Doing something extra special for your loved one doesn’t have to be limited to fancy dinners and big nights out on the town. In fact, we think the most loving gestures can be found in sharing simple outdoor experiences together. Not only is the fresh air good for you, but the opportunities nature provides are sure to make you feel closer than ever – friends, family and significant others alike.

We’re not just speaking from the heart here; spending time outside has been proven by science to have a positive impact on relationships. So check out our best outdoor date ideas below – and get ready to rack up some serious brownie points!

1. Get caught up in a sunset.

Watching a sunset together is a classic any time of year, but according to NOAA meteorologist Stephen Corfidi, the crisp, dry air of winter creates colors that are even more brilliant. So find a perfect spot with a clear view of the horizon, bring a Thermos of hot chocolate, huddle under a blanket together, and enjoy a free light show provided courtesy of nature.

Longer twilights during winter make sunsets linger, so you’ll have more time to take in the beauty of the moment.

2. Get all starry eyed.

You don’t have to call it a day once the sun sets. The night sky offers its own brand of romance, and it gives you the opportunity to woo your partner with a legendary love story. When Queen Cassiopeia was exiled to the stars, her husband, King Cepheus, was so overcome with grief that he asked Zeus to subject him to the same fate so he could forever be with his beloved queen. And that's where you can still see them today, Cassiopeia one of the brightest constellations in the sky, clinging to one other in a never-ending celestial embrace.

Expert Tip:

Use a stargazing app on your phone to help you find Cassiopeia and Cepheus in the sky.

3. Be tourists in your own town.

If you can’t have a night out on the town in the traditional sense, hop online and plan a stroll through your local area. Chart a course down streets and trails you’ve never explored, through parks you’ve never visited, and to places you’ve never noticed before. Winter should mean the streets will be relatively quiet, making your adventure all the more intimate. And you’ll be shocked at all the things you’ve never noticed before in your own city or town. You can also expect lots of hand holding. Bonus!

4. Plan a year of spontaneous adventures.

Devote a day to planning a whole year’s worth of outdoor activities together – with a catch! Get twelve slips of paper, write down things you’ve always wanted to do (remember, you’ll need ideas for all four seasons) and place them in a jar. Make sure everyone contributes – and don’t reveal your ideas and ruin the surprise! At the beginning of every month, draw a random adventure from the jar and either go do it or start planning. It’s something you’ll look forward to every month and a great way to keep relationships fresh and exciting.

5. Learn something new together.

This one is great for partners, families and friends – and is tailor-made to bring you closer. If you’ve been eager to try a new outdoor activity, but have found the prospect a little daunting, a course, tour or trip with Outdoor Discovery Programs is the easiest way to get out there and share amazing experiences. They’ll provide all the gear and guidance you need, so you can focus on making great memories together.

Expert Tip:

View the event calendar for your local store to see if Outdoor Discovery Programs is hosting any classes near you. Nothing in your area? Buy or rent some gear and get started snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, paddling, hiking, camping and more.

6. Spread the love by volunteering together.

Here’s something a little different. Showing kindness toward others will not only send your love meter soaring, but it’s also a great excuse to be outside together. Spend your day distributing care packages through your local food bank or Meals on Wheels, participating in community cleanup efforts, walking dogs for a local animal rescue, or helping kids enjoy winter activities; they’ll all provide a healthy dose of fresh air and plenty of positive vibes.

7. Cuddle around the campfire.

Chocolate is one of the quintessential gifts for your sweetheart, but we think it’s even better combined with marshmallows and graham crackers! So light up the fire pit, grab a warm blanket, and gather ‘round for a night out that’s all about being cozy together. Add a bottle of wine or a Thermos full of cocoa to the equation and you’ve got yourself a casual, stress-free (but still totally romantic) date idea.

Expert Tip:

Want to impress your partner with your s’mores skills? Try one of our 8 Delicious Twists on the Classic S’more for some next-level recipes.

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