Unique Covid-Safe First Date Ideas
by: Esther Pransky, Lubicom Staff
The show must go on!
Nope, not Broadway, but the shidduch dating scene. Despite COVID restrictions, couples are meeting, getting engaged, and marrying.
How do they do it? You may have heard about Zoom dating. At the beginning of the pandemic, couples did meet that way, but it's far from ideal.
At this point, we're past Zoom dating, but options are still limited, and the world isn't back to "normal" quite yet. Here's a peek into the creative COVID dating solutions of 2021.
As always, we want to encourage you to consult and observe the guidelines and precautions in your area. It’s also always a good idea to visit an attraction’s website or call ahead to check for COVID hours and rules.
PRIVATE HOMES OR BACKYARDS
Where to go? Many typical dating locations, such as lounges, were and still are closed. Private houses and backyards have become prime dating locations.
When Shani D.'s daughter got married last spring, the COVID lockdown was in full force, and they held the wedding in her house.
Soon she got a request from a friend. Would she be willing to also host a date in her backyard? It's set back from the street with plenty of trees for privacy. Shani was happy to help her friend, and other couples have used the space since then. "The COVID pandemic shouldn't stop love from blossoming," she says.
Leah M. has a similar story. One day last spring, a friend called with an urgent request. Her son had a date scheduled and it was pouring outside. Could they use her side room?
Yes, they could. And since then, Leah has hosted many dating couples. She and her husband go all out, even lending their new china set to couples – and bringing dinner with them. They expanded to using a second space in their home and once hosted four dates in one day!
In fact, there are 27 engagements that they know of, of couples who dated in their house – including three proposals in their house! They have had adventures, too, such as the time a young man slipped on ice and dropped dinner all over the ground. (Leah and her husband quickly whipped up a new meal.)
"We feel very blessed. It's been a wonderful, exciting, amazing journey," says Leah.
Although public places are "opening up" now, couples are still dating in private homes. You can find listings with names and contact info organized by city in Lehmann's List by Mrs. Chani Lehmann.
STOREFRONTS AND OFFICES
But it’s not just homes. Business owners opened their offices after hours for young couples, too, putting out drinks and snacks and trying to create an ambiance.
Mr. Lowy and his staff at TH Interiors in Lakewood are one example. “When we heard couples were having difficulty finding suitable dating locations, we looked around and realized our furniture showroom can double as a lounge as well. There was plenty of seating there and all we needed to do to recreate the lounge experience was the dim the lights, play soft background music and put out drinks. We didn’t dream that over year later we would still be hosting multiple dates per evening.
“This has been a chesed we really have enjoyed doing. It’s been heartwarming hearing kallahs come in while furniture shopping and tell us how they dated in our showroom and how it’s made dating during this pandemic just a little bit easier.”
Office dating locations are listed in Lehmann’s List.
Another new idea is creating “dating lounges.” These are office suites or similar spaces that communities set up for dating couples. They may include conversation rooms, snack bars, craft areas, and games.
Baltimore, Far Rockaway, Edison, Passaic, and Manhattan boast popular dating lounges. There’s room for more than one couple each night, but space is limited, and reservations are required.
You can find locations and contact info for dating lounges on – you guessed it – Lehmann’s List.
PUBLIC OUTDOOR ATTRACTIONS
Now that spring is here, couples can again choose outdoor locations for their dates.
1. Parks are an old standby. Take a walk, have a picnic, and enjoy the beautiful weather.
2. Botanical gardens are especially gorgeous this time of year.
4. Fruit picking is always a winner. Apples, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, and more. Check local listings for “fruit picking near me.”
5. Geocaching is for the very adventurous. Geocaching is a “global treasure hunt.” Log into the geocaching website to find the coordinates of “caches,” a fancy name for hidden boxes of objects. Caches are hidden all over the world in urban and outdoorsy locations.
Who’ll be “FTF,” the first to find a new cache?
PUBLIC INDOOR ATTRACTIONS
Masks are required, and other COVID rules are in place, but more and more indoor options are opening.
1. Check out this article for detailed info on indoor venues such as:
2. Every city has paint-your-own pottery studios. For example:
- Brooklyn – The Painted Pot
- Toms River – Color Me Mine
- Passaic – Painting Pottery Cafe
3. Bury the Hatchet is for a couple looking to avoid the “same old, same old,”. Bury the Hatchet has competitive ax throwing. The website lists all their locations in New York, New Jersey, and around the U.S.
4. Museums may not seem the height of excitement, but they offer a climate-controlled place to walk, talk, and sit. More and more museums are reopening this spring.
5. Board Game Cafes offer a chance to sit, chat, and play tabletop board games. Some offer food and drink, arcades, or even mini-golf and other attractions, too. The Uncommons in New York and Play! Hoboken are two examples.
How do couples find more COVID dating ideas? There are shidduch dating online resources, such as:
1. Shidduch Shuk boasts that it offers “Everything except the driving.” The site has info on dating places, car rentals, and other resources in many cities.
2. Pegisha Place has info about minyanim, restaurants, and, of course, dating places.
3. "Out of The Crowd" Public Dating/Activity List also has creative dating ideas.
And if all else fails, couples can Google “COVID friendly dating near me.”
Yes, COVID dating is challenging, but there are some silver linings.
Meir B., newly engaged, puts it this way, “Dating with COVID is definitely harder. With finding a place to go and remembering to always bring a mask (which makes it hard to read expressions).
“On the other hand, it’s a good conversation piece. It’s definitely more interesting than the weather.”