If dinner and a movie are getting old, or you’re looking to do something special for Valentine’s Day, New Jersey offers so many unique date ideas. Whatever you enjoy, there is something on this list that you and your partner will love.
1. Escape Room
Picture this: You're a private detective and you've managed to sneak into the speakeasy of notorious mobster, Jimmy "Two Toes" Guarini. You have only an hour before he and his associates return, and you need to find evidence that will put him away for life. The circumstances are shady - can you solve the crime and make it out in time?
This is just one of many scenarios you can experience in an escape room. They're designed to test your critical thinking skills as you search for all sorts of clues and solve riddles. Truly immersive and loads of fun, escape rooms make for amazing dates. How well can you work together? There are several locations throughout the state. Two of the most popular are Exit Strategy, with locations in Montclair and Wayne, and Amazing Escape Room in Freehold.
2. Dinner Cruise
Dinner is nice, but a dinner cruise is extra-special. You can find fantastic scenic cruises that offer views of everything from Manhattan to the Jersey Shore. Many vessels offer brunch and lunch cruises and will be hosting special sailings for Valentine's Day. Popular choices in our state include River Lady Cruises in Toms River, Vista Yacht Cruises in Weehawken, Cornucopia Cruise Lines in Perth Amboy, The River Belle in Point Pleasant Beach, and Spirit of New Jersey, departing from Lincoln Harbor. Cape May Whale Watcher also offers a fantastic dinner cruise.
3. Trail Rides
A fun activity that almost anyone can enjoy, trail rides can be found all over New Jersey year-round. A great option for animal lovers, nature lovers and adventurous types, this makes for an unforgettable date. Start your search for the perfect trail ride at Top View Riding Ranch in Blairstown, Legacy Riding Stables in Sayreville, or Miller Farms in Berlin.
4. Wine & Chocolate Weekend
Wine tastings always make for a unique date idea, but why not kick it up a notch? It's Wine AND Chocolate Weekend here in New Jersey, and many vineyards will be hosting special events on the 13th and 14th. Participating venues include: Old York Cellars Winery in Ringoes (pictured), Plagido's Winery in Hammonton, Hawk Haven Vineyard in Rio Grande, Sharrott Winery in Hammonton, Terhune Orchards in Princeton, Working Dog Winery in Hightstown, and Iron Plow Vineyards in Columbus.
Hawk Haven will be hosting live music along with culinary demonstrations, Working Dog will host the Jersey Devil Food Truck and their chocolate-covered bacon on the 13th, Sharrott Winery is breaking out the chocolate fountain and offering special gifts for the ladies, and Old York will be offering wine and chocolate pairings with souvenir glasses. These are just several options, check individual winery websites for more details.
5. Dance Lessons
You can buy a block of classes or just try an introductory lesson. You and your date are guaranteed to get close, and dance lessons are definitely something different. If you're a coordinated couple or have a good sense of humor, check out MDN Latin Dance Studio in Belleville, Jersey Dance in Princeton, Atrium Dance Studio in Pennsauken, or Anytime Dance Studio in Long Branch.
6. Get Crafty
Creating something is always special, and even more fun when done with a date. From painting to pottery, there's a perfect place in New Jersey for you. Just Bead Yourself in Westfield is offering an "Energy of Love" event on the 13th and 14th, which allows couples to create jewelry incorporating gemstones. Around The Corner Art Center in Freehold (and Morganville) offers Canvas & Cocktail nights along with other events. A Time To Kiln in Red Bank offers both canvas and pottery painting, with the opportunity to take your projects home the very same day! Fire Me Up in Cranford allows visitors to paint pottery, fuse glass, and sculpt with clay.
The Clay Pot in Spotswood is hosting a special couples event on the 13th, which allows couples to create their very own pottery and paint it afterwards. Glassworks Studio in Morristown is all about glass fusing and is a registered sustainable business. The Painted Grape in Hardyston offers wine and painting, crocheting and wreath making. Bright Zebra Studio in Matawan provides a whole host of activities including painting, sewing and even cooking classes. Last but not least, Hot Sand in Asbury Park offers walk-in glassblowing and workshops. This is only just a sample of the artistic options New Jersey has to offer.
7. Ghost Tours
New jersey is filled with history, but parts of our past still survive in the present... if you believe. There are many seasonal ghost tours to choose from, but several businesses offer this unique activity year-round. Paranormal Books & Curiosities in Asbury Park still has availability for their February 27th ghost tour and investigation. They also offer seances and a paranormal museum, which is currently being expanded. The Ghosts of Cape May Trolley tour is another option, offering availability this weekend (2/13-2/14) with additional dates in March. You can hold hands if you get scared!
8. Brew It Yourself
Get dinner, then make your own drinks. The Brewer's Apprentice in Freehold offers opportunities for beer, wine, mead and soda making. Grape Beginnings in Eatontown offers beer and wine making. The Grape Escape in Dayton may not offer brewing, but you can make your own wine, chocolates, mozzarella and more!
9. Snow Tubing
Everyone goes ice skating in the winter, but what about snow tubing? It provides just the right amount of thrill and can be done almost anywhere. Campgaw Ski Area in Mahwah (pictured) and Mountain Creek in Vernon are great places to start, but you can always head to a local hill for some fun. Afterwards ,warm up by the fire or with a hot cup of coffee.
10. Cooking Classes
They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but I say, everyone loves good food. Crank up your cooking skills at Hudson Table in Hoboken or try vegan cooking classes at In The Kitchen Cooking School in Haddonfield - they also offer classes on a variety of ethnic cuisines.
11. Vintage Arcade
You're never too old, or young, for a little pinball. For a fun twist on the classic arcade date, consider a vintage arcade. You can find the Silverball Museum Arcade in Asbury Park and YESTERcades with locations in Red Bank and Somerville. All offer games dating back decades. Winner chooses dinner!
12. Enjoy Nature
New Jersey has loads of natural beauty to appreciate. Take a hike, go on an eco-cruise, bird watch, take a nature walk, and so much more. Great places to enjoy New Jersey's nature include Duke Farms in Hillsborough (pictured), The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor, Tenafly Nature Center in Tenafly, Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit, the Meadowlands Environment Center in Lyndhurst, the Cape May Bird Observatory in Cape May, and
Wharton State Forest
13. Hop A Train
Delaware River Railroad Excursions is based out of Phillipsburg and offers a wide variety of themed and scenic train rides. Offerings vary by season but include winery train rides, the mine train, pumpkin picking rides, Ren Faire rides, and more. For further information, visit
14. The Racetrack
A day (or night) at the racetrack can be so much fun! You can take in the show, place your bets, enjoy special contests and events and even enjoy fine dining.
Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford offers multiple dining options, from the buffet at Pink to the spectacular Victory Terrace. You'll also find a sports bar, outdoor dining, food court and private restaurant (Trotters) for members and horsemen only. Monmouth Park in Oceanport offers the Salvator Bar & Grill and an outdoor dining terrace. Freehold Raceway in Freehold offers the Renaissance Room, open for lunch and dinner with great views of the track.
What do you think? Are these great options for special occasions like Valentine’s day or your anniversary? They could also be great first dates… Have you been on any of these dates? What was your experience? Which are you most excited to try? Share your thoughts and favorite unique New Jersey date ideas in the comments.