life·5 min read

35 Out-of-the-Box Friend Dates (That Aren’t Just Dinner or Drinks)

Things to do with friends; a group of four female friends together outdoors with their arms around one another
Design: theSkimm | Photo: iStock
May 9, 2022

Whether you’re making plans with a new friend or getting together with a BFF you’ve known for ages, you might be tempted to shoot off a “Happy hour tonight?” or “Let’s do dinner soon!” text without a second thought. But we're coming out of a pandemic and 36% of all Americans—including 61% of young adults and 51% of mothers with young children—feel “serious loneliness.”

So we're here to talk through some other things to do with friends that can help you reconnect on a more personal level.

Places to Go With Friends

Looking to get out of the house together? Consider:

  • The park:  Get that vitamin D while asking the inevitable, “So how have you really been?”

  • Get out in nature: Whether it be a hike, the beach, or your own backyard. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Running errands: Sometimes the easiest way to get to that “comfortable doing whatever together” level of friendship is just to… do whatever together. And that includes not-so-sexy stuff like dropping stuff at the post office, grabbing groceries, picking up dry cleaning, or going on Target runs.

  • Self-care: Treat yourself…together. Book a spa day, a nail appointment, or make a trip to the gym a regular part of your catch-up routine. Sweating it out together can be a great way to bond.

  • Joining a team: Prefer a more competitive form of exercise? Consider joining a rec league together. You could soon be teammates playing kickball, softball, soccer, disc golf, tennis, disc golf, racquetball…

  • Galleries: Maybe you and your friend are just as passionate about Picasso. Or maybe you're just in it for the free wine and beer that’s usually offered at a showing. Either way, sounds like a win.

  • Museums: We love an educational excursion between friends. Be a tourist in your own city and soak up the culture.

  • Live music: Check out upcoming concerts in your area, find a band or artist you’re both into, and make it a date. Singing and dancing along are encouraged.

  • Karaoke: Grab the mic and let your freak flag fly. 

  • Thrifting: Because fast fashion is so last season. 

  • The library/bookstore: Nothing says 'let's catch up' like helping your friend choose a book by its cover. In case you need some recs before browsing the stacks, here are the 25 books every millennial should read at least once in their life. 

  • Going to a game: Check out the professionals, or support your local minor leagues. And don’t sleep on the snacks at the concession stand.

  • Art class: Opt to express yourselves through painting, pottery, collage, glass-blowing, hand-lettering, photography, candle-making…

  • Cooking class: Don your aprons and learn to make something scrumptious. You’ll feel like a Chopped contestant in no time.

  • An amusement park: Ride roller coasters, drench yourselves on water rides, and more at your local amusement park. Pro tip: Take some anti-nausea medication first.

  • Bowling: No judgment if you still need to use bumpers. And don’t forget to BYOS: bring your own socks.

  • Skating: Roller or ice, dealer’s choice.

  • Trivia: Test your knowledge together at a local trivia night. Start thinking of your team name now  — some places will give you extra points if yours is particularly entertaining.

  • Bingo: It’s not just for grandmas anymore. And aside from having major fun, you could win some serious cash. Get your dabbers ready.

  • A Drag show: Queens serving face, dishing jokes, dancing, and lip-syncing while dressed to perfection? We’re there, dollar bills in hand.

  • Volunteering: Because nothing makes you feel closer to each other and your community than giving back. Start by choosing a cause you both care about — think animal welfare, the arts, education, gender equality — then do a quick Google search to find related volunteer opportunities in your area. 

Things to Do With Friends At Home

More interested in a homebody hang? Try:

  • A movie night: Queue up your film. Or check out the latest TV trend: scammer docs.

  • Baking: On your mark, get set, bake. Whether it’s savory bread, a sweet pastry, or anything else you might see on Great British Bake-Off. 

  • Board games: Who doesn’t love a little friendly competition? There are a surprising number of two-player games out there to choose from, whether you prefer a classic (such as chess or Scrabble) or something more modern (like Patchwork or Klask).

  • A doggo date: Leash ‘em up and head to your local dog park, or go on an off-leash adventure at a nearby nature trail — or in your backyard.

  • Spa day: Because we could all use a little pampering. Pick up some sheet masks, toss some cucumber into your water glasses, and play some zen music. Bonus points if you do it all in robes and slippers.

  • DIY Paint-and-sip: No need to go to a studio. You can pull up an image on Pinterest to work from, follow a Bob Ross video, or just paint from your mind’s eye. Just pick up some canvases and acrylic paints, grab a bottle of whatever you’re in the mood for, and voila: a DIY paint and sip. 

  • A plant party: Give your plant babies a little TLC by feeding them some fertilizer, freshening up their soil, and moving them to new pots if they’ve outgrown their current homes. Or consider a plant swap instead of re-potting if you’ve got propagations to spare.

  • Home DIY: You know that project you’ve been dying to get done around your place but haven’t had the motivation to work on? Lean on your friend for motivation. Think: Putting up wallpaper, painting furniture, or hanging up things on the wall.

  • Book club: Use a free book club app to do all the organizing for you. 

  • Tarot reading: Whether one of you has been reading tarot cards for a while or you’re total tarot beginners, you’re almost sure to learn something new about yourselves (and each other) after an at-home reading. 

  • Puzzles: A great way to work together toward a common goal without being too intense. Here are some of our faves.

  • Closet clean-out: Help each other let go of items that no longer spark joy. And if you want a little more help organizing your closet, check out this list. Your newly-tidy wardrobe will thank you. 

  • Clothes swap: Gather up clothes you’re ready to get rid of, then get together and swap anything the other might like to keep. Donate whatever’s left to charity. New (to you) clothes and a good deed — win-win.

theSkimm

“Dinner and drinks” doesn’t have to be the friend date default. Opt for some of these alternatives with your pals and see if you can build new bonds that help maintain good relationships.

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