Tired of the classic movie and dinner date night combo? Us too. That's why we're always on the hunt for new things to do, scouring the city for not-boring Melbourne activities — ones that are guaranteed to take your next date way beyond done-before beers at the pub. Whether you're taking someone on a second date or doing your 100th with your significant other, we've got some killer (and, yes, cute) ideas for dates to go on this week, no matter how much money you've got to spend. Just think of us as your cultural wingman. You're welcome.
HIKE THE YOU YANGS
The You Yangs are located near Geelong, less than an hour's drive from Melbourne. There are plenty of easy walking tracks in the area with mostly gentle terrain. With splendid views of the surrounding countryside, it's a relaxing way to spend the afternoon. There's no need for hiking boots, the trails are fine for small children (so you should be fine) and there are plenty of great picnic spots to have lunch and take it easy. The East-West loop is a four-kilometre track that starts at the Turntable car park, offering varied terrain without too much of an incline. If you've already done this one, choose one of our other summer hikes in Victoria.
For $18 you can indulge in an tasting session that covers 12 flavours at once, or just rampage around the place like a deranged, hungry Pac-Man and try to taste 'em all at $4.80 a pop. Compare the relative merits of flavours like gin and tonic, dark chocolate and beer, turmeric and espresso, and finger lime cheesecake and strawberry gum — all while relaxing in the grounds in either Yarra Glen or Bellbrae (or both). The view may well be lost on you as you slide into a sugar-induced happiness coma, but that's okay. They aren't inventing all those flavours for you to not try them.
TAKE OUT A BOAT AT SUNSET
This could be the most romantic Friday night in Melbourne this week. Studley Park Boathouse is hosting a street food festival and, aside from it being a lovely place to eat dinner, you'll also be abe to take a turn in one of the rowboats — for free. Just buy a main meal from one of the stalls and you'll be able to take your date out on the river while the sun sets.
WATCH A FILM ON HALLOWED TURF
Once again, a cinema has popped up on the pitch at the MCG. Taking over the iconic sporting arena for the final weekend of summer, Cinema at the 'G will showcase a pair of feel-good films under the stars.
On Friday, February 23, they're screening Wonder, the heartstring-tugging, Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay-starring film that spreads a worth message about kindness. The following evening it's back onto the grass both on and off the screen with Denzel Washington in Remember the Titans, bringing a different type of football to the iconic stadium.
The venue might seat 100,000 on grand final day, but only 2000 tickets are available for each night of cinema. Ticketholders can bring picnic blankets, pillows and snacks, or munch on food available for purchase on-site. Doors open at 6.30pm for an 8.30pm start, and proceeds from ticket sales ($30 each) will go to the Bank of Melbourne Neighbourhood Fund, which in turns supports an array of Victorian charities.
ONE BIG BLOWOUT
ATTEND AN ALL-WHITE PICNIC
Dîner en Blanc began in Paris back in 1988 thanks to François Pasquier and friends. This year, 2800 of Melbourne's most dedicated dinner party guests will once again dress in all white on Saturday, February 24 for the event, which will be held at a suitably stunning location. That detail remains secret until the very last moment, but over the last few years, the Docklands waterfront and riverside in front of the Convention and Exhibition Centre have proved welcoming venues.
Guests have to bring their own wares though — it's BYO table, chairs, glassware, dinnerware and white tablecloth as well as picnic (although you can order a hamper for pick-up on arrival). After the evening of fine dining and live music, the foodies then pack up their crystal, dinnerware, tables and litter. Like ghosts (white 'n' all), they leave behind no sign of their rendezvous — but don't get any ideas, a white sheet thrown over your figure will not do for an outfit.
Ticketing happens in three phases. If you've attended a previous Dîner en Blanc, you can go right ahead and purchase one, otherwise you must be invited by a member from the previous year. Total newbie? Get on the ol' waiting list.