If you’re anything like me, a date invitation evokes instant smiles. The kind that starts in your eyes and gently curls the corners of your mouth. Secret ones that dance inside your belly – reminding you of soaring back and forth on playground swings.

Besides reasons to gussy up, they’re also opportunities to display your best ‘I can make you put your phone down’ skills. This intrigues me to no end. Yes, please to all of that!

Today, I’m grateful that I still spin on my axis whenever the pleasure of my company is requested. That feeling never gets old.

But dating is even more delicious these days because I know intimacy exists less in the asking, and mostly in the date itself.

For too long, a preoccupation with roles, rules, and expectations jacked up many of my date nights. A satisfying romantic life required some major unlearning.

Contentment comes easily now because I understand that grand gestures aren’t an indication of how well someone knows or cares about you. Besides, it soon felt unkind to expect Saturday nights to turn into scenes from my favorite movies.

I chuckle every time I recall being distracted by Jason’s Lyric-ish agendas featuring a commandeered bus, dinner for two in a vacant building, and a sexy outdoor tryst.

Please.

The germaphobic, we’re-gonna-need-a-blanket-or-something-on-the-ground-first woman that I’ve always been wanted no parts of any of that. Shame on me for insinuating that I did. That kind of pressure doesn’t create diamonds. It creates a fear of failure that makes planning nothing at all a safer bet for a partner.

Let’s face it, romantic rooftop dinners like the one Dominic planned for Lauren in Think Like a Man just aren’t in everyone’s romantic repertoire.

Whether it’s your first or your fifty-first, Nia Magazine wants to help make your next date, your best date. No need for fingers-crossed-and-one-eye-squinted hope.

Starting with Atlanta, GA, we’ve comprised a list of date ideas sure to satisfy you and your bae. Perhaps our suggestions will inspire you to plan something you’ll both consider special. Or maybe you’ll pass the information on so that he can get his ‘cater to you’ skills up. Either way, we’d love to hear about it.

On a dating hiatus? No worries, our suggestions are perfect for Girls Night Out excursions as well.

From early starts, to afternoon jaunts and evening rendezvous, the following list will help you coordinate a date for every schedule, personality, and taste. Select one or a combination of several for a date to remember. Let the Dating Begin!

Date Night Atlanta Edition: 28 Ideas to Make Your Next Date the Best One Ever

VOLUNTEERING

One-time volunteer projects are a great way for people to get acquainted with each other and their community. Check out these resources for opportunities to make life-changing connections.

  1. Hands On Atlanta

This organization makes volunteering accessible regardless of your schedule. Even if you only have a few hours to spare, their opportunity calendar is sure to provide ways for you to get involved. http://www.handsonatlanta.org/ways_to_volunteer

2. Create the Good

Use your life experience to make a difference in your community. Through service, you can tell the world about your life and expertise. Watch, learn, and give all at the same time. http://createthegood.org/

STREET MARKET CRAWL

Eat, drink, and be merry as you spend the day traipsing through one of Atlanta’s charming markets. Each is a unique and fun way to discover more about Atlanta’s diverse neighborhoods. Go the extra mile design a scavenger hunt that guarantees you’ll experience as many of the market’s treasures as possible.

3. Ponce Street Market

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Photo credit: Ponce Street Market

While the marketplace is the heart of Ponce City Market, artisan chefs and local vendors have a created an environment that honors and appreciates all that Atlanta has to offer. http://www.poncecitymarket.com/

4. Krog Street Market

This West coast style market right in the heart of Inman Park is the home of unique and specialty delights. http://www.krogstreetmarket.com/

5. Sweet Auburn Curb Market

Referred to as “The Curb Market” and located in the original Municipal Market building, it is home to eleven of the most popular dining experiences in Atlanta. http://thecurbmarket.com/

FOOD TRUCK CRAWL

Pack light and keep it comfy for a rendezvous of street eats and cultural enlightenment. Food truck crawls are great way to sample the best of the best of Atlanta’s food truck cuisine. It’s also an excellent way to casually learn a lot about a companion as well.

