Being a mom and a wife can be hard, y’all. Lately I feel like all of my energy and brainpower is devoted to nurturing and caring for our precious little girl. My husband and I dated for 7 years before marriage and have now been married 7 years (what?!)–so in those 14 years, we went on a date or two. And I totally miss that. So with one year as a mom under my belt, I want to get back to dating my husband. Maybe you’re feeling the same way, or maybe you’re a mom who is in the dating world right now. Whatever the case may be, you’re in luck! We have a list of fun date night suggestions right here in Memphis. There’s absolutely no reason to venture out of the city for a great date night, and there’s no way you have to just stick with the typical dinner and a movie. There is so much to do here in our great city, especially if you get creative!
Memphis’ food scene is emergent and exciting. For a few years now, we’ve been getting national press for our innovative local restaurants. We’ve always been on the map for BBQ and fried chicken, but lately there’s more to eat than grease, fat, and pork. For a spin on a pretty traditional date night, go out to dinner at one of our lauded restaurants! But here’s the challenge: if you’re like me, you’re a selective eater. I challenge you to trust the chef–they have gotten national attention, after all–and pick something that includes ingredients you don’t recognize. My suggestions? Hog & Hominy, Porcellino’s, or Andrew Michael Kitchen (all in Brookhaven Circle, all owned by Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman), Restaurant Iris (get a reservation several weeks out… trust me), Flight, or Felicia Suzanne. One of my favorite dates recently included a night at Porcellino’s where we ordered only off the cart, getting small plates of various specials that made their way around the restaurant, extending dinner and inducing great conversation.
Now that we’ve covered the foodie scene, let’s talk about one of my favorite date nights: an appetizer crawl. I recommend going to Overton Square (I’d recommend Ubering for this date night) and turn the date into a progressive dinner. Start at Local with the bar fries. Try pairing each course with a drink of choice; something that goes well with the flavors of the food. From there, the night moves forward, perhaps to Bosco’s, Lafayette’s, or Babalu, but it definitely includes a po-boy from Second Line. This could definitely be done in Cooper Young or on Main Street as well.
Don’t have time for a full-fledged date night? While I’m on the topic of food, let’s discuss my favorite quickie date: dessert! How fun would it be to grab coffee and a cupcake at Muddy’s Bake Shop (the Midtown location has the coffee and more seating), settle down at a table, and enjoy taking a pause from your hectic lives as parents? Exactly.
Sometimes adulting just really is a drag. If you need a break from being responsible, turn date night into a competition! You could go to Rec Room and challenge your date to an intense Mario Kart battle. Book a living room and have a couch, console, and screen all to yourselves, with no kids demanding that it be their turn. If the weather is nice, go to Golf and Games and play putt-putt golf. After striving for that hole in one, you could race go-karts and try to earn enough tickets to win a prize inside at the games. Another idea? Cosmic bowling. It’s always a fun change of pace! Just make sure to bring your socks! Billy Hardwick’s is a great place to bowl, but there are a lot of options. This last idea happens to be my favorite: gear up and take on your date in a laser tag battle at Laser Quest. Maybe you’ll even work out some pent up aggression. Or is that just me? No? Good.
USA Today named Memphis the number one underrated sports city in 2014. Whether you cheer for the Tigers, the Grizz, the Redbirds, the Riverkings, the Lynx, or a high school alma mater, look up that schedule, pick a game, buy tickets, gear up, and make a date out of it. Dress in your team colors, indulge in some popcorn and BBQ nachos (yes, food again!), and heck – wave that foam finger!
Memphis has a great local theater scene. From the traveling Broadway shows at the Orpheum Theater to local productions at Playhouse on the Square, Circuit Playhouse, TheatreWorks, Hatiloo, Theatre Memphis, and more, date night can include refined culture through the arts. Live theater not your thing? You could check out Ballet Memphis, Opera Memphis, or the Memphis Symphony. Not only that, but on any given night, there is always live music somewhere – the Memphis Flyer does a good job of highlighting what is going on.
Cooking together can be so enjoyable when you’re not having to conform to the demands of a toddler. Cooking classes are a fun, practical date night idea! Salud Cooking School in the East Memphis Whole Foods has a lot of different options–some are demonstrations, some are hands on. From knife skills to meatballs, Salud helps get you cooking in the kitchen.
You may have noticed that most of these date night ideas include food–it is no secret that we love to chow down on goodness in our great city. So to balance all this food, how about we add in dates that are good for the body as well. Memphis has an abundance of green space considering we’re a city with a fair amount of sprawl and car dependency. Take a day date to one of the many different outdoor options: in Shelby Farms you can walk/run/bike the Greenline, do a zip line challenge course, play disc golf, or take your dogs to the dog park. Go to Shelby Forest to hike, bike, or fish. Walk the Old Forest, relax by Rainbow Lake, or take in the Memphis Zoo at your own pace sans the kids at Overton Park.
So I looked it up and apparently a certified beer expert is known as a cicerone. For this date night, tap into some of the great local brews in Memphis. Most of the local breweries have tap rooms. You should definitely check out Memphis Made, Wiseacre, and High Cotton. To make the date night fun, download and print off these beer tasting scorecards and work your way through samples of the various types of beers. More of a wino? I love Greencork in Cooper Young: a self serve wine bar with a knowledgeable staff. Use this wine tasting scorecard and save your notes–once you find a wine you love, you can find it at the store yourself for your personal cellar.
Of course, best was saved for last. Call up the grandparents, enlist your best overnight babysitter–whatever you need to do–and book a night (or two!) at the River Inn at Harbor Town. This quaint hotel is so romantic, with only a few rooms per floor and an intimate lobby with a wood burning fireplace. The rooftop has beautiful views. Grab drinks before dinner and take in the downtown lights. Dinner at Paulette’s is a must–especially the popovers with strawberry butter and the crêpes for dessert. The next day, walk around Harbor Town and along the river before heading back to reality.