Whether it’s that first get-to-know-you date with a perfect stranger, or a rare night out for mom and dad, there is more to date night than dinner and a movie (There’s nothing wrong with dinner and a movie, for the record.) In Wisconsin, you’re never too far from an out-of-the-box, affordable date idea. Tell your date you came up with the idea all on your own – just thank us later.
- Cozy up at the drive-in
Photo by Mark Trieloff
Although drive-ins these days are few and far-between, you can still find them in Chetek, Wisconsin Dells, Chilton, Freedom, Jefferson, Shawano, Monroe, Fish Creek and Richland Center. What’s more romantic than cozying up in a truck bed and watching a movie under the stars? Find your nearest drive-in here.
There aren’t many date ideas more classic than bowling, and lucky for us, you’re never too far from a bowling alley. In Milwaukee, check out The Holler House for the nation’s oldest bowling alley. If you’re in northwest Wisconsin, stop at Black & Orange Lanes in Webster for a classic experience, accompanied by a poker room, horseshoe pits and a volleyball court. In northeast Wisconsin, you’ve got to check out The 10th Frame in Appleton for great bowling and even better food. Get out your bowling shoes and favorite ball, and make it a little friendly competition between the two of you.
- Star-gazing at Hobbs Observatory
The universe is an unimaginably big place, and marveling at it with someone special can be pretty romantic. Public viewing at Hobbs Observatory in Fall Creek is available on clear Saturdays from May through October, about an hour after sunset.
- Let out your inner child at Bay Beach Amusement Park
Photo by Lauren Olson
A charming, old-fashioned amusement park, Bay Beach has managed to keep prices low and features classic rides and roller coasters for all ages – perfect for a lighthearted date, whether it’s your first or 500th.
- Comedy Clubs
Sharing laughs with your S.O. is essential, and comedy clubs are bound to get you chuckling. Check out Comedy Club on State in Madison, Comedy Café in Milwaukee, ComedyCity in DePere, and Skyline Comedy Café in Appleton.
- Baseball games
Catching the Brewers at Miller Park is always an excellent option, and with the Beloit Snappers, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, and many of the Northwoods League teams (Madison Mallards, Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, Fond du Lac Dock Spiders, Kenosha Kingfish, Green Bay Bullfrogs, Wisconsin Woodchucks, Eau Claire Express, La Crosse Loggers and Lakeshore Chinooks) all right here in Wisconsin, your summer can be chock-full of baseball dates together. Don’t forget the peanuts and Cracker Jacks. And prepare for your kiss-cam debut.
- Ice skating
Photo by @kris_vanhandel, Instagram
With just about half the year occupied by winter, you’re sure to find a local ice rink close to you in Wisconsin. Picture fluffy snowflakes falling at dusk – like a scene out of a movie. You’ll likely have to help each other stay upright…the perfect excuse to hold hands, keep warm and sip some hot cocoa after.
- Mini golf
Vitense Golfland in Madison is known for its two outdoor and one indoor miniature golf courses, but did you know there are also batting cages, a climbing wall, an arcade and remote control boats? You can also find some great mini golf courses in Eagle River, Siren, Sister Bay, Wisconsin Dells and St. Germain. This is one of the most traditional dates for good reason!
- Dog parks
If you and/or your S.O. have a pup, a trip to the dog park is a blast for both you and your four-legged friend. I’m always looking for an excuse to pet puppies, and most dog parks have some beautiful, scenic views to top off the already great experience. Some of the best dog parks in Wisconsin can be found in Madison, Racine, Johnson Creek, Eau Claire, Oshkosh and Janesville.
- The Fireside Dinner Theater
Photo by Ross Zentner, @rosszentner, Instagram
It’s like dinner and a movie, but better. The Fireside Dinner Theater in Fort Atkinson serves up a delicious five-course meal in a dimly lit dining area, followed by a top-notch live performance, which switches out every couple of months. This is exactly the romantic night out that you need.
Happy dating, Wisconsin. What have been some of your best date nights in our beloved state? Share with us on social media using #DiscoverWisconsin.
Kristen Finstad is a member of the Discover Wisconsin crew. Having grown up in River Falls, attending UW-Stevens Point and now living in Madison, she’s a Wisconsin girl through and through. Watch Discover Wisconsin TV Saturday mornings at 10 on Fox Sports Wisconsin. (Twitter: @DiscoverWI)