- File: Caleb Kenna
- Blueberry Hill Inn
No matter what's going on in the world, people still want to maintain a close connection with their main squeeze — or forge a fresh bond with a new sweetheart. How can lovers do that when the go-to date-night options — dining in a restaurant, going to the movies, attending a concert — aren't allowed or don't feel safe?
We've compiled a list of seven slightly outside-the-box ideas for pandemic-safe dates, appropriate for partners with interests ranging from books to specialty beverages to, well, sex. These suggestions are intended for couples who cohabit, share the same pod or connect remotely. Even if you're seeing hearts, don't be blind to Vermont guidelines for pandemic safety.
Start a Two-Person Book Club
Bear Pond Books, Montpelier
You and your boo keep your nightstands piled high with page-turners. Why not satisfy this mutual appetite for written works with an exclusive book club for two?
Share your favorite genres and authors and take turns selecting the titles. Claire Benedict, co-owner of Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, recommends John Kenney's Love Poems for Married People, which she describes as a collection of "absolutely hysterical and very real poems about married life." She also likes All About Love: New Visions by bell hooks — which, Benedict says, provides "a radical and honest new way to look at love — both romantic love and the love that builds community."
Read aloud and process passages in real time, or read independently throughout the week and use your meeting for a deep dive into the content. And if your conversation strays from the text, follow where it leads!
Work and Play in the Woods
Blueberry Hill Inn, Goshen
Work, work, work, work, work. This isn't just the hook in the best song of Rihanna's career, it's also pretty consuming for you and your live-in mate. No problem. The Stay for the Day package — meant for a day of work and outdoor play — at Blueberry Hill Inn in Goshen will help you carve out some quality time while meeting those deadlines.
For $50 a day, up to two people from the same household get access to a private room at the rural inn from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Guests find all the elements of a productive workday: a bathroom, a desk, high-speed internet and — perhaps most important — a pot of coffee with Blueberry Hill's famous chocolate chip cookies.
When it's time for a break, head outside together and hit the Blueberry Hill trail network in Green Mountain National Forest for a refreshing hike, ski or snowshoe.
Book a Couples Connection Photo Session
Elisabeth Waller Photography, Bristol
- Courtesy Of Elisabeth Waller
- "Couples connection" photo session
When Vermont photographer Elisabeth Waller trains her lens on a couple, the result is more than skin-deep. Her artistic and intimate photos seem to capture the essence of a pair's emotional and physical bond.
"I always find out if they have a location that's special to them first," Waller says of the settings for these romantic sessions. If not, the artist knows many special spots around the state. For winter shoots, she suggests "an ice-skating date, outdoor hot tub date, or drinks and cuddles by the lake."
Waller's "couples connection sessions," as she calls them, take place outdoors and meet current safety guidelines, she assures. She even uses lenses that allow her to snap subjects from 15 to 20 feet away.
The result? Couples "leave feeling connected in a way that they haven't in a long time."
Take an Open-Air Art Tour
- Courtesy Of Beana Bern
- Open Air Gallery: Ski & Snowshoe Trail
StJ Art on the Street, downtown St. Johnsbury
"Looking Outward," Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center, Stowe
Open Air Gallery: Ski & Snowshoe Trail, Highland Center for the Arts, Greensboro
Are you and your beloved seasoned art collectors or simply looking to add some color to your lives? Feast your eyes on several outdoor exhibitions around the state.
Stroll hand-in-hand through downtown St. Johnsbury to experience the public art project StJ Art on the Street. Storefront exhibits by Northeast Kingdom artists, including painters Terry Ekasala and Sachiko Yoshida, can be seen through February 28.
"Looking Outward" is an eclectic indoor and outdoor group exhibition of sculpture, mixed-media works, photography and poetry at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center in Stowe. Make an appointment for the indoor portion. It runs through March 31.
For a more active adventure, preregister to ski or snowshoe a groomed 1.8-mile trail at Greensboro's Highland Center for the Arts, where outdoor sculptures await through the end of March.
Sample Cider (Remotely) With a Pro
We q Local Makers Beverage Week: Livestream Cider Tasting With Eden Ciders
- Courtesy Of Ellen Mary Cronin
- Eden Cider
Hey, lovebirds. Your party clothes called. They're lonely and bored. Pull them out of the closet and turn City Market, Onion River Co-op's Livestream Cider Tasting With Eden Ciders into a dress-your-best event.
Presented as part of the Burlington cooperative grocery store's We q Local Makers Beverage Week, this free online class on Tuesday, February 16, covers all the bases of appreciating fruit-based fermented beverages. Participants sample a variety of ciders with Eleanor Leger, cofounder and co-owner of Eden Specialty Ciders in Newport. Leger offers up background info on cider production, as well as proper methods of tasting and describing the crisp, sparkling drink. (Fun fact: Eden Specialty Ciders employs an orchardist named Benjamin Applegate. We love a good aptronym.)
Keep an eye on City Market's website for more free or affordable virtual classes, cook-alongs and kitchen demos.
Get Intimate With the We-Vibe Wand
Earth + Salt, Burlington
- We-Vibe Wand
You've been playing it safe and getting to know your new love interest via video chat. All those deep conversations and hours spent staring into each other's eyes have you both eager to take things to the next level.
The We-Vibe Wand, available from the Burlington-based inclusive sex shop Earth + Salt, can take you there. This cordless silicon "massager" can be controlled remotely via the We-Vibe app, allowing users to be physically distant and close at the same time. "Folks who want some excitement but need to keep their physical distance can still have a lot of fun with this," Earth + Salt owner Beth Hankes says.
What's more, "The toy is also gender-neutral, thanks to a number of attachments that come with it," Hankes adds.
Create a Takeout Contest
- © Creativethetide | dreamstime.com
- Chicken Wings
Good To-Go Vermont
After 11 months of scant or zero indoor dining, those takeout menus on your fridge are probably well-worn territory. How about spicing up a Friday-night dinner date with a DIY takeout contest?
First, decide on a dish that you and your flame both crave — say, chicken wings. Browse Good To-Go Vermont, Seven Days' online directory of restaurants offering takeout, delivery or curbside pickup, for a few contestants of your choosing. Before sitting down to feast, create score sheets with categories such as "aroma," "crispiness" or whatever makes your heart beat faster. Taste 'em all and tally the points to see which is the winner.
Want something less labor-intensive? Set the table, light some candles, and pick from Melissa Pasanen's list of eight local romantic takeout menus at various price points.