The Best Off-Beat Date Ideas in St. Louis

A nice restaurant is a safe choice for a date, and it's often a great option, but for those times when you want to shake things up a bit, St. Louis has some great options for off-beat dates filled with fun and adventure.

From taking a cooking class together at one of the city's culinary schools to going on a high-flying adventure on a zip line tour of the canopies at Meramec Caverns, you have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to exciting and unique date opportunities.

Don't settle for the ordinary when considering where to take your special someone on a date in the Gateway to the West. Instead, check out these fantastic date ideas appropriate for adults of all ages.

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    Couple at Cooking Class
    Photo courtesy Caiaimage/Agnieszka Olek/Getty Images

    Instead of going out to eat a meal together, learn how to cook something you can both enjoy with help from an expert chef at the Kitchen Conservatory in Clayton (8021 Clayton Road).

    The Conservatory offers a wide variety of cooking classes for couples, so whether you want to learn how to properly grill the perfect steak, roll sushi, or create a decadent cake, you can find a special session for you and your partner here. Once the work is done, you can then sit down together and enjoy your gourmet eats with some fine wine. 

    Prices for couple's classes range from $125 to $170 and are available several times a week. Look for "Date Night for Couples" on the schedule of classes, and be sure to book your reservation well in advance as these popular classes fill up quickly year-round.

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    Dinner doesn't have to be a run-of-the-mill date idea; instead, you can take advantage of St. Louis' location along the Mighty Mississippi River with a riverboat cruise on board Skyline Dinner Cruises (50 Leonor K. Sullivan Boulevard).

    Evening cruises include live jazz music, nighttime views of the St. Louis skyline, and a buffet meal of beef, chicken, salad, sides, and desserts. Cruises board at 7 and 9 p.m. near the south leg of the Gateway Arch, which makes an ideal backdrop for a couple's photograph to start your night. 

    Cruises are offered on Friday and Saturday nights from April through September and on Saturday nights in October; the cost is around $50 per person.

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    For a lively evening of music and dance, you can kick up your feet for a little fun at Casa Loma Ballroom in St. Louis(3354 Iowa Avenue), a historic venue that has been hosting dance parties for more than 90 years. If your dancing is a little rusty, don't worry, a complimentary swing dance lesson is offered most evenings.

    The ballroom is open on Friday and Saturday nights and offers live music from popular local bands like Miss Jubilee and the Humdingers, Fabulous Motown Revue, and the Pennsylvania Slim Blues Band throughout the year. The cost is $10 a person.

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    For a new twist on the traditional dinner date, try a whiskey tasting at Gamlin Whiskey House in the Central West End (236 North Euclid Avenue). This popular restaurant features a full bar stocked with fine whiskeys from the U.S., Canada, Scotland, and Ireland and also sells its own signature whiskey, Knob Creek Bourbon.

    Along with hand-crafted cocktails, the restaurant menu includes steaks, seafood, and pasta. There is also a late-night happy hour starting at 11 p.m., Monday through Thursday, with drink specials and smaller plates and appetizers, and a regular happy hour Monday to Friday from 2 to 6 p.m.

    Gamlin Whiskey House is open seven days a week and serves a special Saturday and Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days.

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    When you want to be active, try a rock climbing date at Upper Limits Gym (326 South 21st Street). The gym caters to people of all skill levels from complete beginners to expert climbers—all you have to do is take a 10 to 15-minute orientation, then you're ready to climb with your partner. 

    The gym has a 35-foot high climbing wall, large arches, and several bouldering areas, and the cost to access most of the facility is $14 a person. There are also two other Upper Limits locations in Chesterfield and Maryland Heights.

    Alternatively, you can also enroll in classes for climbing at the Upper Limits Gym. Prices range from $30 for a single class to a six-week "introduction to climbing" program that costs $180 per person. If you and your partner are both really into climbing, enrolling in a long course may be the perfect way to get to know each other better.

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    During the day, the City Museum in downtown St. Louis (750 North 16th Street) is filled with kids, but at night it's a great destination for grown-ups, too.

    The museum is basically a giant, indoor playground with caves, tunnels, and a 10-story slide, and for food and drinks, there's a cafe on the second floor serving sandwiches, salads, and pizzas, and a full bar on the first floor with a DJ playing music on Friday and Saturday nights.

    The City Museum is open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, and admission is $10 a person after 5 p.m. The City Museum also hosts a variety of special events throughout the year, so be sure to check out the events' calendar to see what's coming up.

