In the summer, it’s a breeze to find things to do. It seems like every weekend there are multiple festivals, fairs, and farmers markets, making the real problem deciding what to choose. In the winter, we need to get a bit more creative. Here are some winter date ideas to yank you and your loved one out of that cold weather slump!
Create a Signature Cocktail
With new shops like Queen City Shaken and Stirred and Keg Works at our fingertips, getting ahold of the proper tools for this date idea is easier than ever. I’m a big fan of going out for drinks, especially to support local bars and restaurants; but when a blizzard hits or the temperature “feels like” -25 degrees, the last thing you want to do is go out. Have some useful tools on hand so that you’re prepared to have an awesome night if you’re stuck inside. We recommend starting with a weighted metal shaker, a Hawthorne Strainer, a fine mesh strainer, and maybe a set of jiggers from Shaken and Stirred.
Create a cocktail that combines ingredients you both love or what you have lying around the kitchen. Maybe one of you loves dry gin and spicy ingredients (that’d be me) and one of you enjoys scotch and rum. Mix and match your favorite spirits with herbs and fruits you have in the fridge, simple syrup, egg whites and bitters you’ve stashed away for this reason. You’ll bond over the drinks that turn out horrible and get to enjoy a glass of your signature concoction when you finally get it right. If you’re interested in buying local spirits, we recommend picking up a bottle of Buffalo’s very own Lockhouse Distillery gin or vodka available at the Horsefeathers Winter Market and most liquor stores.
If you’re new to the cocktail game and need a starting point, check out these recipes by local bartenders from the October 2014 edition of Buffalo Spree or pick up a cocktail recipe book at Shaken and Stirred and adjust the contents to come up with something you’re into.
Curling Double Date
When my boyfriend and I were checking out the new rink at Canalside, we noticed people curling. The Ice at Canalside offers two curling lanes that can be reserved during open skate hours. The price is $15 per person for one hour with a minimum of 4 people and a maximum of 10, making it the perfect idea for a double date. That includes guidance from an instructor and all the equipment you will need to curl. Walk-ups will be accommodated if possible. Call (716) 574-1537 for details and reservation availability.
It’s a cheap, fun way to enjoy the frigid weather hand in hand while enjoying some of Buffalo’s new developments and getting a bit of a workout in. We’ve done all the leg work for you on our Ice Skating Guide. Just find the rink closest to you and get going.
If you’re not up for the balancing act that is skating after a few years off, The Ice at Canalside offers the perfect solution. Rent ice bikes with your date! I know from experience that if you go with skates, you might end up ditching them for a bike. They’re just too cool to pass up. Find a fireplace bar to warm up after.
Get an Adrenaline Rush Tubing
Fly down mounds of snow and see who can catch the most air! Tubing is a fun way to enjoy the snow for a reasonable price. Where better to go than “Western New York’s Largest Downhill Tubing Park”? Colden Tubing Company at 10296 State Road in Glenwood which opened recently to the public from 5PM-9PM on Fridays, 10AM-9PM on Saturdays, and 10AM-6PM on Sundays. Just $15 will buy you an unlimited tubing ticket.
If you’re south of the city, try Chestnut Ridge Park’s toboggan chutes from 10 AM- 4 PM on weekends and holidays, and 4 PM- 8 PM on Fridays (weather permitting). The cost is $5 per half hour.
Be a Kid Again
Throw those snow pants on and act like kids again! Have a snowball fight, build an igloo, go sledding, or channel your inner Anna (we know you know) and ask your date if they “want to build snowman”! Challenge each other to a snowman building competition. Who can make their snowman look more like themselves or better yet, each other? Loser makes the other one a steaming cup of spiked Penzey’s hot chocolate.
Sledding is a great winter workout and stress reliever. Smaller hills that won’t make you work too hard can be found at Glen Park in Williamsville and Delaware Park where Shakespeare in the park is held. Depending on your location, try Margaret Louise Park, Akron Falls Park, Como Lake Park, Niawanda Park, and Gunther’s Hill. Many of these parks offer activities other than sledding too, like snow shoeing, cross country trails and even tobogganing.
Chestnut Ridge Park offers a range of winter activities like, tobogganing, sledding, snowboarding, snow shoeing, cross-country skiing (ungroomed), hiking, and snowmobiling. The sled hill is available for use daily from 10AM- 8PM. Truth be told, if you just explore a park near you, I can almost guarantee there’s a hidden gem in there somewhere. Bring your sled and explore!
