6 Perfect South County Dates

Have anything but a so-so Valentine’s with your SO

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With things like masks and social distancing, it might be hard to imagine what Valentine’s Day will look like this year – but do not lose heart! Southern Rhode Island is full of magical ways to spend the Hallmark holiday with your SO, friends, family, or even treat yo’self. Of course, we know each couple is different, so we curated a list of ideas for every kind of date, whether you’re into the classic dinner-and-a-movie thing or throwing conventional plans out the window. While we can’t speak for your love life, we can guarantee you’ll be crushing hard on South County.

 
 

Be Unforgettable: Take Things to a New Level

Let’s be honest, most anything that involves going outside of the house feels “ambitious” nowadays. If your idea of romance involves thrill-seeking, you can certainly try something new without leaving the southern part of the state.

Surprise your boo with a helicopter tour. Pick from the Watch Hill Experience (an 8-10-minute flight down the shoreline, past Misquamicut Beach, Taylor Swift’s mansion, and Ocean House) or Fisher’s Island to Weekapaug (15-17-minute tour of southern Rhode Island at over 2,000 feet!). Available via HeliBlock at the Westerly State Airport, book online at HeliBlockTours.com.

If your tastebuds are up for an adventure, too, try the salsa flight at Amigos Taqueria Y Tequila, featuring fiery habanero, tomatillo cactus, mango pico de gallo, and Amigos salsas all made in-house. Did you read cactus on that list? You bet. Try out the prickly desert plant grilled in a salad or sauteed and served with scallops. If you’re a fish-lover and not faint of heart, we also recommend ordering the Huachinango al Mojo de Ajo: a whole (bones and eyes included!) red snapper battered and fried in garlic-infused oil.

Stomachs – and hearts! – full, document the day with a scenic selfie in front of Watch Hill Lighthouse before hopping in the car for a five-minute ride to the start of Napatree Point, the perfect setting for a sunset stroll.

 
 

Dress Up & Dine Out: Try a Culinary Tour

For some of us – not just men, as the saying jokes – the way to the heart is through the stomach. With a culinary culture as rich as Rhode Island’s, winning over your date should be a breeze.

Let’s start with the first course: A wine tasting at Leyden Farm. The vineyard and winery, located on a sprawling West Greenwich tree farm, produces reds and whites but also a variety of “fruit essence” wines made from fermented berries, melons, and more. Sip and learn about each through tastings noon to 4pm, then bring your favorite bottle home.

Prefer beer over wine? No problem: There are breweries aplenty to hit up around the region (in fact we dedicated an entire feature to them in November!). Highlights include Whalers in South Kingstown, General’s Crossing Brewhouse in Jamestown, Proclamation Ale in Warwick, and the recently renovated (and totally Insta-worthy) Tilted Barn in Exeter.

For food, head to Warwick for a culinary journey at a single locale: Tree House Tavern. The menu boasts a mix of elevated comfort foods, like gourmet deviled eggs, truffle mac, and sweet potato prosciutto pizza, plus more complex entrees such as duck breast with butternut ravioli and Bordeaux cherry sauce or a noodle bowl with kimchi and pork belly. Oh, but don’t forget to order dessert – Tree House always has a platter full of yummy cakes, pies, and more made in-house; you’ll have a hard time choosing just one.

 
 

Be Romantic: Pull Out all the Stops

For those lovebirds looking to keep things traditional, try dinner, dancing, and a movie – with a distinctly Rhody twist.

Channel your inner Dancing with the Stars mojo with a ballroom dance lesson at Fred Astaire studio in Warwick. You can try out traditional forms like the waltz or something more jazzy like swing, rumba, salsa, and samba – even if you or your partner have two left feet, it’s still a chance to be arm-in-arm and try something new. Sign up for an in-person private lesson or stream online (just make sure to push back that living room furniture to give yourself space to get your groove on!). 

The hallmark of just about any good date – V-Day or not – is an unforgettable dinner. Put away the phones, trade takeout for white tablecloths, and indulge in some upscale cuisine cooked up  by the pros. Main Street in East Greenwich has options abound, but we suggest La Masseria for classic Italian, which boasts a dedicated truffle menu and impressive lineup of dessert, or split some cheese and charcuterie from Besos Kitchen & Cocktails with a glass (or two!) from their impressive sangria selection.

Last but certainly not least, elevate your high school movie dates with a private screening at Greenwich Odeum. While the theater started this trend as a way to cope with COVID, they now offer special packages for special occasions like Valentine’s Day, including a personalized marquee message, custom slideshow, and bottle of wine paired with roses and chocolates sure to impress your date. Just bring your movie of choice and they’ll press play – so you can press pause and enjoy the moment.