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    For couples who enjoy a bit of friendly competition, bowling can be a lot of fun whether you're good at it or not, and Flamingo Bowl in downtown St. Louis (1117 Washington Avenue) is one of the coolest places in town to knock down a few pins.

    The bowling alley is known not only for its lanes but for its art-deco cocktail lounge that serves up good food and signature drinks every night of the week. Children 16 and under are allowed during the day if accompanied by an adult, but after 9 p.m., all customers must be 21 or older.

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    You don't have to be an artist to make a beautiful creation at Painting with a Twist in South County (8 Ronnie's Plaza), which offers a variety of fun classes throughout the week and weekend.

    Each class is led by a local artist who gives step by step instructions for creating your masterpiece, and you can also bring in food and wine for even more fun. Most classes cost $35 to $45 a person and take place on weekday nights from 7 to 9 p.m. and weekends throughout the day.

    In addition to the South County store, Painting with a Twist has six other locations in the St. Louis area, so be sure to check out the full schedule for each location to find the perfect class for you and your romantic partner to take together.

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    Enjoy the beauty of nature together with your loved one on a hike at Shaw Nature Reserve, a division of the Missouri Botanical Garden in Gray Summit (307 Pinetum Loop Road).

    The reserve has 14 miles of trails that meander through a variety of natural habitats including prairies, meadows, and forests, some of which lead to a sod house and teepee while others follow a quiet section of the Meramec River.

    You can bring a picnic basket and have a nice meal at any of the three picnic areas located inside the reserve, and admission is just $5 a person to enjoy all of the reserve's trails and facilities. Free guided hikes and lunch-and-learns are offered on Saturdays, and there are several learn and discover classes for adults and family offered on weekdays, evenings, and weekends for a small fee.

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    If your sweetheart has a sweet tooth, then plan a trip to Clementine's Naughty & Nice Creamery in Lafayette Square (1637 South 18th Street), an ice cream parlor caters to adult tastes.

    Clementine's is known for its alcohol-infused "boozy" ice creams like chocolate cabernet, maple bourbon, and summer shandy, and there's also a wide variety of hand-crafted, non-alcoholic options including gooey butter cake, decadent coffee, and chocolate coconut fudge.

    Clementine's is open from Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

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    Share a spooky night with your date on a haunted tour in Alton, Illinois, a small community on the Mississippi River that is considered one of the most haunted small towns in America. 

    Alton Hauntings Tour (110 East Third Street) caters to that reputation by offering excursions through some of the town's scariest locations like the McPike Mansion, Alton City Cemetery, Old Alton Prison, and Mineral Springs Hotel. Both walking and trolley tours are available and cost between $25 to $40 a person.

    Most tours take place in the evenings starting around 6 to 8 p.m., and special tours are available during the Christmas season including a Holiday Spirits Event featuring a dinner and seance.

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    A ride in a hot air balloon is certainly one way to impress a date, and Balloons Over the Rainbow in High Ridge (2700 Ridge Point Drive) offers both group and private flights.

    Special champagne flights include a one-hour balloon ride for up to 12 people as well as a serving of champagne or sparkling cider. The cost is $219 a person, and a private flight for a couple costs $800.

    Hot air balloon riders are expected to meet about 30 minutes before sunrise on the day of their flight, which will take about three and a half hours to complete. Details for your flight time will be included with your balloon ride confirmation.

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    Take in the sights of Forest Park with a paddleboat ride shared with your romantic partner. The Boathouse (1601 Government Drive) rents its boats on Post-Dispatch Lake for $17 an hour.

    You can paddle your boat out from Post-Dispatch to the Grand Basin, which offers great views of Art Hill and the St. Louis Art Museum. After your ride, you can enjoy a drink or casual meal on the Boathouse's outdoor terrace.

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    For gamble-seeking lovebirds, you can enjoy a classic trip to the horse races at Fairmount Park in Collinsville (9301 Collinsville Road) on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from May through September. Additionally, Fairmount Park simulcasts many of the bigger races from Churchill Downs, Belmont Park, and other racetracks across the country.

    There are several restaurants and cafes for food and drinks including Top of the Turf, which is located on the third floor of the clubhouse and offers great panoramic views of the racetrack. Place your bets on your favorite horse or just dress up in your finest race-watching attire and enjoy the show.

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    When you want to satisfy your sense of adventure, take your date to the Caveman Zipline at Meramec Caverns in Sullivan, Missouri (1135 Highway West). 

    During the 90-minute tour, you'll sail through the trees and across the Meramec River, and the ride includes four different zip lines and three sky-bridges. The cost is $49 a person and advanced reservations are required.