Winter Walks and Photography
Which brings me to my next point; don’t stop taking walks just because there’s snow on the ground. Explore a new location and take pictures of the beautiful snow covered scenery at a local park or neighborhood. When you’ve had enough of the cold, find a coffee shop to warm up and look at the pictures you both took. Challenge your date to capture a great winter photo. I love going to Glen Park and seeing the falls almost completely frozen in the winter.
Skiing / Snowboarding Lessons
Learning something new together can help you bond as a couple. If you know how to ski or snowboard teach your date some helpful tips. If neither of you have learned yet, take a lesson together. The weekend rates at Holiday Valley are $105 for the entire weekend from 4PM on Friday through 4:30PM on Sunday, $68 for an 8 hour ticket, $64 for a 4 hour ticket, $71 for a day/night ticket from 8:30AM-10PM, and $34 for a night ticket from 4PM-10PM. Rates may vary for beginners and weekday slope times, so check out their website for details.
The weekend rates at Kissing Bridge are $58 for a 4 hour ticket (any 4 hours), $62 for an unlimited ticket from time of purchase to close, $40 for a night ticket (4PM-9PM), and $40 for a Sunday night ticket (3PM-8PM). Again, rates may vary for beginners and weekday slope times. Visit the KB website for details.
Check out a new place together
My boyfriend and I love to check out book shops like Talking Leaves Books next to Caffe Aroma on Elmwood or The Second Reader Book Shop on Hertel Ave. It’s fun to get lost in there and show each other what we found! Share your new purchases with each other over mimosas and a cheese plate at Caffe Aroma or a latte at the new Daily Planet Coffee or SPoT Coffee in North Buffalo.
5th Date Ramen at SATO
Warm up by slurping a hot bowl of ramen with your date at SATO this winter. The Spicy Miso Ramen offers a hot miso mixture, chashu pork, bean sprouts, carrots, green onions, and soft boiled egg that will absolutely hit the spot on a cold day. We suggest waiting until the 5th or 6th date for this one. It’s not exactly the “daintiest” thing to eat, but it is delicious.
SATO’s location is prime real estate for an open-ended date. Before or after warming up with a steaming bowl of broth and noodles, do something else on Elmwood like grab a drink at Blue Monk or check out the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The first Friday of every month is free admission at the Knox from 10AM – 10PM. Even if you’re not very “artsy”, it’s fun to talk about some of the unusual designs and paintings in the museum and what they look like to you.
Learn to Roll Sushi
Take on a new challenge with your date by tackling the art of the sushi together. Steak Stone and Sushi occasionally offers sushi classes for $55 per person or $100 per couple. Practice basic sushi rolling techniques while enjoying select sparkling sake & Sake pairings throughout the evening. Then, take your newfound talents and do your best to recreate what you learned at home a few dates down the road. See details about this class and other cooking/cocktail classes here.
If you’d rather stay in but still want to get a lesson in sushi rolling, contact Martin Cooks to set up a workshop with Chef Martin Danilowicz. Pricing varies depending on the amount of people, location and type of sushi, but averages around $100 per person. Martin’s preferred days for workshops are Mondays and Tuesdays. Can you say, perfect group date?
Saturday Morning at Horsefeathers
For a change of pace, plan a day date on Buffalo’s developing west side. From 10AM-2PM on Saturdays, Martin Cooks serves a delicious brunch in a sophisticated, romantic atmosphere. The city is full of Sunday brunch places, but Saturday is a different story. Enjoy their terrific Bloody Mary and Huevos Rancheros or The Breakfast of Champions with French Toast and Bacon. What makes this a must on the winter date list is the Saturday Winter Market right downstairs. Enjoy your meal then explore the “farmers market” full of fresh winter squash and other veggies, Public Espresso Coffee, a BreadHive spread, Lockhouse Distillery spirits (samples involved) and more. If you’ve already had brunch at Martin Cooks and are looking for another fun spot to check out after the market, visit the new Five Points Bakery and Toast Cafe location down the street.
Game Night Date Night at Cafés and Bars
There are far more than darts at some local bars and cafés now-a-days. Cozy up in a quaint café or brewery and relax while playing free board games the venues have to offer. Order a French press and a “Parisian Street Vendor” crepe with sweet butter & confectionery sugar at Sweet_ness 7 Cafe while kicking your date’s butt at Scattergories. If you’re dating a beer aficionado, we suggest heading out to Aurora Brew Works where you can choose from hundreds of beers, grab Lloyds (FRI & SAT) and duke it out at Battleship.
Winter will be over before we know it, but make the best of it with these festive winter date ideas!
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