In Part One I wrote about physical activities and food. Here are some more ideas to help you and your partner add a little spice to your life.
- Art galleries - Locate that part of town (or the nearby big city) where all the fancy art galleries are. Spend an afternoon browsing. Remember to dress well enough to look like you can afford it, but not so well that it looks like you're trying too hard.
- Museums - Was your last visit to a museum a sixth grade field trip? It doesn't have to be like that! Most museums have both permanent and changing exhibits. Find out what they've got (or what's coming up) that sounds interesting. Don't try to do the whole museum in one day (unless it's a small one.) Remember there are many kinds of museums. Art, science (go the the kids' section and play with the exhibits), natural history, military, presidential, and so on. Communities often have small museums that commemorate local history or that specialize in a particular interest such as vintage cars, neon signs, miniatures, local artists, architecture, etc. Something for everyone.
- Great books - Find a book that both you and your partner would like to read. Get two copies and read them in your spare time, then get together for a discussion. Or, get one copy and take turns reading chapters aloud to each other. Save a few bucks by getting books from the library.
- Great music - How often do you attend live concerts? There is nothing like feeling the power of a full symphony orchestra wash over you, or singing along with your favorite rock star. Think smaller, and you can find jazz clubs, restaurants with live music, brunch with a string quartet, featured artists in small venues, music students playing for change in the park.
- Folk dancing - There are cultural centers, ethnic restaurants, and adult education classes that offer folk dancing events. It usually isn't complicated. Put your left foot in, put your left foot out!
- Movies - Tickets for popular, first-run films can be pricey, but maybe your town has an "art" theater that shows oldies, foreign films, and cult films, with special events, double features and cheap midnight shows. Watch the classic films you missed on TV or online, or wait a few months to see those popular movies at the much lower online price.
- Botanical gardens - Strolling through beautiful gardens is a peaceful way to spend the afternoon. Gardens are often organized thematically, with sections for different regions of the world or different types of plants.
- The zoo - The best time to go to the zoo is opening time on a cool day. If it's drizzling, even better. The animals are more likely to be out and active when it isn't hot, and damp weather keeps a lot of people away so you can enjoy a better view.
- Lecture series - Is there a college or library near you? Educational institutions often have events that are open to the public, featuring interesting speakers on all kinds of fascinating topics.
- Theater - If you live in a big city with a theater district, there is always something going on, but tickets to a famous show at a popular venue can be unbelievably expensive. Most towns also have at least one local theater group or talent showcase that puts on enjoyable productions at more reasonable prices. If your local college or high school has an active drama department, they will have a season that likely includes a combination of old favorites, newer productions, and musicals.
- Planetarium - Few things are more romantic than gazing at the stars together. At the planetarium, you can hold hands in the dark, enjoying the beauty of the night sky while you learn something about the universe.
- The county fair - Cheer a greased-pig race, taste a deep-fried cupcake, win a teddy bear at the ball-throwing booth, admire the prize-winning pies, hear some great musical acts, and enjoy the fireworks.
- Hometown tourism - Monuments, historical landmarks, famous buildings, beautiful scenery, the old trolley line, pioneer cemeteries -- most places have something. If you were hosting out-of-town visitors, what would they want to see? Are there walking tours of your historic downtown area? Is there a touristy Old Town? Did something famous happen around here? If you live in a large city, are there themed bus tours available?
- Try something you don't like - Maybe opera, zydeco music, science, ballet, clog dancing or literary debates hold no appeal for you. If you've never tried it -- come on! It might turn out to be a lot more fun than you think. If you tried it a long time ago, you may find that it's better now or that your taste has changed. And if it is something your spouse wants to try, then it is well worth doing at least once, with a gracious and open-minded attitude.
In Part Three, I'll list even more ideas for interesting ways to enliven your life and your relationship. In the meantime, what are some of your favorite cultural activities to share with your spouse? I'll compile reader comments and share them in a future post.