One of my biggest learnings from the pandemic was that the restrictions actually forced us to be more creative.
Ben and I decided to "play tourists" in our own backyard. In the first 8 weeks of SIP, we went hiking EVERY Thursday and hiked our way through the Santa Clara County Parks.
With restaurants closed to dining (outdoor dining started in June 2020), we'd get "fancy" takeout and eat in the car. We made a bag of everything we'd need to eat in the car: plastic utensil, plates, napkins, wine opener. Over time we also added picnic blankets so we could eat at a park.
For our first date night, we parked in the Stanford University Parking lot and ate our takeout from BirdDog Palo Alto, then went for a stroll around Stanford's campus. One time we got takeout from Alice's Restaurant and ate in the parking lot, then found a hidden trail that took us to Wunderlich Park.
Once we've mastered "date night in the car," we started finding parks that didn't restrict the seating area so we could have dinner in a nicer setting. One such date was takeout from Leichi Japanese izakaya restaurant (my favorite izakaya place) + dinner at Central Park in Santa Clara; another time we got takeout from Rokko Fine Japanese Cuisine and ate at Murphy Park. After dinner we'd explore the park and the surrounding neighborhoods. It was some of the best dates we had. SIP had forced us to be outside, and the outside is beautiful. <3
During the cold/wintery/rainy weeks, we had date nights in our own garage! Ben would set up a table for us, and we'd share a nice takeout meal and a bottle of wine. It wasn't the nicest setting, but having an hour to ourselves really made everything tolerable.
The silver lining of the pandemic is that we now have outdoor dining year-round. One of our nicest date nights was at Straits Santana Row @ San Jose - we were in a [outdoor] corner spot, and had a heater directly next to us. It was right around the holidays and there were bright light displays everywhere. We loved the ambiance (and the people watching) and the heater kept us warm. In the next post we'll talk more about sourcing/finding/keeping babysitters so you COULD go on a date. :) Until then, what's YOUR perfect date night (or date day)? What would you do if restaurants were closed and you couldn't go to the movies? What are some of your favorite secrets? Please share!