6. Atlanta Food Truck Park & Event Center

Located on a rehabilitated hotel site, this environment prides itself on being an ever-evolving food scene. A farmer’s market, vibrant art farm, and electric live music venue make this a prime location for romantic and family friendly dates alike. http://atlantafoodtruckpark.com/

7. Street Food Thursdays

The truck pile located in the lot on 12th and Peachtree will not disappoint even the pickiest taste buds. http://www.atlantastreetfood.com/calendar/

BOOKSTORES

Whether you’re a book lover or not-so-much, a book store date is a great way to get to know someone. Pinterest can assist with couple’s challenges guaranteed to facilitate insightful, flirty fun. Casual conversation over coffee will give you a chance to share a bit more about yourselves also.

8. The Shrine of the Black Madonna Cultural Center & Bookstore

Honoring everything related to the Pan African experience, visits quickly become a stimulating exploration of culture. Their wide selection of African art , ceremonial masks, and sculptures provide exposure to artisans of the day. You’ll also receive a history lesson like no other when you visit the Center’s African Holocaust Museum.  http://www.cbpm.org/shrineofblackmadonna.html

9. A Cappella Books

Considered Atlanta’s only full-service bookstore, A Cappella is your one-stop shop for new, used and antiquarian books. You’re sure to catch your favorite authors here for book signings and other literary events. https://www.acappellabooks.com/

SPA APPOINTMENT FOR 2

A spa day is an easy and relaxing road to romance. Enjoying the latest stress-reducing therapies and treatments with someone special guarantees a date to remember. Be sure to check Groupon and LivingSocial for weekly deals for two.

10. Celestial Spa

This luxury spa prides itself on not being what you expect. They guarantee that your wind-down experience will be like no other. This one of kind venue is exactly what you’ll enjoy sharing with someone one special. http://www.celestialspa.com/index.html

11. The Buckhead Massage Company

Simply put, this place caters to couples. A side-by-side massage by candlelight is an easy way for a couple to achieve sweet relaxation and togetherness.  https://buckheadmassage.com/

FITNESS

Fitness dates have long been a growing trend for singles, couples and groups of friends. Atlanta has several options that won’t require an expensive membership fee and many are $FREE. Check out these spots sure to get your heart pumping in more ways than one.

12. Atlanta Beltline

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The Beltline is rapidly positioning itself as the heart of Atlanta. More than simply a modern transportation depot, it’s a haven for creatives and positive living enthusiasts; a true reflection of Atlanta’s beauty. Free yoga, boot camps, mountain biking, hiking, and swimming classes make this destination perfect for a fitness date.

Tours, special events, and great people watching perches make Atlanta’s Beltline great for other daylight dates as well. http://beltline.org/atlanta-beltline-programs/health-and-fitness/#fitness-classes

13. Silver Comet Trail

Approximately 62 miles of paved trail spanning three counties (Cobb, Paulding, and Polk counties), it is only a quick 13 miles North of Atlanta. The serenity of Silver Comet is the perfect backdrop for walking and talking. Hikers, rollerbladers, cyclists and horse riders will be right at home here as well. http://www.silvercometga.com/

14. Washington Park

Considered a fitness enthusiast’s dream, this park boasts an exercise zone, indoor pool, tennis court, and walking/jogging track. The fact that it’s hardly ever crowded scoots Washington Park to the top of our faves list. http://www.atlantaga.gov/index.aspx?page=25

FOR THRILL SEEKERS

Adventurous couples will enjoy these heart pumping date ideas. These daring experiences will have you holding on tight in every way.

