Caring For Our Kids

Creative date nights

Try The Great Houdini Escape Room for challenging fun. photo:

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be better about planning date nights with my husband. As parents, we take a lot of time and care looking out for our children, and sometimes that means that one of the last things we tend to is our partner or our relationship. Dinner and a movie is a great date night — easy to plan but sometimes they don’t always lend themselves to a lot of conversation. If you are looking to mix it up a bit this month or even this year, then try one of these “out of the box” date night ideas:


Some people call it a “do good” date night, but giving back to your community can be a great bonding experience and also very rewarding. There are endless options here in the city where there are so many nonprofits doing amazing work. Start by finding a cause or an organization you both are interested in or care about, and then find out how you can help. It may be spending an evening at the food bank, serving a meal at a homeless shelter, or planting new trees in the Presidio.

Last year, my husband and I spent Valentine’s night walking the Tenderloin counting homeless people for the census survey. We both care deeply about homelessness, and it truly was an eye-opening experience. It sparked a lot of conversation between us about what it would be like to live on the streets and what we think could be done to fix the problem. It also made us grateful for each other, for what we have, and also to realize how much more needs to be done to solve this problem in our city.


If you are looking to break a sweat and need help with your New Year’s resolution, try one of these ideas — they are mutually beneficial as you get in a workout and get to spend time together. Two years ago, I told my husband all I wanted for Valentine’s Day was for him to come to the date night class at Bar Method (3333 Fillmore Street) in the Marina. I had been going for a few months and loved it, and I wanted him to try it. To this day, it is an experience he won’t let me forget. I think he really liked it, and was definitely glad there were other guys in the class to share the pain with.

Another great idea is the Reboot class at The Pad (1690 Union Street). This is a 75-minute yoga class with a live DJ. There were many couples in the room, and it was a fun way to spend an evening. You leave feeling relaxed, centered, and there is no guilt about grabbing a glass of wine afterward. If you are looking for something on the more competitive side, try the Marina’s newest fitness sensation, Barry’s Bootcamp (2246 Lombard Street). This is where we will be for Valentine’s Day this year. It is a one-hour heart-pumping workout that involves alternating between a treadmill and a floor workout with weights.


If you really want to get to know your partner and maybe a few other couples, then give The Great Houdini Escape Room (3601 Lyon Street) located inside the Palace of Fine Arts a try. You need a minimum of six people, and you should know it is not scary, and you won’t feel claustrophobic. The group is given a limited amount of time (80 minutes) to try to solve fun and challenging puzzles. Trust me, it is not as easy as it sounds, and truly puts your strategy skills to the test. I did it recently for a friend’s birthday and immediately thought it would be fun to come back and try again with my husband and a group of couples. Grabbing dinner or drinks after is definitely a fun way to rehash the experience and laugh about it. I don’t suggest drinks ahead of time, as you really need all your mental capacities to “escape” the room. They also have a scavenger hunt, if you are looking for something a little less intense. You use an app on your phone to get the clues, and it is all centered on the grounds of the Palace of Fine Arts.

No matter how you choose to spend your date night, the best thing you can do is to make it a priority and make it happen. If you are like I am, we are very good about scheduling meetings, school events, and sporting events but not as good at planning one-on-one time together. My husband and I are going to take turns planning date nights each month and aim to keep them fun and exciting!


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Liz Farrell is the mother of three young children. She was formerly a television producer in Washington, D.C. and in San Francisco. E-mail: [email protected]