It is easy to fall into the habit of only planning date nights that revolve around going out to eat, especially in the coldest months of the year when spending time outside sounds less than ideal. While there is a wealth of interesting restaurants to choose from in Ann Arbor, eating out is not the only way to spend a date night in the winter.
Ann Arbor is a city with a lively entertainment scene which caters to a range of different interests and personalities. Luckily, many of these options are primarily inside, which means it is less likely the weather will cut the date short. However, sometimes it is hard to come up with a fun winter date night that is more than just going out to eat.
We gathered a list of fun things to do in Ann Arbor during the winter to appeal to couples of all kinds, whether you are looking for inspiration for a first date or a 10 year anniversary celebration.
Listen to live jazz
A date night to a live jazz show can be enjoyed by adults of all ages and it is a great way to spend time with someone you care about without the pressure of having to partake in a full night of conversation.
Live jazz can be found in several Ann Arbor locations, accommodating a range of budgets. Ann Arbor’s popular jazz club The Blue Llama offers tickets ranging from a $15 cover charge to a dinner and a show on weekends, which is usually in the $100 price range. While the cover charge for two with food and drinks can add up, the Blue Llama is a great place to feel fully immersed in jazz.
A night out at a jazz club makes for a classy date and an excuse to dress up.
Explore a museum
Since it’s often too chilly to go for a walk outside in the winter, strolling through a museum can be a fun date night idea, even if it is at a museum you know like the back of your hand.
Ann Arbor has multiple museums including the University of Michigan Museum of Art and the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History. Exploring the different exhibits with your partner can lead to interesting conversations about their niche interests and favorite styles of art. If it is a first date, the museum pieces can act as a buffer to avoid awkward silence in between conversations as well.
These museums also offer special temporary exhibits that you can explore for the first time together.
Enjoy food and drinks fireside at York
York is a hidden gem of Ann Arbor that hits the sweet spot of providing a diverse range of menus, weekly events and unique hang out spots to have a private conversation in a casual and public setting (the perfect combination for a first date!).
Guests can choose to eat inside for a warmer experience, but there are several sitting options outside, including around a firepit. York’s outdoor area goes by the name the Yard and has a very welcoming atmosphere.
As for food, you and your date can order at the Bao Boys food truck that is located in the Yard (but if you are craving bao, make sure you get there early in the evening since they sometimes sellout!). Inside, there is a counter for York’s European-style cafe and Ricewood BBQ.
They also have a large drink menu with specialty cocktails, cider, beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages.
The best part about spending an evening at York is that it can be tailored to fit whatever vibe you’re looking for whether you plan to just grab a quick drink, eat dinner or hang out all night.
Catch a movie at the Michigan Theater
Nothing beats the simple but decadent flavor of real butter on movie theater popcorn. At the Michigan Theater, the exceptional popcorn is one of the things that makes seeing a movie there so special.
The Michigan Theater offers a variety of different genres of films each week, including special throwback series on certain days.
Even as recliners have replaced traditional seats at many movie theaters, the full classic movie theater experience that you get at the Michigan Theater has proven to never go out of style. While other movie theaters offer a more comfortable movie watching experience, there is something to be said about the nostalgic element to the Michigan Theater, especially while watching a movie from one of their classic film series’.
Not to mention the gorgeous architecture and decor of the theater makes for what feels like a fancier movie date than most theaters.
Have a downtown progressive dinner
While this idea is technically a variation of going out to dinner, it involves much more creativity and has the potential to lead to the exploration of new favorite restaurants.
A progressive dinner is when you eat each course at a different restaurant. You would eat appetizers at one place, then move onto somewhere for the entree and then finish the night off with dessert.
This can make the “who is picking up the bill” situation easier because you could each pay for different courses.
It is also an excuse to walk around the city and try restaurants you have been meaning to check out.
For example, you could start off with warm feta bread from Pretzel Bell, order a pizza from Mani Osteria for the main course and end the night with churros from Frita Batidos. There are numerous variations of the menu on a progressive dinner night, which is what makes it so fun.
Go ice skating
For a more active date night, ice skating is one of the few winter sports that can be enjoyed even when the snow does not stick.
Ann Arbor has indoor and outdoor skating options depending on which you would prefer. Buhr Park is home to Ann Arbor’s outdoor public skating rink which has open skate times throughout the week. Weather permitting, they will be open through February.
Ice skating together can be a great bonding experience, especially if one or both of you are not experienced.
See a comedy show
Comedians of all styles and levels of popularity frequent Ann Arbor. Usually, there is at least one comedy act in town to see between all the venues.
This winter, the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase is holding shows Wednesday-Saturday each week. They are known to bring in rising stars in comedy from all over the country. They also serve snacks and drinks to enjoy during the show.
Going to comedy shows can be an easy way to create inside jokes that you just had to be there for.
Attend a University of Michigan athletic event
Watching college football is of course a popular pastime of Ann Arborites and Wolverine fans, but there are other athletic events to attend year round.
If you and your partner enjoy watching sports together, your fun doesn’t have to stop in the fall. During the winter season, spectators can purchase tickets to watch University of Michigan men’s basketball, women’s basketball, hockey, wrestling and women’s gymnastics. It can still be fun to cheer on your favorite team, even if it is not a sport you usually follow.
It is always a good idea to check these teams schedules to see if they are playing at home during the night you plan to go out.
Sample local brews
To make going out for a drink a little more interesting, consider sampling some of Ann Arbor’s locally made beer and mead. You can order a flight of something you haven’t tried, and maybe find your new go-to drink to take home.
Are you interested in understanding how beer is made? Wolverine State Brewing Company is a local brewery that offers brewery tours.
Participate in a trivia night
If you are worried about how you are going to break the ice, go to a trivia night with your date. A topic is bound to come up which unveils something interesting about one of you and maybe even prompts a few stories.
It will also put your compatibility and teamwork skills to the test as you compete to be the trivia champions.