  1. NASCAR Ride Along

You and a professional driver will tear the track up at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in a stock with enough horsepower to make NASCAR’s finest jealous. Not really, but you get the point. http://www.cloud9living.com/atlanta/stock-car-ride-along

  1. Helicopter Ride with Prestige Helicopters

Prestige offers packages to suit every budget. Regardless of your choice, breathtaking views of Atlanta and the surrounding areas will always make for wondrous conversations and memories. www.prestigehelicopters.com

  1. Skate Zone Morrow

Serious skaters and folks who just want to have a little fun will all fit right in here. Lace up, grab your date’s hand and roll the night away. http://sk8-zone.com/

  1. Camping at Fort Yargo State Park

Talk the night away under the stars, and experience the sunrise from a stunning mountain view. With overnight accommodations available in fully equipped cottages or lakeside yurts, this date will be one to remember. http://gastateparks.com

GET CREATIVE!

Creativity requires passion. Tap into some of that with date night ideas guaranteed to help you discover more about yourself and others.

  1. Cooking Classes at Vino Venue

You and your date can learn how to prepare delicious meals and which wines will go best with them. Nothing but wins all around! http://vinovenue.com/shop/Cooking-Classes/

  1. Make Your Own Bath & Body Products

Commemorate your evening together by making luxury smell goods for one another. Classes focus on custom candles, soaps and balms.  http://loveyourmama.com/for-the-locals/classes/

BRUNCH & DINNER TREATS

Couple Enjoying Drink At Bar With FriendsOne of America’s favorite meals, brunch makes for excellent date cuisine. Whether you schedule it between other activities or as a stand-alone event, it will make for an excellent date choice.

  1. Lov’n It Live

Specializing in raw, organic, and vegan cuisine, this restaurant is an area favorite for its uniqueness and excellently prepared dishes. There is a laid-back, Afrocentric vibe and live music is a staple. Lov’n It Live is a great place to get to know raw eating and someone special better. http://www.lovingitlive.com/

  1. Le Petit Marche

Considered a brunch restaurant, the award winning Le Petit Marche is featured on several Best of Atlanta lists. Although the family-owned gem retails fresh breads, cheeses, pestos, and unique locally made pantry items, it is best known for its freshly prepared delights including an all-day breakfast menu. The quaint, at-home atmosphere will make for excellent conversations with someone special. http://lepetitmarche.net/index.php

  1. Ria’s Bluebird

It’s hailed as the home of the world’s greatest pancakes and countless other culinary delights. Get to know your date better while you wait to be seated and as you savor every bite. http://riasbluebird.com/

  1. Wisteria

This mecca of acclaimed southern soul food provides a delicious backdrop for any date night. Your meals will remind you of the ones grandma used to make – a great conversation segue for you and a special companion. http://www.wisteria-atlanta.com/

  1. Eleanor’s at Muss & Turners

A speakeasy makes for an intriguing date night destination. Conversation possibilities will be limitless as you discuss the mysterious entrance and historical foundation of this popular restaurant and lounge. http://www.mussandturners.com/

NIGHT TIME TREATS

An after-hours rendezvous doesn’t have to be Rated R. Not necessarily. Atlanta’s late night scene is an exciting and diverse one. What an excellent way to let stressors of the day fall away. The following activities will make celebrating life with someone new even more fun.

  1. Stargazing at the Fernbank Science Center Observatory

For only a few dollars, you and a date can view the real night sky’s stars, constellations and planets in the most remarkable way. http://fernbank.edu/

  1. Dessert for Two at Café Intermezzo

Open until 2am, make this one of your last and most delicious stops of your evening.  http://www.cafeintermezzo.com/

  1. Dinner, Drinks, & Dancing at The Sound Table

This cool industrial space becomes one of Atlanta’s coolest nightclubs after hours. Open until 2:30 am, you have all night to enjoy great food, fabulous cocktails and “strongly encouraged” dancing. http://www.thesoundtable.com/

Remember, whether it’s a $20 date with someone new or a $200 one with your one-and-only, be sure to thank them for spending time with you.

A date doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. And even if it doesn’t end up being ideal, there’s always learning in the living. Keep the focus on the experience and its specialness because of who you’re sharing it with.

Darius said it best when he broke it down for Nina: “Let me tell you something. This here. Right now. At this very moment is all that matters to me . . . and that’s urgent like a motherf—-er.”

Have a suggestion for our list? Let us know and stay tuned for our next round up.

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