For the outdoorsy couple who prefers a mountainside to a five-star restaurant, summer provides some of the best opportunities for getting closer to each other through nature. But the sweltering heat, especially here in the South, can burn out any plans for a romantic date in the outdoors.
Still, you don't need to resign yourself to the typical dinner and a movie. Here are eight adventurous date ideas to help you beat the heat while still getting out.
1. Take a romantic hike on the Ramsey Cascades Trail.
Address: Ramsey Prong Road, Gatlinburg | Drive time from downtown Chattanooga: 3 hours | Cost: Free
Ramsey Cascades is ranked among the top five most romantic hiking trails in the Smoky Mountains by Christopher Place, a resort that caters to couples. The 8-mile out-and-back trail is a great place to reconnect with your partner and spend some quality time together in nature. At an approximate 4,300-foot elevation and featuring a 100-foot cascade — the tallest waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park — the trail will help keep you both cool and comfortable, while offering breathtaking views.
2. Go kayaking or paddleboarding on the Tennessee River.
Address: 21726 River Canyon Road | Drive time from downtown Chattanooga: 16 minutes | Cost: $35-$40/hour for both kayaks and stand-up paddleboards
Whether it's your go-to activity or your first time paddling, water sports are a must during summertime. Paddleboard side by side with your partner or go tandem in a kayak down the Tennessee River. River Canyon Adventures rents out paddleboards and kayaks for those who don't have their own, so everyone can participate in this adventure.
3. Hang a hammock in Point Park.
Address: Point Park Road, Lookout Mountain, Tenn. | Drive time from downtown Chattanooga: 20 minutes | Cost: $7/person
Point Park is a perfect spot to set up a hammock and relax in serene and gorgeous surroundings. The 10-acre park overlooks Chattanooga and the Lookout Mountain Battlefield. Find a shady spot, cuddle up next to your boo and enjoy the scenery.
4. Go on a nighttime climb at High Point.
Address: 219 Broad St. | Drive time from downtown Chattanooga: 5 minutes | Cost: $17-$23/person
Date night can't get any more exciting than scaling a 5-story rock wall over the streets of downtown Chattanooga. Challenge and support each other with this daredevil date night. High Point Climbing and Fitness' outdoor rock wall features lead, top-rope, auto belays and speed climbing, and is quite a sight to behold.
5. Picnic on the riverfront.
Address: 150 River St. | Drive time from downtown Chattanooga: 0 minutes | Cost: Free
Coolidge Park offers a great setting for a cute date, with plenty of shade available to set up a blanket and picnic basket. Play catch, throw a Frisbee and snack on homemade goodies. It's cheap, it's cool, it's fun and it's romantic as hell. And hopefully, that river breeze prevents it from being too hot.
6. Take a morning hike with shelter dogs.
Address: 5975 Dayton Blvd. | Drive time from downtown Chattanooga: 16 minutes | Cost: Free
Local animal shelter Pet Placement Center hosts an event on select Saturdays every month in which volunteers come and choose a dog to take on a hike around Big Soddy Creek. The trip starts at 10 a.m., before the heat of the day has set in. Spend the morning together hiking with adorable mutts and enjoying each other's company. After all, what's better than pooches and smooches? (Nothing. The answer is nothing.)
7. Go see a drive-in movie.
Address: 217 Old Hales Gap Road, Trenton, Ga. | Drive time from downtown Chattanooga: 19 minutes | Cost: $7/person
After the sun sets, nearby Wilderness Outdoor Movie Theater begins the first film in its weekly double-feature premiere. The nostalgic theater offers showings of new releases at a fraction of the cost of traditional theaters. Throw some pillows in the back of your truck and cuddle up together in front of the big screen and under the stars.
8. Dine aboard the Southern Belle.
Address: 151 Riverfront Parkway | Drive time from downtown Chattanooga: 5 minutes | Cost: $36.95-$51.95/person
There's truly nothing like watching the sun set over the Tennessee River as you and your loved one savor a fancy dinner aboard Chattanooga's famous riverboat. Cruise around Lookout Mountain and Moccasin Bend on a cool summer evening, overlooking the city and soaking in the night air and romance. There are three dining options: Skipper's Dinner, Captain's Dinner and Admiral's Dinner. Choose which menu best suits you as a couple, and enjoy the blissful journey.