm fuzzy fix, or, for something more permanent, log on to theshelterpetproject.org to sign up for opportunities to regularly walk and socialize the furry friends. Not only are you giving back, but the activity could add something to your relationship; studies have found that volunteering can actually make you feel less stressed and time-strapped.
Play with your food
According to HowAboutWe for Couples, a membership service that creates date itineraries for time-strapped New York City pairs, one of their most popular options is a DIY chocolate-covered pretzel kit. You can make your own by buying Nutella or heating up chocolate chips, then slowly dipping pretzel rods. Add sprinkles, tiny hard candies like Nerds, or chopped nuts for an extra dose of flavor.
Head to the opera
There's something so sexy about dressing in your absolute best as you watch a performance in a darkened theater. It was the turning point in Pretty Woman, and even if you don't understand exactly what's going on onstage, the music and the drama will sweep you both away. Bonus: If either you or your guy are veterans, you can often get free tickets to local events. Check vettix.org to see any offered in your area.
Soak up some advanced sex ed
No matter what your take on a certain shade of erotic novel, sex toy stores have never been busier, and plenty offer classes for couples. Don't worry, you won't get naked and extra points aren't awarded for participation; instead, there are lectures on everything from oral sex tips to sexy massage techniques. Babeland, in New York City and Seattle, is well known for its workshops, but you can call your local organization to check if it offers classes.
Head to the spa
Even a metrosexual dude with a shelf full of grooming products can get intimidated by the idea of the spa, but done right, a visit can be an awesome way to unwind. "Ask for side-by-side facials, body treatments, or massages," advises Melinda Minton, executive director of The Spa Association. "To make the most of the day, look for a facility with complimentary amenities like a dry sauna or a mineral pool. And don't be afraid to ask for a day pass, which means you'll be allowed to hang out and spend the day chilling after your service." Ahh-some.
Go to a dinner party
No longer do you have to wait for your foodie friends to offer up an invite to their house: more and more outside-the-home dinner parties are being organized around the country. To find one, Google "underground dinner parties" and your city. The menus are usually prepared by professional chefs who are off the clock, and you're bound to expand your palate and your social circle.
Get caught in the rain
Forecast calls for cloudy skies? Great! Grab your guy and head outdoors. Getting caught in a spring shower (or snowstorm!) pretty much forces you to lock lips in a passionate embrace that's even more sexy than the one Allie (Rachel McAdams) and Noah (Ryan Gosling) have in The Notebook.
It's so classic that it's almost a cliché, but spending the night outside is so romantic we couldn't resist including it. The best way to stargaze is to actually know what you're seeing, so download The Night Sky app. That way, you can actually be confident you're looking at the Big Dipper before you abandon all pretense and just make out.
Take a surprise trip
"Hands down, my favorite date ever was when my now-husband told me to dress for a trip to the beach when he picked me up," says Sarah P., 37, of Mendham, NJ. "He drove us to the airport, where we got on a plane to the Bahamas! We stayed for just a day, and we came home still in our bathing suits." If you're willing to be flexible as to your destination, you can find plenty of last-minute travel deals. Try airfarewatchdog.com to grab an inexpensive flight.
Steam up the windows à la Kate and Leo
That sweaty handprint in Titanic has pretty much been imprinted on your brains for the last 15 years. Not only does getting busy in the car bring back naughty memories of high school escapades, but it can ignite both of your libidos. According to experts, novelty is key in maintaining attraction — even more reason to give your bed a break and head down to the garage.
Take the scenic route
"My husband and I have gotten into the habit of going on marathon walks — we're talking six or eight miles — to get to a dinner destination," says Seattle resident Karen G., 50. "We live right by the beach, so we're able to walk along the ocean. By the time we sit down to our meal, we're ravenous, and find ourselves having really great conversations."
Wine it up
"We love going to wine pairing dinners," says Robyn P., 36, of Livingston NJ. "Not only are they delicious, but we find we learn things about wine and food that we can bring back and try in our own home! Plus, the prix-fixe offered at a lot of restaurants is a major plus; it's awesome to know the bill won't be the equivalent of a car payment at the end of the night because we ordered an extra bottle of wine."
Show him how much you love him like a love song
In 27 Dresses, the moment when Jane (Kathryn Heigl) does a drunken rendition of Bennie and the Jets is the moment you can see Kevin (James Marsden) melting. Plus, when you already know your guy, you can skip being sloppy drunk and go for the sloppy love stuff: think a long, hit-the-high-notes rendition of I Will Always Love You.