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Top 10 outdoor date ideas for spring in Charlottesville

Fun for significant others or friends — but make sure to always follow U.Va. COVID-19 guidelines

<p>Anna Mason is a Top 10 writer for The Cavalier Daily.</p>

Anna Mason is a Top 10 writer for The Cavalier Daily.

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1. Have a picnic on the Lawn

Either pick up food from the Corner or bring something transportable from home. Sitting socially distanced on the Lawn and enjoying a relaxing meal outside is the perfect way to spend the afternoon. The Rotunda looks amazing in every light, so soak up the sun and take in the view. 

2. Visit a local restaurant and eat on the patio

There are restaurants all over Charlottesville that have patios open for COVID-19-safe dining. The Downtown Mall, Seminole Trail and Preston Avenue all have new places you could try in addition to student favorites on the Corner. The warm weather will make for a nice, relaxing date night. 

3. Watch the sunset from a parking garage

Parking garages are some of the most accessible, free places in Charlottesville to watch the sunset. Living in a city sometimes makes it difficult to catch one of the most beautiful parts of the day, but the view of the sunset and mountains from the top of a parking garage — say the one on Culbreth Road — make a near-perfect date night aesthetic. 

4. Go to a winery or brewery for the day

Charlottesville is nestled in the middle of many different wineries and breweries that are locally owned and run. King Family Vineyard is one of the closest vineyards — it’s only 20 minutes away and entry to polo matches is free during the season. Vineyards are the perfect place to take a blanket and spend the day relaxing in the sun. 

5. Plan a hike

The Blue Ridge Mountains are right outside of Charlottesville. There are all types of trails from walking paths to intense hikes — and some even make up part of the Appalachian Trail. A hike is a great way to get out of the city and be immersed in nature for a few hours without needing to go too far. All Trails has an abundance of trails to choose from in and around Charlottesville, so you can find the perfect spot near or far to get out in nature and make some connections.

6. Play tennis, volleyball or other sports on the U.Va. courts

The warm weather calls for activity and exercise, and the ability to get active outside makes these locations perfect spots for a socially distanced date. The University tennis courts outside Memorial Gym are always available for public use when they are not reserved. Students can make reservations online for the different facilities. Mad Bowl, Carr’s Field and Venable Field are all also open spaces where you can get active. 

7. Go for a walk around Grounds

The trees on Grounds are starting to bloom, and the grass is turning greener. Walking around Grounds is a great way to get outdoors and explore our home a little bit more. The Pavilion Gardens behind the Lawn rooms are among some of the more secluded areas you could visit on your date. Looking around Grounds when the weather is warm also gives you ample opportunities to walk past people — socially distanced — that you wouldn’t normally see in your day-to-day schedule. 

8. Walk to the Downtown Mall for the day

The Downtown Mall is an open air mall that has many different restaurants, art installations and lounging areas. During normal times, Saturday mornings would also feature a farmers market across the street with local vendors. Regardless, a Saturday morning stroll down the Mall offers excellent conversation topics while on a date — you’ll pass the different vendors on the streets, the iconic Jefferson Theater and the mural at the end of the Mall. A day at the Downtown Mall is always a good day, no matter how many times you have been before. 

9. Go to the IX Art Park

Located at 522 2nd St. SE, IX features many art exhibits, a farmers market and open mic nights. The park is open daily from dawn to dusk and is free to enter. The art park is a special place in Charlottesville that helps foster creativity by introducing typical art events and immersive art experiences. The perfect date would be complete with a photoshoot at one of the park’s many exhibits, especially inside the greenery-enclosed dome that features brilliant lights at dusk. 

10. Eat lunch from the food trucks on Grounds or Pantops

The food trucks on Grounds are parked near Scott Stadium or the McIntire Amphitheater. Food trucks are a staple of many students’ diets — and if they aren’t part of yours, they should be. There is also an arrangement of food trucks near the Rivanna River in Pantops. Personally, I think food automatically tastes better if it comes from a food truck and eating the food after class in the amphitheater is a staple University experience. During a normal semester, warm days would bring students together in the Amphitheater to eat, laugh and soak up the sun. The same applies for a date — there’s no better feeling than meeting up after class to share some savory dumplings from Got Dumplings or fresh tacos from El Tako Nako.

All of these outdoor activities in Charlottesville can be COVID-19-friendly, and are definitely a must to enjoy as the warmer spring weather arrives. These date ideas would also be a great idea for an in-person Love Connection activity if the first virtual date goes well! While COVID-19 may give the impression that making connections — not to mention dating — is practically impossible, these outdoor spaces are ideal to remind us all that connection in this time of disconnection is still possible.

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