 
 

Get Artsy: Eat, Drink & Be Messy

If you and your SO are looking for a night as colorful and creative as your personalities, then ditch the dress clothes and smock up for some paint-slinging fun.

First, of course, you’ll want to get inspired: the Wickford Art Association or South County Art Association are great places to start. Beginning February 12, view the WAA’s Fur, Feather & Fins exhibit showcasing animals in art submitted by local artists, and through February 20, the SCAA will display works in a variety of media by its members. Online, browse either organization’s roster of classes, store, and select virtual galleries. 

Art isn’t just reserved for studios and galleries. Plum Point Bistro, nestled in Saunderstown, combines equally inventive food and atmosphere. Pick from creative shareable plates like Coconut Curry Mussels or Spicy Lentil Balls, sip on punch made with strawberry moonshine, and finish with a seasonal galette – a special French pastry folded around a fruit filling. Of course, half the appeal is where you’re eating; copper ceiling, vintage patterns, and walls covered in eclectic framed prints and photography lend a cool vintage vibe. 

On your way home, make a detour in Wickford (or, swing by while you’re already in the area touring the WAA!) for one of two take-home activities. Wine & Paint Night on West Main Street offers kits for painting, string art, watercolor, and even knitting. For a more industrious but just as adorable project, select from one of Hammer & Stain’s “Hammer@Home” DIYs to make your own wooden sign, clock, or even ceramics for curbside pickup. 

 
 

Be Teammates: Get Sweaty with Your Sweetie

Whether you and your special someone are health-conscious or health-curious, planning an active date is the perfect way to get moving, try something new together, and tackle those new year’s resolutions. We promise this agenda will have your hearts beating fast for more than just each other.

Before you get your sweat on, grab your honey for a takeout lunch from Shayna’s Place in Wickford. It’s the perfect stop for a pre-workout meal, with an emphasis on food that tastes, looks, and is good for you. Try a bowl of quinoa chili, salad or sandwich (GF wraps available!), or our favorite, a gourmet avo or banana toast. Don’t forget to hydrate: Try any of Shayna’s raw juices made from fresh fruits and veggies. 

Signing up for a class at a studio named “Crush” seems appropriate. Owned by Jackie Delgizzo and Amber Koppen, Crush Fitness Studio recently relocated to East Greenwich from North Kingstown, just a short drive from your nutritious lunch. Last year, Crush’s lineup included Banded Bodies (workout with TheraBands), CrushJam (to music), and heart opening yoga. This year, Delgizzo says they are putting some specials together for couples and individuals, both in-person and online, for V-Day, so stay tuned on Facebook and at CrushFitnessStudios.com.

After you’ve burned off some calories and stretched, your sore muscles might be in need of a little R&R. The remedy? Sauna time. Book anywhere from a 15-minute to hour-long session in an infrared sauna at Sundance Massage & Wellness in EG to repair muscle tissue, detoxify, and improve circulation. Plus, it’s a great way to unwind without distractions.

 
 

Have Adventures: Explore Like a Tourist

Valentine’s Day is all about connecting, and while doing that with the one you love is obvious, why not get to know Mother Nature a little better, too? Taking a day to unplug and adventure off-grid might just make you appreciate your honey – and your surroundings – even more.

Options are endless in South County when it comes to outdoor activities: You can stargaze at Frosty Drew Observatory in Charlestown (psst: spot a New Moon on February 11!), hike with goats on a leash at Simmons Farm on Saturdays, and perhaps even spy seals from a sailboat with Fish’n Tales Adventures that launches from Wickford (at press time, they were still evaluating COVID regulations).

While you’re out exploring, drop by Gansett Poké for a midday meal. If you haven’t tried the Hawaiian-style dish, it’s a base of rice or greens topped with sliced or cubed raw fish (but you can get chicken, shrimp, or tofu, too) and loaded with veggies, sauces, and crunchy garnishes like wonton strips or sesame seeds. Why is this a must-stop? Gansett Poké started from a solar-powered cart and you won’t find anything plastic or styrofoam; they’re equally as dedicated to a healthy environment as they are healthy eats. 

Before returning home – and to tech – swing by the wooden tower at the interchange between Tower Hill Road and Route 138, officially known as the Hannah Robinson Tower. It was built in 1938 as a watch tower for the Civilian Conservation Corps and named after a Rhode Island folklore figure with a tragic love story, but today is the site of countless visitors, as evidenced by the hundreds of names written on its posts, who climb to the top to snap a quick pic and take in the view. There is also a trail that starts at the tower and snakes northeast to a ledge known as Hannah’s Rock that looks out over Boston Neck and Narragansett Bay.

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